Hampton & Richmond Borough 1-2 Dartford - I'm so proud of them. I've said to them you've done ever so well, you've worked your socks off for me, a new manager coming in, you couldn't have asked for any more, says Dartford boss Steve King

Tuesday 05th November 2019
Hampton & Richmond Borough 1 – 2 Dartford
Location Beveree Stadium, Beaver Close, Station Road, Hampton, Middlesex TW12 2BX
Kickoff 05/11/2019 19:45

Vanarama National League South
Tuesday 5 November 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Beveree Stadium

DARTFORD manager Steve King says his players’ showed great spirit and heart to win at in-form side Hampton & Richmond Borough.

Gary McCann’s side went into this game with four league wins on the spin and were in fourteenth-place in the Vanarama National League South table with 19 points from 15 games.

Dartford, meanwhile, have climbed up to thirteenth-place in the table with 20 points from 16 games, just five points adrift of the play-offs and seventh-placed side Dorking Wanderers due to the fact that King has picked up seven points from his first three league games in charge of the club.

All three goals were scored during a 10-minute spell during the first half at Beveree Stadium.

Dartford took the lead through impressive left-winger Ky Marsh-Brown, but their lead lasted only 135 seconds as winger Sam Deadfield tucked home his fifth goal of the season.

Dartford sealed the victory, courtesy of Elliott Romain’s penalty and a resilient second-half performance.

“First objective, obviously three points, that’s at any football match to try and do that,” said King, reflecting on his fourth game in charge of the Darts.

“I thought we were very good in the first half and pleased with Marsh-Brown coming in getting a goal. He looked a threat in the first half especially. He hasn’t played for a little while in this level so it’s going to take time for him to adapt but he had a couple of decent opportunities, obviously scoring the goal.

“I think one thing that’s noticeable for me is that everybody is putting in a shift and that is heart and if quality can’t win it on the day, heart will win it, will go close to winning it and that’s what they’re showing today in abundance.”

Even at this early stage, King is in the process of doing at Dartford what he achieved during his only season in charge of Welling United last term.

“When you come into a new club and you’re looking at individuals and you’re thinking are they going to stand up for you? Or are they going to down tools because there’s a change and I must admit they’ve all stood up and gone we want to be here and want to be a part of what you’re doing.”

The first half started in a cagey manner and Hampton & Richmond Borough took 17 minutes to create their first opening, following their first of six corners.

Right-back Matt Young raised both of his arms up into the air before delivering an out-swinging corner from the left which was met by centre-half Charlie Wassmer, who rose to loop his header over the crossbar from a central position some 15-yards from goal.

Dartford went up the other end and created an opening following a set-piece after Jordan Gibbons was fouled by Ruaridh Donaldson.

Dartford centre-half Josh Hill was inside his own half when he launched a hanging free-kick into the Hampton & Richmond Borough penalty area for lone striker Romain to hook his shot over his shoulder and across the keeper and past the far post.

Hampton & Richmond Borough goalkeeper Dan Lincoln’s big kick upfield was headed back by Josh Hill and this was latched upon by Deadfield down the left-channel.  His initial cross was headed away by Josh Hill at the near post and was met by Young’s header, which was plucked out of the air at the second attempt from underneath his own crossbar by Dartford keeper Mark Smith.

The game then exploded into life, with Dartford hitting the near post with 22 minutes and 54 seconds on the clock.

Dartford central midfielder Luke Allen released Marsh-Brown down the left and he whipped in a great cross to pick out the unmarked Norman Wabo at the far post but his downward header clipped the base of the neat post from the corner of the six-yard box.

Dartford smashed the stalemate by taking the lead with 24 minutes and 8 seconds on the clock through Marsh-Brown.

Allen fed the ball into left-back Liam Gordon who played the ball down the line to Marsh-Brown, who cut in from the left to reach the penalty area before unleashing a left-footed angled drive to beat the keeper at his near post.

“I know Brownie and I know what he’s capable off,” said King.

“Brownie nearly got a move to the Championship two years ago when he was with me at Whitehawk. He was absolutely on fire as a winger and he scored 10 goals, hat-tricks and things like that.

“He got a hamstring injury and it was a bad one and it kept him out for five months and his career sort of took a nosedive from then. He’s only 22, the thing of almost going to a Championship club and then not sometimes it knocks the stuffing out of young boys and I’ve picked him up again and I’ve always wanted to sign him again because I know what he’s capable of and that’s just glimpses of what you see there tonight.

“He hasn’t played at this standard for two years. He had a wasted year last year, he didn’t play too much but I know he can win matches on his own. It was a good finish.

“Listen, he will bang in 10 goals a season coming in on the left and that’s what he does.”

However, Hampton & Richmond Borough recovered from that set-back by equalising with 26 minutes and 23 seconds on the clock.

The home side hit Dartford on the counter-attack as Deadfield started and finished the move for McCann’s side.

Deadfield broke through the heart of the pitch before playing a crossfield pass over to Donaldson, who swept a first time pass to release Tyrone Lewthwaite in behind Gibbons down the left channel.  He cut the ball back for Deadfield to bury his first time shot into the bottom left-hand corner from 15-yards.

“Disappointed because we all piled in and there was no holding midfield player on the edge of the area so they all broke away and the nearest player chasing him down was Marsh-Brown,” said King.

“So they’re little patterns that we need to work on. If we play three in there you can’t vacate that area at all, three of you. If two go, one has to sit, so if he breaks out he gets stopped there, so he’s had the freedom of the park and that’s the disappointing thing.”

Marsh-Brown was a threat for Hampton & Richmond Borough’s right-back Young during the first half, although the Dartford winger had a much quieter second half.

Dartford were awarded a penalty, which was tucked home by Romain with 34 minutes and 38 seconds on the clock.

Gordon, who got forward a lot during the first half and linked up well with Marsh-Brown, played the ball into Romain’s feet and the former Eastbourne Borough striker drew a foul from Wassmer and referee Sukhvir Gill pointed to the spot.

Hampton & Richmond Borough’s goalkeeper Lincoln is also a cricketer for Middlesex and he almost saved what turned out to be the clincher.

First Lincoln tried the mind games by standing in front of the taker, before retreating to his goal-line and nearly making a fine save from the spot-kick.

Romain stroked his right-footed penalty towards the bottom left-hand corner, only for Lincoln to dive to his right and push the ball against the post and couldn’t prevent the ball nestling into the opposite corner.

King was delighted with Romain’s performance as a hardworking frontman.

“For me, Elliot Romain epitomises what, when you say lead from the front, he leads from the front. He runs himself into the ground didn’t he, gets his goal, again it’s two from three games now. He epitomises what we need from a frontman. I don’t want lazy people, I want winners who run themselves into the ground.”

And on the penalty, King said: “I know Dan, he used to be at Bognor Regis for a long time.  I’m honest, when the penalty was there, I’m thinking this is 50-50 because I know Dan, he’s got a great thing of saving penalties. I think he done it for Bognor in their FA Trophy (run to the Semi-Finals in 2016) and I said to him as he was coming off, I shook his hand and I said you’re good at penalties and he goes ‘I know Kingy’.  I was worried and he nearly saved it, didn’t he?”

Lincoln pulled off a world-class double save to prevent Dartford adding to their lead with 37 minutes on the clock.

Winger Wabo made progress down the right before the ball was crossed low into the box for Romain to drill a first time shot screaming towards the roof of the net, which was beaten away by the keeper, who pulled off a flying save to his right as Romain tried to score from a spectacular overhead kick from the rebound.

“Well the double save from the keeper, the first save and then the second save, overhead kick. I mean, wow! I thought the first save was a good save and the second one was flying in,” added King.

Hampton & Richmond Borough created a chance just before the break when Young’s corner from the left was swung in and Wassmer nipped in front of his man at the near post to hook his shot straight at Smith in the Dartford goal.

When asked his thoughts at the break, King said: “Just keep doing what you were doing because I thought we were the better team in the first half, I thought we were the better team.  Yes, second half I think we faded, we tired. We got a little bit sloppy. They’re the home team, they’re going to pile the pressure on.”

Hampton & Richmond Borough had more possession of the football than Dartford during the second half but they never really looked like testing Smith in goal.

A poor clearance from Dartford’s holding midfielder Cameron Brodie was hit first time by Inman, the centre-half’s 30-yarder sailed high up into the air before dropping down and being caught in Smith’s midriff inside the opening five minutes.

McCann was forced into a couple of forced defensive changes.  Inman was forced off through a tight groin after 55 minutes, so left-back Kyron Farrell slotted in beside Wassmer at centre-half, which forced winger Donaldson to drop back into the left-back position.

Wassmer, who was playing with a niggling injury, was then forced off with 20 minutes remaining, which forced right-back Young to replace Wassmer at the heart of defence to play alongside Farrell, while holding midfielder Sam Cox slotted in at right-back.

Dartford’s defence was resilient during the second half and centre-half Tom Bonner threw himself in the way off a Lewthwaite shot inside the penalty area and from Deadfield’s resulting deep corner, Wassmer steered his header past the near post from a tight angle.

Dartford’s left-back Gordon intercepted a pass to prevent a breakaway from the home side before he fed the ball into Billy Crook, who played the ball into Allen’s feet, who got his attempted curler all wrong as he sliced his shot harmlessly wide from 22-yards.

Dartford produced a good move on the break and should have killed the game off at the halfway mark.

Gordon released the hard-working Romain down the left channel before the Dartford striker played the ball back to Gordon, who was played in behind the home side’s defence but keeper Lincoln kept himself big at his near post and made a vital block with his legs to put the ball behind for Dartford’s fourth and final corner.

“When you look at chances and you look at goal attempts on goal we’ve probably had five, scored two. They’ve had one.  Do you want to take the back pass shot? Two chances on goal,” added King.

Hampton & Richmond Borough were a threat down the left through substitute winger Ryan Hill but Dartford held firm.

Substitute Shaun McAuley released quiet seven-goal striker Danilo Orsi-Dadomo down the right channel (in behind Gordon) and his cross was cleared out to McAuley, who was impeded by the referee at first before his rasping right-footed drive from 25-yards was comfortably caught by Smith, stepping to his right.

King said:  “I don’t think, correct me if I’m wrong, Mark had a save to make?

“He put his cap on it, threw his cap on it.  You would’ve saved it! I would’ve saved it, tt was straight through the middle of the goal. 

“Other than that they huffed and puffed and I think they had a lot of the ball and we’re trying all sorts of things but I think Josh Hill, Ronnie Vint and Tom Bonner stood up manfully and Jordan Gibbons and Liam Gordon, I think the back five protected Mark tremendously.”

King made a tactical change with 15 minutes remaining by taking off Allen and Marsh-Brown and bringing on Ronnie Vint and Andy Pugh.

Dartford finished the game with a back five with Vint (right), Josh Hill (centre) and Bonner (left) being rock solid centre-halves with their two full-backs staying back rather than getting forward.

Pugh, meanwhile, dropped deep and played in midfield rather than his more natural position as striker.

“We’ve got three very good centre-halves for this division,” said King.

“Two from three of them are going to play. If you’ve noticed what I’ve done in the first three games and they’ve brought into it. It’s not just done on a wing and a prayer.  I’ve spoken to the centre-halves and we’ve parried Josh with Bonner, we’ve parried Vint with Bonner and we’ve paired them all so we’re seeing where we’re going and that’s what we’re trying to do and all three of them are equally as good as each other so you can pair two of them and it’s nice to have the third one when we want to drop it into five at the back.”

With central midfielder Lee Noble six-weeks from making a return to full fitness and striker Charlie Sheringham still another five weeks away, King revealed he needs to delve into the transfer market.

“We’re a work in progress. I’m not getting carried away, I’m not like that.  I know what’s needed and what’s not needed. I know where we desperately need to strengthen, desperately centre of the park,” he said. 

“They’ve done brilliant the three of them in there (Brodie, Crook and Allen) and when their legs are hanging off we haven’t got a centre midfield player to come on and put in there so we’re tinkering with dropping Andy Pugh in front to make the third one.  It’s a real problem area as in we haven’t got strength-in-depth.

“We’ve missed Lee Noble, he’s still going to be four weeks at least in my opinion and even then he’s got to get back to fitness and get that back up so we’ll definitely look to go into the loan market. We’ve got to try to get someone in central midfield probably within two weeks’ time before the next game because they need help in there.

“We need to strengthen areas. We haven’t got (loads of) money. We need to get out to get in and that’s how it is and that’s how it should be. We’re a bit heavy in certain areas and light in other areas.

“If we can get one or two in, that’s nothing against the boys that are in central midfield. It’s to help the boys that are in there.

“I think we’re strong up top although I would like a target man. If we can get one, a big one, six foot three.  Charlie Sheringham is still another five weeks away but I think there’s two positions that I think are key, key to what we’re doing.  A target man if you’re then under the cosh and you can put it into a big man and he can secure the ball and a central midfield player and we’ll be alright.”

Hampton & Richmond kept on feeding Ryan Hill down the left but his crosses failed to trouble the Dartford back five with strikers Orsi-Dadomo and Lewthwaite ineffective.

King said:  “I thought Jordan Gibbons looked after their winger very well. Yes, he got a few crosses in but you’re gonna. You can’t stop the winger for 90 minutes, it’s impossible but I think Jordan done really well. What you’re seeing is Jordan is getting fitter and if you take him from his first game to now he’s getting fitter and he’ll get better week by week by week.”

With 10 minutes remaining, Cox threw the ball inside to an unmarked Donaldson, who drilled a left-footed dipping drive just over the Dartford crossbar from 35-yards.

Ryan Hill dropped deep into midfield before releasing Donaldson down the line before Ryan Hill latched onto the cut-back but his right-footed shot from the edge of the box was lashed over the crossbar.

With Dartford sitting back in the hope of hitting the home side on the counter-attack through substitute striker Darren McQueen, Hampton & Richmond Borough had one final chance, which turned out to be final piece of action.

Goalkeeper Lincoln went up for their final corner, which was swung in by substitute right-winger Jack Skinner but Farrell threw himself at the header, which went over the crossbar.

Dartford are without a game on Saturday because Billericay Town are in FA Cup First Round action so King said he will be giving his players’ the day off and their next game is at home to eighth-placed Maidstone United on Saturday 16 November (15:00).

“We did try to get St Albans in this week, we did ask them yesterday to play us on Saturday but they said no so we said ‘ok, no problem’,  It gives us a week off. I’ll give them Saturday off and everyone has worked ever so hard for me and that is important when you come into a new club.”

With Dartford moving in the right direction, King was asked whether he can guide the club into the play-offs by the end of the season, having guided Welling United to the Vanarama National League South Promotion Final last season.

“Listen, I’m not looking, like I’ve just said to them in there, just take it as it comes. Everyone was saying before I came in, ‘you’re going to do this, you’re going to do that’.  I said eventually we might do this and might do that but not yet! We’re a work in progress. I’m not getting carried away with what we’ve done but it’s important we’ve got those two wins.

“I thought that we need to finish as high as we can I the division and that’s exactly where we are. If we keep winning games, we keep moving up, simple as that!

“I’m so proud of them. I said to them in there, you’ve done ever so well. You’ve worked your socks off for me, a new manager coming in, you could’ve have asked for any more.”

Hampton & Richmond Borough: Dan Lincoln, Matt Young, Kyron Farrell, Sam Cox, Charlie Wassmer (Shaun McAuley 70), Dean Inman (Ryan Hill 55), Ruaridh Donaldson, Jake Gray, Danilo Orsi-Dadomo, Tyrone Lewthwaite, Sam Deadfield (Jack Skinner 70).
Subs: Jefferson Louis, Louis Soares

Goal: Sam Deadfield 27

Dartford: Mark Smith, Jordan Gibbons, Liam Gordon, Cameron Brodie, Josh Hill, Tom Bonner, Ky Marsh-Brown (Andy Pugh 76), Billy Crook, Elliott Romain, Luke Allen (Ronnie Vint 75), Norman Wabo (Darren McQueen 79).
Subs: Luke Wanadio, Ryan Hayes

Goals: Ky Marsh-Brown 25, Elliott Romain 35 (penalty)

Booked: Ky Marsh-Brown 14, Cameron Brodie 39, Jordan Gibbons 59

Attendance: 451
Referee: Mr Sukhvir Gill (Slough, Berkshire)
Assistants: Mr Tom Ellsmore (Woking, Surrey) & Mr Alan Cresswell (Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire)