Sevenoaks Town 1-4 Dartford - We're happy with where we are at the moment, says Dartford joint-manager Jamie Coyle

Saturday 14th July 2018
Sevenoaks Town 1 – 4 Dartford
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 14/07/2018 15:00

Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday 14 July 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

DARTFORD joint-manager Jamie Coyle says he is feeling happy with where his side are at this stage of pre-season.

The Vanarama National League South side took 20 players’ to play newly-promoted Bostik South East Division side Sevenoaks Town and ran out comfortable 4-1 winners against a side that are two levels lower.

Dartford were thrashed 5-0 at home to Sky Bet Championship side Millwall seven days ago, before they came away from Bostik North Division side Aveley with a 6-0 win two days later.

Sevenoaks Town, meanwhile, started with a 3-1 home defeat to Bostik Premier Division side Margate last Tuesday.

It took only 114 seconds for the Darts to open the scoring on a scorching day at Greatness Park with winger Alfie Cue drilling a low drive into the bottom far corner.

Former Charlton Athletic central midfielder Matt Carter, 20, doubled Dartford’s lead, before former Maidstone United striker, Delano Sam-Yorke, 29, got on the scoresheet just before the break.

Sevenoaks Town pulled a goal back with a three-man counter-attack, which was buried by centre-half Chris Lavall, before Ronnie Vint - one of two Dartford players to get through 90 minutes – looped home a header into the corner at the far post.

“It was a good run-out,” said Coyle after his third game in joint-charge with Adam Flanagan.

“To be fair to them, I thought Sevenoaks played really well. I thought they moved the ball and played a lot different to the last time I came and played against them and they were a good test for the boys.

“I think there was some good individual performances and we’re happy with where we are at the moment.  It was good. We got out what was expected.

“I think the heat was tough for the boys today, I don’t want to make excuses for them but at times it was a little lacklustre and slow but I think it was over hot and the pitch as well, it just gravitates off the pitch when it’s warm.”

Sevenoaks Town manager and former Dartford striker Micky Collins was pleased with the outing.

“Good day, enjoyed it, good day. A great run-out for the boys.  I thought we played well at times,” said Collins, who guided his club to the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division title last season.

“They’re a great side, got some really good, organised players, pulled us around.

“The conditions were terrible, let’s be honest, it’s like 40 degrees out there but it’s what we wanted out of the game.

“I thought we looked good. We’re going to get punished for mistakes and they’ve got great movement and great finishing but yes, I thought at times we gave them a test.  We have caused them a few problems in areas and that’s what you want to do.  You want to give them a game that they actually get something out of it rather than it just being a walk-over.”

When asked about his new faces, Collins replied: “I thought they done well, everyone done well.  We’re looking, there’s a couple of them that we haven’t signed that we’re not going to make decisions on yet but the boys that have come in have put a shift in and credit to them. It’s difficult when you put a team together very quickly in pre-season and all off a sudden you play two games.

“There was an improvement on today than the other day.  I thought we were better in certain areas, a bit more organised. I’m impressed. I come away from today and I feel very positive.”

Dartford opened the scoring with their first attempt.  Sam-Yorke knocked the ball down inside the Sevenoaks box, Kudos Oyenuga swept the ball out to Cue, who took a touch inside the box on the left-hand side to drill his left-footed shot across the keeper and into the bottom far corner from 12-yards.

“Alfie, he’s been excellent.  He’s a little bit of an unknown entity for us with not really seeing him last year and he’s worked really hard in pre-season,” said Coyle.

“He’s technically very gifted and he’s quick as well and he took his chance. I’m pleased for him. He’s a young lad, he’s still learning but he’s got the right attitude and he’s taking on board what we’re asking him.”

Collins added: “It’s a good finish, it’s a really good finish! They’ve overloaded us there and we’ve switched off and that’s new faces in holes and people not doing their jobs correctly and then at this level you’re going to come unstuck. Maybe at our level, they wouldn’t have been so dynamic but it’s happened.  We carried on playing and I thought we reacted well from it.”

Sevenoaks Town played a new 3-5-2 formation and passed the ball around at the back but their front two of Kenny Pogue and Byron Walker were living off scraps for the time that they were on the pitch.

Collins said: “It’s something we’re looking at. The people that we recruited in the summer, there was a certain way we wanted to play and we’ve looked at it and we’ve made the change. We may go back to the way we played last season but at the moment it suits the people we’ve got.  It works, especially with the forwards that we’ve got.”

Dartford’s right-winger Manny Igahore played the ball out from the back with the outside of his boot and released striker Oyenuga, whose pace took him past two defenders only to poke his shot straight at goalkeeper Ben Bridle-Card, who stooped to pick the ball up at his near post.

“We created some decent chances in the first half and that’s just pleasing because we’ve worked on it in training,” revealed Coyle, who spent one season managing league rivals Welling United last season.

Central midfielder Sam Mensah, left-back Mark Onyemah and left-winger Cue linked up and Mensah’s deep cross was swept towards the far post where Igahore’s towering header deflected off the shoulder of his marker and behind for a corner.

Sevenoaks Town had a glorious chance to put a free-kick into the Dartford box but left wing-back Ben Wilson’s delivery from the left was poor and Dartford cleared their lines and broke away to score their second goal with 28 minutes and nine seconds on the clock.

Callum Driver cleared his lines and Igahore broke down the right wing with electrifying pace to cut into the box and centre for Carter, who dinked the ball over the advancing keeper into the bottom far corner from 12-yards.

“Mark done really well, he broke out form midfield. He’s a sharp lad, he wins a lot of the short, sharp running that we do and it was a great goal,” said Coyle.

“I thought Manny was a constant threat today. He didn’t have much of the ball in the first half but when he did he always created a one-v-one, beat his man and got a decent ball in the box.  He’s done really well. He only played a couple of games last year so he’s just trying to get the fitness into him and monitor that on a weekly basis.”

Collins admitted: “Do you know what? After 120 minutes of football in pre-season, it’s actually the first time that I got annoyed, the first time I moaned!  I wasn’t happy with it! It was sloppy, it was a poor ball in and then we’ve not reacted.  We haven’t tracked a runner. Good finishing form them and great play to catch us on the break but that’s poor from us and that’s the first moan I’ve had in two games because that weren’t acceptable. That’s got to be eradicated!”

Oyenuga’s run took him past a sliding Rob Saunders and after his progress was halted on the by-line, he flicked the ball into Cue, who drilled his left-footed angled drive across the keeper and past the far post from 12-yards.

Sevenoaks Town created an opening in the 39th minute when Billy Bennett fed the ball into Walker’s feet and his flicked pass went to Danny Cumbers, who played a diagonal out to Mikey Dalton.  The right wing-back hit a first time cross which was headed away by Vint and Cumbers’ weak header bounced into the hands of Deren Ibrahim.

Dartford deserved their 3-0 lead when it arrived with 41 minutes and 56 seconds on the clock.

Sam-Yorke and Driver linked up well down the right and Sam-Yorke fed Igahore in with a short pass and the winger’s angled drive was parried by Bridle-Card at his near post and Sam-Yorke buried the rebound into the bottom near corner from inside the six-yard box.

“He’s done really well,” said Coyle.  “I played with Delano at Maidstone. He’s strengths are he’s really strong, he’s quick as well for a big lad and he wins the majority of the balls in the air. He’s taken his goal really well today and was sharp in the six-yard box.

Collins added: “Again, overloaded, they’ve put us under pressure.  You’re dealing with it continually for 30-40 minutes and you’re trying to keep it at bay and then you’re going to fold at some point because that’s the quality they’ve got.”

Mensah drove at the Sevenoaks defence and played in Igahore but Bridle-Card rushed off his line to make a vital block in a one-v-one situation on the stroke of half-time.

Collins said: “Ben’s made a couple of good saves today and when he’s been called upon, done what he needs to. He knows this year he’s got to step up and step up to a level. He’s been great pre-season, he’s come in and worked hard and done well.”

Coyle added: “Ben was with me at Maidstone as well, funnily enough. The good thing about Manny because he’s so quick, he actually makes some intelligent runs in behind and he stretches teams and that’s where he’s got his chance. He could’ve scored in the second half where he’s hit the post as well and he’s done really well during pre-season.”

Collins made three of his seven changes at the interval, while Coyle and Adam Flanagan made four of his nine substitutions at this time.

Collins said: “You’re not going to up the tempo, it’s 40 degrees heat, so you want everyone to get through it fit and people to be honest and say they’re struggling and come off, which we did.  You’ve got to nurse-maid people through it. It’s a really good training session and it’s a very competitive training session against a really, really good side. I just told them to keep doing what they were doing. I was impressed, forget the scoreline, I’m not fussed about it. I thought we done really well.”

Coyle said: “It’s a difficult time really because you’re looking tactically what’s going on in the game but you’re also looking at the most important thing is looking at the right amount of minutes in the players legs and making sure no-one’s overloaded and everyone’s getting the minutes that they need.”

Central midfielder, Paul Springett lost possession in the final third and gave Dartford a chance to score a fourth goal but Igahore’s shot flashed across Bridle-Card and bounced off the far post and the keeper grabbed hold of the ball with only 14 seconds on the clock.

“That’s sloppy and Geordie will be the first to admit that,” Collins said about Springett’s poor defending.

“The problem is you come on to that tempo against a side like that, you’ve got to be switched on quick and if you’re not, you get punished. A bad ball, he gives it away and they nearly score.”

Bennett released Walker in behind the Dartford defence but former Crowborough Athletic striker Zac Attwood couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet inside the Dartford box.

Dartford central defender Vint drove forward before unleashing a dipping right-footed drive from 35-yards which moved in the air and Bridle-Card gathered at the second attempt.

Sevenoaks Town took 56 minutes to register their first attempt on target as Attwood’s right-footed drive from 30-yards was comfortably caught by Ibrahim.

Collins said: “I thought he caused some problems when he came on. I thought his movement was good.  I think he pulled their centre halves around. He had a bit more of a physical presence than we had in the first half and I thought when Andreas (Felipe Losada Tobon) came on and played up front with him, they caused a lot of problems.

“We’re looking how we move forward into the season and when you’re new signings come on and do a bit, you’re pleased with that.”

Coyle added: “I think they had some decent possession. They played a 3-5-2 formation and they played through midfield at times. We only had two in there and they were dictating the tempo of the game.  I thought defending we were solid and I’m really pleased with that.”

This sparked a good spell from the home side and left-wing-back Sam Crabb drilled a shot past the near post after the ball was worked out to him in space following Dalton’s corner from the right.

Mensah put Igahore in through on goal but the Dartford winger dragged his right-footed shot across Bridle-Card and past the far post with the keeper to beat on the hour-mark.

Sevenoaks Town pulled a deserved goal back with 20 minutes and 19 seconds on the clock when Dartford’s short corner up the other end of the pitch went horribly wrong.

When the ball went into the Sevenoaks box, the ball was controlled by Crabb, who ran directly through the heart of the pitch before playing the ball out to Andreas Felipe Losada Tobon, who put in Lavall, who drilled his shot into the bottom near corner.

“To be honest, they’ll be disappointed from their point of view, the same as I was with the one in the first half,” said Collins.

“It was sloppy from their point of view and we’ve punished it.  It was a good football from us that we’ve managed to break the lines and get a shot in on goal. It’s good that we’ve scored in both pre-season games against two top sides and I’m pleased with that, it’s a good finish.”

Coyle added: “He took it really well, to be fair.  A short corner, it hasn’t come off. It’s a chance and we weren’t set up properly at the back. I think after you make all those different changes you lose a little bit of structure so it’s disappointing to concede but I think overall defensively we were good today.”

Sevenoaks Town went close six minutes later when Crabb released Alex Anderson down the right and his cross was hooked on the volley by a pressurised Tobon, which flashed just past the right-hand post from 12-yards.

Dartford wrapped up the scoring with their fourth goal with 29 minutes and 18 seconds on the clock.

Ben Greenhalgh’s corner from the right was cleared out to Lee Noble, who was lurking on the edge of the Sevenoaks box.  He played the ball back to Greenhalgh, who whipped in a precise cross towards the far post where Vint rose to loop his header over Bridle-Card’s head into the top far corner.

Coyle knows all about Greenhalgh’s qualities having played together at Maidstone United a couple of seasons ago.

“I Know what he’s capable off.  On his day he’s unplayable. The quality that he’s got, he can go both ways and he’s got real end product as well where he can put the ball on a six-pence and he done that for Ronnie’s goal. I’m really pleased that he’s involved and looking sharp.”

Collins was less impressed, adding, “Again, I think we’ve got to shut the ball down quicker when it comes out and we haven’t done that. It’s a good delivery in but it’s a free header. We haven’t challenged at the far post and it’s looped in. It’s a good header but you have to blame us because we haven’t picked up. It’s tired legs. We were trying to keep a clean sheet second half and unfortunately we didn’t do it.”

Driver released right-winger Ryan Saab, who shrugged past Anderson, cut into the box before dragging his right-footed shot across the keeper and past the far post.

Dartford right-back Driver whipped in a great cross towards the edge of the six-yard box but Greenhalgh powered his free-header straight at the Sevenoaks keeper with 10 minutes left.

Coyle said: “The only thing, he can’t head to save his life but he’s good in terms of getting the ball out wide to him and putting deliveries in. He made some real intelligent movement today to actually get in the six-yard box and he could’ve done better with his header but he’s in the right place so you take the positives out of it.”

Sevenoaks centre half Jack Miles lost the ball in the final third and Liam Gillies laid the ball off to Tom Murphy, who curled his shot around the keeper into the far corner from 20-yards, but Thomas Fennelly rose his offside flag.

Crabb squandered a glorious chance to score a second goal for Sevenoaks as he saw substitute keeper Tommy Taylor out of position and the former Crowborough Athletic defender swept his 40-yard effort past the top of the left-hand post of an open goal.

Coyle was delighted with Dartford’s Academy players and one of them, Gillies ensured Bridle-Card pulled off a diving save to his left at the end of the game.

“I’d like to put on record how impressed I’ve been with (the Academy boys) attitude and application for 17-18 year-old boys to come in and play at our level and even against Millwall they really acquitted themselves really well and we’ll have to monitor that in terms of their progression. Maybe we’ll get them signed and dual-registered somewhere else.  I’ve been really pleased with them and we’ll have to make some decisions after today and really shrink the squad down a little bit.”

Sevenoaks Town continue with their pre-season campaign with a visit from Bostik Premier Division side Tonbridge Angels on Tuesday night, while Dartford host Sky Bet League One side Gillingham at the same time.

Sevenoaks Town: Ben Bridle-Card, Mikey Dalton, Ben Wilson (Sam Crabb 46), Rob Saunders, Jake McIntyre (Chris Lavall 58), Jack Miles, Billy Bennett (Luke Coleman 67), Danny Cumbers (Alex Anderson 70), Kenny Pogue (Zac Attwood 46), Byron Walker (Andreas Felipe Losada Tobon 55), Ryan Fowler (Paul Springett 46).

Goal: Chris Lavall 66

Dartford: Deren Ibrahim (Tommy Taylor 74), Callum Driver, Mark Onyemah (Mark Taylor 70), Matt Carter (Elliot Bradbrook 46), Ronnie Vint, Tom Bonner (Billy Roast 46), Manny Igahore (Liam Gillies 63), Simon Mensah (Lee Noble 63), Delano Sam-Yorke (Tom Murphy 46), Kudos Oyenuga (Ben Greenhalgh 46), Alfie Cue (Ryan Saab 77).

Goals: Alfie Cue 2, Matt Carter 29, Delano Sam-Yorke 42, Ronnie Vint 75

Attendance: 150
Referee: Mr Graeme Ions (Tunbridge Wells)
Assistants: Mr Thomas Fennelly (Chislehurst) & Mr Billy Woods (Bexleyheath)