Dartford’s National League South campaign got off to a winning start, as they stood firm against an aggressively physical Chelmsford side at Princes Park.
Neither team was prepared to give an inch during the opening exchanges, and referee Jack Packman wasn’t feeling generous in the leniency department either, as he decided to book Elliott Romain for a rough challenge within the first sixty seconds!
With play being dominated in the midfield, neither defence was allowing any attacking movement to flow, and we had to wait until the eighteenth minute for the first corner to be awarded. It went the way of the hosts, and Ronnie Vint was able to get on the end of it, but headed over Lee Worgan’s crossbar.
This seemed to spark the game into life, and the Clarets surged forward with a quick counter-attack, which saw Craig King save well from a Cameron James header (20). Dartford attacked immediately through the middle, forcing Worgan to miss-kick his clearance straight into the path of the incoming Ricky Modeste. Unaware of how much time he actually had, Modeste controlled the bouncing ball, then struck it first time, sending it sailing over the bar. Had he realised, he would surely have taken a second touch, before burying the ball in the back of the net… However, hindsight is a wonderful thing…
The Dartford #7 didn’t have long to rue his miss, however, because three minutes later his side took a deserved lead. Having been awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position, the ball eventually ended up with Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, who sent a wonderful cross into the Chelmsford box. The ball found Ky Marsh-Brown, who buried it beyond Worgan to open his goal account of the season.
The goal appeared to increase the host’s confidence levels, and they began to find their feet. Stringing a few passes together, Tom Bonner and Co began putting more pressure on the visitors, who started to get frustrated when not in possession. Cameron James would find himself in Mr Jackman’s book after he brought Modeste down unfairly in the 35th minute.
Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, leading the midfield, would take the free-kick from just outside the penalty area, but his effort would disappear over the Chelmsford crossbar. Previously, Ronnie Vint was called into action in the 32nd, as he slid in with a superb tackle to deny the visitors a shot on goal.
Chelmsford had opportunities themselves, but didn’t pose too much of a threat. Philip Roberts would find space to shoot inside the Dartford box after good work by Adam Morgan in the 37th minute, but thankfully his effort went wide. Morgan would have an opportunity himself five minutes later, after the Darts gave away a free-kick for a foul on winger Daniel Imray. Yet, his curling effort was nowhere near to troubling King.
Dartford began the second half confidently, and should have doubled their lead immediately, if only Vint’s header was a few inches closer. Two minutes later, former Dart Billy Crook was shown a yellow card for a late challenge on the edge of the Chelmsford box (48). Berkeley-Agyepong took the free-kick, but the visitors were getting more unhappy and physical, which resulted in a second
free-kick within seconds! Up stepped Berkeley-Agyepong again, but his effort sailed harmlessly over the bar on this occasion.
The Dartford physio would be called into action, as both Marsh-Brown (58) and Modeste (62) would end up the victims of a few more out-of-control Chelmsford challenges. Frustrations boiled over in the Chelmsford dugout soon after and Mr Jackman would subsequently issue the visiting manager, Robbie Simpson, a yellow card as well (64).
Alex Teniola also received a yellow card after coming on for Billy Crook. The free-kick would find Tom Bonner, who would send the ball back across the face of goal with a strong header, but the visitors managed to clear the danger (72).
Meanwhile, at the other end, chances were few and far between, as the Dartford defence remained rigid and organised. Instead, Chelmsford were restricted to efforts such as Imray’s in the 77th minute, in which he tried crossing into the box from distance. But, there was Craig King to gather the ball with ease.
Imray would almost pay for a mistake two minutes later though, as the lively Marsh-Brown nipped in to steal the ball from him, before feeding it forward into the path of Romain. Desperate defending would serve to block the Dartford #9s strike unfortunately, and the visitors managed to clear the danger.
Despite the amount of fouls committed by the opposition, Steve King only chose to make one substitution, which occurred in the 86th minute. Ricky Modeste was the player to leave the field after putting in a solid shift, to be replaced by Abdul Osman, who would help his teammates to stand firm and secure the victory.
The victory could have tasted even sweeter as we reached the 90th minute, as Marsh-Brown breached the Chelmsford defence and was able to shoot towards goal. However, unlike his excellent first-half goal, his shooting boots seemed to desert him on this occasion, and he fired into the
And so a hard-fought victory was earned on the opening day of the season, as the Darts frustrated a stubborn and physical Chelmsford side. This wasn’t a pretty display by any means. But it was a determined performance, whereby everyone worked tirelessly for each other, in order to secure victory and a clean sheet.
DARTFORD: Craig King, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Craig Braham-Barrett, Jordan Wynter, Ronnie Vint, Tom Bonner ©, Ricky Modeste, Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, Elliott Romain, Noor Husin, Ky Marsh-Brown. SUBSTITUTES: Charlie Sheringham, Gavin McCallum, David Ijaha, Abdul Osman, Josh Hill.
CHELMSFORD: Lee Worgan, Anthony Church ©, Cameron James, Daniel Imray, Adam Morgan, Philip Roberts, Adam Liddle, Adebola Oluwo, Chez Isaac, Billy Crook, Elliott Ward.
SUBSTITUTES: Cadell Fraser-Robinson, Oliver Muldoon, Alex Teniola, Callum Harrison, Robbie Simpson.