Dartford v St Albans City
Dartford secured second position in the National League South, as Samir Carruthers and Pierre Fonkeu scored to wrap up the points against St Albans City at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park.
With the visitors fighting for play-off places as well, this fixture was an excellent example of what the National League South is all about, as both sides fought for ninety minutes. Yet, the hosts couldn’t have wished for a better start on this beautiful April afternoon…
As The Saints roamed forward from their defensive area, Richard Chin intercepted the ball brilliantly before finding Samir Carruthers with a neat pass. The midfielder, who was returning from a recent injury, controlled the ball well before sending a delightful low drive into the bottom corner, leaving goalkeeper Dylan Berry with no chance (3). The goal was Carruthers’ 10th in the league this campaign, whilst Chin’s assist was just the beginning of a fine performance which would earn the loanee the Man of The Match award at the end of the game.
The visitors responded five minutes later as Mitchell Weiss and Glenn McConnell combined to set up the latter. However, McConnell couldn’t keep his shot below Ben Dudzinski’s crossbar (8).
Six minutes later saw the duo almost combine in the opposite order, after McConnell met Devante Stanley’s deep cross. But Connor Essam was alert to the danger and intercepted the ball before Weiss could get a sniff (14).
The Darts responded with another effort of their own in the 17th minute, after Jernade Meade managed to beat Stanley only for Berry to save the former’s strike. This was soon followed by an opportunity at the other end, which involved Weiss and McConnell once again. However, Tom Bonner was on hand this time to block McConnell’s effort (21).
St Albans seemed to gain a better grip on proceedings during this stage of the game, as they roamed forward with intent. Firstly, Weiss saw his goal-bound header excellently blocked by Essam (31), before McConnell saw a golden chance of an equaliser blocked once again by a resolute Dartford defensive unit (33). This was then followed by a contender for miss of the season, as Weiss set up Tafari Moore perfectly, only for the latter to somehow fire over Dudzinski’s crossbar from close-range (38)!
The second forty-five started relatively calmly and Alan Dowson was the first to show his hand by swapping Samir Carruthers with Luke Coulson after 55 minutes. That would be followed by Pierre Fonkeu replacing Harvey Bradbury (63) and Charlie Sheringham coming on for Richard Chin with ten minutes remaining.
The visitors, meanwhile, would go on to swap Kyran Wiltshire with Zane Banton (65), before making a double change in the 71st minute. That change saw Shaun Jeffers and Joe Neal coming on for Mitchell Weiss and Glenn McConnell.
As we return to the action, a superb effort by Jernade Meade in the 58th minute forced Berry into an excellent save, as the hosts searched that all important second goal. However, it didn’t come and St Albans finally found the equaliser in the 72nd minute, and what a goal it was too…
Fresh from just coming on to the pitch, Shaun Jeffers found himself on the receiving end of a good cross from Chay Cooper. And the striker needed no second invitation, as his first touch of the ball was a delightful acrobatic strike, which flew into the top corner.
Dartford responded positively, though, and were back ahead within five minutes. A good attacking move through the middle saw Joy Mukena make a late lunge on Luke Allen. The offence resulted in the St Albans player going into referee, Mr Andrew Humphries’ book (one of four yellow cards handed out this afternoon – two for each side). Luke Coulson took the free-kick, which saw Berry make the save. However, the goalkeeper couldn’t hold the ball and Pierre Fonkeu pounced to restore the Darts’ lead with his 10th league goal of the season (77).
The duo of Coulson and Fonkeu combined again in the 86th minute, as the hosts looked to put the game out of reach. However, Fonkeu’s effort flew wide of Berry’s upright. It didn’t matter though, as the Darts closed ranks and saw out the remaining minutes to secure a vital, yet deserved victory.
Together with results elsewhere in the National League South, the win means that Tom Bonner and Co have secured that important second place with a game to spare. The team can now relax and enjoy themselves at Hampton and Richmond Borough next weekend, before preparing for the play-offs.
DARTFORD: Ben Dudzinski, Richard Chin, Samir Carruthers, Connor Essam, Tom Bonner (c), Luke Allen, Maxwell Statham, Harvey Bradbury, Sam Odaudu, Jernade Meade.
SUBSTITUTES: Luke Coulson, Emmanuel Adebowale, Pierre Fonkeu, Charlie Sheringham, Malachi Napa.
ST ALBANS CITY: Dylan Berry, Devante Stanley, Aidan Francis-Clarke, Kyran Wiltshire, Callum Adebiyi, Ryan Blackman, Mitchell Weiss, Joy Mukena, Tafari Moore, Glenn McConnell, Chay Cooper.
SUBSTITUTES: Shaun Jeffers, Huw Dawson, Zane Banton, Ben Smith, Joe Neal.
|April 22, 2023||3:00 pm||National League South||2022/23||0'|
|St Albans City||1||Loss|