DARTFORD 0 MILLWALL 2
Dartford put on a spirited performance against Championship side Millwall in front of an amazing 3,952 supporters at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park.
Like the weekend’s friendly against Charlton, conditions were hot and humid as the two teams kicked off. And as expected, the Lions began asserting their authority on proceedings with a combination of slick passing and pace.
New signing, George Honeyman, almost carved out an excellent opportunity for teammate Tyler Burey as early as the fifth minute. However, Sam Oduado was alert to the danger to head the ball clear on this occasion.
Six minutes later saw the visitors take the lead, after Burey and Tom Bradshaw combined well to set up Benik Afobe, who slotted into the back of the net.
The Darts responded well and could have equalised with sixteen minutes on the clock. A good move resulted with Trialist #7 break through on the left-flank, only to send his shot narrowly wide of Bartosz Bialkowski’s upright.
Millwall came forward once again, with Bradshaw forcing Wilks into a superb save (18), before Oduado was alert again with a timely challenge to prevent another Lion from pulling the trigger (21).
The hosts had grown into the game by this point, as the midfield trio of Samir Carruthers, Kieran Murtagh, and Oduado worked tirelessly throughout the evening. And, their efforts were rewarded when Trialist #9 won a free-kick after a good move (37). Carruthers sent the ball into the danger area, but Kristian Campbell couldn’t quite get it under control before the strong Lion defensive unit cleared the danger.
Despite the visitors’ superior technique and fitness levels, Alan Dowson’s side were putting in an excellent shift on the pitch, which continued throughout the second-half. But, it came at a cost.
Dan Roberts was making a menace of himself, as his pace tested Danny McNamara and Besat Topalloj regularly. Unfortunately, the Dartford striker had to leave the field early after the break with what looked like concussion after a heavy challenge. Youngster Cameron Brodie replaced him in what was the hosts’ second substitution of the game. The first came at the start of the second forty-five, when Maxwell Statham came on for Jordan Wynter.
Both goalkeepers would be called into action soon afterwards. Bialkowski saved a Tom Bonner header after Carruthers’ free-kick had found the captain (51), before Wilks saved well from Bradshaw (53). The resulting corner was then cleared off the line by a Dartford defender to keep the deficit at one goal.
Yet, the danger wasn’t quite over because the hosts had another corner to defend. This one caused havoc and found the leaping Jake Cooper. Thankfully, his powerful header smacked off the upright and sailed to safety (55)!
Dan Wilks was then forced into another excellent save from a Honeyman drive, before Charlie Cresswell saw his effort following a corner deflected wide of Wilks’ upright (55).
The Darts were under pressure during this period of the half, but Tom Bonner and Co weren’t making life easy for Gary Rowett’s players. And, it would take something special to secure the victory… which duly arrived with 69 minutes on the clock via a delightful curling drive from Burey.
With a Trialist replacing Dan Wilks shortly before that goal, the new goalkeeper had the woodwork to thank after being beaten hands-down by a thumping header from Cresswell (71), before Afobe missed the target four minutes later.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Carruthers (who’d be given the Man of The Match award at the end) couldn’t quite keep a free-kick down (60), before Campbell found Connor Essam with a corner, only for the latter’s header fly the wrong side of Bialkowski’s post (80).
This was a strong performance from Dartford against another difficult opponent. And, with a little more assertiveness and accuracy in the final third, we may have seen a different result. Regardless of the score though, this was another solid workout in preparation for the season ahead.
DARTFORD: Dan Wilks, Jordan Wynter, Kristian Campbell, Samir Carruthers, Connor Essam, Tom Bonner ©, Trialist, Sam Oduado, Trialist, Kieran Murtagh, Dan Roberts.
SUBSTITUTES: Maxwell Statham, Trialist, Trialist, Cameron Brodie, Theo McKenzie, Jayden Boulton, Ali Mansaray, Charlie Sheringham, Marvin Herschell, Luke Allen, Andre Thompson Fearon.
MILLWALL: Bartosz Bialkowski, Danny McNamara, Murray Wallace, Jake Cooper, Benik Afobe, Billy Mitchell, Tom Bradshaw, Tyler Burey, Charlie Cresswell, George Honeyman, Besat Topalloj.
SUBSTITUTES: Ryan Sandford, Chinweke Okoli, Alfie Allen, Abdul Abdulmalik, Nana Boateng, George Walker.
By Chris Palmer