Dartford 0-2 Torquay United - How we haven't come away with something from the game is flabbergasting, it really is, says Dartford co-manager Jamie Coyle

Tuesday 04th December 2018
Dartford 0 – 2 Torquay United
Location Princes Park Stadium, Grassbanks, Darenth Road, Dartford, Kent DA1 1RT
Kickoff 04/12/2018 19:45

Vanarama National League South
Tuesday 4 December 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Princes Park Stadium

DARTFORD co-manager Jamie Coyle says his side have to be more ruthlessness in front of goal after being beaten by Torquay United.

Gary Johnson’s side leapfrogged over Welling United into top spot in the Vanarama National League South table as they bagged their victory courtesy of two goals inside the final 18 minutes.

Winger Ruairi Keating drilled in his fourth goal of the season before striker Jamie Reid notched his sixteenth goal of the season to move two points clear of Welling United and six points clear of Dartford, who have collected 30 points from 18 games and remain in sixth-place.

Welling United boss Steve King was in the stand watching as he takes his side to Plainmoor at the weekend.

“Mixed emotions to be honest with you.  I think the first half, we’ve just looked at the stats, we’ve had 14 really positive attempts on goal and I don’t think anyone would’ve been complaining if we’ve come in 3-0 up,” said Coyle, after his side suffered their first home league defeat since Wealdstone won 3-0 here on 18 August.

“Some of the football we’ve played and the patterns we’ve played in the first half were fantastic and there’s lots of positives to take away with regards to the amount of chances that we’ve created.  It’s unfortunately the story of our season that we’re a little bit toothless when it comes to putting it in the back of the net in the final third.”

Coyle revealed midfielder Elliot Bradbrook (work commitments) and striker Charlie Sheringham (injured) were unable to feature.

“We was aware of Elliot at the start of the season that there’s a few games that he couldn’t make this year and Charlie picked up a knock against Eastbourne so we’re struggling for selection today,” added Coyle.

A crowd of 917 – around 100 of them travelling fans – were treated to an entertaining, open first half, which Dartford created numerous chances.

Ben Greenhalgh’s flicked header released Kudus Oyenuga, who shrugged off centre-half Kyle Cameron but he drilled his shot across the face of goal from the corner of the six-yard box and his low shot flashed out for a throw-in inside the opening six minutes.

“Kudus today was a constant threat. I thought he played really well today and he was always off the shoulders stretching the opposition,” said Coyle.

“He created three or four golden opportunities for himself and unfortunately he couldn’t finish it but there’s lots of positives to take away from his performance today especially.”

Central midfielder Connor Lemonheigh-Evans drove at the Dartford defence before the ball was laid off to his partner Jake Andrews, who attempted to slot his shot into the bottom right-hand corner, but Dartford keeper Bailey Vose gathered the ball comfortably.

Dartford’s central midfielder Jordan Wynter put striker Oyenuga through the middle and his driven shot was blocked by Jean-Yves Koue Niate inside the box and the follow-up shot from debutant Dan Darbyshire was hit straight into the midriff of goalkeeper Alex Bass at his near post.

Torquay United went up the other end with Keating putting in a cross from the right, Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala setting up Lemonheigh-Evans, whose low shot was held by Vose, low to his left.

There was a spell of pinball inside the Torquay United box as Dartford created another opening in the 15th minute.

Jordan Wynter released left-winger Darbyshire, whose low shot was blocked inside the box and so was a shot from Andre Coker and the ball rolled out to Lee Noble, who drilled his left-footed shot over the crossbar from 22-yards.

Coyle was left cursing his luck as Dartford kept knocking on the door but Torquay’s outstanding defence held firm.

Coker was released down the left and his shot was sailing towards the top far corner but Torquay’s left-back Liam Davis acrobatically headed the ball off the line.  Oyenuga’s follow-up shot was blocked and Noble was denied by keeper Bass.

“I think in that moment right there I’m looking at Adam (Flanagan) and it summaries our season unfortunately.  We are needing a little bit more of a cutting edge in the oppositions 18-yard box and we need a little bit more luck and we haven’t had that so far this season,” admitted Coyle.

“There was another opportunity when we’ve hit the post and there’s one that’s going into the top corner and their defender got back and cleared it off the line.

“To play against a full-time side like Torquay today and do what we did I the first half and really, really create some golden opportunities is a positive!”

Noble released Darbyshire down the left and he played in the pacey Oyuenuga on the overlap but he lacked composure once inside the box and smashed his shot into the side netting.

Torquay United weathered the storm, however, and called Vose into making a fine save in the 26th minute, following their first of nine corners.

Lemonheigh-Evans swung in a deep corner from the left and inspirational captain Cameron rose at the far post to plant his downward header and Bose clawed the ball out by going to his left.

Coyle said:  “Bailey was brilliant today! I wasn’t really happy with the amount of free headers that their skipper was getting. He was strong. We saw him on Saturday (their 2-0 win over Dulwich Hamlet) and he’s a good player and he was very dominant in the air but Bailey was brilliant. He’s come off his line really well today and helped out for set-pieces and I thought he had a good game.”

Andrews swung in their second corner from the right and Keating found a pocket of space at the near post to loop his free header onto the roof of the net and behind for a Dartford goal-kick.

Darbyshire ran through the heart of the Torquay defence on the half-hour mark and flashed his right-footed shot inches past the foot of the right-hand post from 30-yards and Coyle was delighted with the debut from the 20-year-old former Queens Park Rangers attacker.

“I thought he had an outstanding debut, I really did,” he said.

“He left their full-back for dead three or four times in the first half and put some great balls in the box. 

“He had a great opportunity to come inside and he was unlucky just to miss the outside of the post but I thought he offered something different for us today. He had a lot of pace and directness in his play and he carries the ball really well so he’s a good acquisition.

“I think he’s got end product, which you need and he’s got that pace.  To have (Andre) Coker and Dan out in wide areas it’s something different than what we’ve got with regards to ball carriers and trickery and he also showed today that he’s got really good end product, which is great.

“We knew he was going to struggle a little bit, he hasn’t played 90 minutes for three or four weeks so we knew he was going to blow up a little bit but I thought he had an outstanding debut!”

Torquay United created an opening when Lumbombo-Kalala played the ball up to striker Saikou Janneh, who swept a diagonal pass out to winger Keating on the right. His deep cross was headed out by Tom Bonner and fell to Lumbombo-Kalal, who took a touch and steered his weak shot towards the bottom near corner, which Vose dropped to his knees to gather at his near post.

Lemonheigh-Evans swept a right-footed drive from 30-yards, which only just dipped over the Dartford crossbar.

Andrews played a ball into the Dartford box for striker Reid to turn and sweep a bouncing shot into Vose’s gloves for a routine gather, before the Dartford keeper was extended into making a diving save, diving to his left and tipping Keating’s angled drive from the right around his near post on the stroke of half-time.

“I think they knocked on the door a little bit in the first half, only really half-chances and I said we’re going in at half-time and we’re thinking how we’re not out of sight and that is the real positive to take away from tonight,” added Coyle.

“We’ve played against a very good side that I think is going to go on and win the league and the game could’ve been dead and buried by half-time and that’s brilliant for us because we’ve had to really work hard on the training pitch and look at a pattern and a style of play and the boys have really put that in place tonight.

“I think anyone watching that game in the first half you can leave here and be really excited for movements that we made going forward.”

But as a defender, Coyle revealed that he always felt Torquay United would go up the other end and score.

“It’s really easy as a defender and you’re defending and looking how many chances do we need before we score a goal?  You’re always thinking you’re going to get a sucker punch at the other end and unfortunately it happened.”

The second half wasn’t as open as the first but Torquay United enjoyed plenty of possession and kept the home side on the back foot for large periods of the half as the rain started to fall.

Dartford almost grabbed the lead inside the opening 10 minutes when Noble kept the ball on the deck to play a diagonal out to Greenhalgh on the right and he cut inside and bent his left-footed shot screaming just around the far post with the keeper scrambling across his goal.

“From here it looked inches wide,” agonised Coyle, the former Welling United manager.

“It was a great move and again it’s gone the wrong side of the post for us tonight.

“There were some very, very good individual performances tonight that you’ve got to congratulate the boys. On another day you walk away with a 0-0 if we defended the two goals that we conceded slightly better than we did.

“But if you look on reflection of the first half how we haven’t come away with something from the game is flabbergasting, it really is.

“But we’ve got to pick the boys up, which I don’t think we have to do because there was lots of positives today and we’ve got a big game on Saturday.”

There was a funny chant of “dirty Northern b*****ds” from the Torquay United fans after Bonner was booked for a challenge on Janneh right in front of the away dug-out – Dartford may be 218 miles away from Torquay United, but Northern? Buy yourselves a map!

Torquay United dominated the rest of the game as Dartford couldn’t get out and call Bass into making any further saves.

Lemonheigh-Evans free-kick was flicked on and Reid drilled his shot just past the foot of the near post.

Torquay United opened the scoring with 26 minutes and 20 seconds on the clock.

Cameron was given time and space to float a long ball into the Dartford box from the half-way line and Dartford left-back Daniel Johnson miss-judged the flight of the ball and missed his header. The ball landed at Keating’s feet and he took a touch before drilling a right-footed shot into the roof of the net from 12-yards, despite Dartford centre-half Ronnie Vint sliding in.

“It was DJ (Johnson) that challenged in the air, which left his man free and then he’s rifled it in at the near post,” said Coyle.

“It’s disappointing defending collectively between the two of them. We know that was a massive threat. We saw it on Saturday against Dulwich that’s why we played DJ left and Mark Onyemah at right-back because their wide boys are probably one of the best aerially in the squad.

“He (Keating) won a fair share against DJ. He was very good in the air today and we knew that was always going to be a danger for us with regards not the first ball, the second balls around the right midfielder and unfortunately it’s sucker punched us with the goal.”

When asked how he was feeling at the time, Coyle revealed: “Sums up our luck at the moment, unfortunately!  I think when you create so many opportunities and you’re not finishing and you’re not getting the goals that you think you deserve, you’re always thinking they’re going to go up the other end and they’re going to nick one and they did!

“Their quality showed, they didn’t have nowhere near the amount of chances than we did today but they were more ruthless in front of goal and that’s why they’ve walked away with the three points today.”

Reid was wasteful on the left-hand side when his weak shot from 25-yards brought a comfortable save from the Dartford keeper.

Torquay United went close just 52 seconds later when Janneh played the ball inside to an unmarked Andrews, who dragged his left-footed shot past the right-hand post from 25-yards.

Dartford co-managers Coyle and Adam Flanagan brought striker Jamie Philpot on for Darbyshire with 21 minutes remaining and right-winger Ryan Hayes for Oyenuga for the final nine minutes of the game but Dartford offered very little in an attacking sense during a one-sided second half.

Philpott allowed the ball to roll across his body before cracking a right-footed drive from 35-yards, which sailed harmlessly high and wide of the target.

Andrews hit a deep corner, which was retrieved by Cameron by the touchline on the other side of the pitch and his ball into the Dartford box saw Reid lay the ball off for Keating to drill his shot over the crossbar from 16-yards.

Torquay United produced a sweeping move when Lumbombo-Kalala and Keating linked up inside the box and Janneh put the ball on a plate for Reid but his right-footed shot from 18-yards was saved by Vose on his knees.

“I thought Bailey did really well, I thought his starting position was brilliant and he dealt with everything that was thrown at him and I don’t think he could’ve done much about the two goals,” added Coyle.

Torquay United sealed the victory with 42 minutes and 51 seconds on the clock.

Centre-half Koue Niate played the ball up to Reid, who turned and stroked his quality finish past the diving keeper, nestling into the bottom right-hand corner from 20-yards.

“That’s the difference, that is the difference,” admitted Coyle acknowleding Torquay United were more clinical in front of goal.

“I don’t think he had a chance all night and he’s got half-a-yard on Ronnie Vint and he’s put it in the bottom corner.

“Unfortunately that’s what we need. If we had a little bit more ruthlessness in front of the oppositions goal tonight, the game’s done at half-time and you congratulate the boys and then move on.

“For us to go and play against a team like Torquay and create 14 really good opportunities in the first half we can only build on that and we can only move forward and take the positives on it and work hard in training on Thursday.”

Torquay United are top of the pile tonight with 36 points from 19 games, while the play-off places are occupied by Welling United (34 points from 17); Woking (34 points from 17); Concord Rangers (33 points from 19); Billericay Town (32 points from 17); Dartford (30 points from 18) and Bath City (29 points from 17).

Fourteenth-placed Slough Town visit Princes Park on Saturday.

The Rebels were defeated by League One side Gillingham in The FA Cup Second Round on Sunday, courtesy of a long-range stunner from Darren Oldaker and they arrive at Princes Park with 24 points from 16 games.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” warned Coyle.

“I think they’re only down there because of the games in hand that they’ve got because of The FA Cup run that they’ve had, which has been brilliant for them and it’s going to be another really difficult game.

“They’re a big, well-organised team and we have to be defensively sound in terms of dealing with set-pieces against them and hopefully be a little bit more ruthless in the final third and put another decent performance on like we did tonight.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do, we’ve still got a lot of improving to do. We’re aware of that. We won’t sit on our laurels and think we’ve done really well tonight.

“We still need a little bit more quality into the squad and a little bit more in terms of competition for places, especially in the final third area and were actively searching at the moment to fill that void to add a little bit of competition for the boys.

“The minimum requirement that we ask from the players is that hard work and that desire and the effort and we’ve got that from every single player tonight. It’s just that little bit of cutting edge that let us down.”

Coyle revealed his targets for the months ahead.

“It’s a big time of year. If we can get to the other side of Christmas and still be in and around the top four or five then we’ve had a brilliant start in my opinion.

“With the changes that we’ve made and a new management team coming in, if we are there or there abouts after Christmas it’s a good half of the season and we’ll try our best to build on that and move forward.”

Dartford: Bailey Vose, Mark Onyemah, Daniel Johnson, Jordan Wynter, Ronnie Vint, Tom Bonner, Andre Coker, Lee Noble, Kudus Oyenuga (Ryan Hayes 81), Ben Greenhalgh, Dan Darbyshire (Jamie Philpot 69).
Subs: Taylor Fisher, Ryan Nicholls, Liam Gillies

Booked: Tom Bonner 58, Jordan Wynter 70, Kudus Oyenuga 79

Torquay United: Alex Bass, Ben Wynter (Jamie Sendles-White 90), Liam Davis, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, Jean-Yves Koue Niate, Kyle Cameron, Ruairi Keating, Jake Andrews (Asa Hall 87), Jamie Reid, Saikou Janneh, Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala (Ryan Dickson 87).
Subs: Brett Williams, Shaun MacDonald

Goals: Ruairi Keating 72, Jamie Reid 88

Booked: Liam Davis 27

Attendance: 917
Referee: Mr Steven Hughes (Brighton, East Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Jack Willmore (Clacton-on-Sea, Essex) & Mr Steven Scott (Balham, London SW12)