Dartford 3-6 Sutton United - I'm not happy with the defending, says Dartford boss Tony Burman

Saturday 05th November 2016
Dartford 3 – 6 Sutton United
Location Princes Park Stadium, Grassbanks, Darenth Road, Dartford, Kent DA1 1RT
Kickoff 05/11/2016 15:00

The Emirates FA Cup First Round
Saturday 5th November 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Princes Park Stadium

DARTFORD manager Tony Burman says he wasn’t happy with his side’s defending after losing a nine-goal thriller against Sutton United.

The Darts defeated Chelmsford City (3-2), Slough Town (3-2) and Tonbridge Angels (3-0) away from home in the qualifying rounds and a crowd of 1,689 were treated to a cracking Emirates FA Cup First Round tie.

Paul Doswell’s side sent their high-flying Vanarama National League rivals Forest Green Rovers crashing out of the competition with a 2-1 win at Gander Green Lane in the final qualifying round and banked a further £18,000 by reaching the Second Round for the eighth time in their history.

Sutton United arrived at Princes Park in thirteenth-place in non-league’s top-flight with 25 points from 18 points. They showed the difference in class against a Dartford side unbeaten in 12 games, winning their last nine and sitting in the top six in the Vanarama National League South table with 29 points from their 15 league outings.

With Dartford so close to celebrating their tenth anniversary at Princes Park Stadium, it staged one of its most exciting games here, on a chilly day.

Five goals were scored during an enthralling opening 23 minutes.

Sutton United took only 42 seconds to open the scoring through Maxine Biamou, before Dartford captain Elliot Bradbrook equalised with only four minutes and 33 seconds on the clock with a beautiful low curling drive.

Sutton United regained the lead through Roarie Deacon’s low drive, before Bradbrook scored his tenth goal of the season from the penalty spot.

Biamou lashed home a stunning drive to give clinical Sutton United a 3-2 lead after 23 minutes of explosive attacking football.

Dartford equalised for a third time inside the opening six minutes of the second half when big target-man Duane Ofori-Acheampong lashed in his fifth goal of the season.

But any chance of another recovery were dashed as Sutton United rattled in another three goals through winger Ross Stearn, Deacon and Stearn completing the scoring at the end of a pulsating FA Cup tie.

“It was a good Cup tie for the neutrals,” said Burman during the post-match press conference.

“I think myself and (assistant manager) Paul Sawyer will be disappointed defensively, but nevertheless we put ourselves under pressure in the first couple of minutes when they scored but we got back quickly and three times we’ve come back at home and conceded goals, I think within five to ten minutes maybe, which is disappointing.

“But we’ve got to realise we played against good individual players in their midfield and up front.  I think in all fairness they caused us problems and we’ve caused them a lot of problems at the back.

“We felt all along that we could win the game. We could’ve changed things today and gone a bit more defensively, if you like. We just felt that’s what we’ve been doing well and to come in 3-2 down, we still think we had a chance. 

“We said we get the next goal, let’s try and see what they’re going to be like if we take the lead and we did get the next goal.

“They’ve taken a shot, it’s taken a little bit of a deflection, probably Deren (Ibrahim) should’ve held it but he hasn’t. That’s Cup football and that happens.

“I think the last 10 minutes the scoreline looks as if they’ve smashed us. I don’t think the game was like that. It was a proper Cup tie.

“I don’t think the fitness (told) because in all fairness they do two days (training) a week. They’ve got very experienced players in their side and they’ve got a lot of players with League experience in their side.

“I can go over all the excuses now because we’ve conceded six goals at home, but in all fairness I’m proud of the players on how well they’ve done and the way that they’ve got us to the First Round of The FA Cup. I think they’ve had a real good go at it. It’s against a good side.  I thought at times we’ve been a good side and showed that we can be a good side today.

“We’re out of the Cup now but we’ve enjoyed what we’ve done and we’ll go again next year.”

Sutton United went into the game drawing their last three league games but unbeaten in four and they set the tone with an early strike.

Dan Fitchett drove forward down the right and cut the ball back to Craig Eastmond and he cut the ball back for Frenchman Biamou to poke his shot into the bottom right-hand corner.

“You just think we’re still in the changing room. That was disappointing,” admitted Burman.

“The noise levels were up there, whether that affected the players or not, I don’t know. It was awful to concede a goal.”

Dartford striker Andy Pugh hooked shot from 22-yards forced Ross Warner to dive to his left to claw the ball towards safety, preventing the ball nestling into the bottom right-hand corner.

But Bradbrook saves his best moments for FA Cup ties and he picked up a loose ball and bent a left-footed drive from 25-yards, nestling into the bottom left-hand corner past the diving Worner to equalise.

“We came back well to get back in the game and you’ve got to give the players a lot of credit for that,” said Burman.

“He’s curled it in. We’ve done well to going down after 42 seconds to come back into the game, that early.”

Dartford missed a glorious chance when Bradbrook’s clipped ball forward released Pugh down the left. He played the ball into the box for Ofori-Acheampong, who did well to hook the ball into Danny Harris, but the right-back steered his shot wide from inside the six-yard box.

Sutton United went up the other end and took the lead, with 14 minutes and 24 seconds on the clock.

Right-back Kevin Amankwaah launched a trademark long throw into the Dartford box, Fitchett laid the ball off for Deacon to drill a first time right-footed angled drive across Deren Ibrahim into the bottom far corner.

Burman said: “We done well to get back in it and then we’ve conceded again. It’s disappointing because we should’ve cleared the throw in and it’s cleared but done in to an area where they can hurt us – and they did.

“We spoke about it on Thursday, that all our clearances needed to go a little bit further – and we got punished!”

Dartford were given a lifeline when referee Samuel Allison spotted Craig Eastmond had used his hand to block Luke Wanadio’s cross form the left.

Step forward Bradbrook, who led by example and buried his left-footed penalty into the bottom right-hand corner, as Dartford were level again with only 16 minutes and 52 seconds on the clock.

“I didn’t see if it was handball or not,” admitted Burman.

“There was a good shout for it and it seemed like the referee was in a good position to see it, so we came back again. I can’t fault us at that point.”

When asked how he was feeling at that point, the long serving Darts boss replied: “It’s a Cup tie. It’s going to be one of those games. We needed to settle down. It seemed like when they were going forward, they were going to score!”

A very clinical Sutton United side regained the lead for a third time with their next chance, timed at 22 minutes and 44 seconds.

Deacon played right-back Amankwaah on the overlap and he played a short pass inside back to Deacon, who set up Biamou, who lashed a powerful first time drive into the roof of the net, screaming over Ibrahim’s left shoulder.

“That’s when it was 3-2, yes?,” asked Burman.

“Again, you’re just thinking we’ve done so well just to get ourselves back in the game and then we concede again. It’s something that we haven’t been doing but again, we were playing against some quality players and they’ve moved the ball around well but from our point of view, it was poor defending.”

The game then died down and the next chance came on the half-hour mark but this time Stearn hooked his shot past the right-hand post from 16-yards following Amankwaah’s cross from the right.

Deacon picked the ball up and went on a 30-yard run and his left-footed drive screamed past the diving Ibrahim and past the post.

Dartford winger Ryan Hayes was kept quiet by Sutton United’s left-back George McLennan but he did force Worner into action five minutes before the break.

Danny Harris looped a throw into the Sutton box, Ofori-Acheampong’s back-healed the ball for Hayes to whip in a cross which forced Worner to palm the ball away towards safety high to his right.

Dartford came close to scoring from both of their only corners of the game.

Hayes swung in a corner from the right which was curling and dipping towards the top far corner of the net but Worner pulled off a brilliant save, flicking the ball onto the bar and over.

Wanadio swung in the resulting corner from the left and Pugh’s near post header was plucked out of the air by the Sutton United keeper.

The half-time break allowed both sets of fans (Sutton United’s following were a lot more vocal than Dartford) to catch their breath and reflect on a great first half, but also poor defending from both teams.

Burman said: “It could have been three-all at half-time!

“At 3-2 I believed we can win the game. I felt that we’ll get the equaliser and if we can get the fourth then let’s see what their like when they go a goal down, but all credit to them, when we were equalising they kept going as well.”

Sutton United missed a glorious chance to kill the game off once and for all.

Deacon played Biamou through on goal straight down the middle but Ibrahim made a vital save, low to his right, leaving the Frenchman holding his head in his hands in despair.

Burman added: “It was a good save, it was a vital save that’s for sure when they could’ve finished off the game to be fair. But they didn’t and we’ve gone up top and equalised.”

This FA Cup tie was just like watching a game of basketball. Dartford went up the other end to equalise for a third time, six minutes and 3 seconds into the second half.

Hayes whipped in a trademark cross from the right deep towards the far post where an unmarked Wanadio saw his header clip the near post. The ball landed at Ofori-Acheampong, who lashed his drive into the near corner.

“It’s fine at 3-3 and all you’re thinking are we actually going to take it to them and get that fourth goal but to be fair to Sutton they stuck by their guns,” said Burman, who criticised the away side for going down injured at every opportunity.

“Call it gamesmanship, call it what you like, that bit of professionalism, but they kept doing those things what you do.

“I thought Duane and Pughie caused them problems all day. Unfortunately, I don’t think we got the ball into them enough. I thought they caused them problems.

“I took Duane off because he’s a big lad and probably a little bit unorthodox. Referees are not picking on him or maybe miss-interpreting the challenge or aggression to try to win the ball back. 

“I think there was a little bit of gamesmanship, shall we say, as well, which was getting involved and I thought I needed to get him off because the Cup games have been great but our bread and butter is now in the league.”

Sutton United, who were very impressive on the attacking front, broke down the middle with Biamou, who played the ball out to Fitchett, who cut inside and his low shot was saved low by Ibrahim at his near post.

But Gibraltar international Ibrahim was at fault for Sutton United’s fifth goal in the 58th minute.

Deacon skipped past two Dartford defenders down the right, cut inside and stroked a low left-footed deflected drive towards the bottom far corner from 20-yards, which Ibrahim did well to get down low to his right to parry.  However, the ball fell at Stearn’s feet and he slammed the loose ball into the back of the net from eight-yards.

“Del could’ve held it. I thought it took a deflection but he maybe should’ve held the shot,” said Burman.

Hayes whipped a free-kick into Sutton’s box on the hour mark, the ball was cleared out to Alex Brown, who steered his header wide.

Hayes then delivered another cross into the box and Ofori-Acheampong rose to loop his header into Worner’s hands for a comfortable catch.

Biamou was released down the right channel and he cut the ball back for Stearn to sweep his first time drive into Ibrahim’s hands as the second half reached the halfway point.

Doswell urged travelling fans to raise their vocal support with 20 minutes left and Bradbrook almost scored his hat-trick.

Hayes chipped a free-kick into the penalty area and Bradbrook’s overhead kick was saved low by Worner.

Burman said: “The table was turned, wasn’t it? Then it could’ve been four-all and I think they’ve gone up and scored haven’t they so it’s similar to their situation when they should’ve scored and we did and we should’ve scored.

“His back was towards goal to be fair to Elliot. I don’t think it’s quite a clear-cut chance. The keeper saved it and they’ve gone up and scored.”

But Sutton United killed the game off with their fifth goal in the 71st minute.

Fitchett played in a low cross form the right for Deacon to cut inside and hit a low drive into the bottom right-hand corner.

Burman added: “He’s come inside and hit a shot for the fourth and Del’s maybe should’ve saved it and then he’s done an identical.  He’s come inside again and that’s where the defending wasn’t good enough because we should’ve cut it out!”

Burman knew his club’s FA Cup run for the season was over.

“They wanted to kill the game. That’s when gamesmanship comes into it and being professional. I just felt at that stage I felt we was going to struggle to get into it.”

Sutton’s ninth and final corner was swung in by Stearn, the ball was headed away by Tom Wynter and Eastmond’s shot went just wide.

Burman was impressed with the Sutton midfielder Eastmond 25, who has previously played for Arsenal and Colchester United.

“We’ve faced a four in midfield and two up front today who are very good players. I think the lad in midfield, Eastmond, let’s be fair, he shouldn’t be playing in the National League. He’s a top quality player and he’s only young and he's got pace and I think he’s been a player who should be playing at a higher level.”

Sutton United wrapped up the victory with a sixth goal, three minutes and 5 seconds into added on time – and the players deserved their ovation from their travelling fans at the final whistle.

Former Dulwich Hamlet striker Chris Dickson, a late substitute, fed Stearn, who cut inside to curl a dipping shot over Ibrahim’s left shoulder into the top far corner of the net.

“All the goals, when I look at it, I know I’m not going to be happy with the defending,” admitted Burman.

“The last two goals, we’ve lost the ball in the midfield areas and they’ve put it in the top corner, but by that point we’ve gone a bit then.”

With £24,500 banked from FA prize money and a share of gate receipts from four FA Cup ties, Dartford now concentrate on a massive Vanarama National League South clash at home to St Albans City on Tuesday night.

St Albans City host their FA Cup First Round tie against Carlisle United on Sunday, before travelling to Dartford on Tuesday night. They are sixth in the table with 30 points from 15 games, while Dartford are hot on their tails.

Burman said: “Our aim is to get as many points as we can. We know our targets. It’s hurt but it's a one-off game and we’re out of the Cup now, but we’ve enjoyed what we’ve done and we’ll go again next year.

“There’s no point in dwelling on things.  You’ve just got to move on and we’ll get on the things that we’ve done.”

Dartford: Deren Ibrahim, Danny Harris, Tom Wynter (Keaton Wood 79), Tom Bonner, Tom Gardiner, Alex Brown, Ryan Hayes, Elliot Bradbrook, Duane Ofori-Acheampong (Ellis Brown 83), Andy Pugh, Luke Wanadio (Lee Noble 84).
Subs: Ronnie Vint, Tom Coxall, Liam Rosenfield, John Ufuah

Goals: Elliot Bradbrook 5, 17 (penalty), Duane Ofori-Acheampong 51

Booked: Luke Wanadio 27, Tom Bonner 38, Danny Harris 49, Duane Ofori-Acheampong 56

Sutton United: Ross Worner, Kevin Amankwaah, George McLennan (Dan Spence 59), Nicky Bailey, Simon Downer, Jamie Collins, Maxime Biamou (Ryan Burge 74), Craig Eastmond, Roarie Deacon, Dan Fitchett (Chris Dickson 82), Ross Stearn.
Subs: Louis John, Bradley Hudson-Odoi, Jamie Smith, Alex Gogic

Goals: Maxime Biamou 1,23, Roarie Deacon 15, 71, Ross Stearn 58, 90

Booked: Jamie Collins 17, George McLennan 48, Craig Eastmond 56

Attendance: 1,689
Referee: Mr Samuel Allison (Trowbridge, Wiltshire)
Assistants: Mr Callum Walchester (Lowestoft, Suffolk) & Mr Wayne Carmel (Luton, Bedfordshire)
Fourth Official: Mr Jacob Miles (Peacehaven, East Sussex)

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