Dartford manager Tommy Sampson was full of praise for his young and inexperienced side following their exit from the Kent Senior Cup at the first hurdle at The Clive Christian Stadium in Hayes Lane.
Sampson said: “I’m not surprised my young players did us proud tonight, because they are all very good young players. Danny Mitchell who scored our two goals tonight, has just signed a year’s contract and I have real high hopes for him.”
Sampson was forced to field an even younger squad as Paul Sykes was stuck in traffic on his way to Bromley from Birmingham and Steve Marriner went down with a bout of ‘flu on the morning of the game.
Bromley’s third choice goalkeeper, Rob O’Hara continued in goal for the Darts for his second game for Sampson. He made his debut last Saturday as the Darts went down 1-0 to Dr Martens League Eastern Division leaders Tonbridge Angels.
The giant, six foot seven goalkeeper, a twenty-one fireman from Sydenham said: “I telephoned Bromley manager Stuart McIntyre about playing for Dartford against Bromley tonight, and it was worth coming back to Hayes Lane to play. We also discussed what is going on with my future at Bromley, and hopefully I will be part of it. I would like to see my future is at Bromley, but once again, whatever my future holds, we shall have to see.”
But O’Hara picked the ball out of his net after six minutes when Tony Reid drilled the ball low into the bottom far corner of the net to give the Ravens the lead.
Bromley, who had kept five consecutive clean sheets before the game, conceded a goal two minutes later. Craig Hales delivered a corner kick from the right and goalkeeper Andy Hunt, making his first start of the season, poorly punched the ball. Seventeen year old Danny Nicholls, who signed a year-contract at the Darts last week, responded and fired into the top right hand corner.
Dartford striker Tostao Kwashi looked lively throughout the contest and he set up Tommy Martin but his 20th minute shot flew over Bromley’s crossbar.
O’Hara dived to his left to push Dean Forbes’ clipped shot around the post three minutes later but the giant goalkeeper couldn’t keep out Leroy Huggins shot after 29 minutes as the former Gravesend & Northfleet striker scored his third goal for the Ravens flashing a shot into the right of the Dartford net.
Hales, who has a bright future in the game, crossed for Ted Ansell, but the header went over the crossbar.
Hunt came rushing off his line but didn’t collect the ball and Kwashi was able to set up Hales, and with only Forbes standing near the goal, he lifted his shot over the crossbar.
Three minutes into the second half, Gary Drewett’s twenty-five yard shot narrowly sailed over O’Hara’s crossbar before Danny Tingley and Nicholls, who was offside, were off target for Dartford.
But Sampson’s youngsters were given a lifeline after 62 minutes when Kwashi won a penalty off Bromley’s solid skipper Forbes.
Hunt read Nicholls’ spot kick, diving to his left to palm out the lifeline awarded by referee Ian Crouch.
The twenty-four year old goalkeeper, who owns his own car showroom, and lives in Fleet said: “I though I played pretty well and it has been a long time since I’ve played, so it was nice to get a game. I went the right way for the penalty. I was lucky as it wasn’t the best of penalties, so I was able to make the save.”
Nicholls put his penalty miss to the back of his mind and scored the equalising goal two minutes later, driving a shot past the diving Hunt finding the right corner of the net.
Dartford’s inexperienced showed and Bromley responded instantly scoring the winning goal after 65 minutes. Danny Smith’s right wing cross was headed by Dartford’s skipper, and their most experienced player, into his own net to the delight to the Bromley faithful in the 179 crowd.
Bromley took control of the remainder of the game and after 73 minutes, O’Hara’s long punt into the Bromley half was brought under control by Steve Potterill. The talented South African surged with the ball close to his feet towards goal, exchanged a pass with Huggins before his low shot from outside the penalty area was spilled by O’Hara.
Bromley’s Jason McKoy and Danny Smith went close before substitute Bobby George, who shares his name with a famous darts player, had two chances to score against the Darts.
After taking the ball past O’Hara his low shot was cleared off the line by Chris Tedder, who was making only his second appearance for Sampson’s side.
After Hunt made a brilliant double save at a crucial time from Ansell and Nicholls, George could have hit the bullseye but his low shot rolled wide of the right upright.
Bromley’s calm seventeen-year-old central defender, John Butler was given his first start of the season by manager Stuart McIntyre, was pleased to be given his opportunity to shine in the Kent Senior Cup win.
Butler, who also plays for the club’s youth team, said: “It was great to get a game under my belt, and I thought I did all right. I lacked a little bit of match practise but that will come in time. I got more confident as the game went on. Hopefully I can get a few more games under my belt this season.”
After winning their last six league and cup games, Bromley host Ryman League Premier Division side Thurrock, in the FA Cup third qualifying round at The Clive Christian Stadium on Saturday (11 October, 3.00pm).
Meanwhile, Dartford, who lost 3-0 at Bromley in the last round of the FA Cup, should welcome back first choice goalkeeper Jimmy Simpson for the visit of Corby Town in the Dr Martens League Eastern Division at Stonebridge Road.
Bromley: Andy Hunt, Steve Potterill, Mark Willy, John Butler (Michael Harney 72), Colin Luckett, Dean Forbes (Capt), Gary Drewett, Danny Smith, Tony Reid (Bobby George 82), Adolph Amoako (Jason McKoy 50), Leroy Huggins. Subs: Danny Harwood, David Smith
Dartford: Rob O’Hara, Danny Tingley, Tommy Osborne, Lee Mitchell (Jordan Assender HT), Craig Hales, Steve Robinson (Capt), Chris Tedder, Tommy Martin, Tostao Kwashi, Danny Nicholls, Ted Ansell. Subs: Steve Sharp, Paul Hewitt, Craig Thomson, Matt Longhurst
Referee: Ian Crouch Assistants: Mr S Roots and Mr I Fissenden