Thursday 01st September 2005

Hafner relishing Margate return

Tuesday 18th
October 2005
FA Trophy
First Qualifying Round Replay
Stephen McCartney reports from Stonebridge Road
Dartford 3 Dave Martin 28
Steve Hafner 45,47
Dover Athletic 2 Anthony Hogg 10
Michael Smissen 33

Resilient Dartford twice came from behind to earn a lucrative FA Trophy second qualifying round trip to fellow Kent side Margate, after winning a five-goal thriller at Stonebridge Road tonight, writes Stephen McCartney.

But Dover Athletic's exit left a bitter taste in the mouth after their officials stormed off at the final whistle.

Now their side are playing in the Ryman League first division, they have to accept they've got to earn their right to win matches and toughen up, expecting teams to come out with all guns blazing.

But Clive Walker's men got off to a flying start, taking a deserved tenth minute lead.

Nick Humphrey - scorer of Saturday's equaliser at Crabble - threaded a ball to Carl Rook, whose cross from the by-line was met by a powerful header from an unmarked Anthony Hogg, which flew past Kevin Hudson and into the net.

But poor goalkeeping from visiting goalkeeper Darren Smith gifted Dartford a 28th minute leveller in front of the Darts' biggest crowd of the season.

Two-goal hero, Steve Hafner sent over a free kick, which left the former Gravesend & Northfleet goalkeeper in no-mans land, and Dave Martin's looping shot sailed over the goalkeeper and Dean Readings on the line.

Dover, however, regained the advantage five minutes later when Michael Smissen's deflected left-footed angled drive from 25-yards found the bottom far corner.

Dartford turned the game on it's head, however, scoring twice in a devastating spell either side of half-time.

Former Dover striker Hafner drove a shot into the bottom corner following Ryan Brigg's high hanging corner towards the far post caused problems in the visiting defence.  

And after Smissen's 30-yard fierce drive flashed agonisingly wide of the foot of the left upright, the inspired Hafner netted again from a 30-yard screamer, crashing into the top right hand corner of the net, via the underside of the bar, 106 seconds after the re-start.

And had Jim Carter's looping header not cannoned off the crossbar minutes later, the Southern Leaguers would have secured a two goal lead.

As it was, the Darts' passionate fans were now in full voice but Hafner blotted his copy book in the 65th minute, sliding in on the impressive Shane Hamshare on the touch line in front of the home dug-out.

The 22-year-old, however, escaped with a yellow card and sparked confrontation on the pitch and between the two sets of club officials as Hamshare was stretchered off the pitch with suspected ligament damage.

Two minutes later, Hogg was booked by Croydon referee Mr Rob Smith for a retaliation foul on Hafner.

These two challenges caused tension both on and off the pitch but Dover almost forced extra time when substitute Tommy Tyne cut in from the left, past talented young defender Richard Avery, but his shot sailed agonisingly wide of the far post.

And with nine minutes remaining, Humphrey's looping header was brilliantly tipped over by 39-year-old goalkeeper Hudson.

But Dartford booked their trip to Hartsdown Park on 12 November, pleasing manager Tony Burman, whose side received bad publicity following Saturday's 1-1 draw at Crabble.

Speaking in the post match press conference, the delighted Darts' boss said: "Yes, very pleased.  I think its been thoroughly deserved.  I know a lot's been said off the field about things but I thought it was a better game tonight and I think we deserved it."

Burman hailed Hafner's winning goal "a fantastic strike," and is pleased his side showed enough desire to book a place in the next round.

"It's nice when things go for you," said a smiling Burman.  "Especially after coming from behind twice.

"During my half-time team talk, we wondered what would happen if we went infront to see if they could come back at us and they did but we still defended resiliently."

But Burman did praise his opponents, adding: "Dover are a good side and I hope they go on and have a good season."

And the Dartford stalwart praised the club's vocal support, that have sung their throats sore over the last two games, and he added: "It was a good test simply because we went down twice and had to come back and win it.  

"I don't think we were defending all night.  Dover are a big side as well and they get the ball forward and into the box and you've got to match them."

Relishing their trip to Margate, Burman added: "We'll have a look at Margate, we'll just go and enjoy it like we've done in these two games against Dover."

Burman defended his two-goal hero, Hafner for the challenge that saw Hamshare stretchered off after 67 minutes.

"Well, we thought (the ball) was there to be won," he said.  "It's just so unfortunate.  I have to say I feel for these players that have been injured, and it's disappointing for anyone to see them get injured.  I'm really choked for Shane really."

And Hafner - whose now picked up two man of the match awards this season  - said in an EXCLUSIVE interview with
"A brilliant night - I loved it.

"A great atmosphere out there tonight, the fans were brilliant and it's a great win for us.

"We just need to keep on a good roll now and hopefully do well in the league."

Hafner, as you can imagine, cannot wait to play against another one of his former sides, Margate.

"I can't wait for that one as well," he said.  "It's nice to play against an old club and show them what they're missing.

"Dover are a massive club and they've got some great players down there.   It just shows that we're a great team as well and we can beat them.

"Everyone was up for it - all the lads and the fans.  The great atmosphere tonight made it enjoyable."

Looking ahead to Saturday's Southern League trip to Rothwell Town, the 22-year-old from Rainham added: "It's just as important.  Even more important and I can't wait for that one as well.

"We can get a result up there and carry on this success into the league."

Mr Jim Parmenter
Dover Athletic chairman, Mr Jim Parmenter has explained the reasons why all but one of their officials left the ground after the final whistle.

In a statement issued to on Wednesday 19th October, Mr Parmenter explained: "The Dover directors left the ground after the match because our party (including two ladies) was subjected to a stream of foul mouthed abuse from an individual who appeared to be a Dartford official and the decision was made to leave to avoid further confrontation."

Dartford: Kevin Hudson, Gary Carter, Tommy Osborne (Capt), Anthony Henry, Richard Avery, Steve Hafner, Ryan Briggs, Ryan Hayes (Brad Potter 83), Jim Carter, Eddie McClements, Dave Martin.  Subs: Craig Maguire, Dominic Elmes, Dan Westerman, Tom Olson

Dover Athletic: Darren Smith, Tony Browne, Dave Clifford, Dean Readings, Shane Hamshare (Tommy Tyne 67), Nick Humphrey, Anthony Hogg, Lee Spiller (Capt), Carl Rook, Michael Smissen (Walid Matata 62), James Rogers (Dale Skelton 77).  Subs: Kevin Lott, Paul Hyde (GK)

Attendance:  323
Referee:  Mr Rob Smith (Croydon)
Assistants: Mr Paul Andrews (Hoo) & Mr Simon Finnigan (Maidstone)