CHELMSFORD 1 DARTFORD 0
Dartford’s miserable luck at the Melbourne Community Stadium continued, as a late goal by Louis Dunne condemned the Darts to a sixth defeat of the season.
Defence was the name of this game, as both sides took part in a predominantly dull encounter where clear-cut goal-scoring opportunities were in short supply, because both defensive units were organised and uncompromising.
To be fair, however, The Clarets were the stronger of the two in terms of attacking pressure and one can understand why Robbie Simpson’s side has the meanest defence in the National League South.
Despite the hosts starting reasonably well, the first forty-five was a dull and cold affair. Only the timely intervention by Tom Bonner prevented Cameron James from scoring as early as the fourth minute, as the game appeared to offer potential.
James was at it again in the 15th minute, when he got on the end of Eduino Vaz’s corner, only to shoot straight at Archie Mair before Jamie Yila fired wide of the goalkeeper’s upright following a corner three minutes later.
As far as the Darts were concerned, Charlie Sheringham registered their first attempt in the 13th minute following a Samir Carruthers free-kick. Unfortunately, the former’s effort failed to trouble goalkeeper Ovie Ejeheri.
The Chelmsford goalkeeper was called into action after sixteen minutes, as he saved a Tom Bonner header from Sam Odaudu’s long throw into the box.
The visitors were unfortunate to have not been awarded a penalty on 38 minutes, when Pierre Fonkeu was brought down after he’d raced into the Chelmsford box. However, referee Mr Ruebyn Ricardo wasn’t interested, as Sheringham’s effort from the loose ball was blocked well by Eduino Vaz.
Alan Dowson’s side did come even closer with six minutes of the half remaining, as Carruthers’ lovely long-range drive was deflected behind by a Chelmsford defender. However, the defence stood firm to deal with the resulting corner as half-time approached.
As the temperature dropped, the hosts began to boss proceedings during the opening exchanges of the second-half. And, they were almost rewarded for their efforts when a free-kick by Tom Blackwell was met by the boot of Simeon Jackson, but Archie Mair made the save (53).
That was pretty much it as far as memorable action was concerned, until the substitutions began to take place. And it was the hosts who moved first, bringing on Louis Dunne to replace Henry Ochieng in the 65th minute. Their remaining changes involved Harry Lodovika coming on for Simeon Jackson (73) and Samson Esan replacing Jamie Yila (87).
Meanwhile, the Darts swapped Davide Rodari for Luke Allen (66), Alex Wall for Charlie Sheringham (71), and finally Keiran Murtagh was replaced with Luke Coulson deep into stoppage time.
Returning to the action on the pitch, the Darts did come close in the 59th minute when Sheringham’s header eventually found Keiran Murtagh on the edge of the box, but the Dartford number ten couldn’t keep his shot down.
At the other end, a superb block by Tom Bonner prevented the hosts from taking the lead in the 74th minute. Liam Trotter then forced a good save out of Mair (76), before a swift counter-attack saw Trotter’s wickedly low cross narrowly miss the outstretched foot of the incoming Harry Lodovika (85).
Tom Blackwell fired over Mair’s crossbar (86), before a seemingly harmless Louis Dunne cross missed everyone in the Dartford box, including the goalkeeper to end up in the back of the net, as Chelmsford stole all three points (89).
Alan Dowson reacted by throwing on Coulson for Murtagh, but the damage had already been done in what was an unlucky set of circumstances.
CHELMSFORD: Ovie Ejeheri, Cameron James, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Liam Trotter, Dave Winfield (c), Kai Yearn, Simeon Jackson, Tom Blackwell, Henry Ochieng, Eduino Vaz, Jamie Yila.
SUBSTITUTES: Jacob Marsden (GK), Louis Dunne, Harry Lodovica, Samson Esan, Finn Wilkes.
DARTFORD: Archie Mair, Jordan Wynter, Samir Carruthers, Connor Essam, Tom Bonner (c), Keiran Murtagh, Davide Rodari, Maxwell Statham, Pierre Fonkeu, Charlie Sheringham, Sam Odaudu.
SUBSTITUTES: Joe Young (GK), Kristian Campbell, Luke Coulson, Luke Allen, Alex Wall.
By Chris Palmer