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30 September 2023. Dartford win 1:0 (og Henry Lukombo 40').
Dartford progress to the next round of the London Senior Cup at the expense of Harrow Borough, after an own-goal set them on their way. However, the narrow scoreline doesn’t tell the full story of this fixture, as the Darts were dominant and, perhaps, should have scored at least another 2-3 goals, as Harrow struggled to create anything truly meaningful for large portions of the game. That’s not to say that the Southern Football League, Premier Division South side were poor, far from it. In fact, they actually forced the first corner of the afternoon within sixty seconds, of which was an easy collection for number two goalkeeper Tom Wray (who was making his first start of the season). One of the first things that became apparent was that the visitors had singled out Brandon Barzey as the danger man this afternoon, and the tricky winger was immediately surrounded by 3-4 red shirts whenever he received the ball! Yet, with Jayden Boulton and Kevin Gonzalez roaming behind striker Lewis Manor as well, the Dartford number 17 certainly wasn’t the hosts’ only attacking threat.
This match seemed to take an age to get going, as neither side wanted to give anything away. Yet, it was the visitors who actually came closest first, after a late challenge offered them an opportunity, only for skipper Harry Seabrook fail to locate the target with his header from the free-kick after eighteen minutes. A minute later saw the hosts awarded a free-kick of their own, after Paul Rooney was fouled by Ross Oulton on the edge of the Borough box. Oulton received a yellow card for his trouble, before Barzey’s 21st minute free-kick glanced off a defender’s head to go behind for a corner, which was then cleared.
The Darts had found their rhythm at this point and were beginning to peg the visitors back. Youngster, Jayden Boulton, was unlucky to have not scored in the 25th minute… Barzey and Manor combined well in an excellent attacking move that saw the latter find Boulton. But, the Academy product’s strike took a deflection before eventually being dealt with by goalkeeper Tyler Tobin. Lewis Manor was then unfortunate to not score after he’d gotten onto Barzey’s corner… his header somehow being cleared off the line by the Borough defence (31), before they launched a swift counter-attack of their own. Moussa Diarra was adjudged to have fouled Troy Walters, but the resulting free-kick came to nothing.
Unfortunately for Alan Dowson, the injuries to his squad just won’t disappear, and the return of Tommy Block took a step back with the number four having to leave the field after just 36 minutes. Baris Altintop was his replacement, and he made an immediate impact… An excellent piece of play saw Barzey find the early substitute with a neat pass, which released him down the right-flank. Altintop then sent a dangerous low ball into the box, of which was heading into the back of the net, before Henry Lukombo’s attempted clearance helped it on its way (40)! Only a timely intervention by Jaden Sharman prevented Dartford from doubling their lead in the 45th minute, after Boulton had released Barzey with an excellent pass. The resulting corner was then met by Diarra, but the defender was unable to find the target with his header.
The start of the second forty-five saw Dowson make three more changes in personnel, with Maxwell Statham, Jordan Wynter, and Moussa Diarra making way for Luke Coulson, Harvey Bradbury, and Joash Nembhard respectively. That would be followed by a final change in the 68th minute, as Tyrell Miller-Rodney came on for Kevin Gonzalez. The changes didn’t really have the desired effect though, as the hosts couldn’t really get any momentum going in the second-half… or should that read, didn’t need to…? We had to wait until the 56th minute before anyone came close, and that moment was created by the hosts. A throw by Altintop was controlled brilliantly by Manor, before he forced a decent save out of Tobin. At the other end, perhaps the best chance for Harrow was offered when Stefan Powell got the better of Barzey, only to fire over the top of Wray’s crossbar (65)… before Barzey responded with a lovely curling drive which wasn’t quite powerful enough, thus enabling Tobin to collect (66). With time running out, the visitors became a little more adventurous and Excellence Muhemba started to make a nuisance of himself. First he fired narrowly wide of Tom Wray’s upright after finding space (80), before he then found Lonit Talla with a neat pass… Talla’s ball was then met by the boot of Manny Adebowale, who nearly levelled the score with an own-goal… only the alertness and agility of Wray prevented that little statistic from occurring (85)! Barzey could have added a late second in the 91st minute after getting on the end of a long-ball over-the-top, but his excellent effort from a tight angle flew across the face of goal instead. That needn’t have mattered though, as the Darts had done enough to ensure they went into the hat for the draw for the second round. It might not have been the prettiest of games, but Dartford controlled the game for long periods and, in the greater scheme of things, never really looked troubled.
DARTFORD: Tom Wray, Jordan Wynter, Tommy Block, Paul Rooney (c), Lewis Manor, Maxwell Statham, Manny Adebowale, Brandon Barzey, Kevin Gonzalez, Jayden Boulton, Moussa Diarra.
SUBSTITUTES: Tyrell Miller-Rodney, Baris Altintop, Luke Coulson, Joash Nembhard, Harvey Bradbury.
HARROW BOROUGH: Tyler Tobin, Tarik Gidaree, Jaden Sharman, Prince Kandulo, Harry Seabrook (c), Henry Lukombo, Nacheeb Ibrahim, Ross Oulton, Troy Walters, Lonit Talla, Excellence Muhemba.
SUBSTITUTES: Elliott Poley, Mack Miskin, Stefan Powell, Richie Mbele, Reece Cameron.
Referee: Joshua Howards
Assists: Kenny Agboola, Abdul Olol
Report by Chris Palmer
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