Dartford 2 Boreham Wood 2 - Burman: Who dares will win that play-off place (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)
Richard Avery 16
Ryan Hayes 38
BOREHAM WOOD 2
Leon Archer 20 (pen)
Chris Bangura 90
Stephen McCartney reports from Stonebridge Road
Southern League Division One East
Dartford manager Tony Burman insists it’s a case of “who dares wins” to see which side make that final play-off place.
Despite holding league leaders Boreham Wood - a side that have recently been knocked out by Woking in the semi-finals of the FA Trophy - to an entertaining draw, Dartford have dropped one place to eighth.
But they’re just three points from that coveted final play-off place, and Burman said there’s plenty to play for as they approach the finishing line.With Boreham Wood (81 points) and Enfield Town (76) inside the two promotion places, Corby Town (72), Stamford (66) and Barking & East Ham United (61) should qualify for the end of season lottery.
Eighth placed Dartford though are on 53 points as Wivenhoe Town (54) scored the only goal of their home game against struggling Sittingbourne to leap frog over them.
Wivenhoe entertain sixth placed Waltham Forest (56) on Good Friday and Burman is taking an interest on the outcome.
Burman’s side host local rivals Chatham Town next Saturday before ending their season against Enfield (away) two days later, Harlow Town (home) and a trip to Barton Rovers on the last day of the league campaign.
But Burman wants their season to continue into May. “I said last week the next two weeks is going to be big for every club.
“Whoever is going to have the attitude and the will to win and who dares wins and that’s going to happen next weekend.
“Lots of things are going to be decided, relegations, whose going to win the title, whose going to be in the play-offs.
“I just hope we’ve still given ourselves a chance to be in there. But I’m not going to look back. I want to look forward all the time.”
Dartford took 16 minutes to break the deadlock against a very good side.
Boreham Wood goalkeeper Noel Imber dropped Ryan Briggs’ corner and central defender Richard Avery was on hand to poke the ball inside the foot of the left post from four yards inside a crowded goalmouth.
Dartford goalkeeper Kevin Hudson made a string of fine saves during the game and deservedly clinched the sponsors’ man-of-the-match award.
Moments after Avery netted his third goal of the season, the experienced goalkeeper dived low to his right to tip Leon Archer’s 12-yard shot around the post.
But he couldn’t prevent Archer netting his 29th goal of the season in the 20th minute, scoring with a right-footed penalty after Darts skipper Tommy Osborne was booked for bringing down Ian Cooper.
Hudson made another fine save when he prevented Archer scoring his 30th after the striker burst through the home side’s defence.
Dartford took the lead after 38 minutes. It appeared Dartford’s star winger Dave Martin was fouled just inside the penalty area, following Osborne’s cross from the left.
But Kent referee Mr Gary Johnson awarded a free kick right on the 18-yard line but justice was done when Ryan Hayes’ drilled left-footed free kick found the net via a deflection off the wall.
The Hertfordshire side escaped again after 52 minutes when right-back Marvin Samuel bundled over Martin on the edge of the box.
This time Briggs’ free kick deflected off the wall and out for a corner and the former Erith & Belvedere midfielder’s flag-kick was met by an unmarked Brad Potter, who headed over from 12-yards.
Cooper’s rasping shot crashed off the crossbar after 74 minutes but was shown his second yellow card six minutes later by the referee.
Dartford - who escaped giving away a penalty when Ted Ansell clearly handled inside his penalty area with 13 minutes remaining - squandered two golden opportunities in quick succession as they went for the kill.
Martin’s pace caused Marvin problems, and after bursting past the defender and cutting into the box, his cross evaded Brendan Cass in the middle but Hayes, at the far post, couldn’t steer the ball home.
Then Hayes cut in from the right but his shot rolled agonisingly wide of the foot of the far post.
After Cooper was banished to the dressing room, Boreham Wood were incensed when Darrell Cox was booked for dissent whilst he warmed up in front of the stand as Hayes was preparing to take a corner.
The talented front line of Chris Bangura and Archer combined after 85 minutes but the latter didn’t have enough power on his header to beat Hudson from six-yards.
Dartford had three attackers to Wood’s three defenders when Cass played the ball to substitute Steve Hafner, whose rising shot was plucked from underneath his near post by Imber.
And when Hudson made a fine save from Bangura everyone thought the Kent side had enough to secure a vital victory.
But Bangura had other ideas and 95 seconds into stoppage time - their were almost 12 minutes added on - Bangura slammed home a dramatic leveller to the delight of the visiting chairman who shouted out “that’s why we’re champions”.
“Well’ we’ve got a point against a team at the top of the league,” said a proud Burman after the game.
“To be fair we’ve had to give it our all and try and win the game. I think we did that.
“The players have come off the pitch, they’ve shown a tremendous attitude, a will to win the game and a little over my dead body, and I’m delighted with them really.”
He added: “Disappointed that we’ve conceded the goal at the death but when you’re playing such a good side these things happen.
“But we’ve still got a point against the team at the top of the league.”
Before winning 2-0 at Ilford last weekend, Dartford collected just two points from 24 available, something that has dented the club’s promotion aspirations.
“We’ve still got every chance, we’re still in there,” insisted Burman. “As I say it’s who dares wins.
“People are in there now and the pressures on them to stay in there. Waltham Forest have got a game against Wivenhoe next Friday and again it’s who dares wins.
“But it’s there for the taking, I don’t think it’s going to finish now until the last day of the season.”
Burman did praise his goalkeeper Hudson, adding: “He kept us in it when he was needed.
“Our luck went completely I think in the poor run that we’ve had. I think we didn’t play that bad but the luck just wasn’t there and today possibly we should have got the third goal really to finish the game off but it didn’t happen.”
Dartford: Kevin Hudson, Tommy Olson, Tommy Osborne (Capt), Anthony Henry, Richard Avery, Ryan Hayes (Steve Hafner 83), Ryan Briggs, Ted Ansell, Brendan Cass, Brad Potter, Dave Martin.
Subs: Craig Maguire, Glenn Billenness, Gary Carter.
Boreham Wood: Noel Imber, Marvin Samuel, Ryan Moran, Tommy Williams, Mark Smith (Capt), Michael Black, Joe O’Brien, Ian Cooper, Chris Bangura (Elvis Balic 90), Leon Archer, Paul Burrows.
Subs: Jon Stevenson, Bradley Hewitt, Darrell Cox, Callum Horton.
Sent off: Ian Cooper 80
Referee: Mr Gary Johnson (Newington)
Assistants: Mr M Staveley (Folkestone) & Mr P Knight (Canterbury)