Dartford hosted Billericay Town at Princes Park on a cold December afternoon, as the festive period of football began in style.
Steve King’s Darts began with the intention of leapfrogging their opponents in the National League
South table. And leapfrog Ricay they did, despite missing first choice goalkeeper Mark Smith due to
an injury. A brace from Elliott Romain contributed towards a much needed victory on home soil in
front of 1,042 supporters.
The Darts have been extremely unfortunate with injuries this season, and Steve King was forced to
shuffle his injury-hit squad yet again. Two new signings were announced before the game, with both being available for selection. Striker Rowan Liburd arrived on a month’s loan from Hereford, and was named in the starting eleven. While midfielder Miloud Djouaher was named as a substitute.
With Mark Smith being injured last weekend, the opportunity to start fell to Alhaji Sesay to take his
place between the sticks and impress his manager. The goalkeeper wasn’t the only Dartford player
with that positive mindset, however, as the hosts began on the front foot immediately after a
minute’s silence was held in honour of four Dartford supporters who had sadly passed away
Luke Wanadio was an immediate threat, as he instantly got the better of Billericay’s Benjamin Nunn, who struggled with the pace of the Dartford number seven throughout the first half. Realising he was beaten, he clipped Wanadio, but referee Callum Walchester bizarrely gave nothing! Five
minutes later saw Tyrique Hyde drive forward from the midfield, but he lost control and made a late
tackle, which ironically earned him a yellow card.
The hosts were rewarded for their positive start in the tenth minute, when Darren McQueen
received the ball in the box and smashed it past Alan Julien. The visitors were all over the place at
times and couldn’t cope with the Dartford attack. Even Sesay got in on the action three minutes later when he played a beautiful goal-kick to Jordan Wynter, who then tried to slip the ball in himself, only to see it cleared for a corner.
With confidence running high, the Darts passed the ball well when in possession and, when they
didn’t have the ball, they pressed the visitors well. The attacking play was thrilling to watch, as they
discovered openings in the Ricay defence. Liam Gordon was another threat and he made a terrific
run down the left flank. Getting the better of Joshua Urquhart, the left-back clipped a beautiful ball
into the box, which found McQueen. The striker sent a looping header towards goal, which Julien got a hand to while at full stretch, only to send the ball into the path of Romain. Naturally, the Dartford number nine pounced immediately and stretched the lead to 2-0.
Five minutes later saw Romain almost grab a hat-trick, as he linked up well with Wanadio before
taking the shot on. Unfortunately, his effort flew past the wrong side of the post. The hosts were
clearly on top and played some good football, while remaining organised and solid at the back. The
pace of the forward line caused considerable problems for Billericay, as they started to get frustrated on the pitch. Ten minutes from half-time saw another break forward, as the outstanding Romain drove towards the box before playing in Wanadio. The latter sent in a scorching low ball, but unfortunately nobody was able to get on the end of it.
Billericay finished the half with two more bookings, as their frustrations began to boil over. Both Jake Robinson and Joshua Urquhart were shown yellow cards, as Jamie O’Hara’s men threatened to lose control.
Dartford began the second half in the same manner as the first, as they settled into a rhythm
immediately. Yet, the first meaningful opportunity didn’t really arrive until the 53rd minute when
Hyde played a great ball towards Gordon. The left-back arrived in the box with a move worthy of a
goal, however his effort went just wide of the post.
Three minutes later saw a rare opportunity for Billericay and Femi Akinwande made the most of it,
thus halving the deficit. However, Romain restored the two-goal advantage on the hour after
receiving a long ball from Gordon. The Dartford striker used his strength to out-muscle the defender
before shooting towards the goal. His initial effort was denied by Julian but, once again, the keeper
left it in the danger area and Romain pounced to squeeze it home from a tight angle.
What should have been a more comfortable remaining 25 minutes, became a little more difficult
when Wynter bundled over Odysseus Alfa in the penalty area. Up stepped Robinson to place the
penalty beyond Sesay to peg the score back at 3-2. The game became a little scrappy from then on, as the visitors realised they were in with a shout. Steve King responded by introducing Ky
Marsh-Brown for Liburd with eighteen minutes left on the clock, and it almost paid off… the young
Marsh-Brown received the ball from Josh Hill and drove forward into the box before unleashing a
terrific effort, which was excellently saved by Julien.
Dartford stayed strong and should have scored another as we approached the 84th minute. Man of
The Match, Romain once again drove forward, this time on the right, before sending a good cross
towards McQueen. The latter flicked the ball magnificently towards the goal, only to see it strike the
With time running out, Miloud Djouaher made his debut as he came on for McQueen and the Darts
saw out the game to record a first win in five games and, more importantly, a first win at Princes
Park since August. While the final score didn’t reflect the performances of the Dartford players, the
hurdle of a home win was vital and, with no other teams playing in the league today, the result saw
them jump to twelfth in the table, just eight points away from the top six.
DARTFORD: Sesay, Wynter, Gordon, Crook, Hill, Vint, Wanadio, Hyde, Romain, Liburd, McQueen.
SUBSTITUTES: Bonner, Marsh-Brown, Brodie, Djouaher, Hayes.
BILLERICAY TOWN: Julien, Urquhart, Nunn, Kefalas, Henry, Potter, Alfa, Cook, Robinson, Bettache,
SUBSTITUTES: Jackson, Ramsay, Paxman, Osei-Bonsu, O’Hara.