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Season Review Part Nine– A look back on 2010/2011

9 – March – Heading To Safety

Lucky Winner

After a fantastic February Dartford players and supporters were keen to begin March after a rare Saturday off. The Darts hosted Basingstoke Town on a Tuesday night with just two points separating the sides. For once this season Dartford were looking at the teams to catch rather than the teams hot on their heels, confidence in the team had turned for the better.

Although the first half was lacklustre with only half chances for either side the match was still in the balance. Basingstoke created their best chance mid-way through the first half when Frankie Raymond’s tremendous volley from the edge of the box looked goal bound, Andrew Young was equal to the Raymond’s skill and expertly tipped the ball over the crossbar. At half time the scores with level with neither team scoring. Dartford’s best opportunity came from Elliot Bradbrook’s volley which tested the alert Chay Morris who palmed the ball out for a corner. Billy Burgess was cautioned for a desperate challenge on the edge of his own box and just before half time Greg Draper went down running slightly away from goal, Burgess was the culprit again. The referee called Burgess over, oh no this looks ominous we thought, phew no card.

The second half favoured The Darts has the breeze picked up behind them. Jon Main shot wide from ten yards and Charlie Sheringham’s effort was well blocked. Basingstoke should have gone in front when Greg Draper headed wide from just five yards.

Callum Reynolds

Then on sixty five minutes a comedy yet unfortunate piece of misjudgement changed the game.  Dartford would not allow Basingstoke out of their half by pressing hard. Possession was won and Lee Noble picked up the loose ball which stayed glued to his feet. Unchallenged Noble continued to drive forward and unleashed a shot from 25 yards. Morris opted to catch the powerful strike but it slipped through his grasp, slowly the ball looped up onto the top of the cross bar and as it fell the unfortunate Callum Reynolds ran straight at the ball which hit his chest and over the line, comedy, fortunate but a Dartford goal nonetheless. From then on Dartford played better and hung on to victory.

Dartford 1 Basingstoke Town 0 – Highlights

The Late Show

Maidenhead United was on the slide and fast and they were next up at Princes Park. The Magpies had one victory to their name in the last 16 matches, scoring goals was not Maidenhead forte. Dartford only experienced one defeat in their last ten, a foregone conclusion?

Maidenhead started brightly and on just five minutes a quick turn from Kieran Knight and a delicious shot struck the corner of the cross bar. Andrew Young’s reflexes were required when a counter attack caught out The Darts; Young palmed the ball single headedly over the bar.

Charlie Sheringham blew a one on one chance on the half hour and the follow up by Lee Burns was headed over by the retreating defender. Burns, last season top scorer had still to break his duck; the crowd was urging Burnsy to score. Dartford looked like they could break the deadlock but a scuff here and a poor final touch in the box kept the game goalless.

Maidenhead United struck the cross bar for the second time in the match in the second half. The Magpies should have edged in front before the sixty minute mark when Young saved one on one but was rounded on the rebound only for the shot to hit the side netting.

Tony Burman, often questioned about his late substitution took action early. On the hour he replaced Lee Burns and Jon Main with Ryan Hayes and Danny Harris. The game turned and The Darts started to find some rhythm. Matt Jones launched a throw in to the near post and Bradbrook flicked the ball on, Sheringham pounced from close range heading into the net, the crowd erupted with relief.

Captain Bradbrook makes it two for The Darts

Victory was finally sealed two minutes from time. Ryan Hayes was sent down the right wing and looked up to spot Bradbrook at the far post. A low curling cross found the captain who took his chance well, 2-0. In the last minute the score was increased when Bradbrook scored again from another Hayes cross. The header from Bradbrook was too much for the Maidenhead goalkeeper who could only palm the ball in the side of the goal, 3-0, and third consecutive clean sheet and win, almost safe.

Dartford 3 Maidenhead United 0 – Highlights

Darts Demolish Whitstable

A mid-week Kent Senior Cup tie against Whitstable Town gave Deren Ibrahim and Adam Burchell their run out. Tony Burman’s men swept aside Isthmian Division One South side Whitstable Town in the last eight to record their biggest win of the season. Danny Harris opened the scoring on eight minutes when he pounced on a defensive error to curl the ball into the bottom corner from just outside the box. Whitstable levelled the tie five minutes later when a well worked move was finished by Lloyd Blackman. Just before the break, loanee Jon Main placed a sublime right footed curler into the top corner to make it 2-1.

Adam Burchell made it three by tapping into the empty net from inside the six yard box. The Darts hit the post and had a goal chalked off for offside before Tom Bonner added a fourth from two yards out as he reacted quickly to a rebound. Minutes later a deep cross from Ryan Hayes was kept in play by Burchell’s flick and finished off coolly by Charlie Sheringham. Another Dartford goal was ruled out for offside before Hayes’ free kick was nodded in for Burchell’s second and Dartford’s sixth. Dartford easily negotiated their way to the semi-finals.

Dartford 6 Whitstable Town 1 – Kent Senior Cup Quarter Final Highlights

Draw at The Camrose

Yes it’s a cliché in football but the trip to The Camrose really was a game of two halves. A very entertaining first forty five was followed up by a goalless stalemate in the second half. With Dartford fans still settling in the ground after a tipple at the bar, Delano Sam-Yorke got Basingstoke off to an explosive start by netting inside the first minute, an absolute shocker to concede. It was just a punt out of defence which led to a chase between Sam-Yorke and Joe Bruce, the Basingstoke striker made up the ground and poked the ball past the onrushing Andrew Young.

It took three more minutes for a bit of Ryan Hayes magic when his double step over was followed by skipping past an oncoming defender, this gave Hayes the necessary room to curl a low shot into the far corner, a brilliantly taken goal from the edge of the box. Twenty minutes later Hayes took free kick just of centre about 25 yards out, he curled the ball but Chay Morris touched the ball on the post.  The ball was kept alive and crossed towards Charlie Sheringham whose header was cleared off the line, however Danny Harris arrived late at the far post and bundled the ball into the net, Dartford had the lead. The lead was to last a quarter of an hour even though Dartford was in control, the tormentor was Sam-Yorke again. The striker cut inside waltzed through the defence and hit a hard low shot beyond Young.

Ryan Hayes scores with a fantastic solo effort

An exhilarating first half outshone the second which did still have its moments and continued to be played at a high tempo. Matthew Pattinson exquisite chip over Young looked like Basingstoke was going to take the lead, only for Young to magnificently tip the ball over. Elliot Bradbrook came close for The Darts and Pattison again caused trouble when his long range effort had Young rooted to the spot. The inside of the post saved Dartford, the scores stayed level. The woodwork took a battering, Matt Jones, Lee Burns, Tom Champion and Sheringham linked up. Charlie skilfully chested the ball down and on the volley hit a beauty, surely goal of the season, thud, the cross bar rocked again. Finally in the last five minutes Stuart Lake was left in space to win the game for Basingstoke, Dartford defenders watched on and was relieved when the ball again hit the woodwork. What an entertaining draw.

Basingstoke Town 2 Dartford 2 – Highlights

Goalless

Not every game can be as entertaining as the last but Dartford fans were happy with the result considering a) the poor record against Eastleigh b) it was another point towards our total and safety and c) Eastleigh looked the better side. Tony Burman’s side looked tired but put in enough effort to earn the draw. Andrew Young was kept busy, Eastleigh struck the cross bar twice and The Darts worked hard to keep The Spitfires at bay. Not a pleasant evening for entertainment but no one in a Dartford shirt cared, a point is a point.

Dartford 0 Eastleigh 0 – Highlights

The Darts are defeated at Wheatsheaf Park

Staines Massive

An away trip to Staines Town had Dartford eyeing up a top ten finish. The Swans was close enough in the league for this match to have some significance. Wheatsheaf Park was brought to life on four minutes when the home side went in front from a quick break finished by Andre Scarlett. Lee Burns squandered a chance to equalise as his search for his first goal of the season continued. Unfortunately the lead was doubled when Elliot Onochie cut into the box and set up Scott Taylor who made it two. Staines Town continued to control the game, Andrew Young made some vital saves but the Middlesex side were comfortable winners. Not all bad though it was only a second defeat in 13 matches for The Darts.

Staines Town 2 Dartford 0 – Highlights

Charlie Finds His Goal Scoring Boots

At this stage of the season there was only one side Dartford had not yet played and this was St Albans City. The Saints were in turmoil after a ten point deduction back and a run of six defeats out of seven in February. The Hertfordshire club did pick up form before the meeting at Princes Park by winning two in a row and holding league leaders Braintree Town. St Albans were as good as relegated due to their deduction of points and so some of the pressure was off their players. Dartford was as good as safe but with their eyes on a top ten finish.

Early on Lee Noble’s energetic run down the flank resulted in a cross to the far post which Charlie Sheringham headed downwards onto the foot of the post. Then when Lee Burns was sent through the moment everyone was waiting for arrived, surely his first goal of the season? Burns delicately cushioned a volley over the onrushing goalkeeper but the ball could not come down soon enough, the crowd groaned in desperation for Burnsy to score the elusive goal.

The Darts was looking bright and St Albans plugged away creating a few half chances. On 33 minutes The Saints attacked and Inih Effiong’s run was not picked out. He strolled through the gaping hole in the defence and as the ball fell to his feet he side footed the ball in off the post and so The Saints took the lead, a lead which lasted all of two minutes. A clever free kick from Dartford levelled the scores. Noble ran over the dead ball and past the right of the wall, James White shaped to shoot but passed to Noble. The effective midfielder cut inside one man took a shot which was parried into the path of Sheringham, 1-1. The first half included a 20 man brawl when Matt Jones went over the top with a lunging tackle; the referee booked a handful of players. Dartford also hit the crossbar and from two rebounds goalkeeper Paul Bastock somehow kept The Darts at bay.

Charlie Sheringham celebrates another goal

The second half followed suit and was packed with incidents too.  Danny Harris waltzed into the box for his scuffed effort was smothered by Bastock. On 51 minutes a long clearance was chased down by Burns he managed a shot/pass across goal and Sheringham outpaced the defender to tap in at the far post. Yet again the lead lasted a few minutes; Effiong’s persistent running and hold up play earned St Albans a reward when his measured cross was met by the head of Ollie Kelly to level the match. James White was then dismissed for the second time of the season when he was cautioned for a second time.

With a numerical advantage The Saints missed a sitter, hit the cross bar and was denied by Andrew Young in the Dartford goal. Tony Burman replaced Sheringham with Jon Main and Noble with Ryan Hayes, two changes which could have proved crucial. In the last minute Main chased Young’s drop kick, Bastock spilled the ball and Main applied pressure to Bastock. Bastock hauled Main down in the box, a penalty was awarded. Hayes grabbed the ball as quickly as he could sense a winner. He placed the ball on the spot, ran up and struck the ball left footed. Bastock had guessed the wrong way, thwack. The ball hit the post the game ended 2-2.

Dartford 2 St Albans City 2 – The Highlights

Super Shezza

Tony Burman signed James Rogers before the match against Lewes and handed him his first start in a Dartford shirt. The Darts were solid and the struggling Lewes side failed to get going in a fixture they needed to win to help boost their survival hopes.

Rogers made an impressive debut and coupled with Lee Burns’ endless running The Darts was in control. Burns volleyed narrowly wide in the first minute, he was getting closer. Lee Noble’s rasping volley on the edge of the box was parried, Lewes experienced an early onslaught. Three minutes later Princes Park witnessed a moment of pure magic. The ball bounced between two Lewes defenders and Danny Harris who anticipated the bounce pounced, the ball sat up nicely and he unleashed a corker of a volley across the goalkeeper and into the top corner.

Burns tried and tried to score again but could not apply the finishing touches missing a one on one. The crowd felt his frustration but continued urge him on. Then on 25 minutes super Charlie Sheringham doubled the lead at the far post with a header in off the bar, a scrappy but deserved second. In the second half Ryan Hayes was introduced again by Burman and caused Lewes problems. His chip forward found fellow substitute Jon Main who looped a cross towards Sheringham. Charlie expertly chested the ball, turned and hooked his shot low into the near post, a splendid move and a second brace in two games for Sheringham.

Dartford 3 Lewes 0 – Highlights

Marching On

The Darts had climbed up to twelfth place with a solid run of games. Tony Burman lost the services of striker Jon Main who returned to his parent club. Main was then loaned back out to rivals Dover Athletic causing a minor stir. Farnborough closed the gap at the top to just one with a tremendous March, they stretched their superb run to eight wins and a draw without defeat. Braintree Town were difficult to beat but tended to be drawing more games. Woking’s exceptional form propelled them into the playoffs at the expense of Chelmsford City. Throughout February and March Woking had won eleven, lost one and drew one, keeping ten clean sheets. St Albans City was twelve points adrift of safety with Maidenhead United and Lewes making up the bottom three, Thurrock had a four point cushion. With a month to go the title was open and the relegation battle continued.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Braintree Town 35 22 7 6 65 29 +36 73
2 Farnborough 35 22 6 7 72 38 +34 72
3 Welling United* 36 22 6 8 74 42 +32 67
4 Ebbsfleet United 35 18 10 7 62 46 +16 64
5 Woking 35 18 8 9 49 33 +16 62
6 Eastleigh 34 18 6 10 60 43 +17 60
7 Chelmsford City 36 18 8 10 69 45 +24 62
8 Dover Athletic 35 18 6 11 67 45 +22 60
9 Havant and W 33 15 7 11 50 40 +10 52
10 Bromley 36 13 11 12 41 51 -10 50
11 Staines Town 35 11 13 11 44 46 -2 46
12 Dartford 35 11 12 12 46 46 0 45
13 Weston-super-Mare 36 13 7 16 47 53 -6 46
14 Basingstoke Town 35 10 10 15 39 50 -11 40
15 Hampton and Richmond 34 8 13 13 40 45 -5 37
16 Dorchester Town 35 9 10 16 43 52 -9 37
17 Boreham Wood 35 8 10 17 46 62 -16 34
18 Bishop’s Stortford 35 9 6 20 37 71 -34 33
19 Thurrock 36 7 11 18 42 68 -26 32
21 Lewes 36 7 7 22 29 63 -34 28
22 Maidenhead United 34 6 8 20 31 60 -29 26
20 St Albans City** 36 6 12 18 35 60 -25 20

*Welling United deducted five points

**St Albans City deducted ten points

Stuart Maidment

Photos courtesy of Dave Adkins, videos courtesy of Ray Cherry.


 

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