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21 February 2023. Dartford win 1:0 (Kieran Murtagh 4').
Keiran Murtagh’s early goal proved to be enough, as Dartford completed the league double over struggling Slough Town. As the temperature started to drop on a cold Tuesday night, the Dartford faithful didn’t have too long to wait before they were celebrating the opening goal. After an attacking move was rewarded with a free-kick on the Dartford right-side, Luke Coulson sent a delightful ball into the danger area, and Keiran Murtagh met it with an equally delightful header, which left goalkeeper Will Dennis with no chance (4). The visitors did respond though, and came close to levelling the score six minutes later, after Matt Lench managed to find the stretching Elliot Benyon inside the Dartford box. But, the Rebel couldn’t divert his header towards Ben Dudzinski’s goal, sending it wide instead. Relatively untroubled at the back for the remainder of the half, the hosts created two more good opportunities before proceedings turned a little scrappy. Both opportunities involved Malachi Napa, who was unlucky not to have doubled the Darts’ advantage. The first arrived in the 21st minute after Alex Wall had superbly got ahead of his marker. Using his strength to thwart the pressure from behind, he then got into a great position before unselfishly finding Napa with a neat pass. Napa pulled the trigger immediately, but Will Dennis managed to palm the ball behind for a corner, which Slough eventually cleared. The Rebel goalkeeper then managed to thwart Napa once again, as he got down low to prevent the Dartford player from scoring from close range (22).
The second forty-five started rather sluggishly, and we had to wait until the 57th minute for an effort on either goal. And, just like the first-half, it came via the hosts or, more specifically, Keiran Murtagh. After the Rebels’ defence was caught napping, the Dartford midfielder ran towards their goal before sending a decent effort wide of Dennis’ upright. Ten minutes later saw Luke Coulson’s corner met by Connor Essam, only for a timely interception by Joe Dandy prevent the Dartford defender from doubling his side’s advantage. The loose ball fell to Dartford debutant, Isaac Ogundea, but his strike flew straight into the grateful arms of Dennis.
Alan Dowson made his first of two substitutions of the night (64'), as Samir Carruthers entered the field to replace Malachi Napa. The second change in personnel saw eventual Man of The Match, Keiran Murtagh, be replaced by Pierre Fonkeu with seven minutes of the ninety remaining. Meanwhile, the Rebels swapped Lee Togwell with Ogo Obi (60th minute), Gabe George with Moe Shubbar (72nd minute), and Louis Walsh came on for Tyrese Owen (73rd minute). Both sides had an opportunity to score during the final ten minutes, yet it was the hosts who came the closest via a terrific counter-attack in the 81st minute. Luke Coulson and Samir Carruthers linked up well to race up the pitch, before the latter found Alex Wall with an excellent pass. The big striker controlled the ball well before pulling the trigger, but his strike flew narrowly over the top of Dennis’ crossbar. At the other end, as Slough chased a late equaliser, Moe Shubbar managed to drive forward before sending a shot wide of Ben Dudzinski’s post from the edge of the box (88). Dartford weren’t to be denied, however, as Keiran Murtagh’s first league goal of the season in the fourth minute proved to be enough. The result keeps the Darts’ grip on second place in the National League South table intact, as they continue to keep the chasing pack behind them.
Report by Chris Palmer
DARTFORD: Ben Dudzinski, Jordan Wynter, Connor Essam, Tom Bonner (c), Luke Coulson, Alex Wall, Keiran Murtagh, Isaac Ogundere, Jack Smith, Jernade Meade, Malachi Napa.
SUBSTITUTES: Dan Wilks, Samir Carruthers, Obi Onyeagwara, Maxwell Statham, Pierre Fonkeu.
SLOUGH TOWN: Will Dennis, Josh Jackman (c), Joe Dandy, Lee Togwell, Matt Lench, Elliot Benyon, Johnny Goddard, Scott Davies, Temi Eweka, Gabe George, Tyrese Owen.
SUBSTITUTES: James Dobson, Ogo Obi, Ed Port, Louis Walsh, Moe Shubbar.
Referee: Aaron Farmer. Assists Bogdan Khimych, Daniel Procter.
(c) SportShotz Photography