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Match Report


Posted Sat 05 Jul 14 at 05:16 AM

Dartford 0

United 0

A GAME of two halves saw Dartford and United spurn numerous chances in the opening 45 minutes and then defences took complete control after the break.

The anomaly to that pattern was a penalty for the home side six minutes into the second-half but when Elliot Bradbrook blasted the ball over from 12 yards, a blank afternoon was almost inevitable.

United boss Chris Hargreaves made three changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Southport last weekend, two enforced and one strategic. A suspension to Ryan Bowman and injury to Ben Harding saw them miss out, along with striker Ashley Yeoman dropping down to the bench.

The three to come in were all making their full debuts in Yellow, as Courtney Richards started in midfield and a brand new forward partnership saw Duane Ofori-Acheampong paired with Toby Ajala, who was chosen to play in a more advanced role than his normal duties on the wing.

Dartford manager Tony Burman made two changes to the side beaten 1-0 at Kidderminster seven days ago, with Tom Bradbrook preferred to Luke Daley in attack and Ryan Hayes replacing Harry Crawford on the wing.

A sloppy clearance by Rory McAuley almost gifted Ofori-Acheampong the dream start, as the big striker rifled an instant shot across Dartford ‘keeper Jason Brown, who did well to parry the ball to safety.

The home side were struggling to contain the combination of Ajala and Ofori-Acheampong, and another clever pass from the enigmatic skills of Ajala teed up his strike-partner for a smart shot on the turn that again produced the best from Brown.

Martin Rice in the visiting goal then took centre-stage with a stunning save to deny Andy Pugh after the home forward found room to power a decent header toward goal - a brilliant low block from United’s number one keeping the scores level.

Rice was soon back into the action, again saving from Pugh but this time with his legs and it was another excellent opportunity for Dartford’s lively centre-forward, as United looked to soak up a period of sustained pressure from their hosts.

The two goalkeepers were having a stellar afternoon and Brown produced a fantastic double-save to thwart Louis Briscoe and Ajala following a swift Yellow break. The ball then broke to skipper Luke Young, who saw his lashed shot well charged down by desperate home defending.

United were now cranking up the pressure and a terrific turn from Ofori-Acheampong created room for Young to have another shot on goal and this time he beat the outstanding Brown, only to see his effort bounce clear off the post.

Dartford responded with another clear chance for Pugh after slight hesitation between Aaron Downes and Angus MacDonald in the United defence, but the eventual shot sailed well over with Rice briefly exposed. Tom Bradbrook then headed wide from a good position.

The home side were now on top and a deep corner found its way to McAuley, who fired in a goal-bound shot that required a brave challenge from Tom Cruise to relieve the situation.

A lively first period meandered toward an even conclusion and neither manager made any changes of personnel at the break, but it was the home side that restarted the brighter with a couple of promising set-piece situations.

Ajala quickly changed the pattern with an audacious effort from 30 yards which flew just a fraction wide, but a robust challenge from Downes presented Dartford with a glorious opportunity, as Tom Bradbrook was hauled to the ground.

The striker’s brother and Dartford skipper, Elliot Bradbrook, took responsibility and he will wish he hadn’t bothered, as a poor spot-kick was lashed onto the crossbar and away into the stands for a massive reprieve to United.

Despite the disappointment of a missed penalty, the home side remained on top and the Gulls were struggling to carry the threat they enjoyed in the first 45 minutes, with Hargreaves peering at the forward options on his bench.

Dartford were actually first to twist, as Luke Daley replaced Peter Sweeney and the new man quickly conceded a free-kick in attempting to halt a bustling run from Briscoe.

Yeoman for Ajala was the first Yellow switch as the game approached its final 20 minutes and United needed to rediscover their forward momentum with a new partnership up front. In the end, it was Courtney Cameron picked out by an incisive pass from Young but the cross-shot fizzed over the bar.

Crawford for Pugh was the next change for Dartford but the second period remained bereft of clear opportunities, except for the missed penalty that would become the main talking point of the day.

Hargreaves turned back to his replacements for the closing stages, offering a debut to new loan signing Josh Wakefield in place of Briscoe and a weary Ofori-Acheampong was withdrawn for the experience of Elliot Benyon.

A drab match entered injury-time with the Gulls earning one last chance with a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Young and Cameron stood over the ball, and the latter swung over a decent shot but Brown punched clear and another 0-0 draw took United into a Bank Holiday clash with Aldershot at Plainmoor.

(4-4-2): 1 Jason Brown; 15 Nathan Collier, 14 Mat Mitchell-King, 5 Elliot Bradbrook (capt), 3 Adam Green; 7 Ryan Hayes, 16 Peter Sweeney (9 Luke Daley 67), 4 Rory McAuley, 6 Max Cornhill; 23 Tom Bradbrook, 10 Andy Pugh (17 Harry Crawford 75). Substitutes (not used): 8 Lee Noble, 11 Danny Harris, 21 Deren Ibrahim (GK).

Green 27, Elliot Bradbrook 37

(4-4-2): 1 Martin Rice; 2 Dale Tonge, 21 Angus MacDonald, 4 Aaron Downes, 3 Tom Cruise; 7 Louis Briscoe (22 Josh Wakefield 86), 8 Luke Young (capt), 16 Courtney Richards, 11 Courtney Cameron; 10 Toby Ajala (14 Ashley Yeoman 70), 24 Duane Ofori-Acheampong (17 Elliot Benyon 86). Substitutes (not used): 5 Krystian Pearce, 23 Jordan Seabright (GK).

Ofori-Acheampong 53, Young 90

Daniel Cook


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