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28 January 2023. Worthing win 3:0 (Maxwell Statham (OG) 8', Pearce 11', Davide Rodari 54'.)
Despite the Darts launching an immediate attack from the start (a feat which saw Luke Coulson force a great save from Harrison Male within the first minute, only to be caught offside), it was the hosts that would go on to set the foundations to virtually dominate the game.
The truth is, Dartford just couldn’t get to grips with the Rebel’s attacking trio of Davide Rodari, Ollie Pearce, and Lewis White. They troubled the defence all afternoon, while midfielders Kane Wills, Danny Barker, and Josh Chambers fed them dangerous balls.
And, the warning signs were there early on when Lewis White’s seventh minute effort kissed the top of Dan Wilks’ crossbar. However, a minute later saw the hosts edge themselves in front as a little bit of fortune went in their direction. Kane Wills’ dangerous cross wasn’t dealt with and the ball somehow ricocheted off of Wilks and into the back of the net (9).
The goal gave the Rebels added confidence and it wasn’t long before another blistering attack was rewarded. However, on this occasion, no luck was involved as in-form Ollie Pearce received the ball in space inside the Dartford box. He controlled the ball well, before connecting with a delightful left-footed half-volley which crashed in off the crossbar (11).
Josh Chambers then saw his curling drive sail narrowly wide of Wilks’ upright (14), before Dartford began to edge themselves back into contention. As they roamed forward more, they were unlucky to not have pulled a goal back after 23 minutes.
A great move saw Luke Coulson force a great save from Harrison Male, before Samir Carruthers got on the end of the resulting corner. Unfortunately, the midfielder’s strike flew narrowly wide of the post on this occasion.
However, the attacking threat of the hosts was always present and only a superb challenge by Maxwell Statham prevented Josh Chambers from burying a definite third goal of the half for the Rebels (27). The resulting corner then found Joel Colbran, who was thwarted by an excellent save at close-range from Wilks (28). Josh Chambers then smacked the outside of the post with a terrific effort in the 32nd minute, before Aarran Racine saw his header chalked off for offside two minutes later. The visitors didn’t give up hope though, and they soon found themselves on the front-foot during the remaining five minutes of the half. Only a last-ditch challenge by Joe Rye prevented Malachi Napa from pulling a goal back (40), before Alex Wall did find the back of the net following another brilliant attacking move a minute later. Unfortunately, referee Mr Ben Atkinson ruled that off for offside as well!
Clearly unhappy with his side’s first-half, manager Alan Dowson made two substitutions at the beginning of the second forty-five. Kristian Campbell and Jack Smith both left the field to be replaced by Pierre Fonkeu and the returning Jernade Meade respectively. The Darts’ sole remaining change in personnel would take place after 67 minutes, where Malachi Napa would be replaced by debutant Jamar Loza.
Sadly, any hopes of Dartford mounting a comeback were ended in the 73rd minute after Alex Wall was shown a straight red card for a foul on Davide Rodari. The result sees the Darts remain in second place in the National League South table, and Tom Bonner and Co will be looking for a response when they travel to rivals Welling United next weekend.
WORTHING: Harrison Male, Joel Colbran, Aarran Racine (c), Joe Rye, Reuben Livesey-Austin, Kane Wills, Danny Barker, Josh Chambers, Davide Rodari, Ollie Pearce, Lewis White.
SUBSTITUTES: James Beresford, Callum Kealy, Lewis Thorn, Reece Myles-Meekums, Dan Bowry.
DARTFORD: Dan Wilks, Jordan Wynter, Kristian Campbell, Samir Carruthers, Connor Essam, Tom Bonner (c), Luke Coulson, Alex Wall, Maxwell Statham, Jack Smith, Malachi Napa.
SUBSTITUTES: Tommy Block, Jamar Loza, Keiran Murtagh, Jernade Meade, Pierre Fonkeu.
Report by Chris Palmer
Referee: Ben Atkinson
(c) SportShotz Photography