Eastbourne Borough 6-0 Dartford - We have to make sure this kind of performance never happens again, insists sorry Dartford joint-manager Adam Flanagan

Saturday 20th April 2019
Eastbourne Borough 6 – 0 Dartford
Location Priory Lane, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN23 7QH
Kickoff 20/04/2019 15:00

Vanarama National League South
Easter Saturday 20 April 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Priory Lane

DARTFORD joint-manager Adam Flanagan offered a massive sorry to supporters who witnessed one of the clubs worst performances in their 131-year history, at relegation threatened Eastbourne Borough.

Dartford’s slim chances of grabbing a place in the Vanarama National League South play-offs were smashed to pieces after they were humiliated by an Eastbourne Borough side that went into the game in the bottom six and on a 14 match winless run.

This was Mark McGhee’s first win as Eastbourne Borough’s interim manager at the ninth attempt as his players destroyed Dartford on a warm and sunny Easter Saturday down on the Sussex coast.

Eastbourne Borough didn’t climb the table following their biggest win of the season but 41 points puts them four points clear of the relegation zone, which is occupied by Truro City, East Thurrock United (33 points) and relegated side Weston-super-Mare (31).

Dartford’s six match run without a win has come at a bad time as they slipped out of the play-off picture into tenth-place in the table with 61 points from 40 games, three points adrift of Concord Rangers, who occupy seventh-place and the final play-off berth.

Eastbourne Borough’s lone striker Charlie Walker, 29, opened the floodgates with a free header, before Kane Wills doubled their lead in the 25th minute before Walker drilled in a third to leave Flanagan and Jamie Coyle with a big job on their hands to raise morale going into their final two games of the season.

Eastbourne Borough centre-half Corey Jordan swept in his first goal of the season before former Ebbsfleet United midfielder Michael West scored contender for goal-of-the-season from 35-yards, before Walker notched his hat-trick from the penalty spot to score his 11th goal of the season.

“I think it’s probably up there as one of the worst Dartford displays I’ve ever seen being a player on in the short term manager here, 100%,” admitted Flanagan, who spoke for nearly 15 minutes in the post-match press conference.

“It’s very, very disappointing. I think a few players showed that they’re not good enough to be at the club. They haven’t got the heart or the passion to want to win games or achieve good things and that was evident today out on the pitch.

“We’ve got players that I think are already got their mind on playing elsewhere or the season ending and that’s a crying shame really to everyone whose come and travelled down.

“It’s very concerning that we’ve got seven players that have disappeared in the last two weeks through injuries or other various bits and pieces and probably six of those might’ve started and when you’ve got 50% of your team maybe not playing it’s easy to find an excuse but there was no excuses for today, there is no excuses for today.

“The players we put out there are not under 18s, there’s a lot of seasoned players at this level. They should have more than enough about them to be beating teams at the lower end of the table!

“I think those players have had opportunities to showcase what they’ve got and these are players that haven’t have started as many games as they would have liked but just the overall performance was inept. 

“The thing that hurts me the most is the lack of passion really.  The lack of passion for themselves as individuals to want to beat their player that they are playing against. The lack of passion to push this club forward and at least show the people, our fans, they expect the mandatory requirements of working hard and showing desire and showing passion and playing for the badge and they’ve always had teams that have had that and over the last few weeks we haven’t shown it.

“When you beat teams like (second-placed) Woking at home and away and you beat (fifth-placed) Bath at home and you show what you’ve shown in February to the way it’s gone in the last two months or the last six weeks, injuries to one side, it’s massively concerning to me and it’s an issue then.

“Jamie (Coyle) and I are honest and we’ll hold our hands up and I’ve gone in after the game and I’m looking at myself and thinking do you know what? Today is our fault really.  We didn’t recruit well enough, after February we had a strong team in there who were hungry to push Dartford on and achieve big things but after today show I massively question that!”

Eastbourne Borough created their first opening after just 91 seconds when West’s through ball released Walker down the left channel and he dragged his shot across former Margate keeper Louis Wells and past the far post from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

The game started at a slow tempo, but Eastbourne Borough were miles better than Dartford, who simply just failed to turn up.

West rose his right arm in the air and rolled a free-kick inside to Wills, who drilled a shot which was blocked on the edge of the Dartford box.  The ball came out to Kristian Campbell, who turned Joe Healy and curled his left-footed curler from 30-yards, which bounced into Wells’ gloves for a comfortable save.

West swung in a free-kick from the left and Wells gathered Wills’ cushioned header before Eastbourne Borough deservedly took the lead with 13 minutes and 10 seconds on the clock.

Former Dartford winger David Martin played a crossfield pass from left to right to pick out Wills.  The central midfielder was 25-yards from goal and he floated in a cross and Walker found a pocket of space in behind Ronnie Vint to place his header across Wells and down into the far corner from four-yards out.

Flanagan said: “Question marks on the marking.  They only played one up front (Walker), so I think between our back four when balls are coming into our box you need to know where the forward is and between Ronnie Vint and Callum Driver he had a relatively free header really.”

Dartford recorded their only attempts on target in the space of 62 seconds.

Eastbourne Borough’s goalkeeper Sam Howes launched a big kick forward which was cleared by Dartford’s centre-half Vint, who smashed his volley forward from  inside the centre-circle and Howes stepped to his right on his goal-line to gather.

Then, a ball was played up to ineffective striker Andre Coker, who found a pocket of space and stroked a right-footed half-volley towards the bottom left-hand corner from 35-yards and Howes dropped down to his knees to make a comfortable save.

The ball kept on bouncing off Coker, who failed to keep hold of the ball and create any other goalscoring chances as he toiled in the heat.

Flanagan said:  “We didn’t threaten up front a lot. We’re low on numbers in that area and I felt Joke Healy did ok in the first half and the second half to be fair playing a little bit deeper.   I thought Cokes tried but our forward play just doesn’t come down to those two players, it comes down to the whole team and we weren’t good enough!”

Eastbourne Borough were fighting for their lives and were miles better than Dartford in all departments.

Dartford’s left-back Daniel Johnson was awful and constantly let in Eastbourne down the right on many occasions.

In the 24th minute, Wills threw the ball to Martin, who flicked the ball over Jordan Wynter and Johnson and tried to curl his shot into the top far corner from a very tight angle, only to see his attempt from close to the by-line sail just over.

Eastbourne Borough doubled their lead with 24 minutes and 28 seconds on the clock.

Dartford’s right-winger Ryan Hayes lost the ball to Campbell in midfield and didn’t seem bothered to track back, allowing the Eastbourne left-back to sprint down the left with the ball at his feet.

He played the ball inside to Walker, who cracked a left-footed drive towards goal, which forced Wells to dive to his left to palm the ball away. 

Lloyd Dawes put it on a plate for Wills to roll his right-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner from 10-yards.

Flanagan said: “I though Louis Wells made a good save, it’s come out and DJ (Johnson) kind of pressed it not strongly enough contact to win the challenge. The ball’s ricochet and to be fair Kane was in that position where he ended up scoring for about five to 10 seconds and no one was there at all so question marks again where our defenders were and another poor goal.”

Emergency striker Healy broke free down the left channel in behind Tobi Adebayo-Rowling and flashed a left-footed angled drive across Howes and past the far post on the half-hour mark.

Walker ran down the left-flank in the 40th minute and Callum Driver stopped him in his tracks so the striker rolled the ball back 30-yards to Campbell, who drilled a through ball to put Wills through on goal but Wells made a vital save as he rushed off his line and his flick took the sting out of the shot and the ball trickled past the foot of the far post.

“It was a straight ball over Ronnie Vint and Wills made a great run and went through and Louis Wells made a very good save,” added Flanagan.

Eastbourne Borough rattled in their third goal with 42 minutes and 25 seconds on the clock.

Holding midfielder Sergio Torres rolled the ball towards the edge of the penalty area some 30-yards from goal.  The ball was dummied by Martin and Walker, who was just behind him drilled his first time left-footed drive past the diving keeper into the left-hand corner of the net from 20-yards.

Flanagan said: “Again, one forward up front, central.  I know they had a few midfielders who were in the vicinity, I think.  I don’t think we worked hard enough to get on the shot to be fair.  I thought it was a good shot, it was in the corner so difficult for Wellsie to get to it but question marks about the defending again. Really where was the pressure on the ball? Why is Drives out of position from the throw and why are we letting someone have a free shot at our goal?”

There was plenty of soul searching inside the Dartford dressing room at the interval and at the end of the game too.

“You’re looking for characters, the dressing room was quiet so we tried to gee them up, in terms of new half, new challenges” revealed Flanagan.

“They’ve scored three in one half, can we replicate that in the second? More than anything we were asking them for pride and passion really. We were asking for players to show more commitment to themselves and to their team-mates and to the fans that have come down today.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t there in the second half and whilst they scored a great fifth goal, all the other gaols I think we could’ve done better with.  I would say it’s down to our own individual poor marking or poor defending on the day that’s caused them.”

Dartford’s joint-management team changed their tactics at the start of the second half as they made a double substitution with striker Andy Pugh and left-winger Tom Murphy replacing Hayes and Vint, who were both clearly struggling.

“Ronnie said he was fit to play today but in my opinion he didn’t show the Ronnie that we know,” admitted Flanagan. 

“We are unfortunately down to bare bones but what can we do? We just put the team out the best we can. We’ve got a squad for a reason, they are players who are National League South players and they should be maybe offering a little bit more than they are showing.”

Johnson (left), Tom Bonner (central) and Wynter (right) were three centre-halves, with Murphy and Driver pushed up as wing-backs, while Pugh and Coker were the new forward line as Healy dropped back into midfield.

Coker toiled in the heat as Jordan and Harry Ransom slammed the door shut as the second half was a painful watch for the Dartford faithful.

Torres played the ball inside to West, who cut the ball on to his right boot and hit a right-footed dipping drive from 25-yards, which Wells dived to his right to tip around the post.

Eastbourne Borough scored their fourth goal with 13 minutes and 57 seconds on the clock, following a mistake from Healy inside the Dartford box.

Eastbourne played a short corner and Wills found West in acres of space within the left-channel and his cross flashed across a crowd of players within the Dartford box. Healy failed to clear his lines at the far post and Jordan took a touch, turned and picked his spot through a crowd of players and across Wells to find the bottom far corner from 15-yards.

“I think Joe was marking Corey and they both gone to the ball and he’s outmuscled him and it’s got caught between Joe’s legs and he’s just swept it in to be fair,” said Flanagan.

“It’s a shot, I would say, closer to the 18-yard box than the six-yard box and with a lot of bodies in there and people aren’t dying for us at the moment.”

Flanagan added: “At that point, being truthful the game’s probably gone at 4-0. We’ve shown this year that we’re not capable of scoring enough goals (49) so when you’re looking at the characters and to be truthful I’m half looking at the ones really who deserves to be here next year and who deserves to be in a Dartford shirt and that’s what we’re looking for in the last half-hour.”

The National League website will be showing Eastbourne Borough’s fifth goal several hundred times when West scored a sublime curler with 15 minutes and 50 seconds gone.

Eastbourne Borough won a free-kick inside their own half and Wills floated a deep free-kick into the Dartford box. The ball was cleared out to West, who flicked the ball over Lee Noble before smacking a sublime right-footed curler which kissed the top of the far post before crashing into the back of the net from 35-yards.

“It was a great strike from Westy! It’s come out and he’s flicked it over Lee Noble’s head, caught it on the half-volley and it’s gone in the top corner,” said Flanagan.

“It’s one of those strikes, it happens on days like this.  A great individual goal by them. I think we could’ve done a little bit better as regards to the initial flick over the head maybe but it was one of those days today whatever was hit at goal seemed to go in.”

Adebayo-Rowling drove down the right on a 60-yard run before dinking the ball across the face of the penalty area for Walker to curl a first time shot around the far post from 15-yards.

Referee David Spain pointed to the spot as Eastbourne Borough scored their sixth goal with 22 minutes and 19 seconds on the clock.

Wills floated in a cross from the right and Walker knocked the ball past Driver inside the middle of the box and the pair tussled for the ball in the box before Walker was clipped by Driver.

Walker slotted his right-footed penalty into the bottom right-hand corner, despite Wells diving the same way.

“I’m being truthful, I thought it was a light penalty. It was one of those days everything that we did was going to have a negative impact. The ref’s given it and Charlie’s put it away,” added Flanagan.

Martin almost scored against his old club in the 75th minute, whipping his left-footed free-kick towards the top far corner from the right, the ball landing on the roof of the net.

The final minutes saw Eastbourne Borough park the bus and put all 11 men behind the ball as Dartford retained possession but this will go down as one of Dartford’s darkest days in their history.

Billericay Town, now in sixth-place following their 2-1 home win over Hemel Hempstead Town today, are the visitors to Princes Park on Easter Monday, 22 April, before the Darts complete their campaign with a trip to thirteenth-placed Oxford City next Saturday. Both games kicking off at 15:00.

Flanagan said: “Did I think we would come here today and lose 6-0? Definitely not!

“We’ve got two games to go, we need to stop the rot a little bit. We’ve not won in a series of games now and we need to turn up against Billericay on Monday, which will be tough and we need to show definitely 100% more than we did today!”

When asked if he had a message for the Dartford fans, Flanagan replied: “I think a massive sorry from us as a management team and for us as a team.  I think myself and Jamie has to make sure this kind of performance never happens again, it’s as simple as that,” insisted Flanagan.

“I think we’re very honest people, there’s players in that dressing room, at the club at the moment, who maybe haven’t got the heart that we need and that’s very worrying because we showed earlier on in the season that on our day we’re very competitive as a team. As the season’s gone on we’ve lost something and we’ve lost a few players through injuries and bits and pieces.

“But look, everyone within the club and within the squad is clearly capable enough to put in performances at this level but they’ve not shown it!”

Flanagan, who revealed striker Charlie Sheringham “might be back” on Monday, although Healy “can’t feature so he comes out.” admitted today finished off their promotion bid.

“I think it will be difficult because you’ve got goal-difference as well and our goal-difference after today is minus six.  I think it’s very doubtful,” he said.

“My one interest at the moment is our reaction for Billericay on Monday and that is the only thing on my mind at the moment so that’s the focus and the concern is if we deliver a performance like we have today on Monday, I think the scoreline could be worse, so the players have got to look at ourselves and then on Monday we need to turn up and try to redeem ourselves after the showing today.”

Eastbourne Borough: Sam Howes, Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Kristian Campbell, Sergio Torres, Corey Jordan, Harry Ransom, Lloyd Dawes (Josh Bingham 28, Nico Cotton 62)), Kane Wills, Charlie Walker, Michael West (Andrew Briggs 71), David Martin.
Subs: Daniel Blackmore, Gregor Shaw

Goals: Charlie Walker 14, 43, 68 (penalty), Kane Wills 25, Corey Jordan 59

Dartford: Louis Wells, Callum Driver, Daniel Johnson, Jordan Wynter, Ronnie Vint (Andy Pugh 46), Tom Bonner, Ryan Hayes (Tom Murphy 46), Lee Noble (Jedd Smith 85), Andre Coker, Joe Healy, Ben Greenhalgh.
Subs: Bailey Vose, Elliot Leverson

Booked: Lee Noble 5

Attendance: 731
Referee: Mr David Spain (Westfield, East Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Michael Marsh (Herne Bay) & Mr Kane Dempster (Deal)