Dartford 3-2 Oxford City – Darts survive late onslaught
Joint bosses Jamie Coyle and Adam Flanagan named an unchanged starting 11 after Saturday’s impressive 2-1 win at Gloucester City, with goalscorer Charlie Sheringham in support of Jamie Philpot. The visitors were coming off the back of an impressive 3-3 draw in the FA Cup against League 2 highflyers Tranmere Rovers.
Former Crystal Palace trainee Andre Coker proved to be a constant threat down the right, particularly in the first-half, and he jinxed past the City defence before delivering a low cross that Jamie Philpot couldn’t quite generate the power required to beat ‘keeper Craig King.
It took just 5 minutes for winger Coker to break the deadlock as he latched onto a Bailey Vose goal kick before beating his man and comprehensively sending King the wrong way.
Some lacksidasical play from Ben Greenhalgh on the edge of his box gifted Sam Nombe a good chance to get his side back on level terms but he fired well over with the outside of his right foot from the edge of the box.
The visitors, perhaps still on the high of Saturday’s impressive result, were second best all over the pitch in the first-half and fell another goal behind in the 15th minute. Jordan Wynter was allowed to shoot from 20 yards and his low, innocuous effort left keeper King rooted to the spot as he watched the ball skid into the bottom left corner.
Kyran Wiltshire gave Daniel Johnson a torrid time all night and his tricky footwork saw him get to the by-line where he delivered a low cross that Ronnie Vint just managed to block.
The visitors second real attack saw them get one back as a corner from the left by Wiltshire found defender Joe Oastler unmarked in the box and he gave Vose little chance in the Dartford goal with a resounding header.
City’s next corner almost proved to be their downfall as Lee Noble’s clearance released Ben Greenhalgh. The ball didn’t fall kindly for the match-winner last time out as he instead fed Sheringham who could only poke wide with his weaker left foot.
Greenhalgh produced a trade mark cross with his right foot after cutting in from the left and some clever movement from Sheringham saw him get in front of the defender to glance a header home after the half hour mark to cement the hosts’ advantage.
Another twisting run from Wiltshire saw him created some space in the Dartford box and with just Vose seemingly to beat, Vint flung himself in harms way to ricochet the ball over the bar.
Half-time: Dartford 3-1 Oxford City
The second-half lacked the intensity on display in the first but with 56 minutes on the clock Frankie Musonda clipped the ball back to Jack Self who had delayed his run into the box. Self’s airshot created havoc in the Dartford area and Vint was once again in the right place at the right time to produce two heroic blocks before Kabongo Tshimanga fired into the side netting of Vose’s goal.
Sheringham then headed straight into the arms of King from a Greenhalgh corner before the winger once again threatened from a dead-ball situation. His free-kick from 40 yards was met by a diving header from Vint that was superbly stopped from close range by King.
The visitors controlled long periods of the second-half as the hosts struggled to retain the ball and they set-up a nervy finish as substitute Zac McEachran got on the end of Tshimnaga’s deep cross to divert the ball past Vose via the post.
City continued to press for an equaliser with manager Mark Jones furious that his side weren’t awarded a penalty when Wiltshire was bundled over in the area. All three involved in his triple substitution made a difference on the pitch as Ben Jefford’s curling effort from the left had Vose scrambling across his line and thankful it whistled just wide.
Vose produced a fantastic save with his feet to keep the scores level after Wiltshire’s close range effort and he could only watch on as Nombe fired well over from 12 yards when he should’ve hit the target.
In a rare Darts attack right-back Johnson found himself in unfamiliar territory but he couldn’t squeeze the ball past King at his near post after good work from the industrious Lee Noble.
Boss Jones twice waived ‘keeper King forward as City packed the box for two late corners. From the first, the ball eventually broke kindly for substitute Ryan Hayes but his effort from the half-way line clipped the post to deny him a fairy-tale return to Princes Park.
The game was a tale of two halves with Dartford making the visitors pay for a sluggish first-half as they took a deserved lead. The hosts deserve credit, especially after their character has been called into question this season on more than one occasion, for surviving wave after wave of City attacks late-on in the second-half.
We wish Oxford City well as they represent the league in their FA Cup replay next week against Tranmere.
Full-time: Dartford 3 – 2 Oxford City
Dartford: Vose, Onyemah, Wynter, Vint, Bonner, Greenhalgh, Noble, Philpot, Coker, Johnson, Sheringham.
Oxford City: King, Jones, Godwin-Malife, Self, Musonda, Oastler, Nombe, Fleet, Tshimanga, Otudeko, Wiltshire.
Man of the match: Lee Noble
Written by Henry Clark (@HenryWAClark)