DARTFORD 3 ALDERSHOT TOWN 0
Football returned to Princes Park for the first time since early March, as Dartford took on National League outfit Aldershot Town in the first of three home pre-season friendly fixtures.
With the game being played behind closed doors and under the floodlights on a beautiful evening, the hosts used the fixture to their benefit, by naming two separate teams in each half, as they saw off their opponents with relative ease.
The first half saw no fewer than seven trialists start and a further two sit on the substitutes bench. This meant that there were starting places for Ijaha, Noble, Marsh-Brown and Sheringham, while Brodie, Hill, Fernandes, and Wynter took to the bench.
The Darts looked the brighter of the two sides during the opening exchanges, however it was the visitors who created the first real goal-scoring opportunity with a triple attempt in the seventh minute. First Kandi saw his effort blocked, then Whittingham struck the follow-up beautifully, forcing Dartford’s trialist goalkeeper into a superb save. With the defence failing to clear the danger, Rowe reached the loose ball, only to see his shot blocked as well!
Dartford retaliated eight minutes later with a flurry of opportunities themselves, forcing Walker to parry a goal-bound effort from trialist #9, before Fowler managed to block the follow-up. The ball was then whipped into the box at pace, only for Lee Noble to send it wide of the upright.
A frantic few minutes then saw Ijaha lose the ball in a dangerous position, thus gifting the Shots a wonderful opportunity. Thankfully, Panayiotou failed to hit the target from the edge of the Dartford box.
At the other end, Walker would be called into action with 24 minutes on the clock, as he saved a Marsh-Brown effort after the Dartford player had stolen the ball from a reluctant Sendles-White.
The visiting goalkeeper would be picking the ball up from inside his net sixteen minutes later, however, after a Charlie Sheringham header gave the hosts a deserved lead.
The goal came after a terrific run along the left flank from trialist #3, which saw the left-back earn the Darts a free-kick near the corner flag. Talismanic midfielder Lee Noble sent a dangerous ball into the box, which found the head of Sheringham, who guided it beyond the hapless Walker. The goal
arrived soon after Fernandes (on for trialist #7 in the 31st minute) had tried his luck from distance, only to shoot over the bar (38).
The second half saw the expected substitutions, as the hosts introduced King, Barnum-Bobb, Vint, Bonner, Jebb, Berkeley-Agyepong, Husin, Barham, and Romain. Two additional trialists also joined the first-team regulars, as the half began slowly.
Once again, it was the Shots who created the first real opportunity, as Nouble managed to run the ball into the penalty area, only to fire wide of King’s post in the 54th minute.
After a string of substitutions from the visitors, as well as another for the Darts, which saw another trialist enter proceedings, a surge forward saw the hosts double their lead in style. The attack came down the Dartford right flank, as Berkeley-Agyepong played a marvellous ball through to
Barnum-Bobb. The latter then squared a perfect ball into the path of Jack Barham, who delightfully slotted it into the net.
In full control at this point, Steve King’s side passed the ball neatly when in possession, as they probed for more goals. The longer the game went on, the more frustrated the visitors became, as tackles seemed to fly in left, right and centre! When they did manage to create an opportunity, once
again, they failed to hit the target… James Rowe the guilty party with a powerful drive in the 66th minute, which failed to trouble King.
Dartford, on the other hand, made it look easy, as they pressed the visitors into mistakes when not in possession, while attacking with pace with the ball. Romain should have extended the lead with ten to go, after Husin had created a glorious opportunity for him. Unfortunately, the striker’s effort
hit the outside of Aldershot’s post.
The hosts needn’t have worried though, because a minute from time saw another attack rewarded with another goal. The attack came from the left this time, after excellent work from the left-back trialist, who took on and beat the Aldershot defence. Getting himself into a great position, he then
fed the ball to Jack Jebb, who fired into the back of the net to put the finishing touches onto an excellent Dartford display.
The result sees Dartford unbeaten in pre-season and looking sharp on the pitch. Tom Bonner and Co now await the arrival of National League side Dover Athletic next Tuesday evening.
By Chris Palmer