DARTFORD 1 CHARLTON 6
Dartford’s pre-season preparations got underway against a ruthlessly efficient Charlton side, as 2,775 braved the excessive heat at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park.
However, the full-time scoreline didn’t reflect the full match, particularly the first-half. In truth, the visitors’ superior technique and passing was evident from kick-off, and their superior fitness also showed. But, the Darts were excellently structured and organised as well. Especially during the first forty-five.
The Addicks created the first opportunity after an early attack down their right-flank, only for Connor Essam to clear the danger with a typical defensive header (2). Dan Roberts ripped open the Charlton defence twice in quick succession six minutes later, only to be fouled on the second attempt. Kristian Campbell took the subsequent free-kick, but his left-footed strike wasn’t high enough to beat the defensive wall (9).
As the half progressed, Charlton began asserting their authority on the pitch with some neat passing moves typical of an EFL League One side. But, Tom Bonner and Co weren’t deterred as they pressed their opponents all over the pitch, before goalkeeper Dan Wilks was called into action to make a fine save after seventeen minutes.
Wilks would make another excellent save in the 27th minute, before finally being beaten three minutes later. Charlie Kirk was the player to break the deadlock after receiving a delightful long, diagonal ball from the right-flank. He used a combination of speed and technique to cut inside, before firing a low drive into the bottom corner.
The hosts refused to lie down, though, and were level with four minutes of the half remaining. Great work from midfielder Samir Carruthers resulted with him eventually sending a powerful cross into the danger area. The ball ricocheted off of Jayden Stockley, looped up and over goalkeeper Joe Wollacott, before dropping into the back of the net.
As is the norm during pre-season, changes in personnel were made at the break. New Dartford boss, Alan Dowson, brought on two trialists to replace Dan Wilks and Sam Oduado. The visitors, meanwhile, brought on Charles Clayden for Mandela Egbo.
The Darts started well and Kristian Campbell saw his well-timed shot cleared by a Charlton defender after 52 minutes. Unfortunately, the visitors retook the lead a minute later via Jayden Stockley, who was delighted to make amends after his own-goal in the first-half.
There were a host of substitutions soon after for both sides, and that was the moment where the Addicks grasped a firm grip on proceedings.
First up was the lively Miles Leaburn, who terrorised the Dartford defence from the minute he entered the pitch. He scored with a neat effort after 65 minutes, before Sean Clare scored from the spot (67) after the trialist goalkeeper was adjudged to have brought Josh Davison down inside the box.
Leaburn netted his second from close range (72), before coming inches away from bagging a hat-trick with ten minutes remaining. Alex Gilbey had seen his excellent strike cannon back off the post, and Leaburn was first to react, only to see the ball cleared off the line! Deji Elerewe was on hand to net Charlton’s sixth of the afternoon (87), as they returned to the Valley in high spirits.
DARTFORD: Dan Wilks, Jordan Wynter, Kristian Campbell, Samir Carruthers, Connor Essam, Tom Bonner ©, Maxwell Statham, Sam Oduado, Trialist, Kieran Murtagh, Dan Roberts.
SUBSTITUTES: Trialist, Trialist, Trialist, Cameron Brodie, Theo McKenzie, Jayden Boulton, Ali Mansaray, Trialist, Marvin Herschell, Trialist, Andre Thompson Fearon.
CHARLTON: Joe Wollacott, George Dobson, Sam Lavelle, Eoghan O’Connell, Dialling Jaiyesimi, Jayden Stockley, Albie Morgan, Mandela Egbo, Charlie Kirk, Scott Fraser, Lucas Ness.
SUBSTITUTES: Craig MacGillivary, Jake Forster-Caskey, Alex Gilbey, Chuks Aneke, Ryan Inniss, Josh Davison, Deji Elerewe, Sean Clare, Charles Clayden, Aaron Henry, Miles Leaburn.
By Chris Palmer