The final pre-season friendly at Princes Park saw Steve King’s Dartford take on and beat National League outfit Barnet on a cold and windy Saturday afternoon.
The only goal of the game would be scored by a trialist, who was named in a strong starting eleven.
The trialist started alongside King, Barnum-Bobb, Braham-Barrett, Wynter, Hill, Bonner, Modeste, Berkeley-Agyepong, Romain, and Marsh-Brown.
The hosts made a bright start, pushing the Bees back into their own half, as they probed for the opening goal. Barnet offered nothing during the opening exchanges, except for strong defending, as they cleared a corner after a powerful drive from Marsh-Brown in the fifth minute.
After more good attacking play from the Darts, which forced a couple of corners, they were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position in the 17th minute. Unfortunately, Marsh-Brown’s effort from just outside the box sailed over the crossbar.
The visitors responded immediately with their first meaningful effort, as Fonguck found his excellent low cross deflected onto the Dartford upright and rebound safely into King’s hands. A similar set of circumstances would occur for the Bees later in the game, as a good attacking move would enable
Taylor to strike a powerful effort towards King’s goal (56). The effort would be blocked superbly by the Dartford defence, but Mason-Clark would be able to collect the ball soon after. His effort would, thankfully, smash against the crossbar!
Returning to the remaining first-half action, however, Barnet goalkeeper Loach was forced into making a good save from Elliott Romain in the 26th minute. The striker had received the ball from Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, after the midfielder had robbed the Barnet midfield, driven forward
powerfully, before sending Romain through. Unfortunately, Romain couldn’t beat the goalkeeper, but that didn’t deter the Darts from continuing their solid attacking attitude.
The goal that the hosts deserved arrived five minutes from half-time. It came after excellent work from Romain, as he used his skill and strength to breach the Barnet defence, before feeding a lovely ball through towards the trialist. The latter controlled the ball, took it around the rushing-out Loach,
and passed it into the back of the net.
As the temperature plummeted and the wind increased, the Darts continued where they left off during the opening few minutes of the second forty-five. Romain should have doubled the lead, but shot straight at Loach in the 49th minute. Meanwhile, Barnum-Bobb sent a free-kick over the
crossbar six minutes later.
The Dartford attack deserved more than the solitary goal, as they carved open a couple of good runs, which were considered as possible penalty opportunities had the referee been convinced. However, the appeals (on 60 and 65 minutes respectively) were ignored and the decisions went the way of Barnet.
At the other end, the Bees would find more frustration, as they struck the woodwork for the third time in the game (74). Fonguck was the player involved again, as his effort cannoned off the post to the dismay of his teammates. And what of Alfie Pavey? The former Dartford top-scorer and player of the season was kept quiet by Tom Bonner and Co. Making hardly any impression on the game, he was substituted in the 65th minute.
As usual during pre-season, there were numerous substitutions during the second half. Unfortunately, a lack of announcements resulted in some being missed by this writer. Having said that, the following were noted… Vint replaced Hill (58), a trialist replaced Modeste (71), Allen and
Ijaha replaced Marsh-Brown and Berkeley-Agyepong (79), and Bonner would be replaced by Essam with eight minutes remaining. This would be followed by another trialist replacing Romain in the 83rd minute.
At some stage previously, Charlie Sheringham entered proceedings and was unlucky to not get himself onto the end of a curling free-kick from Berkeley-Agyepong in the 70th minute. Not that the miss mattered too much though, as Barnet offered very little in an attacking sense, as the Darts controlled the game throughout.
And so the pre-season fixtures at Princes Park came to an excellent conclusion, as Dartford completed their preparation unbeaten against National League opposition. Steve King’s team has looked sharp and focused in recent weeks, conceding just the one goal from open play during the last four games. Next weekend sees the return of competitive football, as Dartford host Slough Town in the FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round before taking on Chelmsford City in the National League South.
By Chris Palmer