Dartford arrived at the Aspect Arena with the intention of securing a first away win of the season.
And that’s exactly what they did, as a solid performance and goals from Sheringham and Flisher saw off Concord Rangers.
Once again, Tony named a strong squad, but with a few enforced changes. Goalkeeper Mark Smith remained, taking his place behind the defence, which consisted of Ronnie Vint, Josh Hill, Alex Flisher and Rob Howard. The midfield and wingers were Luke Allen, Jordan Wynter, Ben Greenhalgh and
Ryan Hayes, while Darren McQueen led the attack together with Charlie Sheringham (who was entrusted with the captain’s armband due to the absence of Tom Bonner and Lee Noble). The Dartford substitutes were Jay Bacon, Alfie Evans, Luke Wanadio, Samuel Odaudu and Norman Wabo.
The Darts were on the front-foot straight from kick-off and were rewarded in the fourth minute. The magnificent Hayes unleashed a fearsome effort at goal, which goalkeeper Chris Haigh could only parry into the path of Sheringham. The big number 9 slotted the ball into the back of the net, thus
shocking the Beach Boys.
With the hosts pinned back in their own half, Dartford piled on the pressure, with Hayes in particular having the time of his life out on the right wing, as he terrorised the defence. In the 13th minute, he was at it again as he ran at the Concord left-back, cut inside and placed a terrific pass to Sheringham.
Unfortunately, the latter’s effort took a deflection and Haigh was able to collect the ball easily. Moments later, Sheringham was at it again and made a good run into the box as Allen sent the ball over the top. However, the ball was a little too far for the striker to reach and the hosts were able to deal with the threat.
It took until the 23rd minute for Danny Scopes’ side to show any real initiative in attack, but their effort flew high over Smith’s goal. The Darts weren’t to be deterred, though, as they launched an immediate counter attack and Sheringham played a great ball out wide to Hayes. Once again, the Dartford number 7 got into a good position and sent a curling effort just wide of the post.
This opening half clearly belonged to the visitors, and they made Concord pay again in the 27th minute. Flisher picked up the ball and drove forward into the penalty area, before striking a beautiful effort into the bottom corner. A minute later should have seen the Darts score a third, as first Hayes cut inside and struck a curling piledriver towards goal and forcing Haigh into a fine diving save, and then Wynter was able to strike at goal from a corner. His effort appeared to go under the keeper, but to everyone’s dismay, didn’t cross the line.
The hosts tried to get back into the game, but no real meaningful opportunities arose because Tony’s men had everything under control, and they went in at half-time with a two-goal advantage and looking extremely comfortable.
That comfort continued after the break, as the visitors controlled proceedings during a rather dull second forty-five. The Darts pressed well when not in possession and frustrated the hosts. It took until the 58th minute for the Aspect Arena crowd to wake up, when they thought their team had been presented with a goal-scoring opportunity, only for Vint to get back and put in an excellent tackle to prevent any shot from materialising. Three minutes later, the Beach Boys thought they’d
pulled a goal back when Decarrey Sheriff latched onto a rebound after Smith had saved smartly. However, referee Ben Atkinson blew for offside.
As the hosts continued to search for an opening, Tony brought on a fresh pair of legs, with McQueen being replaced by Wabo. The substitution almost paid off four minutes later, when the pacey striker sent a neat ball out to Greenhalgh, but the Dartford winger’s shot was blocked and sent behind for a corner. That would prove to be his last contribution of the game, as he was replaced by Wanadio a minute later.
With Dartford dealing with the host’s attack and defending in numbers, the points were looking more secure with each passing minute. The few opportunities that Concord did manage were off-target and failed to really test Smith in the Dartford goal. Then, with ten minutes remaining, the
visitors were unlucky not to add a third. The outstanding Hayes collected the ball and went on another one of his exciting runs into the penalty area. After cutting inside, he fired another curling effort, which flew agonisingly wide of the top corner. He was on the run again six minutes later and,
leaving the defender for dead, got into the danger area only to see his shot saved by the goalkeeper.
The remaining few minutes saw nothing of real significance occur, as Dartford ran down the clock and secured a first away win and clean sheet of the season. The result sees the Darts move out of the bottom three, and gives the squad something to build on, as they seek to climb the table.