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One Goal I Will Never Forget…

One Goal You’ll Never Forget

On social networking site Twitter recently, one topic that was trending (one of the top things to be posted around the world) was #1goaliwillneverforget. Whether or not this was a football thing in the first place is not clear, but it was soon turned around to a football slant. Many people were including their memories, and these included “Diego Forlan breaking all South African hearts when he scored against South Africa in WC2010”, “Ian Rush’s winner against Germany in 1991 and seeing German fans crying into their beer” and “Stuart Pearce slamming in a spot kick vs Spain in Euro 1996” among many others.

However, I got thinking and I thought I’d share my personal goal I’ll never forget. Some would include a match winning goal, or a pearler from 45 yards into the top corner, but mine was a tap in from 8 yards.

Potters Bar Town v Dartford – 5th April 2008 – Ryman League, Division One North

The Darts were top of the league, going to 18th placed Potters Bar Town on a damp Grand National day, having been defeated by Brentwood Town at Princes Park in the previous week’s match by a soon-to-be-Dart Lee Noble goal. Our nearest rivals were AFC Sudbury, who had won in the previous match, and they were away to Wingate and Finchley that day.

Potters Bar Town took the lead after only 1 minute, giving Dartford the worst possible start. The Darts struggled to make an impression on the Potters Bar Town goal, spurning several chances within the first half hour, including Jamie Coyle missing the target from a yard out. If the Darts felt things weren’t going to plan, they got a whole lot worse when AFC Sudbury took the lead. Ryan Hayes, the mercurial Dartford right winger, almost brought the Darts back level before half time when his free kick rattled the crossbar.

AFC Sudbury conceded 15 minutes into the second half, meaning that they were back level and were only going to gain a point on the Darts had things stayed the same, and things got worse for the East Anglians when they conceded again against Wingate and Finchley with only ten minutes to go. However, the Darts had seemingly blown their chances when they conceded again, with some poor defending undoing their chances of pulling the game back. However, fate had other ideas…

Adam Flanagan’s hopeful cross was only cleared to the edge of the penalty area where Jay May lashed the ball into the bottom corner. The Darts rushed the ball back to the centre-circle and focused their minds on an equaliser which very nearly came when substitute Eddie McClements drove goalbound from 25 yards, but the Potters Bar keeper pushed the ball over the crossbar. Hayes then lobbed a cross into the box but substitute Luke Piscina’s shot from close range was poor and the ball flashed over the crossbar. Things were beginning to look worse for the Darts when AFC Sudbury netted a late equaliser at Wingate and Finchley.

However, the Darts did get their equaliser, and 100th goal of the season, in the 93rd minute. The move started in the Darts own half with skipper Alex O’Brien finding Jay May who chested the ball down and passed to McClements. McClements found Hayes, who brought the ball onto his favoured left foot and launched a high ball into the penalty area, nodded down by Adam Flanagan into the path of the onward rushing O’Brien. Alex, who hadn’t scored for the Darts before (or as it transpired, since),

took one touch on his left foot and then slotted the ball past the keeper from 8 yards to spark incredible scenes. Subsitutes ran round the pitch to celebrate behind the goal with O’Brien and about a large proportion of the travelling Darts fans

. The final whistle blew not long after, and the Darts went into the final three games of the season, six points ahead and with a +10 goal difference.

Some would say that one individual goal from Alex O’Brien would be the most important goal of the season –others would state that it would only be part of the story. Either way, it was a goal I will never forget.

Gary Clark

Photos courtesy of Dave Adkins, video courtesy of Ray Cherry…

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