28 August 2023. Dartford win 2:0 (James Golding 27', Lewis Manor 54').
Fresh from securing a first win of the season at Aveley on Saturday, Alan Dowson’s side followed that up with another fine win and second consecutive clean sheet in front of 1,203 supporters. The opening exchanges saw a majority of the game played in the middle of the park, with few opportunities created. However, the hosts did test goalkeeper Billy Terrell first, when Luke Coulson’s follow-up from a blocked effort flew straight into the grateful arms of the Dover shot-stopper (3). Meanwhile, George Nikaj failed to test Mitchell Beeney at the other end following an excellent attack by the visitors in the 24th minute. The Darts soon got a firm grip on proceedings and forced a few corners in quick succession before finally making one count. Luke Coulson swung a delightful set-piece into the box, which the Dover defence failed to clear. After a scramble for control, the ball found James Golding, who was on hand to stab it into the back of the net (27). The Dartford Skipper Luke Coulson came agonisingly close to doubling the lead with a sweet set-piece in the 33rd minute. Unfortunately, his 25-yard free-kick was saved by Terrell, as Dover struggled to deal with the hosts. Dover did come close themselves shortly afterwards, but Nikaj was once again guilty of being unable to find the target during a swift counter-attack (36), before the Darts were unlucky to not have doubled their advantage within sixty seconds. A terrific attack by the Darts ended up with the ball coming into the path of Joash Nembhard. He pulled the trigger perfectly with a delightful volley, but the ball smacked back off of Terrell’s upright before being cleared (37), as the visitors were relieved to only be a goal behind at the break.
The Darts should have doubled their advantage within three minutes of the restart. Lewis Manor and Luke Coulson combined well, with the former sending the latter through on goal. But, Billy Terrell somehow got something on the ball, which was enough to send the ball off-target (48)!
The missed opportunity wasn’t punished by the visitors, who were offering very little so far during the second forty-five and, six minutes later Dartford deservedly doubled their advantage. Once again, the goal arrived via another Luke Coulson corner, which was delivered perfectly for Lewis Manor. His powerful header left Terrell with absolutely no chance of saving, as the Darts all but secured the victory (54). Having already booked Fuad Sesay and James Dunne of Dover, referee Mr Michael Robertson-Tant, then proceeded to issue yellow cards to both Harvey Bradbury and Luke Coulson… the latter was seemingly bizarre because the Dartford Captain was floored by his marker, yet the referee booked Coulson instead! Dover’s Dantai Stewart was also booked late on, as tempers began to boil over and he decided to be a little too vocal about his opinions. As the game continued, the hosts were offered the opportunity to add a third goal after an apparent hand-ball inside the Dover box. Luke Coulson stepped up to take the spot-kick, but his effort was a little too high of its intended target and the lead remained at two (76). The Darts weren’t to be denied though, as they saw out the remainder of the game in a professional manner. Baris Altintop would be the third Dartford player to be booked, making that “score” 3-3 late on, but the Dartford defence remained resolute. Central Defender, Joash Nembhard, earned a thoroughly deserved Man of The Match award, but this was in all honesty an excellent team effort.
The result sees the Darts climb up to eleventh position in the National League South table, just a point away from the play-off spots in what is already shaping up to be another extremely competitive season.
DARTFORD: Mitchell Beeney, Jordan Wynter, Tommy Block, Tyrell Miller-Rodney, Baris Altintop, Luke Coulson (c), Paul Rooney, Lewis Manor, James Golding, Joash Nembhard, Harvey Bradbury.
SUBSTITUTES: Luke Allen, Maxwell Statham, Tom Wray, Ollie Box, Moussa Diarra.
DOVER ATHLETIC: Billy Terrell, Peter Oseman, Michael Olareweju, James Dunne (c), Joshua Anifowose, George Nikaj, Charles Naylor, Luke Baptiste, Dantai Stewart, Fuad Sesay, John Oyenuga.
SUBSTITUTES: Zidan Sutherland, George Wilkinson, Nick Dembelle, Ifay Allen, Archie Hatcher.
Referee: Michael Robertson-Tant
Assists: Nick Blogg, Richard Joss.
MoTM: Joash Nembhard
Report by Chris Palmer
Images by Carol White-Griffiths and Peter White
(c) SportShotz Photography