Dartford arrived at Marsh Lane off the back of three consecutive wins on their travels. The Darts
started the game on equal points with today’s opponents in the National League South table, but a
moment of brilliance saw them move three points clear.
With the appointment of Steve King as Dartford Manager, Interim Manager, Tony Burman, intended
to come away with three points against Oxford City in his final match at the helm. And a strong
starting eleven certainly reflected that intention. Mark Smith remained in goal and stood behind a
defensive line which consisted of Captain Tom Bonner, Ronnie Vint, Josh Hill and Rob Howard.
Central midfield saw the excellent duo of Lee Noble and Luke Allen, while Luke Wanadio and Ben
Greenhalgh ran the wings.
With Charlie Sheringham out injured and Adam Cunnington having left the club, Darren McQueen
came in to lead the attack. He was partnered by the returning Andy Pugh, and what a delightful sight it was to see the Dartford number 17 back on the pitch! The substitutes included Ryan Hayes, Jim Town, Cameron Brodie, Norman Wabo and the returning Mark Onyemah. It was also a delight to see the Dartford left-back return from a lengthy time on the sidelines.
The Darts started positively and were the more threatening in an entertaining first half, as a pacey
attack caused problems for Mark Jones’ Oxford City. The combinations of Greenhalgh, Wanadio,
McQueen and Pugh forced several corners as Dartford ploughed forward, probing for a way through.
With opportunities aplenty, the visitors just couldn’t seem to pass the perfect ball once in the box
because Oxford were defending in numbers. However, in the 27th minute, the tireless McQueen
forced a great save from Craig King, who managed to direct the ball behind for a Dartford corner.
The attacking pace and hard work from the Darts was eventually rewarded in the 35th minute, when Greenhalgh was allowed to run at the host’s defence. Cutting into the box from the right, the
Dartford number eleven then unleashed a beautiful effort which curled into the top corner.
The Hoops tried to respond immediately, but their efforts were futile. The closest they came was
when Kyran Wiltshire received the ball from a corner and sent a powerful effort towards goal, which
Smith gathered comfortably. The remainder of the half saw Dartford defend well to go in with a 1-0
advantage at half-time.
The Darts started the second half brightly and should have doubled their lead straight from the
kick-off. The cross came in from the left wing and Greenhalgh was presented with a glorious
opportunity. Unfortunately his effort went high and over the bar. Ten minutes later saw the hosts
create an equally glorious opportunity, as good work from Reece Beckles-Richards saw him get
through the Dartford defence. Thankfully, his well-struck shot cannoned off the post and away to
With Oxford searching for the equaliser, Dartford defended in numbers and pressed the hosts well.
Playing with hard work and desire, the Darts frustrated the hosts as they tried to take advantage of a pacey attack by hitting them on the counter-attack. This was a tactic that almost paid off in the 71st minute, when the excellent McQueen broke forward and forced a great save from King. Six minutes later saw Smith make a superb save with his feet, as Zac McEachran looked certain to score.
A string of substitutions occurred during the second half, with Brodie replacing Noble and Wabo
replacing McQueen for the visitors, as the Darts sought the services of fresh legs to see out the
With time running out fast, the hosts threw everyone forward, but a stubborn and focused Dartford
defence stood firm as purple-shirted bodies threw themselves in front of every ball. On the one
occasion when Smith looked to be beaten, a Dartford player was there on hand to clear the ball off
the line and preserve the lead.
And so a fourth straight win on the road in all competitions was accomplished by a combination of
hard work, determination, and a moment of sheer brilliance from Ben Greenhalgh, as Tony Burman
hands the reigns over to Steve King in perfect style. The result sees Dartford close the gap to the top ten as they begin to climb away from the drop zone.