Dartford 3 Hemel Hempstead Town 2 (Pugh 32', 81', Pavey 90') Parkes 36', Watt 45+2")
Two goals in the last 10 minutes saw Dartford return to winning ways against promotion hopefuls Hemel Hempstead in National League South. Andy Pugh scored two cracking goals from distance before leading scorer Alfie Pavey came off the bench to head in the winner in the 90th minute. The result leaves Dartford two points behind leaders Havant, who still have a game in hand, with just eight matches of their season remaining. On a bitterly cold afternoon, the experience of Tom Bonner twice came to Dartford's rescue with key clearances in the first half. In the 16th minute, Bonner cleared off the line to deny Jordan Parkes the opener before he was in the right place again before the break to block a goalbound effort. Darts went ahead in the 31st minute, Noble's backheel created space for Pugh, whose 20-yard curler took a nick off defender Darren Ward to defeat keeper Laurie Walker. Hemel equalised seven minutes later. Pugh went down after a challenge in the Hemel half but referee Wayne Cartmel waved play on, the visitors taking full advantage as Darts backed off and former Ebbsfleet midfielder Parkes produced a trademark finish from 30 yards beyond keeper Berti Schotterl. The visitors went ahead in stoppage time when striker David Moyo converted at the far post.
As the snow continued to fall, Dartford called for Pavey and then Mills after the break, changing formation and forcing Hemel back. It needed a vital block by Nathan Collier to deny the visitors a third goal when Sanchez Watt set up substitute Scott Shulton 12 minutes from time. Dartford levelled just three minutes later when skipper Elliot Bradbrook - back to his best in midfield - won the ball on the edge of the area and fed Pugh, who produced a delightful chip into the far post from an angle. There was only going to be one winner after that as Hemel sat back and Darts showed their critics that they are up for the title fight. The winning goal duly arrived in the 90th minute when Pavey produced a perfect header to convert Noble's right-wing cross. It sparked wild celebrations from the Darts, including boss Burman who sprinted down the touchline to celebrate with his players, such was the relief around Princes Park.
Dartford: Schotterl, Collier, Onyemah, Bonner, Vint, Brown, Hayes (Pavey 67mins), Bradbrook, Ofori-Acheampong (Mills 74mins), Pugh, Noble. Subs not used: Murphy, Della-Verde, Ibrahim.
Hemel Hempstead: Walker, Spence, Connolly, Parkes, Ward, Howe, Saunders, Cain, Moyo, Watt, McCall. Subs Kaleri, Hoskins, Shulton, Oliyidi, Boness
Referee Wayne Cartmel, Assistants Gerry Heron, Steven Scott.
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