Dartford travelled to the Gallagher Stadium on a freezing cold Tuesday evening, as they faced
Maidstone United in the Second Round of the Kent Senior Cup.
As temperatures fell, two of the most successful clubs in the competition put on an entertaining
display of Non-League football, yet it was the Darts who progressed into the next round thanks to a
terrific goal from Ky Marsh-Brown.
With Dartford climbing the league table and pushing for the playoff positions, Steve King used this
game to give those players returning from injury ample playing time. And what a welcome sight it
was to see Mark Smith, Lee Noble, Sam Blackman and Charlie Sheringham return to the starting
eleven, together with Ronnie Vint.
The game was lively straight from kick-off, as both sides created opportunities within the opening
few minutes. The first opportunity fell to the hosts in the third minute, but Dan Wishart shot wide of
Smith’s goal. Three minutes later saw the visitors counter-attack swiftly and get a decent cross into
the path of Sheringham. Unfortunately, the big number nine couldn’t quite hit the target, as he
dragged his effort wide.
As the minutes went by, so the Darts began to take command of proceedings. The hosts seemed
happy to soak up the pressure and launch counter-attacks, but Josh Hill’s defence were equal to that plan. With fifteen minutes gone, Ronnie Vint should have made Maidstone pay after referee Kane Dempster had awarded a free-kick to Dartford. The defender climbed high, getting his head to the crossed ball, but was unable to direct it towards the target.
Midway through the half saw the visitors awarded a free-kick near the corner flag. The ball was
whipped into the box, causing havoc in the danger area, and almost rolling into the net after coming
off a Maidstone defender. The hosts tried in vain to scramble it clear, but the ball fell to Liam Nash,
who fired just wide of the goal.
Forward the Darts came again, as they passed the ball well while in possession. Their efforts paid off in style as the game reached the 33rd minute, as some brilliant build-up play resulted in the ball
being threaded through to Marsh-Brown, who was in a perfect position. The youngster struck it
beautifully, sending a curling ball flying into the top corner for his second goal of the season in only
his tenth start.
Things appeared to quieten down a little as Steve King’s men tormented their opponents, but the
hosts’ frustrations boiled over from the 44th minute onwards with a series of bad challenges. Two of
those challenges were against Sheringham, the first of which left the striker needing treatment and
resulted with the culprit, Lewis Knight receiving a yellow card. The third challenge saw Knight foul
Sheringham again and receive a second yellow and, consequently, his marching orders.
With Maidstone at a numerical disadvantage, the second half started rather quietly as the Darts
continued to be in full control. In typical fashion, the visitors passed the ball comfortably when in
possession, yet pressed diligently when not in charge of the ball. And it was the Darts who created
the next meaningful opportunity as we passed the hour mark. A sequence of great passing saw
Blackman receive the ball and fire a low driving effort towards goal. Unfortunately, goalkeeper Chris
Lewington, saved and held the ball well. Six minutes after that, Nash forced Lewington into a solid
save, as he smashed the ball towards goal following more positive passing.
As the 78th minute passed, Steve King introduced Marcel Barrington for Sheringham and this was
followed by Julien Anau replacing Lee Noble (90), as Dartford closed up ranks in order to see out the game. However, as the game entered stoppage time at the end of the ninety, with Maidstone
pressing for a late equaliser, something out of nothing almost caught the visitors out. The hosts
managed to play the ball to the edge of Mark Smith’s area and strike an ambitious effort which was
heading into the top corner. But, the big goalkeeper made a superb fingertip save, which sent the
ball crashing off the crossbar and out to safety.
That literally was the last exchange between the two sides, as Kane Dempster blew his whistle, thus sending the Darts through to the next round. Steve King would surely be pleased, not only with the response of his players after the weekend’s defeat and the manner in which they controlled the
game, but also that numerous players returning to the squad were able to get a full run out this
evening. With those players edging closer to match fitness, competition for places will surely have a
positive effect as the Darts continue to push for the playoffs.
MAIDSTONE UTD: Lewington, Hoyte, Knight, Elokobi ©, Temelci, Boucaud, Akanbi, Freeman,
Wishart, Khan, Marshall.
SUBSTITUTES: Ribbins, Lillis, Kamdjo, Gilbert, Tingley.
DARTFORD: Smith, Ming, Braham-Barrett, Noble, Hill ©, Vint, Onovwigun, Blackman, Sheringham,
SUBSTITUTES: Anau, Bonner, Walsh, Barrington, Wanadio.