6 February 2024. A cold, wet night. Dartford draw 1 (Luke Coulson 36')-1 (Henry Hawkins 30') with Queens Park Rangers Development in the London Senior Cup 2nd Round, and go on to win 5-4 on penalties.
Youngster Olly Box put in a Man of The Match performance, as Dartford beat Queens Park Rangers Development Team on penalties to book a place in the London Senior Cup Quarter-Finals. However, the Dartford youngster wasn’t the only player to shine in a thoroughly entertaining encounter under the floodlights at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. Having squeezed past Harrow Borough in the previous round back in September, this Dartford side had an air of positivity and fluidity about it, as the hard work by the squad and Tony Burman begins to take shape. The hosts showed their intent within seconds of the start, after Olly Box was put through on goal via a neat pass, only to see his strike go narrowly wide of Matteo Salamon’s upright. It wasn’t long before QPR grew into the game and began to put the hosts under pressure, as Albert Adomah in particular was causing problems with his pace. Yet it was his teammate, Rafferty Pedder, who forced Tom Wray into his first save of the evening in the 8th minute. Two minutes later saw Wray at it again, this time saving Lorent Talla’s effort (10), before saving Pedder’s 17th-minute free-kick as well.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Casey Shann picked up an injury and was unable to continue, thus forcing them to make an early substitution, with Harry Murphy replacing him after just 22 minutes. They’d go on to use all three available substitutions, with Kieran Petrie replacing Micah Anthony (65) and Samuel Sackey coming on for Albert Adomah (86).
Tony Burman, meanwhile, swapped Jordan Wynter with Taylor Maloney at the start of the second-half, before George Whitefield replaced Sam Odaudu (52) and Paul Rooney came on for Ashton Day (72). As we return to the action in the first-half, the Darts were looking impressive against their full-time opponents. The combination of Luke Coulson, Olly Box, Fumnaya Shomotun, and Ashton Day was causing problems for the QPR defence, yet it was the visitors who edged ahead against the run of play… A corner wasn’t dealt with and Steven Bala was able to reach the loose ball and send it across the face of goal, where an alert Henry Hawkins was on hand to bundle the ball over the line (30). The Darts responded positively and only a good save by Matteo Salamon prevented Fumnaya Shomotun from opening his goal account in the 32nd minute. But, four minutes later saw the hosts level the score in emphatic style…
Tom Wray sent a beautiful long ball over-the-top, which released Luke Coulson who duly controlled it well before pulling the trigger from the edge of the QPR box… his delicious strike left Salamon with no chance, as it flew low into the bottom corner (36).
The start of the second forty-five saw Sam Odaudu and Olly Box combine well to come agonisingly close to putting the hosts ahead… only for Matteo Salamon pull off a superb save to keep Box’s low drive out (47)! A minute later saw Tom Wray rush out to brilliantly intercept the ball as the visitors looked to retake the lead (48), before Dartford began to look the more threatening of the two sides during an entertaining second-half. First Fumnaya Shomotun saw his effort deflected behind for a corner (62), before Luke Coulson forced another good save out of Salamon (67). The visitors were a threat themselves and duo Kieran Petrie and Albert Adomah combined well in the 82nd minute with a good counter-attack, only to find Tom Wray in superb form, as he made an excellent save to thwart the latter from scoring. Olly Box then came close to winning it for Dartford, not once, but twice! First his fierce drive was excellently saved by Salamon (85), before another goal-bound effort was cleared off the line by the alert and grateful Jake Leahy in the 88th minute! And so, with nothing to separate the sides after ninety minutes of excellent football the referee (Mr Tommy Breen) indicated that penalties would decide the outcome.
The visitors took the first spot-kick, but Rafferty Pedder smacked the upright with his effort. QPR went on to score their remaining penalties, with Harry Murphy, Kieran Petrie, Lorent Talla, and Steven Bala all scoring. Dartford scored all five of their spot-kicks, as Luke Coulson, Jack Smith, Joash Nembhard, Taylor Maloney, and Olly Box all found the back of the net to send the Darts through to the Quarter-Finals.
DARTFORD: Tom Wray, Jordan Wynter, Sam Odaudu, Jack Smith, Luke Coulson (c), Maxwell Statham, Manny Adebowale, Fumnaya Shomotun, Joash Nembhard, Olly Box, Ashton Day.
SUBSTITUTES: Paul Rooney, George Whitefield, Taylor Maloney, Jayden Boulton, Finley Scillence.
QPR DEVELOPMENT: Matteo Salamon, Jake Leahy, Alfie Tuck, Tyrone Akpata, Henry Hawkins, Casey Shann, Albert Adomah, Lorent Talla, Steven Bala, Rafferty Pedder, Micah Anthony.
SUBSTITUTES: Samuel Sackey, Harry Cant, Kieran Petrie, Harry Murphy, Hassan Hamid.
MoTM: Olly Box
Referee: Tommy Breen.
Assists: William Donnelly, Stephen Gorman.
Report: Chris Palmer
(c) SportShotz Photography