Eastbourne Borough 0-1 Dartford - We've been given a second chance and we we've got to take it by both hands, says title-chasing Dartford boss Tony Burman

Saturday 14th April 2018
Eastbourne Borough 0 – 1 Dartford
Location Priory Lane, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN23 7QH
Kickoff 14/04/2018 15:00

Vanarama National League South
Saturday 14 April 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Priory Lane

DARTFORD manager Tony Burman says his side have got to take their chance of winning the Vanarama National League South title with both hands during their final three games.

The Darts have now won six games on the bounce after grinding out a 1-0 win at sixteenth-placed side Eastbourne Borough today, courtesy of a diving header from Danny Mills, scoring his fourth goal for the club.

Dartford sit top of the pile with 77 points in the bag and travel to 12th placed East Thurrock United on Tuesday night, before welcoming tenth-placed Bath City to Princes Park on Saturday 21 April before travelling to relegated basement side Bognor Regis Town seven days later.

Havant & Waterlooville have picked up 11 points in their last six outings and defeated St Albans City 2-1 at home today and are level on points with Dartford having a +1 better goal-difference.

Lee Bradbury’s side travel to third-placed Chelmsford City next Saturday, a side that are 12 points adrift of the top two, before hosting East Thurrock on Wednesday 25 April and finishing their campaign with a home game against bottom-six side Concord Rangers.

Dartford must win their last three games and score more goals than the Hawks to ensure they return to the Vanarama National League for the first time after a three season absence.

The Darts visit to the south coast attracted Eastbourne Borough’s largest crowd of the season as 733 fans watched the game played in much welcomed sunny climate.

“I’m delighted that we’ve got three points coming away again, although it was 1-0 again like Gloucester the other night,” said Burman following his side’s 23rd league win of the season.

“We’ve had some chances to kill the game off in the second half and it didn’t happen. We still managed the game and in all fairness Bertie (Schötterl) hasn’t had a real save to make but I’m delighted with the three points.”

Jamie Howell’s side squandered a glorious chance to take the lead with only 43 seconds on the clock when central midfielder Sergio Torres was played in behind Ronnie Vint but his left-footed drive from 15-yards sailed over the crossbar.

“That was in the first minute and we did speak about that at half-time and it was a little bit sloppy but having said that he’s put it over and I didn’t think their finishing was great,” highlighted Burman.

The home side started well and holding midfielder Kane Wills teed up a chance for right-winger Jamie Taylor, but his shot was charged down and German born keeper Herbert Schötterl stepped to his left to easily gather.

It was a cagey first half and Elliot Bradbrook pressed Wills in midfield and Alfie Pavey’s speculative long-range shot sailed harmlessly wide.

Eastbourne’s two full-backs liked to push on with the ball in goalkeeper Mark Smith’s possession and Will Hendon’s speculative cross dipped onto the roof of the Dartford net from 40-yards in the 27th minute.

Burman was starting to get frustrated on the touch-line but his side delivered the knockout punch by scoring with 32 minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.

Nathan Collier threw the ball to Andy Pugh, who was deployed more as a winger on the right-hand side than a number 10, and he played the ball inside to Noble, who played in a low cross from the right towards the far post where Mills showed more desire than his marker to plant his diving header in off the keeper’s right leg and into the roof of the net from four-yards.

Burman said:  “It’s a great ball in to him.  Ten or fifteen seconds earlier a long balls come down the channel and Alfie’s chased it and got us a throw and from the throw Nobes has put a great ball in and Mills’ on the far post and put it in. I’m delighted for him.

“I’m pleased for Millsy, he’s got on the end of it and he’s been a good player for us, a good signing.”

Dartford’s 27-goal striker Pavey was closely marked by Eastbourne centre half James Harran during the first half, but the Kent side created a couple of late chances.

Alex Brown lofted the ball up to Pugh inside the box and Noble played the ball inside for Brown to crack a right-footed drive over the top of the right-hand post from 20-yards.

Dartford left-back Mark Onyemah hit a long ball down the channel which goalkeeper Mark Smith rushed towards the corner of his box.  Pavey lost his footing on the artificial turf and Noble escaped before playing the ball inside along the floor to Pavey, who drilled his first time left-footed shot over the top of the near post from 10-yards.

Burman said: “I felt we grew into the game and when we started to get used to their formation, it took us probably 10-15 minutes to sort things out but having said that we started to grow into the game and got stronger and stronger and that was an opportunity as well but we were showing it a little bit too short rather than getting in behind them but at the end we got the goal and won!”

Revealing what he told his workmanlike side during the interval, Burman said: “Just keep doing what we’re doing.  I felt they kept playing the ball out from the back and we kept trying to win it and getting into good positions. It just felt we wanted to be ruthless in our own box and in their box it didn’t quite come off but it was nearly there.  Again, we should’ve scored two or three goals.

“We said we will create chances, we’ve always created chances and they didn’t quite go in but the effort was there.”

Howell made a half-time substitution and brought on 11-goal striker Yemi Odubade for left-winger Gavin McCallum.  That meant 12-goal Lloyd Dawes moved back to fill in for McCallum on the flank.

Odubade missed a chance just 23 seconds in when he latched onto Wills’ long ball down the right channel and his shot lashed over the crossbar after getting in behind Onyemah and Tom Bonner.

Dartford squandered a glorious chance to double their lead in the 53rd minute.

Brown played the ball out to Pugh on the right wing and he floated over a deep cross, which was knocked down by Bradbrook at the far post and Pavey skied his volley over the crossbar from eight-yards.

Burman said: “To be fair to Alfie, he’s been excellent for us with the goals he’s scored. He’s run his socks off today. He maybe could’ve side-footed it in, I don’t know, but he just miss-timed it. He’s been putting them in the back of the net but that happens.”

Dartford created another chance just 32 seconds later when Pugh fed Collier on the overlap and his deep cross was met by a downward header from Mills at the far post, which bounced straight into Smith’s hands for a comfortable save.

Eastbourne’s finishing was not up to scratch as Schötterl had a quiet game against a side that are in sixteenth-place in the table with 46 points with two games remaining and are 11 points clear of the relegation zone and should have enough in the tank to maintain their current league status, as third-bottom side Poole Town (2-1 home winners over Wealdstone) have a lot to do in their last four league games to catch up.

Eastbourne right-back Matt Pickering whipped in a cross into the Dartford box and Dawes’ overhead kick landed just the other side of the right-hand post.

“I felt we coped with most of the stuff they threw at us,” said Burman.

“We’re the away side and they’re the home side and they’ve got to come at us and I think they did.  Actual shots on target and things like that, they didn’t get them.”

Torres played the ball into Jamie Taylor’s feet and his right-footed angled drive from 25-yards deflected off Bonner and sailed just past the far post.

Eastbourne Borough should have equalised in the 61st minute when Wills floated in a cross from the right, Odubade flicked his header down for Okojie to hook his left-footed volley over the crossbar from 10-yards.

When asked whether the nerves were kicking in at this point, Burman admitted: “No, not at all, I didn’t.  I felt we was managing the game really well. I felt we looked solid and we looked a real good side and a team that want to do well.”

Howell made his second tactical switch in the 67th minute and brought on Charlie Harris as a right-winger but Dartford’s back four were outstanding and shut the door in Eastbourne’s attackers faces.

Eastbourne keeper Smith pulled off a fine save in the 76th minute following a Dartford free-kick.

Harris was booked for fouling Brown on the corner of the D and Noble was allowed to move the ball back a yard or two before teeing up Pavey, who drilled his low drive through the wall and Smith superbly trapped the ball before gathering whilst on the floor.

“The keepers done brilliant to be fair because the ball was travelling. Alfie caught that from the free-kick, it’s gone through the wall and I think the keeper’s done brilliant to hold onto it,” added Burman.

Eastbourne Borough did not impress in front of goal.  Jamie Taylor, who moved from right-wing to striker when Harris came on, whipped in a cross from the right, Schötterl tipped the ball away as he stretched to his right and Dawes drilled his low shot just past the foot of the near post from 16-yards.

Eastbourne Borough missed a couple of late chances but true to form the visiting keeper was not troubled at all.

Hendon, Wills and Taylor linked up outside the penalty area and Harris scuffed his poor shot past the foot of the near post when given space inside the Dartford penalty area.

Wills spread the ball out wide to Dawes, who cut inside the played the ball into Odubade’s feet just inside the box and he held the ball before Taylor skied his shot over the crossbar from 20-yards.

After winning 1-0 away to Gloucester City (at Evesham United) in midweek, Burman said: “We’ve kept another clean sheet, which is a good thing at a good time.  I’ve got the upmost respect for all the players at this moment in time simply because of what we had to do a few weeks back.  We had a couple of results which hurt us and they’ve been given another opportunity because they’ve could have been out of it (the title race) and I’m hoping they’re going to grab it by both hands.”

Dartford must start outscoring Havant & Waterlooville if they are to make their trip to Bognor Regis Town a title-winning party on final day, otherwise it’s home advantage in the play-offs.

“The most important one is East Thurrock on Tuesday night,” said Burman, as four goals from Scott Fenwick ensured Chelmsford City came away from Corringham with a 4-2 win today.

“I don’t want to get involved with what Havant & Waterlooville are doing or what they’re not doing, all I want to do is concentrate on us.

“We’re in a real good place, we’re in a real good place, especially after today’s result and I think that’s now six wins on the trot that we’ve won, that’s decent!  That is decent. Whatever happens, the guys have done ever so well.

“We’ve had some blips in the season (losing 8 league games) but if you want to be playing well and hitting a bit of form it’s right now and I’m pleased that we’re doing that.

“You’ve got to win these three games that’s for sure but you just got to do what you can do.

“We’ve been given a second chance, yes, because Havant should’ve been seven or eight points in front of us but they didn’t take their opportunity.  We’ve been top of the league since November, we’ve been knocked off of it and it hurt.  Havant probably didn’t take their chances.  The balls back (in our court) and we’ve got to take it by both hands and I just hope that we can do what we’ve done in the last six games in the next three games but the most important game is Tuesday night.”

Former Darts Lee Noble and Max Cornhill play for East Thurrock and John Coventry’s side have a major say who wins the Vanarama National League South title.

“We hope to go there and get three points,” added Burman.

“We know it’s going to be difficult, I’ve got a lot of ex-players at East Thurrock, who as much as we like them and they like us, they want to feel what they are made off.  They still want to not make things easy and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

“We’ve got to go there and perform in the way that we’ve been performing over the last six games and hopefully get the support as well, which we’ve had and I’m sure that we will.”

Eastbourne Borough: Mark Smith, Matt Pickering, Will Hendon, Kane Wills, Ian Simpemba, James Haran, Jamie Taylor, Sergio Torres, Shaun Okojie (Charlie Harris 67), Lloyd Dawes, Gavin McCallum (Yemi Odubade 46).
Subs: Kiran Khinda-John, Tyler Pearson, Mike Platt

Booked: Matt Pickering 43, Charlie Harris 75

Dartford: Herbert Schötterl, Nathan Collier, Mark Onyemah, Alex Brown, Ronnie Vint, Tom Bonner, Lee Noble, Elliot Bradbrook, Alfie Pavey (Duane Ofori-Acheampong 80), Danny Mills, Andy Pugh (Danny Harris 90).
Subs: Ryan Hayes, Tom Murphy, Deren Ibrahim

Goal: Danny Mills 33

Booked: Lee Noble 83, Elliot Bradbrook 90

Attendance: 733
Referee: Mr Alex Blake (Waterlooville, Hampshire)
Assistants: Mr Matthew Russell (Waterlooville, Hampshire) & Mr Robert Ablitt (Fareham, Hampshire)

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