Dartford hosted local rivals Welling United at Princes Park on a cold January afternoon, as the new year began in style for Steve King’s side.
Despite the notable absence of Tyrique Hyde, who has been added to the walking wounded, the starting eleven was virtually the same as the previous fixture, and included the returning Sanchez Ming in defence. This enabled Jordan Wynter to cover the midfield, together with Billy Crook and
The midfield trio were vital cogs in a well-oiled Dartford machine, which Steve King has firing on all cylinders, as they began 2020 in style by thrashing a clueless Welling United 4-0 to complete an historic double over their rivals.
The Darts were full of confidence and passion straight from kick-off, as the electric combination of Elliott Romain, Darren McQueen and Ky Marsh-Brown tormented the visitor’s defence relentlessly.
Romain and Marsh-Brown, in particular, created opportunities in the opening five minutes, but failed to really test Daniel Wilks in the Welling goal. Berkeley-Agyepong also got in on the action when his powerful drive forced Wilks into a fine save in the sixth minute.
Smelling blood, the wave of attacks seemed to be unstoppable, and good work from McQueen deserved an opening goal a minute later. Unfortunately, the Dartford number ten dragged his shot wide of the post. With Welling offering very little in response, Berkeley-Agyepong literally ran through the midfield and struck a superb eighteen yard effort, which flew into the bottom corner.
His 10th minute goal was his first for the Darts in only his second start since arriving, and what a way to open his account for the team!
With the Princes Park faithful in full voice, the game settled down for a few minutes, with few clear-cut opportunities for either side. The Wings tried in vain to get back into the game, but the Darts were in fine form. Steve King clearly has the players performing for him now, as they responded to every instruction coming from the home technical area. The movement around the pitch was outstanding and, when in possession, Tom Bonner and Co passed the ball well. In the moments when the visitors had the ball, the Darts were organised and pressed them into mistakes and conceding possession. Dartford were focused and passionate, and a corner in the nineteenth minute should have seen them double their lead. Josh Hill jumped high and got on the end of the ball, but his header was claimed comfortably by Wilks.
Five minutes later saw Crook win the ball after using his strength. He then picked out Marsh-Brown, who sent in a peach of a cross into the box. Romain got into the danger area in time, but was unable to convert the opportunity. A minute later saw the striker at it again, as he got on the end of a terrific ball from Liam Gordon, sending a thumping header into the back of the net to score for the third game in a row.
Romain wasn’t just intent on scoring goals however. With Welling building an attack in the 28th minute, the Dartford number nine powered back to defend the ball and clear the danger! Four minutes later saw him shooting at goal again, only for his effort to go high over the bar. Hungry for more, Dartford had more opportunities to add to their two goal advantage as the first half drew to a close, and McQueen came closest in the 36th minute with his shot being blocked by the defence.
The second half began with the Wings making two immediate substitutions, as Nathan Green and Luke Rooney were replaced by Jay Rich-Baghuelou and Gavin McCullum respectively. However, the change in personnel had little impact because the hosts continued where they left off, and Marsh-Brown’s excellent work deserved a goal. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get enough power behind the ball and Wilks claimed it safely.
Romain then helped himself to his second goal of the game in the 51st minute. The goal arrived after an excellent counter-attack, from which Crook had laid the ball out wide to Marsh-Brown. The latter struck a beautiful low shot, which Wilks spilled straight back into the danger area. Romain, using his strength, muscled his way through and tucked the ball home to score his ninth league goal of the season.
Welling responded with their final substitution, replacing Bradley Goldberg with Anthony Cook, but it had little effect as Dartford maintained their shape and created more opportunities, before making a change in personnel themselves with Luke Wanadio entering proceedings to replace the lively Marsh-Brown. And within seven minutes the new addition made an impact, as he burst through into the box before being bundled to the floor by a struggling defender. Referee Richie Watkins awarded a penalty, and up stepped McQueen to smash the ball past Wilks and score Dartford’s fourth, and his eighth league goal of the season.
With the hosts more than comfortable, Hill appeared to be struggling with a knock, so he exited with Ronnie Vint taking his place in defence. With fifteen minutes remaining, the 1,534 supporters witnessed one final attempt from Man of The Match Romain, as his header forced Wilks into another fine save. With that, Rowan Liburd replaced him and the two-goal hero made his exit to a well-deserved standing ovation and chanting of his name.
Dartford closed out the remaining time by keeping the ball well, yet maintaining shape while pressing when not in possession. When the opportunity arose, they ventured forward, probing for more goals. Meanwhile, the visitors offered nothing as a disciplined Dartford defence closed ranks.
Elliott Romain was a worthy winner of the Man of The Match award. However, truth be told, the entire Dartford team excelled on the pitch. The 4-0 scoreline was thoroughly deserved, as the Darts made it three straight wins, with three clean sheets (all for Alhaji Sesay) and ten goals scored. More importantly, the result hauls them up to seventh in the table.
DARTFORD: Sesay, Ming, Gordon, Wynter, Hill, Bonner, Berkely-Agyepong, Crook, Romain, McQueen, Marsh-Brown.
SUBSTITUTES: Vint, Liburd, Sheringham, Wanadio, Hayes.
WELLING UTD: Wilks, Johnson, Anderson, Waldren, Swaine, Green, Rooney, Dymond, Akinyemi, Goldberg, Moses.
SUBSTITUTES: McCallum, Cook, Rich-Bagheulou, Agyemang, Henry.