Dartford began their 2019/20 season with a trip to Ruislip, Middlesex, where they faced a tough Wealdstone side on Saturday 3rd of August.
Under new manager, Dean Brennan, The Stones have ambitions of doing well this season and making Grosvenor Vale a fortress. Dean was hopeful of a strong start from his young squad, in order
to provide the necessary confidence to challenge for the promotion playoffs again. The manager and his team hoped that they’d be up to the task of having to deal with the strong physical presence of Adam and Jamie’s Dartford side.
Since the pre-season friendlies ended, The Darts have made four more additions to the squad. Midfielder Amos Nasha (23) [ex-Dover Athletic, Concord Rangers & Chelmsford], striker Norman Wabo (21) [ex-Southend Utd], and striker Adam Cunnington (31) [ex-Billericay Town] have joined the ranks, together with our own academy player, midfielder Cameron Brodie. The 18-year old Brodie has impressed during pre-season, capping his performances off with a wonderful strike against
Bromley in July. His consistent performances have now been rewarded with a contract at Dartford.
He was named on the bench for the trip to Wealdstone, while both Nasha and Cunnington made the starting eleven.
As the 2019/20 season kicked-off, the Darts were put under immediate pressure in the opening minutes, as Wealdstone took advantage of a pacey attack. Sanchez Watt and Michee Efete were a
constant threat down the visitor’s right side, as they caused endless amounts of problems for Jordan Wynter. Their pressure was rewarded in the 7th minute when Wynter brought Efete down in the
box. Up stepped Ross Lafayette to give the hosts the lead from the spot.
Wealdstone were good value for their lead and should have made it 2-0 moments later. With the Dartford defence in disarray, two golden opportunities fell to The Stones, but both were cleared off the goal-line to the relief of Mark Smith.
As the game approached the 15 minute mark, Dartford began to settle and get themselves on the ball more, as they tried to thread it out to wingers Ryan Hayes and Luke Wanadio. The former
managed to get a few good crosses into the Wealdstone box, but none fell to a Dartford player. The visitors began creating chances, with one of the best moments coming after Josh Hill defended
brilliantly and played a beautiful pass to Wanadio. The ever-quick number 10 controlled the ball, but his shot went straight into the arms of Wealdstone keeper Aston Oxborough.
In the 25th minute Dartford came forward again, with debutant Adam Cunnington releasing a low drive at goal. Oxborough fumbled the ball, but managed to gather it afterwards. Six minutes later the Darts were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position. Ben Greenhalgh unleashed a fearsome effort which thumped against the Wealdstone bar. Dartford were certainly on top during this spell of the match and, as the game approached half-time, were awarded a corner. Hayes’ corner arrived in the box and was met by Josh Hill, who sent a thumping header into the back of the net to bring the visitors level.
The second half saw Dartford playing some excellent football, and they created a few good chances to take the lead. However, it was the hosts who came closest within five minutes of the restart, as the fast-paced Watt forced a fantastic save from Smith. This only spurred the Darts on to dominate proceedings and they should have gotten their noses in front soon afterwards. First Amos Nasha saw his excellent shot saved by Oxborough, then Luke Allen managed to get on the end of a Wanadio cross. Unfortunately his effort flew over the host’s bar.
As the game reached the 71st minute, the state of play changed. A period of Dartford domination ended when Allen was replaced by Norman Wabo and Wealdstone’s Jake Sheppard replaced Connor
Smith. Three minutes later, and with a little good fortune, Wealdstone re-took the lead as Dennon Lewis [a constant threat since coming on] cut inside the Darts’ defence and his deflected shot
alluded Smith, ending up in the back of the net. From that point on, there was only going to be one winner as Wealdstone took a firm grip on the game. Connor Stevens stepped up from a corner and stretched their lead to 3-1 with a powerful header in the 81st minute. Then Lafayette’s powerful drive in the 87th minute made it 4-1.
There was a break from Dartford towards the end, when a cross from Hayes found Andy Pugh [who came on for Cunnington late in the half] at the far post. Unfortunately, his header went wide of the post, thus summing up a rather disappointing last-twenty-minute-performance from the Darts.