Dartford’s winless start to the season continued, as Alfie Pavey converted a late penalty to earn Farnborough a point at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park.
Despite the late goals, this game certainly wasn’t one for the memory banks. In fact, the 920 supporters in attendance this afternoon would have been forgiven if they’d spent the majority of the first-half gazing up at the beautiful blue sky and fluffy clouds hanging overhead… for there was little in the way of goalmouth action on the pitch.
However, the officials certainly didn’t help matters either, with referee Mr Eugene Robinson intent on blowing his whistle and stopping play at every opportunity, and assistants that…well… let’s just leave it there shall we and focus on what action there was…!
In a nutshell, what took place on the pitch resembled a slow game of chess rather than a football match. Both sides struggled to get their game going, and both cancelled each other out in a midfield battle which had no flow.
To be fair, the Darts did try to create opportunities, but their opponents neither offered them the time nor the space. James Golding couldn’t keep his header on target (12) and neither could Brandon Barzey do the same with his strike two minutes later.
Perhaps the writing was on the wall when Harvey Bradbury was floored inside the Farnborough box in the 20th minute… Surely a definite penalty for the hosts casually brushed aside by Mr Robinson!
Tyrell Miller-Rodney was the next Dart to try his luck from the edge of Boro’s box, only for accuracy to desert the midfielder on both occasions (26 and 36).
As for the visitors, they were also finding conditions tough, as former Dartford striker Alfie Pavey set up Reggie Young perfectly, only for the latter to shoot over the top of Mitchell Beeney’s crossbar in the 27th minute. That would prove to be virtually his last kick of the game, as an injury forced him off two minutes later, to be replaced by Adam Payce.
The new man would be the next to try his luck following a corner, only for the Dartford defence stand firm and block it. The ball fell into the path of Jack Ball, but his strike flew narrowly wide of Beeney’s upright (39).
It was as you were during the opening exchanges of the second-half, except for the wonderful challenge by Jordan Wynter to prevent Salim Saied from testing Mitchell Beeney in a one-on-one situation (48)!
Having already seen Luke Coulson and Maxwell Statham booked, Tyrell Miller-Rodney was next to see a yellow card in an utterly bizarre set of circumstances in which the Dartford midfielder was harshly treated (54).
He’d be the first of Alan Dowson’s substitutions this afternoon, leaving the field to be replaced by Luke Allen in the 63rd minute. That was followed by Paul Rooney making way for Lewis Manor (69), before Maxwell Statham was forced off with an injury in stoppage time (90+3) and replaced by Baris Altintop.
Meanwhile, Farnborough’s two remaining substitutions came in the 76th minute, as Taylor Maloney and Connor Cullen came on for Ricky Holmes and Adam Payce respectively.
Returning to the action, the visitors came close via Jack Ball, who fired over the crossbar after getting on the end of a great ball by Ollie Robinson (59), before Saied forced a good save out of Mitchell Beeney three minutes later.
Then, with fifteen minutes remaining, Dartford finally got the breakthrough after the visitors conceded a relatively harmless corner. Luke Coulson whipped the ball into the danger area and Man of The Match, Maxwell Statham, met it at the far post to net his first goal of the season (75).
The visitors responded well, as Jack Ball forced a brilliant save out of Beeney in the 88th minute, before Lewis Manor saw his header at the other end saved well by Jack Turner (90+4).
However, with the pitch completely open now and end-to-end football taking place, the visitors had the last laugh… Connor Cullen was fouled inside the box following a corner and Mr Robinson awarded the penalty, which Alfie Pavey despatched.
The result sees the Darts remain winless in their opening four games of the season and drop into the bottom four of the National League South table. However, it’s early days and Luke Coulson and Co can be encouraged with the fact that they’ve only been beaten once… and that they remain unbeaten at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. There’s still an awful lot of football to be played… starting next weekend at newly promoted Aveley.
DARTFORD: Mitchell Beeney, Jordan Wynter, Tommy Block, Tyrell Miller-Rodney, Luke Coulson (c), Paul Rooney, Maxwell Statham, Brandon Barzey, James Golding, Joash Nembhard, Harvey Bradbury.
SUBSTITUTES: Baris Altintop, Luke Allen, Lewis Manor, Tom Wray, Charlie Sheringham.
FARNBOROUGH: Jack Turner, Jack Ball, Jordan Norville-Williams, Ollie Robinson, Joe Partington, Jaden Perez, Alfie Pavey, Reggie Young, Selim Saied, Ricky Holmes, Sid Nelson.
SUBSTITUTES: Adam Payce, Connor Cullen, Dan Gifford, Courtney Fearn, Taylor Maloney.
By Chris Palmer