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

4 – Finding Our Feet?

White-wash

Dartford started the second month of the season in sixteenth place and faced mid table Weston Super Mare at home.  The Seagulls had only managed to score and concede just once away from home, the crowd expected a tough match with few goals, how wrong they were. Dartford shaded the first half with nothing much to report until the stroke of half time. James White was being pushed and pulled in the box and the referee gave a penalty. Weston players were bemused, nine times out of ten a foul wouldn’t have been given unless it was outside the box. Charlie Sheringham tucked away the penalty to give Dartford the lead before the break.

James White's superb curling shot finds the back of the net

Weston came out quickly in the second half and a defensive lapse down the right provided The Seagulls with a chance to level. Marcus Duharty side footed the ball after it was cut back, all square. A sloppy goal to give away but that didn’t deter The Darts creating a couple of chances. James White was everywhere in the middle of the park and twenty minutes later his persistence paid off. Sheringham’s pass was just out of reach for White but he managed to bundle his way through to earn possession, Weston players claimed hand ball but this was unable to put White off his tracks. Cutting onto his left foot he curled a shot from 20 yards into the far corner, a terrific strike, 2-1. Four frantic minutes later left the Dartford faithful in dreamland. Ryan Hayes caused trouble all afternoon and his free kick on the right was turned in by Weston’s Martin Slocombe. Hayes then provided a delightful pin point cross for Sheringham to nod home at the back stick, 4-1 Dartford. With Ryno’s deliveries and White’s midfield domination that afternoon it certainly was a great day at the office.

Dartford 4 Weston Super-Mare 1 – Highlights

Elliot Bradbrook fires in the equaliser in Dartford's return to Ship Lane

Back to an Old Stomping Ground

A short trip across the River Thames to Ship Lane provided many fans with fond memories of The Darts playing outside of Kent. Years without a home after the demise in 1992, years of sharing grounds but the club survived no matter what. Between 1998 and 2001 The Darts shared home with Thurrock (then known as Purfleet). The Essex club had yet to record a victory in their opening seven fixtures, in fact it took a further eight games to earn their first win. On this occasion the two sides shared the spoils. Max Lette Jallow was allowed to waltz into the Dartford area and put The Fleet ahead on 65 minutes. Although the performance was gritty, dogged and sometimes desperate Dartford battled on.  A free kick was whipped in low and Eliot Bradbrook managed to take the ball under his control, a swivel, a shot, a goal from six yards. The skipper rescued a point for Dartford twelve minutes from time.

Thurrock 1 Dartford 1 – Highlights

Captain Bradbrook Saves the Day, Again

Captain Bradbrook scores a dramatic leveller

Bromley visited Princes Park top of the Conference South, an incredible run of seven straight victories (only matched by Woking later in the season) had ended the week before at St Albans City in a draw. Still unbeaten and with Dartford undefeated in three an impressive crowd of 1834 turned up for an entertaining afternoon.

Nic McDonnell put Bromley ahead in the first half when a Tony Finn shot looped over Andrew Young for McDonnell to bundle the ball over the line. However, the drama was about to unfold.  Jerome Sobers brought down Elliot Bradbrook in the box, the referee pulled out a card, the colour red. Ryan Hayes took the penalty, Wes Foderingham’s hand made contact with the ball but not enough to keep out the shot, the scores were level on 74 minutes.

With just two minutes on the clock Harrison Dunk dribbled the ball towards the Dartford goal, his unchallenged run ended in a low 18 yard strike into the Dartford net, disaster. With time running out The Darts pushed for an equaliser, Hayes put in a deep cross to the far post, Foderingham misjudged and Bradbrook nodded home from two yards out to rescue a point, again.

Dartford 2 Bromley 2 – Highlights

The Road To Wembley Begins

For some teams the journey to the hallowed Wembley turf began on 14 August 2011. On that day Dartford were making their debut in the Conference South. Every season for non leaguers, a trip to Wembley in the F.A Cup will never happen, so it’s the dream of a third round tie against the big guns which non leaguers realistically dream about. Dartford set out on their journey on 25 September 2010 in the Second Qualifying Round.

Lowestoft Town stood in Dartford’s way of progression as they visited Princes Park. The Isthmian Premier side were a tough prospect and definitely on the up. The previous season they cruised to the Isthmian North title with a 15 point margin, scoring a whopping 115. They had won three trophies in five years and reached the F.A Vase Final in 2008. In their first season at Isthmian Premier level they had won 5 of their first 7 matches.

The F.A Cup always has something special in store for a number of clubs; Dartford fans hoped it would be their turn. The match kicked off at the traditional time with supporters in good voice. The Trawlerboys brought a respectable following to add to the atmosphere inside Princes Park.

 

The Trawlerboys arrived at Princes Park in good spirits

Ryan Hayes had the first chance of the afternoon but his wild effort was blasted over. Andrew Young was called into action making an excellent save to keep Dartford fans on edge. The two sides traded opportunities but neither could convert their chances, half time arrived without a goal. The second half came alive when The Darts won a corner on 51 minutes. Michael Shinn’s delivery was scrambled towards Carl Rook who instinctively reacted to nod the ball home, a true poacher’s goal. Dartford stamped their authority on the game. Six minutes later a long throw found Danny Harris on the six yard box. Harris delicately took the ball down on his right foot, one touch out of his feet, a turn and low snap shot and the lead was doubled.

Rookamania: Rook celebrates

Lowestoft continued to play decent football and Joe Francis forced Young into tipping his shot onto the outside of post. The Trawlerboys were galvanised and continued to fight back, Dartford fans were not too comfortable. Dale Cockerill hit a terrific strike from 30 yards but Young equalled his effort with a superb save. On the rocks the game turned into a battle despite a two goal cushion, just ten minutes remained. Lee McGlone took the ball round Young, the post saved Dartford for a moment until Cockerill stuck in the rebound. Hearts were really in mouths now. Lowestoft pushed forward in search of a comeback their fans felt they deserved. Dartford was saved by the full time whistle, who would be waiting in the next round?

Dartford 2 Lowestoft Town 1 – Highlights

When September Ends

Bromley’s unbeaten run stretched to nine which included winning their opening seven matches. Welling United suffered a five point deduction and a £5000 suspended fine due to financial irregularities, leaving them eight points adrift of the leaders. Thurrock and Boreham Wood remained winless. Braintree’s Sean Marks managed to score in every fixture throughout September and topped the goalscoring chart with seven. The match of the month was at The Crabble, where a nine goal thriller ended Dover Athletic 6 Farnborough 3.

Dartford was unbeaten in September and moved up two positions in the league standings. Progression to the F.A Cup Third Qualifying Round was also a plus, it seemed as though The Darts were beginning to adjust to Conference South football.

 

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Bromley 9 7 2 0 17 8 +9 23
2 Braintree Town 9 6 2 1 16 4 +12 20
3 Dover Athletic 9 6 2 1 18 8 +10 20
4 Chelmsford City 9 6 1 2 18 10 +8 19
5 Welling United* 9 6 2 1 18 10 +8 15
6 Ebbsfleet United 9 4 3 2 13 9 +4 15
7 Eastleigh 9 4 2 3 14 10 +4 14
8 Hampton and Richmond 9 3 4 2 11 9 +2 13
9 Woking 9 4 1 4 7 10 -3 13
10 Maidenhead United 9 4 1 4 11 15 -4 13
11 Bishop’s Stortford 9 4 0 5 10 17 -7 12
12 Staines Town 9 2 5 2 10 10 0 11
13 Farnborough 9 3 2 4 14 16 -2 11
14 Dartford 9 2 4 3 14 12 +2 10
15 Havant and W 9 2 4 3 10 10 0 10
16 St Albans City 9 1 6 2 8 9 -1 9
17 Basingstoke Town 9 2 3 4 6 10 -4 9
18 Weston-super-Mare 9 2 3 4 8 13 -5 9
19 Thurrock 9 0 5 4 12 19 -7 5
20 Dorchester Town 9 1 2 6 8 16 -8 5
21 Lewes 9 1 1 7 6 14 -8 4
22 Boreham Wood 9 0 3 6 9 19 -10 3

*Welling United deducted five points