Dartford 1-0 Ebbsfleet United - Dartford can do well in this competition, says coach Jason Long

Monday 20th October 2014

The FA Youth Cup Third Qualifying Round
Monday 20th October 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Princes Park Stadium

DARTFORD Academy coach Jason Long says the club can do well in The FA Youth Cup again after knocking out local rivals Ebbsfleet United to reach the First Round.

The Darts reached the Third Round last season going down to a brave 4-0 defeat at Premier League giants Chelsea in Aldershot last December and sealed a deserved victory over their local rivals thanks to central defender Charlie Phillips, 18, netting the winner with thirteen minutes remaining.

The Vanarama Conference club will host the winner of Thamesmead Town or Herne Bay, who meet at Bayliss Avenue on Thursday night, in the First Round.

The Darts have already defeated Tonbridge Angels (3-0); Margate (4-1) and Hastings United (3-2) to get this far, while Ebbsfleet United eased past Folkestone Invicta (4-0) and Dulwich Hamlet (3-1).

A crowd of 272 turned out at Princes Park to see these two old rivals come face-to-face in youth team football’s most prestigious Cup competition.

“Going into the game we always knew it was going to be a very challenging match,” said Long, who runs the Academy alongside first team manager Tony Burman and Deren Ibrahim.

“We’ve just played them in the league a couple of weeks ago and unfortunately we lost 3-0.  I don’t think that reflected on the performance that we put in.

“There’s 46 boys that are in our squad at Dartford. We’ve got a lot of ability, a lot of technical ability and a lot of hunger to do well, especially from last year which myself and Deren (Ibrahim) was able to get the boys to the Third Round of The FA Youth Cup.

“It means loads to the club. It means a lot to us as coaches as well, the management team and all of the players. It’s an important competition to us now. We do take it seriously.

“We’re very fortunate we can pick from 46 boys, which is a difficult position to be in at times but the boys character, their attitude, the way they conduct themselves is absolutely top drawer and I think that’s what’s brought them through today, that hard work and that desire to keep rolling their sleeves up and not to back down and that’s what got them there.”

Ebbsfleet United’s Academy manager Daryl McMahon said he was proud of his boys, especially as seven of his starting eleven were aged just sixteen.

“It was a good game, a local derby and I’ve just said to my boys’ in there that I’m every so proud of them,” said the first team midfielder, 31.

“Everyone of my team bar one player can play again next year. My team is an under 17 team.

“I’m really proud of them tonight, playing against an older age group, a good side Dartford, physical. It was a good game of football.

“I think it was good. I thought it was a good learning experience for both teams to have that derby, that little edge, that little spice. It makes the game more interesting.

“It’s a good learning experience for all of them.”

Vanarama Conference South club Ebbsfleet United created the first chance on the night when Caleb Bearman-Dyce whipped in a cross from the left and striker Casey Johnson looped his header into Robin Woodard’s gloves from 12-yards.

Dartford’s first chance also came from a header within a couple of minutes.

Impressive striker Justin Nwogu whipped in a free-kick from 20-yards and Lucas Boye directed his downward header past the post from six-yards.

Wide-player Boye played a delightful pass to release fellow attacker Tom Elliott through on goal but his right-footed drive from 20-yards was saved by Rhys Hughes, low to his right.

Dartford went close when winger Dajon Golding cut the ball back to Nwogu and Elliott’s flicked pass found skipper Josh Moore, whose left-footed drive sailed wide.

But Ebbsfleet United really should have opened the scoring inside sixteen minutes.

Striker Jeffrey Nguede fed Shilow Tracey, who ran 30-yards to reach the by-line.  Team-mate Casey Johnson took over and cut the ball back for Nguede to lash his first time right-footed drive over the bar from fifteen-yards.

McMahon briefly added: “Probably the best chance of the first half. Jeffrey has been scoring a lot of goals.”

Ebbsfleet skipper Leo Mazzone then released Tracey, whose shot was blocked and the ball fell to Bearman-Dyce, who sliced his shot wide of the far post from 12-yards with the Dartford keeper out of position.

Ebbsfleet left-back Karn Miller-Neave – who scored on his first team debut against Hythe Town in The FA Cup – played a short corner to Tracey before hitting a left-footed angled drive from 25-yards, which was caught by Woodard at his near post.

Dartford’s lone striker Nwogu caught the eye with an impressive first half performance and he went close to scoring in the 24th minute.

A poor header back by Ebbsfleet defender Joe Denny was pounced on by the Dartford striker who chipped the ball over the advancing Hughes, which dropped agonisingly wide of the near post.

The 18-year-old has a bright future, according to Long.

“Justin is a lad that we look at and he’s one of our most talented. He’s very, very powerful, very quick. He’s a bit raw in some of his aspects in his play. He’s very strong.  He’s able to hold the ball up and then turn with a quick change of pace and loves to get in behind players and creates a lot of chances.

“The kid starts firing, he’s going to be unstoppable when he scores a few goals. Once he gets that consistency, he’s going to be a great asset for this club.”

Moore intercepted Johnson pass before unleashing a dipping right-footed drive from 25-yards, which only just cleared the Ebbsfleet crossbar.

Mazzone cracked a speculative right-footed drive from 35-yards, which was gathered by the Dartford keeper to his right.

But Ebbsfleet keeper Hughes made a fine block to deny Dartford taking a 32nd minute lead.

Nwogu played a one-two with Golding before bursting forward at pace to reach the right by-line before whipping in an excellent cross towards the far post where Elliott’s right-footed volley was brilliantly blocked by Hughes to his right.

Long said: “The guys been brilliant. This guy’s taken a big responsibility this year. He’s been moved around a few different positions. He takes on rolls and responsibilities and very seriously. He’s one of the oldest in the team as well so he’s got a bit of responsibility to lead the boys and leads by example and the kid does it well and very unlucky not to get his goal.”

McMahon revealed: “Rhys is a very good goalkeeper and he’s been training with the first team. He’s sixteen-years-old. I think he’s got a very, very good chance.”

Ebbsfleet winger Bearman-Dyce cut in from the right and flashed his left-footed angled drive past the near post from 30-yards.

But the crossbar saved Ebbsfleet inside the final four minutes of the first half.

Woodard launched a huge kick straight down the middle and Elliott helped the ball on to release Nwogu, who drilled a right-footed half-volley over Hughes which skimmed the crossbar on its way out for a goal-kick.

Dartford had appeals turned away for a penalty when Charley Stewart fouled Nwogu on the very edge of the penalty down the right-hand side and Nwogu drove the resulting free-kick low towards the near post where Phillips stabbed his shot just wide.

When asked what they told their boys during the half-time interval, Long said: “We knew what we had to do from the start of the game. We knew it was going to be a big battle. We knew that we had to be prepared to win the battle first before we could get the ball down and play.

“We’re a technical team. We do like to play. We do try to encourage our boys to play in the right areas, which is the attacking third of the pitch with our two wide players Dajon (Golding) and Lucas (Boye).

“We went in (to half-time) with a very positive approach. There wasn’t much negative to say at all. Just continue what you’re doing. I was really happy with the way the boys conducted themselves.”

McMahon added: “Just to believe a little bit more. I don’t think we were imposing ourselves on the game in the first half compared to what we have been doing.

“Sometimes it is difficult because we are a young team. I think sometimes you do find that when the other teams physically bigger than us, sometimes you can – I don’t want to use the world intimidate – but even that age on the pitch when someone’s eighteen and someone’s sixteen, it can be different but second half they came out and there wasn’t a real difference in the age groups really.”

The second half became a tighter affair as both defences started to dominate proceedings.

Ebbsfleet United created the first chance of the half just before the hour following a corner.

Mazzone cut the ball back, Tracey dummied the ball on the corner of the penalty area and Mitchell Liddle unleashed a low right-footed drive from 22-yards, which deflected wide.

Mazzone swung in the resulting corner towards the far post which was headed back across goal by Liddle and Nguede’s looping header was nodded off the line by Boye.

Dartford’s first chance of the second half arrived at the halfway mark.

Moore whipped in a corner from the left-channel and Sam Parrish rose to plant a header over the bar via a deflection.

Hughes made his second fine save on the night with 20 minutes left.

Golding swept the ball out wide to Boye, whose pace took him past Ebbsfleet right-back Oliver Boulding before cutting the ball back for the unmarked Golding, who was denied a certain goal by a fine block from the advancing Hughes.

“Dajon’s new to this programme and he’s had a fantastic start,” said Long.

“He’s one of our first years, a very intelligent guy, sometimes got a little too much to say but you saw tonight he wanted to listen, he wanted to do the right things. This kid’s got a great prospect at the club.”

Dartford substitute Richard Seixas whipped in a corner from the right which Hughes failed to catch and Phillips glanced his header wide of an open goal.

But Phillips soon recovered from that miss by scoring the winner.

Seixas’ initial corner from the right was cleared back to him and he floated a deep cross towards the far post. 

Moore cushioned the ball to Jones and the left-back drilled in a low pass across the face of the penalty area and Phillips kept his composure to steer his shot high to Hughes’ left and into the back of the net from eight-yards.

Long said: “I think he owed us one because he missed one not so long before that so I’m very happy for the lad. He’s put in a great shift and it’s nice to see your centre halves come up for a set-piece and getting on the end of things.

“First team gaffer Tony (Burman) wants to see players die in the box and want to get the goal especially centre halves going up there.

“He’s a big, powerful lad, you expect them to be getting on the end of things and the kid’s done well. He’s gambled on it, he’s wanted to get into that area and it’s good for him. He had a great game. He got a lot of the ball, his range of passing has been good so really happy.”

The members of the bench certainly enjoyed celebrating the winner!

Long added: “It’s exciting for the boys. They boys deserve it. It’s not just about the one player, whoever gets the goal. It’s the whole squad. You can see how much it means to every single lad. They all want to run on, probably not meant to, of course, the excitement, I can understand.

“They want to do well in this competition. They understand that this club can do well in this competition. It’s an exciting moment for them.”

McMahon added: “Second phase defending from set-plays is difficult to do, especially when you’re young, even when you see it at first-team level, Premiership level where you lose your marker on a set-play. It happens. It happens at every level of football.

“It was a tight game all the way through. You could see the reaction from their bench when they actually scored. That’s how tight the game was.”

The Fleet faced a mountain to climb in the 80th minute when they lost central midfielder Liddle to a straight red-card for fouling Seixas and then allegedly using foul and abusive language to the Dartford substitute.

When asked about the red-card, both managers weren’t aware of Liddle using alleged bad language, which was confirmed in the players’ tunnel after the game.

“I didn’t know he was sent-off for swearing, it’s the first time I head of it,” admitted McMahon.

“I thought it was for the tackle to be honest. I’ll speak to the referee about it.”

Long added: “I didn’t hear him swear but if the kids done that obviously it’s something that he’s got to learn and deal with.

“The laws of the game, you can’t do that! It’s a shame that they were reduced to ten-men because it’s a fantastic derby between Ebbsfleet and Dartford and it will always continue to be that.

“It’s a shame that he had to go that way but as players’ developing they can’t do that in a game unfortunately.”

Dartford had further chances to put daylight between the two sides.

Boye hurled a long throw into the Ebbsfleet box where Golding swivelled and swept his right-footed shot on the turn past the right-hand post.

Ebbsfleet United substitute Marshall Taderara was in despair when his effort looped up against the post with five minutes left.

Miller-Neave swung in a corner from the right towards the far post where Taderara hooked his shot, which looped off a defender and clipped the left-hand post and was cleared.

“It’s close. It’s unlucky,” said McMahon, who is assisted by Steve Watt, a central defender who plays for Ryman Premier League leaders Maidstone United.

“I think we deserved to take it to extra-time. We were that determined and we showed that aggression to try to get a goal.  I’m proud of them, very proud of them.”

Long admitted: “Bodies on the line. You have to die sometimes in the box. We have got away with it. Again, sometimes you ride your luck.  I think it would have been unjust if we was to walk away from the game losing the game. I think we were the better team on the night tonight overall.

“Going forward we did create a lot more chances. We’ve got to learn to be a lot more clinical ourselves but overall I’m really, really happy with the performance and making the first round of The FA Youth Cup for the second year running.”

Boulding whipped in a cross towards the far post but Tracey headed down and the Dartford keeper made a comfortable save.

The Darts twice went close as the game headed towards its conclusion. 

Seixas cracked a right-footed angled drive from just inside the box, which was beaten away by Hughes at his near post, who was then relieved when Seixas drilled his left-footed shot against the crossbar.

Looking ahead of the next round, Long said: “We’ll have to get ourselves down (Thamesmead) for that one (against Herne Bay) and have another look then.  Again, it’s exciting. You can’t read too much into any fixture. Everyone’s excited to play in The FA Youth Cup and everyone raises the bar whoever you’re playing.

“We’ll go into that game with the same approach. We’ll work hard, continue to press teams, try to be as creative and clinical as we can and keep continuing the journey in this competition. I’m sure we can reach the Second Round again. 

“The boys are going to be excited who they’re playing against. If the boys show the same desire and determination they did tonight, they stand a great chance of making it.”

Reflecting on the large crowd of 272, Long added: “It’s fantastic. You could see it means a lot to the club. It’s nice to turn around to see how many people are here to cheer on the boys.  We want to see that local support coming to see how they’re getting on. Being in front of these big crowds is going to be more experience in their locker.”

McMahon, whose young side were watched by first team manager Steve Brown and his assistant Steve Gritt in the directors box, added: “We got knocked out but it’s a good learning experience for us, for my team and I think my team can come back next year and be bigger and stronger for it.”             

Dartford: Robin Woodard, Akeeb Adeyeme (Dilan Yucetan 65), Alex Jones, Charlie Phillips, Emmanuel Qudinoo, Sam Parrish, Dajon Golding, Josh Moore, Justin Nwogu, Tom Elliott (Richard Seixas 74), Lucas Boye (Regan Payne 87).
Subs: Eli Graham, Ben Francis

Goal: Charlie Phillips 77

Booked:  Charlie Phillips 57, Josh Moore 84

Ebbsfleet United: Rhys Hughes, Oliver Boulding, Karn Miller-Neave, Mitchell Liddle, Joe Denny, Charley Stewart, Caleb Bearman-Dyce (Marshall Taderara 71), Leo Mazzone, Jeffrey Nguede (Louie Allen 83), Shilow Tracey, Casey Johnson.
Subs: Jack Barnes, Nathan Gaimster, Andre Trenton

Booked: Charley Stewart 45, Jeffrey Nguede 83, Karn Miller-Neave 90

Sent Off: Mitchell Liddle 80

Attendance: 272
Referee: Mr Peter Cruise (Rochester)
Assistants: Mr Jamie Eacott (Walderslade) & Mr James Paternoster (Bexley)