Dartford’s first away game of 2020 saw them travel to Surrey, where they faced fourth placed Dorking Wanderers at Meadowbank Stadium.
As the two teams were announced, it was evident that Steve King had made two changes from the victory over Welling United. Luke Wanadio’s impressive performance as a substitute in that game earned him a place in the starting eleven, at the expense of Ky Marsh-Brown, who took his place on the bench. Meanwhile, defender, Liam Gordon has returned to his parent club, so an immediate replacement was required. It was announced before the game that former Aldershot and Wealdstone defender, Nick Arnold, had been signed and took his place in the starting eleven.
The Darts arrived fully intending to continue their excellent run of form by defeating a tough Wanderers side. The visitors had the additional incentive after being subjected to a damaging 4-3 defeat when the two sides met back in September at Princes Park. And so it was the case, as a penalty awarded deep into stoppage time undid Dorking and ensured that Dartford’s excellent run continued. Prior to kick-off, Jordan Wynter picked up an injury during warm-up, forcing Steve King to make a change with Ky Marsh-Brown replacing him. The winger did a superb job in a central position that he’s not used to, despite picking up a yellow card for preventing the hosts taking a quick free-kick midway through the first half. The enforced change didn’t deter the injury-hit Darts, as they were ahead within two minutes of a feisty first half.
The hosts were immediately undone by a burst of pace from Luke Wanadio along the right flank in the opening seconds. Getting the better of Samuel Beard, the Dartford number eleven sent the ball into the box, which allegedly struck the arm of Isaac Philpot. With just one minute and 22 seconds on the clock, referee Jack Packman awarded a penalty to the visitors. Darren McQueen took on the responsibility and fired past goalkeeper Slavomir Huk to score his ninth league goal of the season.
With Dorking stunned, the visitors controlled the next few encounters, as the hosts began to get more frustrated and aggressive on the pitch. As Wanderers probed for an equaliser, the Darts were happy to soak up the pressure and retaliate with the counter-attack. The attacking three of Elliott
Romain, McQueen and Wanadio were a constant threat, proving too hot to handle on occasions, as they drew fouls from the opposition.
However, no real clear-cut opportunity arose until four minutes from half-time. Naturally, it was the visitors who created it, when Marsh-Brown played a great ball for Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong. The latter found himself one-on-one with Huk, but the goalkeeper managed to save the effort.
With Dorking chasing the game, a change in personnel was made at the start of the second half, when Jake Gallagher was replaced with Jimmy Muitt. A few seconds into the second half saw them forced into another change, with Lewis Taylor replacing the injured Edward Harris. Undeterred, they began pressuring Dartford, yet were caught out in the 53rd minute with a terrific run from Wanadio.
He cut inside and fired at goal, only for his effort to be blocked and sent behind for a corner. That corner was whipped into the box and found the head of a Dartford player in amongst the melee, only for Huk to save it well! Five minutes later saw McQueen create space, but his shot struck the
With end-to-end football, yet the visitors in control, the game literally exploded into life with twenty minutes remaining. Firstly, great football from Dartford resulted in Marsh-Brown hitting a great effort towards goal, forcing Huk into making the save. This time, however, the goalkeeper was
unable to keep the ball out of the danger area, and there was Romain, who smashed it into the roof of the net in the 72nd minute. Four minutes later saw Muitt pull a goal back for the hosts, then in the 81st minute, Luke Moore struck a long-range piledriver which flew past Sesay and into the top
With the score level at 2-2, neither side appeared willing to compromise, as a thrilling final ten minutes saw both teams determined to score the winning goal. And in the 89th minute, the hosts thought they’d scored it when a strike had Sesay beaten. However, the ball smacked the post and
rolled across the goal line before Sesay was able to gather it safely.
As the game entered stoppage time, Josh Hill managed to get his head on the end of a long free-kick, nod it towards Romain, who then duly fired towards goal. He beat Huk, but not the woodwork, and the ball went out to safety. Yet Dartford weren’t finished, and forward they ventured again and, this time, were awarded for their efforts. With bodies in the box, a dangerous ball was sent in and the referee awarded the visitors another penalty. With virtually the last kick of the game, McQueen smashed the ball home to score his second, putting himself into double figures for the season.
While Sesay’s clean sheet run came to an end, Dartford’s winning run didn’t. The players battled hard against an extremely difficult Dorking side and were rewarded for their efforts. With four straight victories, Steve King’s Darts remain seventh, but are now just five points away from third
place, making for a thrilling second half of the season.
DORKING WANDERERS: Huk, Philpot, Beard, Harris ©, D.Gallagher, Briggs, Prior, McShane, J.Gallagher, Moore, Richards.
SUBSTITUTES: Beckles, Muitt, Taylor, Sole, McManus
DARTFORD: Sesay, Ming, Arnold, Wynter, Hill, Bonner ©, Berkeley-Agyepong, Crook, Romain, McQueen, Wanadio.
SUBSTITUTES: Marsh-Brown, Sheringham, Vint, Liburd, Hayes.