Thursday 01st September 2005

Dartford relish Dover game following impressive home win

Tuesday 11th
October 2005
Southern League
Division One East
Stephen McCartney reports from 
Stonebridge Road
Dartford 3 Ian Pulman 11
Dave Martin 72 (pen)
Richard Avery 88
Ilford 1 Declan Perkins 83

Dartford coach Steve Robinson is relishing Saturday's Kent derby at Dover Athletic in their FA Trophy First Qualifying Round showdown, writes Stephen McCartney.

After collecting 13 points from their first five Southern League Division One East games, the Darts went on a barren run losing their next five competitive games but have since gone three games unbeaten going into their game at The Crabble.

A 1-1 draw with Berkhamsted Town at Stonebridge Road was followed by a 4-1 win at Potters Bar Town on Saturday, and Ilford were lucky to escape a thrashing tonight.

Although pleased with a 3-1 win over their Essex opponents - the simple truth was the Darts should have won by a lot more.

Robinson will relay their performance to manager Tony Burman who missed the game due to family commitments.

It took the Darts only eleven minutes to take a deserved lead through former Margate and Erith & Belvedere striker, Ian Pulman.

Steve Hafner raced past the full-back to centre the ball for the blonde haired striker, who rifled a shot high into the net from six yards.

And at the other end, Darts goalkeeper, Kevin Hudson was alert to tip over Carl Allison's right-footed free kick from 25 yards before the Kent side stole the show - delighting the 235 crowd.

Pulman, however, squandered a great chance after 25 minutes - latching onto some slack defending before rounding the goalkeeper but good defending on the near post prevented him adding to his two goals this season.

Then shots from Eddie McClements, Pulman and Hafner reigned in on Richard Wray's goal but he was relieved to see them miss the target.

He was, however, beaten in the 36th minute, but Pulman's strike was ruled out for a foul on the goalkeeper after the man-of-the-match latched onto a Richard Simpson header, which was aimed at his goalkeeper.

More chances fell Dartford's way just before the break with Richard Avery and winger Dave Martin trying their luck.

Pulman almost doubled Dartford's lead within 32 seconds of the re-start but having unleashed a 30-yard drive the diving goalkeeper saw that one go wide.

Ilford, however, twice went close in the space of two minutes with Chris Barry's 40-yard effort sailing harmlessly over and Declan Perkins' shot flashing wide.

Dartford substitute Ryan Briggs was on the end of a crude high two footed challenge from Elliott Styles on the touchline, and after players rushed in to vent their disapproval regarding the challenge, Kent referee Ian Cooper issued the deserved punishment - a straight red card.

Robinson revealed after the game that the midfielder: "has got a few stud marks across his leg."

Martin, however, scored his first goal of the season from the penalty spot after 72 minutes - rifling the spot kick high into the net - after Hafner was sent flying by Ilford substitute Aaron Scott.

But the inspired Pulman twice shot wide and McClements' 30-yarder was acrobatically tipped over by Wray before Ilford stunned the home side with seven minutes to go when Perkins - at the near post - glanced his header into the net following a corner.

But central defender Avery also scored his first goal of the season with two minutes remaining with a rasping shot into the corner of the net following Ryan Hayes' corner.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with Robinson was pleased the Darts put on a good show.

"A tremendous win," he said.  "In terms of overall performance couldn't have asked for any more.

"We knew it would be a physical game tonight, Ilford are a tough side with lots of experienced players.

"So we knew it would be a tough, physical battle but credit to the players, they out battled them early on.

"We let our football do the talking and to be fair, although it was 3-1, the number of chances we created it could have been far more than that."

Robinson was full of praise for striker Ian Pulman for his impressive display up front.

"Ian's been getting stronger and stronger with each game that he's played," he said.

"At times he's struggled with his fitness a little bit but he was a handful throughout the evening.

"Whilst he got one goal, he had a number of close chances and he could have had more than that.

"The pleasing thing is we're creating a lot of chances, which, okay, we're not always converting them.

"One day someone will come along and we will severely give them a good test and hopefully get a hatful," he warned.

"But no complaints about tonight," he added.  "I though we were superb.  The chances that we did take were good and that gives us 20 points from 12 games, which is a nice way to go into a nice cup game at Dover on Saturday."

With over 1,000 fans expected at The Crabble on Saturday, Robinson admitted his side don't fear Clive Walker's men, who have only lost two competitive games this season.

"I am looking forward to it," he admitted.  "We have a lot of young lads that haven't experienced a big game atmosphere.

"With over 1,000 people there it will be a nice occasion for everybody, especially the younger players and if we play like we have done over the last couple of games, then whose to say we can't go down there and get a result?"

In what will be the Darts' players biggest crowd they've played in front of this season, Robinson doesn't envisage a problem.

"The crowd might be big but when you get into a game you tend to switch off and concentrate on what you're doing," he said.

"I don't think the crowd will make too much of a difference. 

"I am hopeful we do make a good account of ourselves.  There is no reason why we can't go down there and have a great challenge with them."

Dartford: Kevin Hudson, Gary Carter, Tommy Osborne (Capt), Anthony Henry, Richard Avery, Steve Hafner, Kevin Spriggs (Ryan Briggs 48), Ian Pulman, James Carter, Eddie McClements, Dave Martin (Ryan Hayes 85).  Subs: Brad Potter, Tom Olson, Steve Robinson

Ilford: Richard Wray, Richard Simpson (Aaron Scott 68), Elliot Styles, Ray Taylor, Chris Perkins (Capt), Dave Reilly, Carl Allison, Paul Clayton, Declan Perkins, Kevin Riley (Dominic Harkins 80), Chris Barry (Liam Francis 75).  Subs: Kevin Neville, Chris Tedder (GK)

Attendance: 235
Referee: Mr Ian Cooper (Hoo)
Assistants: Mr Darren Blundell & Mr P Wright