4 March 2023. Dartford lose 3:1 to a stronger side.
Dartford’s miserable luck at The Bob Lucas Stadium continued, after a spirited Weymouth side condemned them to a first league defeat in five games on a cold March afternoon. A bright start saw opportunities for both sides early in the first forty-five. The Terras were quick out of the blocks and could have edged ahead within two minutes. Tom Blair’s dangerous cross from the left-flank found Harvey Slade in too much space inside the box. The Terra had time to control the ball, before pulling the trigger. However, Dartford Skipper Tom Bonner was on hand to clear the ball off the line and save his side’s blushes. Two minutes later saw the visitors respond with a good attack which saw Jack Smith race into the Weymouth box. The midfielder was blatantly brought down by his man, but referee Mr Neil Pratt awarded a goal-kick instead! As both sides continued to do battle in the midfield, it was the visitors who created the next move, which released Alex Wall. As the striker got in behind the defender and drove towards goal, Nathan Carlyle put in an excellent challenge to put the ball behind for a corner. Yet, the officials bizarrely awarded a goal-kick, much to the bemusement and anger of everyone related to the Darts (10)! That wasn’t the last of the officials’ involvement in deciding the outcome of this encounter because, in the 24th minute, Weymouth were awarded a penalty at the other end. Akheem Rose was the player fouled and he’d be the one to calmly put the ball beyond Ben Dudzinski from the spot-kick to give the hosts the lead.
However, Alan Dowson’s side fought and grew back into the game throughout the remainder of the half. And they were rewarded for their efforts in the 43rd minute. Alex Wall’s initial strike from the edge of the box was blocked and put behind for a corner. Luke Coulson’s set-piece caused problems and there was Pierre Fonkeu to eventually tuck the ball home to level the score. At the start of the second-half, the game looked perfectly balanced for a terrific battle on the pitch… or so you would have thought… because, to be honest, the Darts offered very little in attacking threat for the remainder of the game. That is with the exception of an excellent opportunity seven minutes into the half. And, it was Alex Wall again. After receiving a neat pass from Keiran Murtagh, he struck a fine effort towards the Weymouth goal, only for goalkeeper Zaki Oualah to deny him at his near post (52). Twelve minutes later saw Bobby Wilkinson’s Terras re-take the lead and, with it, gain control of proceedings. Captain Tom Bearwish found Bradley Ash with a wonderful through-ball and, with Ash in behind the Dartford defence, Ben Dudzinski was left with no chance as the Weymouth player sent a curling effort beyond him and into the back of the net (64). Tom Blair then tried his luck in the 70th minute, but Dudzinski was able to make a fine save to keep the Darts in the contest…that was for the next seven minutes at least… With the visitors trying desperately to get back into the contest, but struggling to ignite, they gifted the hosts a free-kick in a dangerous position. Tom Blair took the set-piece and left Dudzinski with no chance whatsoever (77). The hosts followed that up by controlling the remainder of the game in order to secure a deserved victory.
As far as substitutions are concerned, Alan Dowson was first to react in the 66th minute by replacing Pierre Fonkeu with Malachi Napa. That was then followed by Luke Allen replacing Jordan Wynter (73) and Obi Onyeagwara coming on for Keiran Murtagh (79). Meanwhile, Weymouth made their first change in personnel in the 75th minute when Keelan O’Connell came on for Harvey Slade, before Nahum Melvin-Lambert replaced Akheem Rose with four minutes remaining.
The result sees Dartford remain in second place in the National League South table. However, the pack behind are slowly closing in as we reach the business end of the season.
WEYMOUTH: Zaki Oualah, David Sesay, Harry Kyprianou, Nathan Carlyle, Harvey Slade, Xander McBurnie, Tom Bearwish (c), Tom Blair, Brendan Wilson, Akheem Rose, Bradley Ash.
SUBSTITUTES: Nahum Melvin-Lambert, David Nyarko, Matt Buse, Scott Rees, Keelan O’Connell.
DARTFORD: Ben Dudzinski, Jordan Wynter, Connor Essam, Tom Bonner (c), Luke Coulson, Alex Wall, Keiran Murtagh, Isaac Ogundere, Jack Smith, Pierre Fonkeu, Jernade Meade.
SUBSTITUTES: Dan Wilks, Luke Allen, Obi Onyeagwara, Maxwell Statham, Malachi Napa.
Report by Chris Palmer
Referee: Neil Pratt.
(c) SportShotz Photography