Dartford 2-1 Gillingham - We were at times second best, admits Gillingham coach Mark Patterson

Monday 16th November 2015
Dartford 2 – 1 Gillingham
Location Princes Park Stadium, Grassbanks, Darenth Road, Dartford, Kent DA1 1RT
Kickoff 16/11/2015 19:45

Kent Reliance Senior Cup Second Round
Monday 16th November 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Princes Park Stadium

DARTFORD assistant manager Paul Sawyer says he wants the club to go as far as they can in this season’s Kent Reliance Senior Cup after the part-timers pulled off a giant-killing to knock out Gillingham.

The Darts, who are rebuilding after three seasons in the Vanarama Conference, went into this game on a five-match unbeaten run and are sitting in thirteenth-place in the Vanarama National League South with 22 points from 16 games.

They booked their place in the quarter-finals after coming from behind to beat a strong Gillingham side at Princes Park.

Tony Burman’s side join Charlton Athletic, Greenwich Borough and Tonbridge Angels in the last eight of the county cup competition as only half of the Second Round ties have been completed.

Dartford edged a tight first half but it was Gillingham that took the lead through Brennan Dickenson’s fine finish after 57 minutes.

Former Gillingham defender, Tom Wynter, 25, headed home Dartford’s equaliser before impressive right-winger Jack Simmons will remember his cracking first goal for the club as Dartford deservedly progressed, sending Gillingham out at the first attempt.

“Very pleased, I thought we played well all night,” said Sawyer afterwards.

“I thought we were in control first half. There wasn’t an awful lot of chances either end and second half we showed good character coming from behind when they went ahead.

“We could easily let our heads drop but I thought we responded very well. I thought we were worthy winners at the end on the night.

“They brought a good squad down, obviously they’re doing well this year. They’ve got a lot of players in their squad who probably aren’t getting regular football so we expected them to bring a decent team down. They didn’t disappoint, there’s a lot of experience in there.”

Speaking about Burman’s team selection, Sawyer added: “We were very keen to get the lads a game that didn’t start on Saturday and there’s a couple of youngsters we were keen to play.

“Dajon (Golding) came on and done well. Ben Francis, unfortunately, wasn’t well. He would’ve started tonight but wasn’t well. He went home during the day and he came in tonight and wanted to give it a go but he wasn’t right so Tony sent him home so that was what we were left with really.”

Mark Patterson took charge of the Gillingham team alongside Darren Hare tonight.

Academy manager Patterson admitted Gillingham were second best tonight.

“I think although we were 1-0 up, it wasn’t a very dominant performance, I don’t think,” he said.

“Although we might’ve looked comfortable at 1-0 up, it shows really if you give team’s chances, teams will take them.

“Dartford did really well tonight. They worked hard, they closed us down. They didn’t give us any chances to play and they showed a lot of quality at times.”

The Darts made five changes from the side that held bitter rivals Maidstone United to a 1-1 draw at Princes Park at the weekend.

Wynter, Becka-Kah Dembele, Ebrima Adams and Andy Pugh came in for Callum McNaughton, Ryan Hayes, Elliot Bradbrook, Tom Bradbrook and Danny Harris.

League leaders Gillingham fielded seven players with League One experience this season, with Bradley Garmston, Adedeji Oshilaja, Doug Loft, Jermaine McGlashan, Jordan Houghton, Dickenson and Ben Williamson failing to impress the crowd of 341.

Gillingham reached last season’s final, going down to a 1-0 defeat to Charlton Athletic at Priestfield Stadium and last celebrated winning the Kent Senior Cup back in 1948.

“We did (field strong sides) last year. We play as strong as we can because it’s a good competition,” said Patterson.

“The players need games.  Some of them haven’t been playing for a while. So it’s just disappointing you end up coming away from a defeat again in a cup competition.

“Yes, we had a strong team out there, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that strong teams on paper translate into strong performances.

“We were at times second best.”

Dartford were to be denied the opening goal inside the opening fourteen minutes.

Impressive winger Simmons cut in from the left and unleashed a left-footed curling drive from 25-yards which forced Glenn Morris to pluck the ball out of the air high above his head.

Sawyer said: “Jack’s done well for us. He came pre-season, started the season really well and then picked up a knock.

“He’s still quite raw. He’s new to us and still finding his feet and we’re really pleased with him.”

But the first half failed to live up to last season’s Second Round tie between these two sides when Gillingham thrashed Dartford 7-3 at Priestfield Stadium.

Barry Cogan, Dartford’s midfielder, stole the ball from Doug Loft inside Gillingham’s half and proceeded through the heart of the defence.  The home fans behind the goal called for him to have a pop at goal, but he laid the ball out to Simmons on the right but he was tackled by Garmston and the chance was gone.

A disappointing Gillingham created their only first half chance in the 28th minute.

Dickenson drilled his left-footed free-kick from 35-yards straight down Deren Ibrahim’s throat, the Dartford keeper making a comfortable catch on a quiet night.

“I thought there wasn’t a lot of chances in the game really,” said Patterson.

“We didn’t’ create a hell of a lot and they didn’t either so it possibly looked like the first goal was going to win it and until that point I never really felt we were going to concede. I didn’t see too many dangers.”

Sawyer was pleased to keep Gillingham’s threat at bay.

He said: “We defended well, very solid.  The back four were solid but the lads in front of them were very solid as well and that included Pughie from the front. We defended as a team and I think we were solid throughout the night really.”

Dartford were the better side during the first half stalemate went close to breaking the stalemate in the 35th minute.

Left-back Mark Oneymah linked up well with Simmons, who whipped in a cross into the Gillingham box but Andy Pugh’s free header from 12-yards was tipped over the bar by keeper Morris.

Reflecting on the chance for the former Gillingham striker, Sawyer said: “I think it should’ve been a corner, shouldn’t it? The keeper tipped it over. I’m not sure how the referee missed that?

“I thought it was a tight half, there wasn’t many chances. I thought we broke them a few times and if we ball had been better we could’ve created a few more chances first half then we did.

“Very pleased there weren’t no major problems from the first half. It was just trying to maintain that and we knew Gillingham would probably come out and be better second half than they were first half and I thought they did.

“I thought they came out of the blocks well second half Gillingham and they got themselves in front.”

Dartford turned defence into a swift counter-attack inside the opening eight minutes of the second half.

Gillingham forced a free-kick close to the right-hand corner of the Dartford penalty area and Wynter headed the ball away from Dickenson’s delivery.

Dartford broke and Adams found Dembele, who cut in and forced Morris to dive to his right to make the save at his near post.

But clinical Gillingham opened the scoring with 11 minutes and 17 seconds on the second half clock.

McGlashan played the ball into the feet of central midfielder Houghton, who swept the ball out to Dickenson on the left.

Dickenson cut the ball onto his right foot and drilled a sweet low strike past Ibrahim to find the bottom near corner from 15-yards.

Patterson hailed the strike from the former Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder.

“It was a great finish. Brennan took it very well,” said Patterson.

“He’s a very strong finisher, Brennan, both feet. Obviously his left foot is a lot stronger than his right. He showed a lot of confidence to come inside and take the shot on. It was a good goal and we didn’t capitalise on that – we let ourselves down.

“We had a good spell when we had a lot of the ball. We didn’t really create any more chances but again at 1-0 we looked relatively comfortable but there’s always a chance. One mistake or one decision and that’s what happened.”

Sawyer said: “Good goal from their point of view. The lad’s cut in well and he struck it really well. Not a lot Del could’ve done about that one.

“It was still quite even. We’ve come back from a goal down many times this year, that’s how it is now. It’s not something we worry about actually and sometimes it’s just keeping yourselves in the game once you go one down and your chances will come and I thought as the game went on I felt we got stronger and stronger.”

Dartford’s response was immediate with Elliot Bradbrook coming off the bench for Lee Noble.

Sawyer revealed: “That was purely to protect Nobes.  He picked up a knock and the last thing you wanted was to pick up a long term injury so that was really a precaution really to get Nobes off and get some fresh legs on there.”

But it was only the introduction of Academy prospect Dajon Golding, who impressed on his second appearance for the club, when Dartford started to click into gear.

Gillingham’s third and last attempt on goal on the night was woeful. 

Adedeji Oshilaja played the ball out from left-back into Dickenson down the left and he played the ball inside to Loft.  The Gills skipper teed up substitute Harry Stannard but the quiet striker blazed his speculative right-footed shot high over the bar from 30-yards.

Sawyer was delighted with his central defenders Wynter and Ronnie Vint who cut out Gillingham’s threat.

He said: “I thought the players were very solid. They quietly got on with their game, nothing spectacular, but I think they both read the game very well and we restricted Gillingham to probably not even a handful of chances. There wasn’t too many chances at all.”

Dajon, who has first-team experience in the Southern Counties East Football League with Rochester United this season, played a major part in Dartford’s 71st minute equaliser.

The left-winger beat two Gillingham defenders as he cut along the by-line to win Dartford a corner.

Golding took the corner himself and floated over a precise delivery on to Wynter’s head, who rose to directed his free-header sailing across the keeper to find the top far corner of the net from 12-yards.

Sawyer was full of praise for Golding, saying, “He had a run straight away, innocence of youth I think really. I think he’s come on without any fear. He’s got the ball and he’s run straight at Callum Davies and he’s had a go at them and he’s won the corner.

“He’s picked up the ball and taken the corner and put a good ball in and we’ve scored from that. He’s one of the Academy lads and he hasn’t got any fear, which is great at that age.”

On Wynter’s header, Sawyer added: “It was a little bit behind him but he’s managed to get his head around it and he’s headed it.  I thought Tom had a good game tonight actually.”

Patterson admitted he knew the former Dover Athletic left-back posed a threat in the air in both boxes.

He said: “Defending of the set-piece wasn’t good enough and it was a free header. 

“Tom Wynter’s strong in the air, he’s good in the air. He’s proven that over the years. He’s a good, rugged defender. He’s brave and he puts himself around and tonight he kind of bullied us a little at times and some of his team mates as well, they put themselves around.”

With the threat of the game going straight to penalties, it was Dartford who wanted to get the job done.

Oneymah cut inside and played the ball through to Dembele, who charged through on goal, received a lucky ricochet, but he skied his shot over the Gillingham bar once inside the penalty area.

But Dartford hit Gillingham on the break and scored a brilliant winner with 11 minutes remaining.

Adams claimed the ball inside the Gillingham half and broke before slipping the ball out wide to Simmons on the right.

Simmons cut inside and cracked an unstoppable left-footed drive across Morris into the top far corner of the net from 16-yards.

Sawyer said: “He showed what he was capable of second half, cutting in from the right-hand side, a sort of Ryan Hayes sort of goal wasn’t it?”

“Ebrima won the ball in their half and I thought Ebrima got stronger and stronger as the game went on. He made one of his forceful runs, put in a very good ball through to Jack.

“Yes, it was very similar to what Hayesey cane do, cut in on his left foot and put it into the top corner. I’m sure that will do him the world of good. It was a great goal!”

Patterson simply added: “The winning goal, I think the lad finished it quite well across the keeper into the top corner.

“That’s it. There’s not much more you can say. We’re out of the competition. We huffed and puffed but we didn’t do too well.

Golding almost capped off an impressive cameo with Dartford’s third goal with three minutes left.

Simmons was again the provider, by playing in a low centre across the face of the penalty area towards the far post but Golding clipped his shot over the advancing keeper and crossbar.

Sawyer added: “You was here in the last round when he scored a goal (in the 3-1 home win over Welling United), very similar to that.

“It got squared across the box and he finished it. Tonight, I think it skipped up a little bit and probably came to him a little bit quicker than what he was expecting. Unfortunate, but it’s good that he was in the box.”

Dartford’s trip to Maidenhead United on Saturday has been postponed owing to the Berkshire club’s FA Cup First Round Replay against Port Vale on Thursday night.

But the Kent Reliance Senior Cup is high on Dartford’s agenda – they won the silverware for a tenth time when they beat Bromley 4-1 at home in the 2011 Final.

Sawyer said: “We like this cup. We won it a few years ago, we beat Bromley here and it’s a good cup where we can give everybody a game.  It’s ideal for us. We feel that we’ve got a decent squad and we feel all the squad are good enough to play in the first team so it gives us a chance to rotate things and give everybody a go.

“The further you go in it the better you want to do. We want to go as far as we can.”

For Gillingham, they have now exited The FA Cup, Johnstone’s Paint Trophy (to Stevenage and Yeovil Town respectively) and Kent Reliance Senior Cup in the space of nine days.

Patterson said: “It’s still disappointing to go out in a cup competition. We wanted to try and go a step further that we managed to do last year when we lost the final to Charlton. It would’ve been nice this year to go one step further and win it but it’s not to be.”

Dartford: Deren Ibrahim, Tom Gardiner, Mark Onyemah, Ronnie Vint, Tom Wynter, Lee Noble (Elliot Bradbrook 58), Becka-Kah Dembele, Ebrima Adams, Andy Pugh, Barry Cogan (Dajon Golding 65), Jack Simmons.
Subs: Callum McNaughton, Danny Harris, Tom Bradbrook

Goals: Tom Wynter 71, Jack Simmons 79

Booked: Ronnie Vint 49

Gillingham: Glenn Morris, Callum Davies (Bradley Stevenson 85), Bradley Garmston (Harry Stannard 46), Aaron Morris, Max Ehmer, Adedeji Oshilaja, Brennan Dickenson, Jordan Houghton, Ben Williamson, Doug Loft, Jermaine McGlashan.
Subs: Finn O’Mara, Tom Hadler, Mitchell Dickenson

Goal: Brennan Dickenson 57

Booked: Jermaine McGlashan 40, Adedeji Oshilaja 71

Attendance: 341
Referee: Mr Ian Fissenden (Gillingham)
Assistants: Mr Kane Dempster (Hythe) & Mr Joseph Dann-Pye (Maidstone)


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