Dartford’s excellent winning run at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park came to an end, as a well-organised Bath City held them to a goalless draw in front of 835 supporters.
With both sides struggling to regain their consistent run of form, it was no surprise that an even first-half failed to ignite any passion amongst the shivering supporters who’d left the warmth of their homes for the 12.30pm kick-off on a freezing cold Saturday.
Dartford debutant Malachi Napa, who’d arrived on loan from National League side Wealdstone, looked lively in the first forty-five. The attacking midfielder was able to race down the right-flank and send a dangerous cross across the goal-mouth early, but no Dartford teammate was able to get to the ball. He’d repeat the feat later in the half with a similar result, as the Darts struggled to fire.
In fact, the closest anyone came to registering a shot on target, was when Charlie Sheringham received the ball after Samir Carruthers and Maxwell Statham combined well, only to fire over Josh Gould’s crossbar in the 36th minute.
The second forty-five began in similar fashion, but Alan Dowson’s Darts did look to press higher up the pitch in order to create something meaningful. They thought they’d opened the scoring in the 57th minute when Charlie Sheringham got on the end of Maxwell Statham’s cross, but the striker’s effort was chalked off for a nudge on the defender’s back during the build-up.
The first official shot on target finally arrived in the 71st minute, when Malachi Napa’s long-range drive was collected by Josh Gould.
Five minutes later saw Callum Ebanks get on the end of Scott Wilson’s excellent cross to bury the ball beyond Archie Mair. However, that one was also ruled out after the referee, Mr Jack Packman, deemed the Roman to be offside.
Alan Dowson was the only manager to take advantage of his substitutions, as he used all three available during the second-half. First to enter proceedings was Luke Allen, as he replaced Keiran Murtagh in the 66th minute. That was then followed by Davide Rodari coming on for Malachi Napa (72) and Alex Wall replacing Charlie Sheringham (77).
However, the changes didn’t really work in favour of the hosts on this occasion, as the pendulum swung towards the visitors and they began to look more threatening during the final 15-20 minutes.
Man of The Match, Archie Mair, saved well from Dan Hayfield’s deflected strike (77), before the goalkeeper repeated the feat to thwart James Morton (81).
And, with the Romans looking the more likely to nick the points, Archie Mair was fortunate that Callum Ebanks’ 82nd minute header was straight at him from close-range.
Tom Bonner then stepped up to ensure the points were shared with two superb blocks. The first occurred in the 88th minute, when he prevented Tom Smith from scoring a certain goal, before the Dartford Skipper did it again deep into stoppage time to frustrate the visitors once again.
Whilst this wasn’t the best performance by either side, as the weather surely played its part, the Darts will be grateful to have remained organised in order to have earned a valuable point.
DARTFORD: Archie Mair, Jordan Wynter, Samir Carruthers, Connor Essam, Tom Bonner (c), Keiran Murtagh, Maxwell Statham, Pierre Fonkeu, Charlie Sheringham, Sam Odaudu, Malachi Napa.
SUBSTITUTES: Kristian Campbell, Luke Coulson, Luke Allen, Alex Wall, Davide Rodari.
BATH CITY: Josh Gould, Joe Raynes, Dan Greenslade, Jordan Dyer, Kieran Parselle, Dan Hayfield, Tom Smith, Chris Lines, Scott Wilson, James Morton, Callum Ebanks.
SUBSTITUTES: Jack Batten, Ben Ford, Ryan Clarke, Luke Spokes, Rex Mannings.
By Chris Palmer