Greenwich Borough 1-2 Dartford - To get to the final for the first time in a few years is a nice feeling, says Dartford boss Tony Burman

Tuesday 08th March 2016
Greenwich Borough 1 – 2 Dartford
Location Princes Park Stadium, Grassbanks, Darenth Road, Dartford, Kent DA1 1RT
Kickoff 08/03/2016 19:45

Kent Reliance Senior Cup Semi-Final
Tuesday 8th March 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Princes Park Stadium

DARTFORD manager Tony Burman says it’s a nice feeling to reach the Kent Reliance Senior Cup Final for the first time in five years.

The Darts went into this Semi-Final sitting in sixth-place in the Vanarama National League South table, having collected 47 points from 31 games and are three points adrift of Truro City, who occupy the final play-off berth.

Dartford, who used the away dressing room and wore their all-blue away strip tonight, had defeated Welling United (3-1), Gillingham (2-1) and Herne Bay (3-0) to reach the Semi-Finals and will be looking to win their 11th Kent Senior Cup title when they play Ebbsfleet United or Charlton Athletic (who play each other at Stonebridge Road next Tuesday) in the Final.

Greenwich Borough were playing in the competition for the first time this season after winning the Kent Senior Trophy last term and needed penalties to knock out Folkestone Invicta and Tonbridge Angels to reach this stage.

Hosts Greenwich Borough are sitting at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League table on 63 points from 28 games following their 7-0 home win over basement side Holmesdale at the weekend, one point clear of Hollands & Blair.

Greenwich Borough were the better side during an impressive first half but Dartford grabbed the lead against the run of play on the half-hour mark through central defender Ronnie Vint’s first goal of the season.

Unconvincing Dartford booked their place in the Final through George Sykes’ header late on, before Michael Power came off the bench to score his 20th goal of the season at the death to pull a goal back for Greenwich Borough.

Burman, who cast a frustrated man in his technical area during the game said: “I enjoyed it but it’s things that are upsetting me at the moment. 

“It’s just like we’re winning 2-0 and we’ve given a goal away. It’s not right, it shouldn’t be happening! We should keep a clean sheet, keep doing the things that we’re good (at doing). We’re good enough. It’s just little things that are making me a little bit niggly at the moment.

“We’ve won the game so it’s nice to win after Saturday’s performance. Saturday’s performance was alright but we didn’t win and it’s just nice to win the game and then move on.  I’m pleased that we’ve done it. It’s a Semi-Final and we’ve got into a final and it’s something to look forward to.”

Greenwich Borough are managed by former Millwall ace Gary Alexander, 36 and he reflected on the club’s first ever Kent Senior Cup defeat.

He said: “No one likes to lose a game of football but we’ve got priorities, we’ve got a league to win.  We’ve got ourselves in a great position in that.

“You can see by the side I put out, I made six changes but you want to win every game. We haven’t won that and the lads are disappointed that they’ve lost out on a Cup Final but fair play to Dartford.

“We had a few opportunities, I said to the boys at half-time a little bit more quality, a little through ball, hitting the target, little things like that, that’s the difference between winning and losing games.

“If we could’ve got our noses in front it could’ve been different but second half didn’t live up to anything.  Me and John (Mackie) just stood on the sideline, I don’t think there was a shot for either team until towards the end. It was a 0-0 second half really, a bore, that’s credit to Dartford, they’ve won 2-1 and good luck to them in the final.”

Greenwich Borough made six changes from their side that thrashed relegation-threatened Holmesdale at the weekend, while Dartford made four changes to the side that lost 2-1 at Weston-super-Mare.

Dartford created the first chance of the game after only 33 seconds.

Becka-Kah Dembele played the ball inside to Sykes, who cut the ball back to skipper Elliot Bradbrook, who drilled his left-footed shot over the bar from 25-yards.

Tom Youngs linked up with right-back Nathan Paul down the right but his cross-come-shot was comfortably collected by Dartford keeper Deren Ibrahim.

But Greenwich Borough squandered an excellent chance to stun the Dartford fans in the crowd of 327 inside Princes Park.

Peter Sweeney swung in a corner from the right towards the far post but central defender Danny Young rose with Ibrahim to plant his header just over the crossbar from four-yards.

“We work on set-pieces. It’s good that we get on the end of them,” said Alexander, who is currently out injured.

“You’re not going to score all the time from set-pieces, but it’s a great delivery, a good run from Youngie, it’s one of those things.”

Greenwich Borough were really enjoying playing their landlords and were the better team against a Dartford team that play three leagues higher.

Hassan Jalloh sprinted down the left touchline with the ball before playing the ball inside to Youngs, who played the ball into Mohamed Eisa, who stroked his right-footed shot bouncing into Ibrahim’s hands from 25-yards.

The impressive Jake Britnell then won the ball in the middle of the park and released Youngs through on goal but the former Bolton Wanderers and Erith Town winger’s right-footed shot from inside the box deflected narrowly over the crossbar.

Sweeney, who played for Dartford before his move to Greenwich Borough, went close with his left-footed dipping free-kick from 26-yards, which only just cleared the top of the right-hand post.

Inevitably, Dartford opened the scoring – against the run of play – with 29 minutes and 44 seconds on the clock.

Greenwich Borough’s central defender Scott Kinch was booked for his heavy challenge on Sykes and ultimately paid the price.

Barry Cogan chipped in the free-kick into the penalty area from 35-yards out, Sweeney’s poor headed clearance was sliced across the penalty area and landed at the feet of unmarked Vint, who stroked his first-time left-footed shot across the diving Craig Holloway to find the bottom far corner from 12-yards.

When asked whether he felt the goal was against the run of play at the time, Burman replied: “No! I think we’re happy with what we’ve done. We scored a goal and it was nice to score a goal from a free-kick.”

Alexander admitted: “It’s poor from us! We don’t need to give the foul away in that area of the pitch – we did – it’s poor!

“I’ve got enough senior players in the dressing room to pick up and you don’t leave someone who’s six foot three at the back stick alone. Somebody’s got to take responsibility and we didn’t.

“We’ll learn from that and we’ll move on. It’s done.”

Dartford edged themselves back into the game as the goal knocked the stuffing out of Greenwich Borough for a while.

Lee Noble delivered a corner in from the left towards the near post but Sykes’ stooping header flashed past the near post from a tight angle.

But Greenwich Borough squandered an excellent chance to notch a deserved equaliser after 36 minutes.

Man-of-the-match Britnell was the provider with a busy driving run through the heart of the Dartford defence before playing an inch-perfect pass in between Mark Onyemah (who was forced off with a shoulder injury at the interval) and Tom Wynter.

Eisa latched onto the pass and only had Ibrahim to beat but the 28-goal striker dragged his right-footed shot across the keeper and agonisingly past the foot of the far post.

Alexander said: “Mo, you can’t knock Mo. He’s got 28 goals this season. It’s one of those nights. He can’t score every one. Mo will be disappointed himself but he’s put himself in the right position and he’s just shot wide. If he put every chance away that he had he’d be worth ten million pound!”

Burman added: “I don’t think Del’s pulled off any saves.  I think they’ve done ever so well. They’re three leagues lower than us but they’re full of players who have league experience. They’ve done well and on their day they’re a decent side.”

Greenwich Borough created the first chance of the second half inside 80 seconds but Sweeney drilled his angled shot across goal and past the far post after Britnell rolled the ball onto his left-foot.

Dartford then created an opening as Greenwich Borough went asleep from a quickly taken free-kick down the left.

Cogan played the ball into Wynter (who was now deployed in midfield as Dembele slotted in at left-back while Danny Harris came off the bench to slot in at right-back), who floated over a cross but Elliot Bradbrook’s free header sailed harmlessly wide of the near post.

Kinch had kept Sykes in his pocket during the first half but the Dartford striker issued Greenwich Borough a warning in the 55th minute.

Cogan found himself on the corner of the penalty area on the right hand side and whipped in an inch-perfect cross for Sykes to direct his towering header just over the bar from 12-yards.

After that early flurry of goal-mouth incident, Dartford slammed the door in the face of Greenwich Borough’s attacking threat and most of the second half was played out in a cagey manner.

Alexander said: “They defended well. The centre halves were excellent, everything was down their throat.  We probably could’ve turned them a little bit more with a little bit more movement but we didn’t do that and their centre halves headed and volleyed everything.

“On another night we could’ve taken the lead and the game could’ve bene different but it wasn’t to be.”

Dartford had a great chance to lift the game as the half edged just past the half-way mark.

Sykes held the ball up inside the Greenwich Borough penalty area and rolled the ball into Cogan, who lashed his right-footed drive high over the crossbar from 20-yards.

“There’s an opportunity there to try to get something but it wasn’t to be,” said Burman.

“Barry’s come back in, a good side of things, he’s got 71 minutes under his belt after being out for near on a month.”

Sweeney tried in vain to score against his old club when he hit a speculative first time left-footed drive from 30-yards, which sailed over Ibrahim’s crossbar.

Dartford doubled their lead with 42 minutes and 11 seconds into the second half, as the game exploded into life.

Substitute Andy Pugh got the better of Kinch down the inside right channel and cut the ball back to fellow sub Ryan Hayes.

Dartford’s longest serving player whipped in an excellent cross into the penalty area for Sykes to plant his header into the top right-hand corner from 12-yards.

Burman said: “A good bit of football that we’ve played there. George is a big lad, I think he’s got to make that presence count and I think it was a good goal. It was a good cross from Ryan and we made it 2-0, which should be game over.”

Alexander added: “Great header. I thought George Sykes done well. I thought he played well, I thought he caused problems. He won headers, he runs and I thought he done well.

“To score the header, it was a great header. He’s pulled off but should I have a centre midfielder of five foot eight marking him? Probably not, but it’s happened.  I think Jerome (Wade) was with him in the penalty area but we’ll take positives from that game and we’ll move on.”

Greenwich Borough did pull a goal back, which was timed at 44:59, but it proved to be too late.

Dolby picked the ball up and raced into the penalty area and slipped the ball through for Power to slot his right-footed shot underneath Ibrahim.

“It’s a great finish, Shaggy (Power) is finding a little bit of form now, I think four in four,” added Alexander.

“I rested up players today and played a couple of youngsters. It was good to see Jerome Wade in there do well for himself, he played well.”

Burman admitted he was disappointed with the goal and not keeping the habit of keeping clean sheets.

He said: “It’s good habits and we should be doing good habits and when we  keep to good habits we’re a decent side.  It was nice to go 2-0 up but we shouldn’t have let in a goal.”

Greenwich Borough almost forced a third penalty shoot-out in this competition exactly two minutes after scoring, but Power’s curling drive from the right-hand side sailed just over the crossbar.

But Alexander knows he must guide the club towards the league title at the end of the season and they travel to AFC Croydon Athletic on Saturday.

Antony Williams’ side dented Ashford United’s title aspirations with a 4-3 win at Homelands Stadium tonight. Danny Lye’s Ashford remain in third-place, 10 points adrift of Greenwich Borough, but with two games in hand.

He said: “It’s the Cup and we want to be remembered for winning promotion this year and not the Kent Cup.  If we win the Kent Cup and we don’t win the league then you’ll regret it so we’re going to go all guns blazing.

“We’ve put ourselves in a great position in the league, chased down eight points in two months so we’ve got to make sure we kick on from here now and not take disappointment from a defeat to Dartford, who are three leagues above.”

Hythe Town, Charlton Athletic (twice) and Ebbsfleet United have gone on to win the Kent Senior Cup since Dartford thrashed Bromley 4-1 at Princes Park in the 2011 Final.

Burman said: “We’ve got to the Final, which was our main thing. We felt we’ve done some hard work because players haven’t had games in previous rounds and we’ve had some good results in the previous rounds and to get to the Final for the first time in a few years is a nice feeling and I’m pleased for the players that they’ve got something to look forward to, the first thing to look forward to at the end of the season.

“It will be nice that we’ve got in to a Final of a competition where it’s taken seriously as you can in the Semi-Finals and in the Final and we’re just pleased to get in the Final.  Who knows what will happen but we’ll do our best to try to win that game when it comes along.”

Dartford host Whitehawk in the Vanarama National League on Saturday.  The Hawks are in the bottom five in the table and Burman hasn’t given up on grabbing a play-off place with 11 league games left to play.

He said: “There’s a lot of games to play and we just have to get back to try to get three points in each game that we’re playing.” 

Greenwich Borough: Craig Holloway, Nathan Paul, Gary Borrowdale, Peter Sweeney, Scott Kinch, Danny Young, Hassan Jalloh (Ryan Dolby 63), Jake Britnell, Mohamed Eisa (Cisco Mbela 63), Jerome Wade, Tom Youngs (Michael Power 84).
Subs: Ryan Johnson, Lewis Clark

Goal: Michael Power 90

Booked: Scott Kinch 30, Danny Young 87

Dartford: Deren Ibrahim, Tom Gardiner, Mark Onyemah (Danny Harris 46), Ronnie Vint, Tom Wynter, Lee Noble (Ryan Hayes 52), Becka-Kah Dembele, Elliot Bradbrook, George Sykes, Barry Cogan (Andy Pugh 71), Jack Simmons.
Subs: Ben Francis, Dajon Golding

Goals: Ronnie Vint 30, George Sykes 88

Booked: Jack Simmons 12, Beckha-Kah Dembele 65

Attendance: 327
Referee: Mr Oliver Jackson (Sittingbourne)
Assistants: Mr Christopher Myatt (Dartford) & Mr Craig Burton (Rochester)