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31 October 2023. Dartford were "treated" to a 4:2 win, and Weston Super Mare were "tricked" by Dartford's determined play in the second half.
Dartford came from behind to secure a fourth consecutive victory at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park, as Alex Wall came off the bench to net a brace. Despite Paul Rooney (1) and Baris Altintop (3) coming close early on for the Darts, Weston-Super-Mare had the majority of the possession and opportunities during a difficult first forty-five for the hosts. Reuben Reid was a thorn in the Darts’ side, as he caused all sorts of problems with his pace. The attacker tried is luck as early as the 10th minute after being set up by Dayle Grubb, only to fire over the top of Mitchell Beeney’s crossbar from distance. Reid then became the provider for Robbie Willmott, but Mitchell Beeney was alert to keep his 14th minute effort out, before Reid was at it again. This time he found Opanin Edwards with a neat pass, but the latter couldn’t find the target (17). Having warned the hosts with their impressive pace previously, Weston-Super-Mare were ahead six minutes later when Reid controlled Kieran Thomas’ through-ball, before getting beyond Beeney to give the visitors a deserved lead (23). The Seagulls were then gifted the opportunity to double their advantage when the referee, Mr Robert Claussen, awarded a penalty for a late challenge on Reid. He took the responsibility with a low drive from the spot, but Beeney read it well to make the save and keep the Darts in the game (29). Having pretty much dominated the opening half-an-hour, the visitors didn’t take their chances and the saved penalty proved to be a turning point in the game, as Dartford levelled the score in the 39th minute. Having seen his goal three minutes earlier chalked off for an apparent foul, Paul Rooney made up for it with a delightful equaliser following a swift counter-attack via Luke Coulson down the left-flank. The Skipper then whipped in an inviting cross, which Rooney superbly finished with a sweet volley.
If the visitors didn’t rue their penalty miss before, they certainly did after just sixty seconds of the restart! A good Dartford attack was halted in its tracks when Kieran Thomas fouled Harvey Bradbury inside the box. Luke Coulson stepped up to take the spot-kick, leaving goalkeeper Harrison Lee with no chance (47). The Seagulls responded by making a double substitution in the 53rd minute, when Opanin Edwards and Reuben Reid were replaced by Rex Mannings and Luke Pearce respectively. Alan Dowson, meanwhile, would swap Lewis Manor with Alex Wall (65), Harvey Bradbury with Luke Allen (81), and Paul Rooney with Archie Woods (90+). Weston created a couple of good opportunities as they searched for an equaliser. Mitchell Beeney was called into making a routine save from Dayle Grubb’s long-range effort (59), before Luke Pearce saw his excellent strike deflected wide of the Dartford upright (64). Pearce was making a nuisance of himself just as Reid had, and was almost rewarded with a fine effort in the 68th minute, only to see it curl narrowly wide of Beeney’s far post. Sixty seconds later saw the hosts stretch their advantage after stealing the ball from under The Seagulls noses… Luke Coulson’s dangerous cross found Bradbury who, in turn, fed the ball to Alex Wall, who duly scored Dartford’s third of the night… just four minutes after coming on! Weston rallied with both Dayle Grubb (77) and James Morton (81) coming close, before the Darts added a fourth with some clinical finishing in the 85th minute via Alex Wall once again. The assist came via Luke Coulson again, as the Skipper put on a perfect performance which earned him a thoroughly deserved Man of The Match award. His brilliant ball into the box was wonderfully flicked into the back of the net by Wall, as the substitute grabbed himself two goals to finish off the visitors. However, Weston weren’t quite done themselves, and netted a late consolation goal via Luke Pearce after good work by Robbie Willmott deep into stoppage time.
That wasn’t the final piece of action for the night because, once again, the man in the middle took centre stage with some controversial decisions. With both sides not afraid to put in the challenges, Mr Claussen appeared to be extremely biased with the use of his cards. Having already booked Harvey Bradbury, Alex Wall, and Joash Nembhard for seemingly harmless challenges, the referee took it a step further this evening by issuing Wall a second yellow card for another apparent foul… sending the Dartford number nine off in the dying minutes of the game. However, that shouldn’t detract from the fact that, after a sluggish start, Dartford pulled an excellent result out of the bag with some clinical finishing. The win sees them move up into ninth place in the National League South table, just two points outside the play-off positions.
DARTFORD: Mitchell Beeney, Jordan Wynter, Tyrell Miller-Rodney, Baris Altintop, Luke Coulson (c), Paul Rooney, Lewis Manor, Maxwell Statham, Joash Nembhard, Harvey Bradbury, Moussa Diarra.
SUBSTITUTES: Luke Allen, Alex Wall, Manny Adebowale, Archie Woods, Brandon Barzey.
WESTON-SUPER-MARE: Harrison Lee, Kieran Thomas, Jordan Bastin, Jacob Cane, Lloyd Humphries, Jason Pope, Robbie Willmott, James Morton, Dayle Grubb (c), Opanin Edwards, Reuben Reid.
SUBSTITUTES: Luke Purnell, Rex Mannings, Luke Pearce, Samuel Avery, Jacob Roddy.
Referee: Robert Claussen.
Assists: Fabio Roque, Samuel Everitt.
Report by Chris Palmer.
(c) SportShotz Photography