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MATCH REPORT – Dartford Women v Dulwich Hamlet Ladies

Match Report: Dartford 2 Dulwich Hamlet 1
London & SE Regional Women’s League, Premier Division
Sunday 20th August 2023 in the main stadium, Princes Park

Manager Connor Dymond; Coach Martin McCarthy; Physio Geoff Williamson
Team: Jade Charlton, Emily Read, Jo Woodgates, Georgie Davis, Meghan McKeag, Paris Smith,
Emily Woodhouse, Gemma Shepherd, Emily Vaughan, Nicha Dyett, Shauni Griffiths
Subs: All used: Kaylee Shurety, Lizzie Adams, Molly Hawkins, Shannon Wason, Hannah Thomas
Darts’ scorers: Georgie Davis, Nicha Dyett

The match had a kick-off time of 3pm and earlier in the day, a large crowd had assembled in the Champions Bar where extra screens and seating had been put in place for the viewing of the Women’s World Cup Final. It was a fantastic atmosphere, but sadly in the end the Lionesses just fell short against a highly skilful and well disciplined Spanish side.

A couple of hours later, Dartford and Dulwich Hamlet took to the main stadium pitch and produced an interesting game of two contrasting halves in the afternoon’s hot sun.

As early as the second minute, Emily Vaughan almost forced an opening goal from an accurate cross from Shauni.

Then, after a pass from Emily Vaughan found Nicha on the left, Nicha fed the ball through with a great pass and Paris Smith found herself in a one-on-one situation with the goalie. The keeper stood her ground well and forced Paris into an uncharacteristic attempt that failed to draw a save, missing the target by a little more than just a few inches!

On ten minutes Darts’ first goal arrived. A short corner from Meghan to Shauni drew out the closest defender and Meghan having received the return pass, sent over a good high ball into the 6-yard box but was too close to the keeper who seemed to have it safely in her hands, but then spilled the ball which ran kindly for Georgie Davis who drove the ball home.

Jade was called into action when having to rush out to collect the ball just inches inside the left corner of the
18-yard box.

Within three minutes Darts had increased their lead. Emily Read, playing at right back, took a throw in to Jo Woodgates and her pass was flicked on by Paris to Emily Vaughan whose great shot was blocked, but the ball rebounded nicely into the path of Nicha who took no time in smashing the ball into the net. That made the scoreline 2-0 after 13 minutes.

It seemed that a rout might be the outcome but Hamlet proved to be no pushover and for the rest of the half and the play was fairly even.
A couple of in-swinging corners from Meghan gave Hamlet a lot of trouble and it was just as well that their keeper, gradually through the game, became more confident in her handling and kept the score at only two Dartford goals.

But it was not by any stretch of the imagination one-way traffic. Hamlet’s forwards, especially on their left, were a handful and it took two last minute interventions by Jo and then Emily Read to thwart them.

Hamlet had a free-kick from 30-yards out but the shot lacked power and Jade made the save look very comfortable with her good positioning
At the other end, the left-back nibbled rather too aggressively at Shauni’s ankles and gave away a free kick by the right corner flag but the resultant kick into the area was cleared and then fired back in quickly with the ball rising and sailing way over the stand and into the car park.

A couple of minutes before half-time Jade pulled off a crucial save. Hamlet very nearly pulled a goal back when a high ball into the six-yard box had Jade scrambling to palm the ball out, from just under the crossbar, with the Hamlet players in readiness of celebrating a ‘goal’.

HT 2-0

In the second-half, Hamlet’s passing became better and more precise whereas Darts were often forced into passing errors by Hamlet’s energetic chasing down of the ball. At times they played quite a ‘high-line’ with Darts’ defenders often being forced into hurried passing with Hamlet’s eager forwards cutting down the angles and passing options.

Nicha was in the thick of the action and at one time looked like she might have suffered a shoulder or collar bone injury after being tackled to the ground by her defender but thankfully she was able to carry on, ‘shrugging-off’ the injury.

Eight minutes into the second half, Darts’ nearly increased their lead when Paris, just inside the six-yard box, tried to get her shot away but was quickly smothered by the goalie and a defender who managed to scramble the ball away for a corner. Darts had a series of corners from both flanks but couldn’t turn these opportunities into goals. In fact, the next goal to be scored was at the other end.

A delightfully-flighted free-kick was lofted towards Jade’s goal, which at first, she seemed to have covered, but then ‘lost it in the sun’ and it crept in just over her head. This was in the 61st minute to bring the score to 2-1.

Hamlet grew more in stature with this goal and Darts had a battle on their hands. Darts’ lost some of their midfield control and actually did very well to keep this young eager Hamlet side at bay until the final whistle.

Summing up:
The bright sun seemed to have had a hand in two of the goals, with both Jade and the Hamlet keeper losing the ball in flight, both times high above their heads and right under the crossbar.

Hamlet though, apart from the opening 15 minutes when they looked particularly vulnerable, seemed to grow in strength of character as the game wore on, aided seemingly by their goal which came to some degree out of the blue and ‘out of the sun’. There was some fine play by both sides – but also plenty of misplaced passes, especially on the part of the Darts.

As it was though, nobody in the Dartford camp could be displeased with the win under their belts and three points earned.
Dartford’s Player of the Match award went to Meghan McKeag – fully deserved for a full of running performance where she was everywhere always striving to drive her team mates forward