Upcoming MatchHendon vs Dartford/April 23, 2024/Silver Jubilee Park


Paul Rooney scored his third league goal of the season, as Dartford came from behind to rescue a point against former boss Alan Dowson’s Hemel Hempstead in front of 1,310 supporters at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park.

With mixed weather conditions on a cold afternoon in Kent, this fixture certainly wasn’t easy on the eye. And with both teams struggling for form, perhaps a hard-fought draw was always on the cards.

After a respectable minutes’ applause in honour of the sad passing of Dartford’s Co-Chairman Dave Skinner, it was the hosts that looked to have taken the game by the scruff of the neck during the early exchanges, as Adrian Pennock’s altered side played some neat attacking football.

In light of a few players’ loan deals coming to an end, Adrian and his coaching staff were quick to bring in reinforcements before today’s game. Leyton Orient duo Rhys Byrne (goalkeeper) and Harrison Sodje (left-back) arrived on loan until the end of the season, as did Aldershot Town striker Ollie Bray. All three went straight into the starting eleven, as Adrian looked to end a three-game losing streak in the National League South.

Only a good block by Chris Smith prevented Fumnaya Shomotun from firing the Darts in front after eleven minutes, before the visitors were forced into an early substitution after former Dart Pierre Fonkeu picked up an injury in the 13th minute. His replacement was Giuseppe Iaciofano.

Alan Dowson’s assistant (Dowse was suspended from the touchline for his return to Dartford) would go on to swap Joshua Hill with Giuseppe Re at the start of the second-half, before bringing on Alfie Matthews for Michael Folivi (78).

Meanwhile, Adrian would wait until the 78th minute before introducing Luke Allen for Alex Wall, before replacing Jordan Wynter with Jack Smith (89).

As we return to the action in the first-half, we find the hosts still in control. Fumnaya Shomotun managed to get on the end of Luke Coulson’s free-kick in the 29th minute, but was unable to test goalkeeper Craig King.

However, The Tudors soon grew into the game and found themselves ahead by the 34th minute, after Michael Folivi chipped the ball over Rhys Byrne.

Dartford responded via Alex Wall, who fired over the crossbar after good work by Tommy Block (44), before Hemel’s Joshua Hill had to receive treatment after suffering a head injury… the reason why The Tudors’ skipper was unable to return for the second-half.

The hosts started the second forty-five on the front foot and Alex Wall’s ball into the box wrecked havoc… Firstly, Fumnaya Shomotun saw his shot blocked, before Craig King saved brilliantly to prevent Paul Rooney’s effort from going in (47).

The Dartford number ten was having a great afternoon, with a performance which would earn him the Man of The Match award. And he was undeterred by seeing King save that strike, as it wasn’t long before he got another opportunity…

This time, he managed to get on the end of a long-ball from Rhys Byrne, before firing into the bottom corner to bring his team level (52).

The visitors responded via Michael Folivi (55) and Giuseppe Iaciofano (56), but neither troubled Byrne, before Alex Wall failed to trouble Craig King from a tight angle at the other end (64).

Taylor Maloney narrowly missed the target with a header in the 76th minute, before Luke Coulson sent a free-kick narrowly over King’s crossbar late on (86), as neither side could get a firm grip on proceedings for the remainder of the game.


DARTFORD: Rhys Byrne, Jordan Wynter, Tommy Block, Luke Coulson (c), Alex Wall, Paul Rooney, Ollie Bray, Fumnaya Shomotun, Taylor Maloney, Ronny Nelson, Harrison Sodje.

SUBSTITUTES: Jack Smith, Luke Allen, Maxwell Statham, Tom Wray, Joash Nembhard.

HEMEL HEMPSTEAD: Craig King, Joshua Williams, Joshua Hill, George Williams, Junior Gyamfi, Chris Smith, Ike Orji, Michael Folivi, Anton Dworzak, Pierre Fonkeu, Jamie Sendles-White.

SUBSTITUTES: Montel McKenzie, Alfie Matthews, Giuseppe Iaciofano, Giuseppe Re, Jonathan MacAuley.

Match Photos Gallery

Chris Palmer