Dartford’s unbeaten league form continued, as they defeated Bath City for the fifth time in a row at Power House Princes Park.
The visitors offered little in front of goal, as Tom Bonner’s defence stood firm to earn a third consecutive clean sheet, while protecting a valuable lead courtesy of Noor Husin’s second-half strike.
The result could have been represented by a much bigger scoreline, had the hosts been more clinical in the final third themselves. Yet, the attacking intentions of Steve King’s side was evident from the start, as they kept the Romans pinned in their own half during the opening exchanges.
The Darts, who made just the one change from the draw at Hampton & Richmond (Jack Jebb replacing Ky Marsh-Brown), earned their first corner early as they piled on the pressure. And with ten minutes on the clock, should have been awarded a penalty when a Bath City player appeared to handle the ball after a dangerous cross by Elliott Romain. Unfortunately, referee Paul Johnson, had other ideas and decided in Bath’s favour!
Not that such a decision deterred the hosts, however, as they continued to dominate the ball, press forward, and force the Romans into desperate defending. Opportunities were created, but Dartford just couldn’t find that killer’s instinct. Jebb would send a dangerous cross into the box, only for the defence to clear (19), then another superb move resulted in Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong collecting the ball just outside the box. The tireless midfielder took a shot from distance, but sent the ball narrowly wide of Ryan Clarke’s post (22).
As Dartford continued to control proceedings, Noor Husin arrived a little late with a challenge, earning himself a yellow card in the 29th minute. Such a matter didn’t prevent the midfielder from helping his team with another impressive display, however, as yet another goal-scoring opportunity was created within two minutes. Striker Jack Barham was the player who got himself into a great position on this occasion, as he aimed for the top corner. Unfortunately, his well-struck effort flew just wide of the upright.
The referee would irritate Steve King once more in the first-half, as he booked Jazzi Barnum-Bobb for a foul with six minutes remaining. However, before that occurred, the hosts would be left to feel frustrated at not making their possession advantage count. Romain found himself inside the Roman box and, using his skill, turned well before pulling the trigger. Once again, though, a Dartford attempt failed to hit the target (33), yet more frustration beckoned five minutes later, when Lucas Tomlinson blocked a Jebb strike.
The second-half took some considerable time to begin due to an injury to one of the officials. And the football itself took a little time to gather pace once underway, until we arrived at the 52nd minute… The Darts attacked with precision down the left flank, and a marvellous cross was sent into the box. Goalkeeper, Clarke, got his left hand to the ball, but sent it straight into the danger area. As mayhem ensued, Noor Husin was the quickest to react, firing beyond Clarke, thus giving his side a deserved lead.
The visitors reacted, albeit slowly, before registering their first attempt of the second forty-five in the 67th minute. Tomlinson was the player with the opportunity, but thankfully he sent his effort well over Craig King’s crossbar. Seven minutes previously saw Mr Johnson reach for his pocket again. This time it was Ronnie Vint who saw yellow for a late challenge.
That Tomlinson miss sparked another reaction from the hosts, as a terrific attack saw Romain play an equally terrific ball into the path of Barham. Running in at full speed, Barham struck the ball at pace, but it flew just over the bar (67). Three minutes later, Romain was at it again! This time he played the ball to Husin, who struck it sweetly, only to see it cannon off of a Bath City defender.
Steve King freshened things up by using all three substitutions, as David Ijaha replaced Jack Jebb (70), Charlie Sheringham replaced Elliott Romain (79), and Ky Marsh-Brown replaced Jack Barham (80). In between those, however, was another opportunity for his team to double its lead. Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong was the guilty party on this occasion, though, as he sent his free-kick over the crossbar in the 78th minute.
With time running out, both sides created good chances to score, but it was the visitors who came closest after a good break down their right flank. Craig Braham-Barrett was rarely beaten in a dangerous position throughout the game, but he was on this occasion, and a neat ball was sent into the Dartford danger area. Tommy Conway arrived to stab the ball beyond King, but the goal was chalked off for offside (89).
At the other end, the pacey Marsh-Brown sent a wonderful drive narrowly wide in the 85th minute, but it was the Romans who finished the stronger, as they searched for an equaliser. Conway was the danger man again, but some outstanding defending by Dartford saw his well-struck shot blocked in excellent fashion.
As the final whistle blew, some would reflect on missed opportunities. However, this was another strong performance from the Darts. Every player worked tirelessly throughout the ninety minutes, and nobody was afraid of putting their bodies on the line in order to preserve the lead. The hard work was certainly worth it, as the Darts have earned seven points in three games and, more importantly, have yet to concede in open play this season.
DARTFORD: Craig King, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Craig Braham-Barrett, Jordan Wynter, Ronnie Vint, Tom Bonner ©, Noor Husin, Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, Jack Barham, Elliott Romain, Jack Jebb.
SUBSTITUTES: Connor Essam, Charlie Sheringham, David Ijaha, Gavin McCallum, Ky Marsh-Brown.
BATH CITY: Ryan Clarke ©, Tom Smith, Jack Batten, Dan Ball, Callum Evans, Ryan Harley, Tommy Conway, Jason Pope, Tom Leak, Freddie Hinds, Lucas Tomlinson.
SUBSTITUTES: Freddie Grant, Lloyd James, Tom Richards, Will Henry, Callum Watts.