Dartford travelled to Middlesex, where they contributed to an entertaining goalless draw against Hampton & Richmond Borough at the Beveree Stadium.
As far as 0-0 scorelines go, this game was far from boring, as both sets of defences remained resolute and organised in keeping either attack from creating any meaningful opportunities throughout the ninety minutes.
Having said that, however, the visitors did create an opening during the first minute, after Elliott Romain broke through the middle. Unfortunately, goalkeeper Alan Julian was equally alert and was able to smother the ball at the first attempt. Meanwhile, at the other end, good work by Hampton & Richmond enabled Ru Donaldson to send a quick ball across the face of Craig King’s goal (5).
Thankfully, his effort eluded his teammates.
Dartford should have taken the lead sixty seconds later, but Julian was there to thwart Romain’s strike. The opportunity was created by some excellent work by Ky Marsh-Brown, who had beaten his man, got into the box and then fed the ball to the Dartford #9.
Craig King was called into action himself in the 10th minute, after the hosts managed to get a shot away, despite strong defending from the Darts. The goalkeeper would get down quickly and save the ball from close range.
After twelve minutes, the hosts were then allowed to counter-attack from a Dartford corner, and the ball found Jake Gray in loads of space on the Hampton right flank. Thankfully, accuracy was lacking, as he fired a low drive wide of the upright. The visitors responded immediately with a long ball over-the-top from King, which found Jack Barham (making his debut after returning from injury). The attacker was brought down, earning his side a free-kick, which unfortunately came to nothing.
The Beavers appeared to take charge for a period, but created very little due to the organisation of Tom Bonner’s defence. After holding firm, Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong would drive powerfully forward in the 24th minute, in a move that was worthy of a goal, yet Julian would be as alert as before, and gather the incoming cross.
The referee would have his say in the midfield battle, as he put both Noor Husin (28) and Niko Muir (35) in his book. And, after being awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position in the 38th minute, Barham was guilty of a missed opportunity, after sending the ball wide with a flicked header.
Despite the Beavers having the majority of the territorial advantage in the latter stages of the first forty-five, the Dartford defence remained intact and alert to any danger, as the half finished goalless and the hosts a man down. Influential midfielder Sam Deadfield had been injured in a challenge, and wouldn’t take part in the second half. His replacement was Christian Smith, who would put in an impressive shift himself.
Craig King would be the first of the goalkeepers to be called into action, as he saved excellently (49), only to see the ball fall to Danny Bassett. The striker slotted it into the net, only to be called back for offside.
Another player putting in an impressive shift was the energetic Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong. The midfielder was working hard for the Darts, defending well and drawing fouls when necessary. And the pacey Marsh-Brown also proved to be a nuisance at times, especially when he forced Jake Gray to make a rather heavy tackle in the 61st minute. The foul saw Gray receive a yellow card for his efforts. A little later, the Dartford #7 would try his luck from distance, only for his effort to get blocked and put behind for a corner (69).
Marsh-Brown’s teammate, Noor Husin, almost earned himself an assist two minutes later, after his flicked pass sent Barham through on goal. The striker’s effort appeared to take a deflection off of a Hampton defender, which sent it behind for a corner. However, the referee bizarrely awarded a goal-kick to the hosts!
A couple of substitutions would take place as the game continued. Steve King moved first, bringing on Ricky Modeste for Marsh-Brown with fifteen minutes remaining. The hosts followed suit in the 83rd minute, as they brought on Nathan Minhas to replace Danny Bassett.
Before that, however, Romain’s hard work was rewarded with a free-kick in a dangerous position, after Christian Smith resorted to fouling the Dartford #9. Smith received a yellow card, yet the free-kick was dealt with by the Hampton defence once again. Steve King saw a yellow card for expressing his opinions to the referee with five minutes remaining, as did Craig Braham-Barrett for a challenge which prevented a Hampton attack (90).
The closing stages saw end-to-end, entertaining football, but with both defences taking centre stage, as they kept opportunities to a minimum in a game portraying dominant defensive displays.
Dartford’s midfield unit must also be applauded for the hard work and assistance it offered in protecting the defence, while trying to feed the ball to the attackers as well. Meanwhile, with a little more accuracy in the final third, the Darts could have been travelling back with all three points.
HAMPTON & RICHMOND: Alan Julian, Tyrell Miller Rodney, Kyron Farrell, Dean Inman, Charlie Wassmer ©, Ru Donaldson, Ryan Hill, Sam Deadfield, Jake Gray, Niko Muir, Danny Bassett.
SUBSTITUTES: Imran Uche, Rene Steer, Nathan Minhas, Christian Smith, Razzaq Coleman.
DARTFORD: Craig King, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Craig Braham-Barrett, Jordan Wynter, Ronnie Vint, Tom Bonner ©, Ky Marsh-Brown, Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, Elliott Romain, Jack Barham, Noor Husin.
SUBSTITUTES: Josh Hill, Abdul Osman, Charlie Sheringham, Gavin McCallum, Ricky Modeste.