Slough Town 2-3 Dartford - We made it a little bit difficult for ourselves, admits Dartford boss Tony Burman

Saturday 01st October 2016
Slough Town 2 – 3 Dartford
Location Arbour Park, Stoke Road, Slough, Berkshire SL2 5AY
Kickoff 01/10/2016 15:00

The Emirates FA Cup Third Qualifying Round
Saturday 1st October 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Arbour Park

DARTFORD manager Tony Burman says belief from his players helped end Slough Town’s impressive run of winning form to reach The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round.

The seventh-placed Vanarama National League South side grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat to become the first side to win at Slough Town’s new Arbour Park this season.

The Rebels went into the game on an impressive nine match winning streak and they were sitting at the top of the Evo-Stik Southern Premier League table with nine wins and a draw from their opening 11 league outings.

Slough Town opened the scoring with only four minutes and 50 seconds on the clock through Elliot Bradbrook’s own-goal following a free-kick.

Slough Town were the better side during the first half and Dartford skipper Bradbrook headed in an equaliser early in the second half to notch his 100th goal for the club.

Slough Town were also gifted their second goal when Dartford keeper Deren Ibrahim gave away a penalty and winger James Dobson slotted in his seventh goal of the season from the spot.

But Bradbrook also scored his seventh goal of the season from the penalty spot in the final seven minutes – despite the efforts of goalkeeper Mark Scott to keep it out.

Dartford snatched a dramatic last-gasp victory when Pugh produced a quality finish to win it Burman’s side, the first side to win a competitive fixture on the artificial pitch at Arbour Park.

“I’m just delighted that we’ve got through to the next round,” said Burman after his side extended their unbeaten run to seven.

“We’ve come to a difficult place, a team that are in top form in the league, nine wins on the trot and we’ve come and beat them - I’m delighted.

“I felt first half we didn’t play well but felt we still created chances and didn’t put them away, so we made it a little bit difficult for ourselves but we felt again – I keep saying it – have more quality in our play and get into fourth and fifth gear more quickly and for longer.

“When we got back into the game we should’ve taken the lead with a good cross and Pughie’s put the header wide but then we gave (them the lead). Deren (Ibrahim) sort of committed a little bit of hari-kari really because it was a penalty, it is a penalty no doubt and we’ve put ourselves under pressure again, but overall I thought we deserved to win the game.”

Slough Town got off to a flying start, taking the lead with the first chance.

Dobson whipped in a quality free-kick with his left foot from the left flank, Mark Nisbett tried to flick the ball in at the near post and Bradbrook poked the ball into his own net from close range.

Burman said: “We spoke about the number seven’s left-foot, he’s good at set-pieces. I’m disappointed because it shouldn’t have got there. We should’ve dealt with that more comfortably and we didn’t do it so it was a bad start for us.”

Bradbrook added: “I’ll still take the first one! I blame Del (Ibrahim) for it though because he’s got to come off his line but it was a good ball in and you’re in that sort of area, two yards out from goal, facing your own goal.  You either leave it and try to stick a leg out and I’ve stuck a leg out and it’s gone in – but luckily I got two the other way as well!”

Dartford missed a glorious chance to equalise, only 63 seconds later.

Pugh played the ball into his strike partner Danny Harris, who swept his low shot towards the bottom near corner, which was blocked by the legs of Slough Town’s keeper Mark Scott.

Burman added: “We created some chances in the first half and we didn’t put them away and we should’ve done!

“If we scored when we should’ve done in the first half then it would’ve been a different game, but unfortunately we didn’t have the quality to do that, but second half we needed to have the belief that we could win the game and it showed in the end.”

Dobson’s quality deliveries in from dead-ball situations almost gave Slough a second goal in the 11th minute, but this time Nisbet came up from the back to plant his near post header past the post.

Slough Town were forced into a making an early change when they lost striker Gavin James through injury and his replacement Charlie Moone swept his first time shot past the right-hand post after a ball in from Nathan Webb.

Dartford weathered the storm, however, and created a couple of chances that flew over the crossbar in the space of just 63 seconds.

Alex Brown rolled the ball out to Pugh down the right and he rolled the ball back to Alex Brown, who drilled his right-footed drive over the crossbar from 25-yards in the 25th minute.

Bradbrook won the ball in Slough’s defensive third and set-up Harris, who drilled his shot high over the top of the right-hand post from similar range.

Slough Town were winning the midfield battle and Simon Dunn showed more desire than Alex Brown to collect the ball and play the ball out wide to Dobson, who whipped in a  cross, which was headed away by Ronnie Vint but Paul Stonehouse’s hooked volley screamed past the far post.

Moone brought a long ball forward down with his chest, turned to stroke his shot past the left-hand post.

Slough Town’s right-back Sean Fraser advanced into the final third to whip in a cross which came out to Warren Harris, who hit a first time dipping drive just over the bar and onto the roof of the Dartford net from 20-yards.

“I’m not saying they didn’t have a couple of chances from shots outside the box, but we still had some chances to take the lead in the first half,” said Burman.

Dartford were poor during the first half and they had to improve their performance if they were to stay in The FA Cup, after beating their league rivals Chelmsford City 3-2 away from home at their first hurdle.

“We just said, ‘we’ve lost the first half 1-0, we’ve got 45 minutes to put things right’,” said Burman.

“We’ve got to have a lot of belief, it’s Cup football but I felt the guys have worked really, really hard all season.

“We should’ve taken the lead again and it wasn’t to be. It was our own downfall the goal (Slough’s penalty), no-one else’s fault but they’ve managed to take the lead again but we’ve come back again and it’s great for the players to have that belief.”

Slough Town could have killed Dartford off with the first chance of the second half – but they failed to take that big chance.

Warren Harris raced down the right flank and reached the by-line to flash the ball across goal, which evaded Webb in the middle and came out to an unmarked Dobson, who bent his first time volley agonisingly around the foot of the far post.

It proved to be a costly miss as Bradbrook lead by example by heading home Dartford’s equaliser – timed at three minutes and 59 seconds – for his century of goals.

Ryan Hayes swung in his only corner from the right with his left foot towards the far post and Bradbrook planted his free downward header into the net from eight-yards.

“It’s something that’s worked for us over a number of years,” admitted Burman.

“We rely on him to get the goals but we have to put it about, share it about and not just rely on Elliot to score goals.

“He’s been a major part over the years and he’s still a major part now. He wants to win things like we all do and I want his enthusiasm and his desire to rub off on a lot of the players.”

When asked how it felt reaching his century, Bradbrook replied: “Good to be honest! I know it was going to be the 100th one and it made a difference.  We needed to get back on level terms. We made some chances in the first half, but they were lively, they were a good side, but it was important for us to get that goal back. The 10-15 minutes after that we probably could’ve scored two or three after that. It was an important goal.”

The goal lifted Dartford’s spirts and they should have taken the lead during an open spell of the game.

Left-winger Luke Wanadio went on a 60-yard mazy run with the ball before playing the ball out to Hayes on the right. He cut the ball onto his deadly left-foot, whipped in a great cross but Pugh’s diving header screamed agonisingly past the far post.

“It was a great cross from Haysie and we’re looking at Pughie to finish. It wasn’t to be but that’s where we should’ve gone 2-1 up,” said Burman.

“I felt if we did take the lead it becomes difficult then for a team who are at the top of the league this season and they may become a little bit disorganised and I felt that’s what did happen.”

Dartford defender Tom Bonner’s fine tackle stopped Webb’s run towards the edge of the penalty area and Ibrahim made a comfortable save from Dunn’s shot.

Hayes cut inside yet again, floated in a cross into the Slough box, which was held up by Harris, the ball sailed over to the unmarked Wanadio, who hooked his shot high over the bar from 12-yards.

But Ibrahim will be hoping there were no Gibraltar scouts in Slough today as he gifted the home side a 58th minute penalty.

Dobson swung over a corner from the right towards the far post which Ibrahim should have grabbed hold off but he dropped the ball and bundled over Moone from behind and referee Sam Purkiss pointed to the spot.

Dobson took a long run up but he steered his left-footed penalty into the bottom right-hand corner, despite Ibrahim diving the same way he couldn’t make amends.

Burman said: “I was gutted at that time because it was our own downfall so it wasn’t anything that they created in my opinion. We felt it was just wrong that happened. Those sort of things happens and you’ve got to give the players a lot of credit to still coming back into the game – and winning it!”

Hayes went agonisingly close to levelling the game up on the hour, curling his first time shot across the keeper but agonisingly past the top of the far post from 25-yards.

Burman added: “I thought it was in! When he pulls the trigger on something like that you think he’s going to (score).  We’ve missed chances to put the game to bed and we haven’t taken them!”

Danny Harris chased the ball down the left channel, cut the ball back to left-back Keaton Wood, who rolled the ball into Wanadio’s feet, but his shooting today was poor, hitting a 30-yard angled drive over the bar.

Hayes whipped in another cross from the right, deep towards the far post which was met by Bradbrook’s looping header, which dropped just over the crossbar.

Slough Town were bossing the midfield with Lee Togwell scooping the home club’s man-of-the-match award – but that all stopped when Lee Noble was introduced into the action with 16 minutes left.

“It was a pair of fresh legs and that’s what we wanted,” said Burman, who also praised another sub, Duane Ofori-Acheampong.

“When Duane’s come on as well it was something else that their back two haven’t been used to and he’s a presence and he makes things happen. We felt he had a little bit of a niggle so that’s why we left him out but he’s come on and done a bit for us.”

Dartford finished the game on the front foot and in a dominant manner.

They had a goal controversially ruled out for offside with 12 minutes of the game left.

Hayes hit the ball down the right channel for Danny Harris (who was now playing on the right-hand side) who wrapped his foot around the ball near to the corner flag towards the near post.

Target-man Duane Ofori-Acheampong cracked a shot on the turn into the top right-hand corner from inside the six-yard box, only for an offside flag to be raised.

“I thought Danny was in front of Duane so he’s pulled it back and he’s put it in the net,” said Burman.

“These things happen but you’ve still have got to have the belief that you will win the tie and it will come good for you – and it did!”

But when Pugh was sent flying inside the penalty area and referee Mr Purkiss pointed to the spot for a second time it was time for Bradbrook to get Dartford out of a hole in the final seven minutes.

Bradbrook’s left-footed penalty was rising towards the top right-hand corner, but a diving Scott got his hand to the ball, which rose and clipped the underside of the crossbar and despite the keeper’s efforts to claw the ball away, the ball had bounced over the line.

A laughing Burman joked: “Maybe I should take him off the pens, but no, it was a penalty as well, like their one. It was a penalty.

“It was a big moment and we’ve got the momentum then and that’s why we scored the next goal.”

Bradbrook added: “It was a great hand to be fair. He’s dived and sort of missed it and stuck a big hand up and I couldn’t believe he managed to do that, where it was to be honest.

“I had already seen it had gone in so no need to smash it back at him. Luckily it went in.

“I always try to get 10 goals a year. I’ve got seven so far. You’ve just got to take it while their going in. I might go two or three months without getting one so it’s good at the moment but I don’t really set myself targets. I try to pop up there when I can with a goal.”

Danny Harris and Noble linked up well and Pugh’s dipping drive from 25-yards cleared the Slough crossbar – before Dartford won it with 44 minutes and 45 seconds on the clock.

Noble’s sliderule pass flashed off the artificial turf and Slough central defender Guy Hollis failed to cut out the pass which put Pugh through on goal.

Pugh stepped inside Nisbet with a moment of quality, cut inside to roll his shot into the bottom left-hand corner, past the flat-footed keeper.

“We said before the game we wanted to be in the hat come quarter-to-five tonight and we wanted to win the game. We came here to win the game. We didn’t come here to get draws or anything like that and that’s what we decided to do,” said Burman.

“That’s what Pughie can do, we know that. He’s missed a header and he could’ve put his head down and he hasn’t.

“He’s had an injury and we’ve given him a couple of games to give him a rest but he’s come back and he’s done that. It was an excellent finish.”

Hayes played the ball inside to Pugh, who swept his first time shot across the keeper and just past the foot of the far post as Dartford finished the game strongly.

Ibrahim made a comfortable save to frustrate five-goal striker Moone at the end as Slough Town put the ball into the box and the ball was flicked on by desperate late sub Dan Hicks.

So Dartford are one win away from reaching The FA Cup First Round and Burman is looking for a good draw on Monday.

“It’s been unkind to us to be fair with the way the draw has gone with the away games but having said that I’d like to be at home in a Cup tie,” said the long-serving boss.

“What do you ask for? If you’re at home and you get someone in a lower league you’re expected to win so it’s a different kind of pressure so who knows? We’ll see what happens.”

Bradbrook, meanwhile, is delighted to get through a couple of tricky away ties and is keen to play in The FA Cup First Round again.

“Very good Cup game weren’t it? I think. End-to-end, they’re a good side, they’re top of their league and doing very well so to come away against them – that’s another tough draw, we’ve had Chelmsford away in the last round and we knew it was going to be very tough. Luckily we came out on top.

“I love playing in The FA Cup.  I’m one of those old school players, always remember growing up watching The FA Cup. It wasn’t the Champions League or anything like that all those years ago and I’ve loved playing in it ever since.

“You want to try to get in that first round and we’ve got one more round left so we’ll see who we get in the hat.

“We got told before the game they get a decent number in here every week and we have a good following as well so the supports always good.

“It’s always a little bit special, The FA Cup, as well so it’s a good day.”

When asked about the artificial playing surface, Bradbrook said: “It’s not too bad. I really don’t mind playing on that especially that sort of standard, that’s brand new, really spongy. It’s pretty good. It’s always better when it’s raining though. When the sun was out early on in the game it wasn’t great but when it clouded over and there was a little bit of rain in the air it was a lot better.  I don’t really mind it. I think it’s a way forward for a lot of non-league clubs as well.”

Dartford travel to Bromley to play Cray Wanderers in the Kent Reliance Senior Cup First Round on Wednesday night.

Tony Russell’s side are in the top six in the Ryman League Division One South table (on 21 points from 11 games) after their 3-0 home win over Molesey at Hayes Lane today.

Burman added: “Like it always, we always put a strong side out and we are the holders of that trophy and we intend to keep hold of it.”

Slough Town: Mark Scott, Sean Fraser, Paul Stonehouse (Dan Hicks 90), Guy Hollis, Mark Nisbet, Lee Togwell, James Dobson, Simon Dunn, Gavin James (Charlie Moone 5), Nathan Webb (Lewis Putman 75), Warren Harris.
Subs: Josh Jackman, Gurkan Gokmen, Adrian Sear, Jamie Jackson

Goals: Elliot Bradbrook 5 (own goal), James Dobson 58 (penalty)

Booked: Simon Dunn 28, Nathan Webb 42, Charlie Moone 70

Dartford: Deren Ibrahim, Tom Gardiner, Keaton Wood, Tom Bonner, Ronnie Vint (Duane Ofori-Acheampong 67), Alex Brown (Lee Noble 74), Ryan Hayes, Elliot Bradbrook, Danny Harris, Andy Pugh, Luke Wanadio (Ellis Brown 86).
Subs: Tony Coxall, Temi Eweka, Henry Fulton

Goals: Elliot Bradbrook 49, 83 (penalty), Andy Pugh 90

Booked: Elliot Bradbrook 44, Danny Harris 79

Attendance: 733
Referee: Mr Sam Purkiss (Highbury, London N5)
Assistants: Mr Michael Heavey (Colindale, London NW9) & Mr Martyn Cannon (Colindale, London NW9)

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