Dartford’s first away game since the beginning of February saw them travel to Hertfordshire, as they faced a struggling St Albans City side at Clarence Park.
Darren McQueen scored the winning goal from the penalty spot to secure a hard fought victory,
which ended a barren run of results against St Albans City at this stadium.
However, after both sides had started positively, the visitors’ task was made even more difficult
when a contentious decision by referee, Carl Brook, saw them fall a goal behind after 22 minutes.
With both teams attacking in numbers, both could also find themselves vulnerable to the
counter-attack, and that’s exactly what happened when the hosts collected the ball and raced
towards the Dartford goal. Joe Iaciofano ran into the box with the ball and Tom Bonner tracked him,
only for the ball to bounce up and make contact with his arm. The referee awarded the penalty and
Iaciofano placed the ball beyond Mark Smith.
Ironically, the visitors did have the ball in the back of the net seven minutes previously, only for Liam Nash’s header to be ruled out for offside. A minute before that, Jack Jebb’s free-kick stung the palm of Dean Snedker, as the goalkeeper managed to turn the Dartford midfielder’s strike around the post.
The Darts pressed forward, attacking with pace, as they searched for an equaliser, which duly came on the half hour. A short free-kick was played by Amrit Bansal-McNulty, who then played a neat one-two before striking at goal from just outside the box. Snedker could only parry the ball straight into the path of Nash, who calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net to score his fifth goal since joining Steve King’s side.
St Albans launched a flurry of attacks immediately, as they looked to retake the lead, but Tom
Bonner’s defence held firm, defending with discipline. For all the Saints’ attacking play, it was
actually the visitors who should have scored and gone in at halftime with the lead. Catching the
hosts out with a swift counter-attack, Bansal-McNulty, Romain, Nash and McQueen all combined to
power up the pitch. The latter received the ball, rounded Snedker, but his touch was a little heavy,
sending the ball out of play.
The game then swung into Dartford’s favour in the 49th minute when Elliott Romain burst into the St Albans box, only to be brought down. Mr Brook awarded the penalty, and Darren McQueen stepped up to strike the ball high and beyond Snedker, scoring his eighteenth goal of the season.
Dartford should have stretched their lead to 3-1 in the 62nd minute when another terrific attacking
break resulted with Nash releasing McQueen. The Dartford striker was through on goal only for
Harry Forster to make a superb defensive block! A minute later saw the striker being replaced with
midfielder Billy Crook, as Steve King looked to tighten things up and put the anchors on St Albans’
The hosts became rather desperate soon after with two of their players falling far too easily in the
Dartford box, looking for penalties. Both opportunities (Sam Merson and Joe Iaciofano) took place
within minutes of each other, but the referee wasn’t interested and, in fact, issued a stern warning
to the latter.
Steve King made his last two substitutions within ten minutes of each other, as Luke Wanadio
replaced Amrit Bansal-McNulty (72) and Ronnie Vint came on for Liam Nash (81). St Albans also
made their changes, with David Noble and Zane Banton being replaced by Solomon Nwabuokei and
Jefferson Louis respectively (76). These substitutions were preceded by Sam Merson coming on for Dave Diedhiou (63).
With eight minutes remaining, however, the effort of the match (it has to be said) arrived, and it fell
to the hosts. An attack was thwarted by Dartford, who cleared their lines, only for the ball to fall to
Munashe Sundire. He struck the ball on the half-volley, thirty yards from goal, which alluded
everybody including goalkeeper Mark Smith. Thankfully, the spectacular effort struck the post and
travelled to safety.
The hosts searched for an opening throughout the closing minutes, and were even given an
additional five minutes of stoppage time. Yet, their efforts were in vain, as the Dartford players
stood firm and were rewarded with a vital three points for their efforts.
The victory sees the Darts unbeaten in three games and, more importantly, comfortably in the
playoff places and just seven points away from third place with a game in hand.
ST ALBANS CITY: Snedker, Bender, Longe-King, Sundire, Forster, Iaciofano, L.Gordon, Diedhiou,
Banton, Noble ©, Musonda.
SUBSTITUTES: Clark, Merson, Nwabuokei, Louis, R.Gordon.
DARTFORD: Smith, Wynter, Braham-Barrett, Bansal-McNulty, Hill, Bonner ©, Jebb, Husin, Romain,
SUBSTITUTES: Wanadio, Vint, Hyde, Ming, Crook.