Upcoming MatchSevenoaks Town vs Dartford/July 13, 2024/Greatness Park

MATCH REPORT | DARTFORD 0 GILLINGHAM 5

Dartford’s pre-season preparations continued, as EFL outfit Gillingham took advantage of a combination of clinical finishing and a pacey attack to score five goals at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park.

With a train strike, wet weather, and the Women’s World Cup taking place, together with an early afternoon kick-off time, the attendance fell a little short of expectations for this friendly fixture. That being said, though, a respectable 884 supporters arrived expecting another battle similar to the recent friendly against Charlton Athletic.

The Gills had other ideas, however, and had all but silenced the Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park faithful within nine minutes. Shaun Williams was the man to break the deadlock, after his strike from just inside the Dartford box took a wicked deflection, leaving goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney with no chance of saving.

The new looking Dartford side regrouped and Brandon Barzey forced a corner after twelve minutes, before Timothee Dieng doubled the visitors lead with a smart finish (19).

Despite struggling with the pace of the Gillingham attack, the hosts began pulling themselves back into the contest. Brandon Barzey and Luke Coulson both looked dangerous, but the Gills’ defence looked relatively undeterred throughout the majority of the first forty-five.

The host did have a good case for a handball offence after 29 minutes, but referee Mr Isaac Searle denied a spot-kick, awarding Alan Dowson’s men a corner instead. The set-piece was claimed by goalkeeper Matt Turner confidently and, just when it was looking like a more even contest, the Gills netted a third to virtually kill the game off.

The goal came via Shaun Williams once again, only on this occasion he got on the end of an excellent corner to direct a flicked header beyond Beeney (35), as the visitors showed how clinical they can be.

However, the Darts responded well and were extremely unfortunate to have not pulled a goal back before the half-time break. Harvey Bradbury came close to scoring in the 37th minute, only to see Matt Turner pull off a superb save to thwart the striker.

Lewis Manor then thumped the crossbar after getting on the end of a Coulson free-kick, before Tommy Block’s follow-up was cleared off the line (44)!

Neil Harris decided to make a double substitution at the break, as Shaun Williams and George Lapslie were replaced by Jonny Williams and Ethan Coleman, thus denying the double goalscorer a hat-trick… not that it mattered…!

The Darts started well in the second-half, and Coulson forced another excellent save out of Turner with a curling drive in the opening seconds. However, the visitors dealt with the resulting corner before showing their clinical edge once again following a swift attack. Dom Jeffries was the player to get their fourth goal of the afternoon with a simple tap-in at the far post (48).

Once again, the hosts responded via Coulson, who found Joash Nembhard with an excellent delivery, but the latter was unable to convert the opportunity (50).

Joseph Gbode struck Mitchell Beeney’s upright (56), before the goalkeeper denied Cheye Alexander with an excellent save (59).

As far as substitutions were concerned, Alan Dowson made his first in the 58th minute when Joe Rabbetts replaced Sam Odaudu. This was followed by Paul Rooney coming on for Jordan Wynter (62), Manny Adebowale coming on for Tommy Block (68), Ollie Box replacing Lewis Manor (73), George Whitefield and Marvin Herschel coming on for Luke Coulson and Tyrell Miller-Rodney (80), before Jayden Boulton replaced eventual Man of The Match recipient Brandon Barzey (84).

There was still time for one more goal, as Gillingham took advantage of their superior pace once again to leave Beeney too exposed at the back. Robbie McKenzie and Jonny Williams combined well to carve open space, before the latter set-up Jayden Clarke with a neat pass, which Clarke wasn’t going to miss (85).

In all fairness, despite Gillingham’s clinical edge in front of goal, the scoreline doesn’t really reflect the entire ninety minutes. The Dartford players can be encouraged that they created a few good opportunities against their full-time opponents and, on another day, may have scored two or three goals themselves. The most important thing is that the players got more minutes on the pitch in aid of gelling together as a team (after many new faces have arrived), as the National League South season looms large around the corner.

TEAMS

DARTFORD: Mitchell Beeney, Jordan Wynter, Sam Odaudu (c), Tommy Block, Tyrell Miller-Rodney, Baris Altintop, Luke Coulson, Lewis Manor, Harvey Bradbury, Brandon Barzey, Joash Nembhard.

SUBSTITUTES: Alex Wall, Ollie Box, Paul Rooney, Joe Rabbetts, Manny Adebowale, George Whitefield, Marvin Herschel, Tom Wray, Jayden Boulton.

GILLINGHAM: Jake Turner, Cheye Alexander, Max Clark, Shad Ogie, Max Ehmer, Shaun Williams (c), Timothee Dieng, George Lapslie, Joseph Gbode, Dom Jeffries, Jayden Clarke.

SUBSTITUTES: Glenn Morris, Will Wright, John Williams, Tom Nicholls, Robbie McKenzie, Ethan Coleman, Conor Masterson, Ron Sithole, Josh Chambers.

By Chris Palmer