Sevenoaks Town 0-1 Dartford - All in all I felt it was a fixture that added value to what we've already been doing pre-season, says Dartford joint-manager Adam Flanagan

Saturday 06th July 2019
Sevenoaks Town 0 – 1 Dartford
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 06/07/2019 15:00

Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday 6 July 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

DARTFORD joint-manager Adam Flanagan says playing Sevenoaks Town in their opening pre-season friendly will only benefit his squad in the long-term.

The Darts struck the woodwork on two occasions at Greatness Park and settled this decent game with a fine strike from substitute right-winger Jedd Smith just 16 minutes from time.

Sevenoaks Town completed their debut Isthmian League campaign in tenth-place in the South East Division, while Dartford finished in tenth-place in the Vanarama National League South. Both managers said during the post-match press conference that they are looking to improve on their positions this season.

“It was a good pre-season game. A nice set-up at Sevenoaks with the 3G pitch.  I thought the game was played at a good tempo by both teams and it was a good contest to be fair this time of the year,” said Flanagan, who used 18 players.

“It was match minutes for those players that needed them. A few of them had to stay on for a little bit longer. 

“It gave the young players an opportunity as well. Cameron Brodie did really well and Jedd Smith came on and was lively so we want to try and push the youngsters through at the club and these are the games where you can give them those opportunities and they both did well.

“Expectations at this time of the year aren’t very high other than players’ when they play they represent themselves well and show the attributes they’ve got and why we’ve signed them and I thought the players did that.”

Sevenoaks Town manager Micky Collins got through 17 players in their opening pre-season friendly and said he was quietly impressed by his side’s performance against a club that are two levels higher.

These two sides met each other on 14 July 2018 and Dartford comfortably won 4-1, which proves how far the Oaks have come in the last 12 months.

“It was a good game. I thought it was a great start for both teams. Hopefully we’ve both got something out of it and there’s no injuries,” said Collins.

“The game was played at a decent pace, especially the first half in hot conditions. I’m really pleased with it.”

Dartford created the first real opening in the 14th minute when centre-half Tom Bonner’s long ball was knocked down by Charlie Sheringham and striker Darren McQueen spread the play to Luke Wanadio, whose shot was charged down by Sevenoaks right-back Frazer Walker and flashed behind for a corner.

Winger Wanadio floated in the resulting corner from the left and right-back Jordan Wynter found a pocket of space on the six-yard line to send his diving header over the crossbar.

Sevenoaks Town created an opening in the 17th minute when winger Alec Fiddes whipped in a great cross for Tommy Whitnell, whose towering header was plucked out of the air by Dartford keeper Mark Smith.

Dartford struck the crossbar following their second corner of the game just three minutes later.

Ryan Hayes floated in a deep delivery in from the right for Bonner to rise at the far post to knock the ball back across goal and Wynter guided his free-header  bouncing against the top of the crossbar from 15-yards, the ball dropping behind for a goal-kick.

“I think overall we created more opportunities to score first half than we did second half but we got into good areas,” said Flanagan.

“We put in good deliveries in from the wide players.  A header from Jordan Wynter that hit the top of the bar.  Macca (McQueen) kind of got on a loose back pass and slit it onto the post and Charlie Sheringham hit the post.

“We haven’t really worked on the finishing element just yet but that’ll come in the next few weeks.”

Halfway through the first half, the Oaks went route one with a big kick from goalkeeper Ben Bridle-Card, which lead to a mistake by Bonner and lone striker Connor French took a touch before unleashing a right-footed drive towards the far corner from 35-yards, forcing Mark Smith to dive to his right to tip the ball around the post.

“Frenchie was excellent first half.  We knew we’d get 45 minutes out of him.  He’s settled straight in.  Frenchie had a great shot and the keeper’s made a fantastic save,” said Collins.

“We’ve been lucky. We’ve come straight in and worked on stuff and everyone’s aware of it and we looked very organised and I was quite impressed by that.”

Wanadio impressed for Dartford and he whipped in a quality low free-kick into the penalty area for centre-half Ronnie Vint to nip in front of his man at the near post to flick his first time poked shot into Bridle-Card’s safe hands.

Wanadio drove at the Sevenoaks defence and his initial shot was blocked on the edge of the box and the ball came out to Hayes, who whipped in a great cross, which was destined for the top far corner.  Bridle-Card was forced to leap high to his right to push the ball around his post for a corner.

Dartford struck the base of the far post in the 35th minute when sloppy defending from centre-half Ben Gorham let in striker Sheringham.

Hayes showed desire to win the ball off Fiddes on the halfway line and played the ball over the top of the defence to put Sheringham in behind Gorham.  The striker swept his shot past a diving Bridle-Card towards the bottom corner, only to see the ball bounce against the foot of the right-hand post and Gorham got back to clear his lines.

Collins said: “They’re going to create chances.  National South against us and they’ve got quality all over the pitch but I thought we held our own first half.  I thought we did ok.”

Vint allowed a long ball to bounce over his head and French – who did well to hold the ball up on his own during his 45 minute work-out – smacked a right-footed stinging drive from 30-yards, which was comfortably held by Dartford’s 23-year-old former Billericay Town stopper.

A poor back-pass from Walker let in Darren McQueen, who slid the ball past the out-of-position Bridle-Card and the ball grazed past the foot of the left-hand post.

Dartford created the final chance of the first half when Hayes fed the overlapping Wynter, who played in a low cross into Sheringham’s feet, who turned his marker and from inside the D and stroked a low left-footed shot on the turn which was comfortably saved by Bridle-Card.

Jamie Coyle and Flanagan made five changes at the interval, while Collins made just the one.

Sevenoaks Town created an opening in the fourth minute when holding midfielder Dan Parkinson floated in a free-kick and Gorham rose to head the just over the crossbar, landing on the roof of the net.

Dartford then started to dominate proceedings.  A long diagonal 50-yard pass was played out to Jedd Smith, who cut into the box and his shot from 10-yards was parried by Bridle-Card at his near post.

Striker Andy Pugh rolled the ball to Jedd Smith, who whipped a lovely shot across the diving keeper from 30-yards, the ball sailing just past the top of the far post.

Sevenoaks Town called Mark Smith into making a comfortable save in the 56th minute, catching the ball in his midriff to gather Ainsley Everett’s whipped right-footed 25-yard free-kick.

Fiddes started to dominate with some good wing-play down the right for the home side and he cut the ball onto his left foot and whipped in a great cross for substitute striker Adrian Stone to rise to guide his header towards goal from 16-yards, which was plucked out of the air by the Dartford keeper.

Luke Allen released Jedd Smith down the right and he put in a great cross, which was expertly controlled by Pugh, turning his man on the edge of the box before smashing his volley over the crossbar.

Dartford substitute left-back Kyle De Silva – who spent a loan period at Sevenoaks Town last season – ran down the left and whipped in a cross for Pugh to bravely place his diving header past the left-hand post from just inside the penalty area.

It felt like Sevenoaks Town had done enough to claim a deserve draw, only for Dartford to score the winning goal, which was timed at 28 minutes and 58 seconds on the clock.

Allen floated a deep cross in from the right which initially sailed over Pugh’s head at the far post but the striker held his composure to retrieve the ball and cut the ball back for Jedd Smith, who controlled the ball before placing his left-footed shot across the diving keeper to find the bottom far corner from 15-yards.

“It was a good move to be fair,” said Flanagan.

“Luke Wanadio started it and he played Luke Allen in down the line and Luke put a good ball in, just a little bit too far for Pughie to get an initial opportunity. He recycled the ball well, got it to Jedd and Jedd come inside and finished well on his left-foot. Good goal.”

Collins put Patrick Campbell in at centre-half in the 68th minute and was at fault for the only goal of the game.

“We gave the ball away, the centre-half stepped out, trialist, and gave the ball away and then all off a sudden they punish you because they will.  It’s probably the first, one of the worst mistakes we made of the game and we’ve got done by it.”

Fiddes went close to equalising for Sevenoaks Town when his right-footed free-kick from 30-yards sailed onto the roof of the net as he was aiming for the top left-hand corner in the final 11 minutes.

Wanadio sprayed the ball out to Jedd Smith on the right and his low cross should have been cleared by Sevenoaks Town’s substitute centre-half Jack Miles, who sliced his clearance and let in Wanadio, who took a touch but his right-footed drive was pushed around the post by the impressive Bridle-Card.

Collins said: “Ben’s carried on where he’s left off last season.  He’s come back in great shape.”

Wanadio linked up well with his Dartford team-mates and he played the ball inside to Brodie, who drilled a first time shot across the keeper and just past the far post from 25-yards, as Ryan Fowler rushed out to close him down.

Sevenoaks Town almost grabbed an equaliser inside the final couple of minutes when substitute centre-half Patrick Campbell hit a ball into the Dartford box for Stone to send his downward header into the hands of substitute keeper James Town from 10-yards.

“We huffed and puffed but we got into the areas and when you’re playing against National South players and managing to create stuff, you’ve had a result and that’s what we’ve done and I’m pleased with it today,” said Collins.

“First outing, they’re the highest club we’re playing in pre-season. That’s a great start from where we were last season. I’m quietly impressed. We’re in good shape and we’re organised.”

Sevenoaks Town travel to Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division side Deal Town next Saturday 13 July, while Dartford welcome Vanarama National League side Ebbsfleet United to Princes Park on Tuesday 9 July.

Flanagan said: “We got competitive match minutes.  I think Sevenoaks helped out today because they played a real good tempo as well.  Sometimes pre-season games against teams lower down the pyramid can be a little bit slower but I think they moved the ball around well and played it like it was a proper fixture, which can only benefit us in the long-term.”

When asked about Dartford’s new players on show today, Flanagan admitted: “I think they did ok.  I don’t think anyone stood out being brilliant.

“I thought Luke Allen showed good signs when he came in. Smudger (Mark Smith) the keeper showed he’s got a bit more of a presence than maybe we’ve had in between the sticks. 

Sam Blackman did everything we expect Sam Blackman to do so all of the new players, to be fair, came in and did well.

“I think the pitch didn’t suit Luke Wanadio today. It was a little bit sticky so he couldn’t get away but as the game went on and the later part of it, he showed what he can bring to the table as well.

“All in all I felt it was a fixture that added value to what we’ve already been doing in pre-season.”

When asked the same question, Collins replied: “They did great.  Ben Gorham, centre-half, he done excellent. Nathan Gordon came in at left-back, I thought he was solid.  Connor French does what he does and you look at him and you think wow, there’s a lot to happen with him.

“It’s exciting.  Do you know what, we’ve got some good balance all over the park. 

“Tommy Whitnell is fit now.  Tommy was out towards the end of the season, that’s almost like a new signing and you saw today the quality he brings.

“It’s quite exciting. I’m quite looking forward to it this year.

“I don’t care about (pre-season) results, whether we’ve scored or let a goal in.  I’m disappointed with the goal we conceded because we’ve made a mistake.

“I look at the overall, are we in condition? Are the players’ fit enough where they need to be? Is our shape good enough? Are we organised? That’s all pre-season is about, nothing else. It’s irrelevant!

“We could lose every game 6-0 in pre-season and have a great start to it, so it’s irrelevant!

“The club is in a great place on and off the pitch and that’s the most important thing and you could see today that the players’ that we’ve attracted have come straight in and settled in because it’s a really organised outfit.”

Sevenoaks Town: Ben Bridle-Card, Frazer Walker (Harry Kingdom 65), Nathan Gordon (Daniel McCarthy 69), Dan Parkinson (Kieran Hughes 63), Ben Gorham (Patrick Campbell 68), Tom Ripley (Jack Miles 51), Ryan Fowler, Tommy Whitnell, Connor French (Adrian Stone 46), Ainsley Everett, Alec Fiddes.

Dartford: Mark Smith (James Town 73), Jordan Wynter, Luke Warner-Eley (Kyle De Silva 46), Sam Blackman (Trialist 46), Ronnie Vint (Elliot Leveson 73), Tom Bonner, Ryan Hayes (Jedd Smith 46), Cameron Brodie, Darren McQueen (Andy Pugh 46), Charlie Sheringham (Luke Allen 46), Luke Wanadio.

Goal: Jedd Smith 74

Booked: Tom Bonner 66

Attendance: 210
Referee: Mr Jack Owen (Sevenoaks)
Assistants: Mr Daniel Blades (Wrotham) & Mr Jerry Annandale (Tonbridge)