Dartford travelled to the New Forest on Saturday 5th of October, as they faced Southern Premier South League side Blackfield & Langley at Gang Warily for the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round.
The Watersiders were hoping to achieve an upset against the visitors, but Tony Burman’s side had other ideas, as the Darts put in an excellent performance to win on their travels for the third game in a row.
The Darts were boosted by the return of midfield duo Lee Noble and Luke Allen, who slotted into the middle, while Ben Greenhalgh and Luke Wanadio patrolled the wings. Mark Smith remained in goal, while the defence was also boosted by the returning Tom Bonner. The captain sat at left-back and was accompanied by Ronnie Vint, Josh Hill and Cameron Brodie. A powerful attack was selected with Charlie Sheringham partnering Adam Cunnington. The substitutes included McQueen, Wabo, Hayes, Bacon, Evans, Odaudu and Lashley.
Dartford started brightly and had a great chance to take the lead in the third minute. Wanadio received a pass from Cunnington and then sent a great ball towards Sheringham, who put it in the back of the net, only to be caught offside. Five minutes later saw goalkeeper Lewis Noice fumble a
Greenhalgh free kick and the resulting goal-mouth scramble saw at least five attempts in quick succession occur, but no goal came due to top defending from the hosts.
All that hard defending from the hosts was in vain, however, as the Darts took the lead soon after when Noice saw his save from Cunningtons shot fall straight to Sheringham, who tapped the ball home with ease. The goal came after good work by Wanadio, and the Dartford number ten was at it
again with fifteen minutes on the clock, as he drove the ball forward, inviting the defender to challenge. The challenge flew in, but referee Sunny Gill amazingly awarded a goal kick to the hosts!
With twenty minutes gone, Dartford should have doubled their lead when Bonner sent a great ball towards Greenhalgh, who then crossed towards Sheringham. Unfortunately, the big number nine’s header went agonisingly wide of the post.
With the hosts stunned and chasing the game, Dartford looked comfortable as they controlled proceedings and looked the more dangerous when venturing forward. They were rewarded for their efforts when a second goal arrived a minute before half-time. The excellent Wanadio sent a brilliant ball into the danger area and Allen arrived to slot it home from six yards.
The second half saw Evans replace Brodie, and the Watersiders came out with all guns blazing, pressing the visitors back into their own half. But, Bonner and Co stood firm and dealt with the pressure for the opening twenty minutes or so.
The strong defending and team effort was then awarded in the 67th minute after a Dartford break saw Allen challenged in the box. The referee awarded a penalty and Sheringham tucked it away nicely, giving the Darts a 3-0 lead. However, a lapse in concentration and a poor clearance saw the
hosts pull a goal back immediately, as Hisham Kasimu was allowed through to score.
That goal re-ignited the host’s fire and they piled on the pressure for a little while, as they searched for another goal. But Dartford stood firm and soon began to control the game again, and then with ten minutes remaining, they put the game beyond reach. A Wanadio corner found Cunnington in the box, who buried the ball past Noice to stretch the lead to 4-1.
Dartford played down the clock after that and Tony made his remaining substitutions, with Cunnington coming off for Wabo and then Sheringham being replaced by Bacon a few minutes later.
The travelling fans were in full voice as they showed their appreciation and support of a dominant Dartford performance, which saw an impressive victory and a place in the next round of the FA Cup.