Thursday 01st September 2005

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Saturday 29th
January 2005
Southern League
Division One East
Mike Green reports from Stonebridge Road
Dartford 2 Heale 56
Kwashi 65
Wivenhoe Town 1 Wignall 90

Kwashi dedicates goal to former Darts boss

The smile on Tony Burman’s face as he headed down the Stonebridge Road “tunnel” at just after quarter to five told its own story. 

After admitting beforehand on the clubs website that their position “for whatever reason was appalling”, and asking the fans to back the team vocally, Burman (starting his third term as Darts boss) had reason to smile. 

The players had responded by beating one of the form teams of the Division – seven days prior Wivenhoe had lost 1-3 at leaders Uxbridge, but before then had lost once in 15. 

And the supporters responded too with the Divisions 5th highest attendance of the season – incidentally the top four had also been at Stonebridge Road. 

“I’m not going to make any predictions” said the smiling Burman afterwards, “Considering I only met the players once before today I don’t think we did too bad.  We had them in early today for a chat… and it seemed to work!”  Master of the understatement is Mr Burman!

Seriously though whichever way you look at this contest the Darts fully deserved the three points that took them out of the bottom three and gave them an important five point cushion between themselves and the relegation trap door! 

After a dire opening quarter hour, Tostao Kwashi and Steve Haffner set up the games opening chance on 17 minutes – combining down the right and making room for the Zimbabwean to get a shot in which was deflected inches past the left post. 

The visitors really struggled to get into any sort of rhythm but should have taken the lead on 29 minutes.  A quick throw into the Dartford box was knocked down for Liam Coleman to drill the ball across the face of goal.  The ball only needed a touch at the final post by Stafford Browne but inexplicably the top scorer just watch the ball whistle wide. 

They were so nearly made to pay for that miss, and again it was the irrepressable Kwashi at the heart of the move.  The jinxing winger somehow got through down the left to create room for the cross.  When he did so, the tireless Jim Carter threw himself at the ball only for his header to fly agonisingly wide!

The half ended with a rash of bookings despite there not really being a bad tackle in the opening 45 minutes. 

Whatever Burman said to the Darts at the break seemed to recharge their engines as the home side came flying out of the blocks.  With Carter working tirelessly, his young partner Danny Heale, came oh so close to opening the scoring on 50 minutes when a delightful chip from some distance just wouldn’t drop quickly enough. 

Not to be denied though the young striker broke the deadlock moments later with a  stunning strike.  Darren Thompson hit a sweet cross-field pass, which found Heale in the inside right channel.  The striker advanced to the edge of the box before stepping inside a defender and coolly curling the ball into the bottom corner of the net past a motionless Ollie Sanders in the Wivenhoe goal. 

That was on 56 minutes and the visitors were left cursing five minutes later as Sean Caton thought he’d equalised!  Caton was given far too much room as he advanced on goal, and obviously thought “Why not?”  His effort beat Kevin Hudson comfortably only to smack back off of the bar. 

If that wasn’t bad enough, with the goal at his mercy Browne headed the rebound high over the bar.

A let off for the Darts and didn’t they make their visitors pay just four minutes later.

Hudson launched a long kick down field where Tommy Martin flicked it on into Kwashi’s path.  The winger advanced some 10 yards before crashing the ball into the roof of the net for his 16th goal of the season from 20 yards – poor Sanders in goal didn’t know quite what hit him!

The Darts were now totally in control and should have wrapped up the points.  Heale was denied his second by the keepers right boot when clean through whilst Mark Horan twice went close – the first time a stinging drive that missed the post by inches, and the second forced Sanders into a terrific full length save.

Not even a late scrambled effort from Jack Wignall could take the gloss off of Burman's return to the hot seat as the Darts sealed the points and moved up the table away from the trap door that is relegation to the Kent League.

A beaming Kwashi said afterwards “The new gaffer (Burman) is a great man, and so was the old gaffer.  I’d like though to dedicate my goal to Tommy (Sampson) and for everything he’s done for me at the club.  Of course we can get out of this position with the help of our great fans.” 

And with that he was gone – not that the Darts will be without one hell of a fight!!!

DARTFORD;                  Hudson;  Osbourne, Penfold, Avery; Haffner, Horan, Martin. Thompson;  Kwashi;  Heale, Carter (Fidyk)

WIVENHOE TOWN;          Sanders;  Bethell (Taylor); Townroe;  Caton (Phelan);  Wignall; Stace; Coleman; Abrahams; Turner; Browne; Brothers