Steve King’s first away game as Dartford manager saw him travel to Priory Lane, as his team faced
sixteenth placed Eastbourne Borough in extremely wet and windy weather conditions.
With four new players arriving recently, two of which were announced before the game, Dartford
had ambitions of adding to their four-game away winning streak (two in the league) and climbing further
up the table.
The extreme weather conditions had a drastic effect on proceedings, but it was the
Darts who played intelligently as two superb goals saw them leapfrog Jamie Howell’s team.
Mark Smith remained in goal, while captain Tom Bonner was joined by Josh Hill, Jordan Gibbons andLiam Gordon in the Darts’ defence. The latter has arrived from Dagenham & Redbridge on a month’sloan to help solidify the defence. The midfield consisted of Billy Crook, Luke Allen and CameronBrodie, while the three-man attack included Elliot Romain, Darren McQueen and Norman Wabo.
New signing, midfielder Kyjuon Marsh-Brown, sat on the bench together with Ronnie Vint, Luke
Wanadio, Ryan Hayes and Andy Pugh.
With their backs to the wind in the first half, it was the Sports who started stronger, as the strong
wind made life difficult for the Dartford defence. Try as they might, and with several corners,
Eastbourne couldn’t break through a resolute Dartford, despite having the majority of the attacking
play. When Michael West did send in a dangerous corner in the tenth minute, Smith was equal to it
and punched the ball to safety.
Four minutes later saw the excellent Romain terrorise the host’s defence, as the former Sport found
McQueen in a dangerous position. The latter cut inside and fired towards goal, only to find his effort
blocked and cleared.
Eastbourne continued to press forward, but Bonner’s defence held firm and the midfield
combination of Allen, Brodie and Crook worked tirelessly, trying to release the Dartford attack.
That’s exactly what happened as we reached the 32nd minute, when another Eastbourne attack
failed, leaving the visitors to break down the right flank with Wabo. The Dartford striker stretched
his legs, broke free of the defence and composed himself before firing past goalkeeper Tom Hadler.
Wabo was at it again five minutes later, and was able to unleash another shot at goal, only to be
brought down in the process. With referee Joel Mannix bringing play back for the foul, the resulting
free kick saw Allen fire into the Eastbourne wall and be presented with a second bite of the cherry.Unfortunately his second effort flew out for a goal kick.
Despite the second half starting slowly, it didn’t take long for the Darts to begin taking advantage of
the strong wind. Nine minutes in saw a fantastic break forward from Gibbons. The Dartford number
two got the better of Eastbourne’s left-back, Kristian Campbell, and sent in a beautiful cross towardsRomain. Unfortunately, the striker sent the ball crashing into the side-netting, but the warning signsthat Steve King’s men were handling the weather better than their opponents were certainly there.
With the hosts trying in vain to get the equaliser, former Sport Romain found himself through in the
66th minute. Racing forward, the Dartford number nine forced a superb save from Hadler. Four
minutes later saw Romain in a great position again, as he saw Hadler off his line and sent a
long-range piledriver over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net, thus scoring his first goal for
A few minutes later saw McQueen replaced by Wanadio before Allen almost added a third goal for
Dartford. The midfielder got himself just inside the box, but his shot was saved well by Hadler. At the other end, Smith was called into action as he saved brilliantly from West in the 81st minute. With Dartford controlling the closing stages and defending with discipline, Vint came on to replace Wabo in order to see out additional time with an extra defender and to secure the result.
And, so Steve King’s Dartford came away from Eastbourne with all three points, after an excellent
defensive display and two superb goals. The result sees the Darts maintain their excellent run of
form on the road and, more importantly, sees them climb to sixteenth in the table, just three points
behind tenth place.