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Dartford 1-0 Maidstone United - The clock is ticking for bids for McDonald, says Burman PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 31 January 2009

Ryman Premier League
Saturday 31st January 2009
Stephen McCartney reports from Princes Park Stadium

DARTFORD moved to within two points of the Ryman Premier League play-off’s with a satisfying victory - which completed the double over their adversaries Maidstone United.

Eleven scouts from Football League clubs were amongst the largest league crowd of the season at Princes Park to watch Cody McDonald, but it was his strike partner, Rob Haworth who grabbed the headlines with a 63rd minute winner.

The 33-year-old target man had capitalised on a horrendous blunder from Stones goalkeeper Andy Walker, to help Dartford move within two points of fifth placed side Carshalton Athletic.

Walker was one of two changes made by the Stones since their last game, an enthralling 2-2 draw at Tonbridge Angels fourteen days ago.

The Stones struck the woodwork three times at Longmead Stadium, and today, Elliot Bradbrook came within inches of grabbing a point, but his 75th minute effort bounced down off the underside of Andrew Young’s crossbar - suffering the same agony as he did against Tommy Warrilow’s high-flying Angels.

Dartford, who went into this game on a run of thirteen points from their last five games, had the better goalscoring chances.

And both sides had one player withdrawn through injury; Stones skipper Ben Lewis was the first to go, having pulled a back muscle, and McDonald, who has already been subject to a bid from Peterborough United, was forced off with a combination of a swollen calf and a whack above the knee.

The 22-year-old, Witham based striker trained with Championship club Norwich City last Sunday and Monday and Darts boss Tony Burman is waiting for an offer from the Norfolk club - before the transfer window shuts for business at 5pm on Monday.

“There’s been a lot of scouts here over a few games and they’ve seen what a good player Cody is,” Burman told www.kentishfootball.co.uk afterwards.

“Today, I think he was marked very, very closely, it didn’t help the knock he’s got on his calf. I think after 35 minutes it’s swollen up so big and then he’s got another knock above his knee.

“He done all the hard bits, he done all the work-rate bit, but unfortunately he wasn’t to score today. It’s one of those things, it happens, but believe you me, the kid can play.”

Burman advises Norwich City boss Bryan Gunn gets in contact with the Kent club with his cheque book if he wants to prise the lightening quick striker away from Princes Park.

“Bryan Gunn invited us up there last Sunday and Monday and Cody trained with them for two days,” said Burman.

“Bryan is interested in signing Cody; things are getting close to the deadline and we’ll wait for the move from Norwich really.

“There’s been a lot of clubs who have come here today, who we don’t think have seen Cody before and we know they said “let me have him for a weeks trial.”

“If I have them all permission to do that he’d be playing with a few clubs until the end of the season.

“They’ve got to make their move if they want to. I’m sure if he don’t go by five o’clock on Monday, his aim is to be a professional footballer and I’ll back him on that.”

McDonald called Walker into action after just five minutes of this passion filled Kent derby.

The Darts were awarded a free-kick down the right and Jamie Day rolled the ball short to Ryan Hayes and his far-post cross was met by McDonald, who headed the ball into Walker’s grateful arms at the near post.

And within two minutes, the impressive Hayes cut along the by-line, leaving a couple of Stones defenders in his wake, and tested Walker from a very acute angle, after picking up Jamie Coyle’s throw.

For the Stones, an over-head kick from striker Lloyd Blackman and a right-footed drive from 20-yards from Roland Edge, both cleared Young’s crossbar.

But the former Bishop’s Stortford goalkeeper was relieved to see Meshach Nugent’s 31st minute deflected driven shot flash just past the left-hand post after the striker turned two defenders on the edge of the box.

Maidstone United’s best first-half chance, however, arrived in the 36th minute, when Young was called into action for the first time.

Nugent was fouled just one yard outside the penalty area and nine-goal striker Blackman bent a right-footed free-kick around the five-man wall, but the goalkeeper made a comfortable low save in front of his body.

Walker showed why he’s highly rated, by making a fine low save on the stroke of half-time.

The lively Hayes whipped in a free-kick from the right and the former Bromley goalkeeper punched the ball away, whilst under pressure. The ball dropped kindly for Day and his driven right-footed shot from 25-yards, flashed through a crowd of players and Walker dived low to his left to prevent Day scoring his fourth goal of the season.

Stones defender Nathan Paul was lucky to escape handball shouts in the 52nd minute when it appeared he used his hands to prevent Adam Gross drilling a centre from the left, after he got in behind the Stones defence.

And the home faithful raised the roof when Haworth smashed the ball into the back of the net to claim all three points in the 63rd minute.

Walker shoulders the blame for gifting the ball to the former Margate hit-man on the edge of the penalty area and could only look on in horror as Haworth took the ball around him and from an acute angle cracked a right-footed drive into the back of an empty net.

The Stones were cursing their luck again - in the 75th minute - when they came within inches from scoring with their first second half chance.

Bradbrook produced some magic as he cut in from the right and from a central position, his left-footed curling shot from 25-yards, bounced agonisingly down the underside of the crossbar.

Dartford almost doubled their lead five minutes later as the Stones had Jay Saunders to thank for clearing Coyle’s half-volley off the line, following Day’s out-swinging corner from the left.

Maidstone United substitute Craig Thompson squandered a chance to bring the visitors’ level in the last three minutes.

A trademark Aaron Lacy bullet throw caused problems in the Dartford box and a flick from Saunders found James Peacock who cut the ball back to Bradbrook from the by-line and the winger’s cross was met by Thompson, but his header cleared the crossbar.

Understandably, Burman was delighted with the victory over their local rivals - and praised both sets of supporters for their passionate support.

“It’s nice when you’re playing local derbies with so many supporters’ from both clubs at the ground and at the venue for the first time,” Burman told www.kentishfootball.co.uk afterwards.

“I thought we deserved our win; it is nice to get the three points.

“We went for the battle and second half, when we had the wind with us, we felt if we upped the tempo, Maidstone were struggling to keep up with us, and we felt if we did that sooner or later we’d get the goal.

“I thought the team performance all round was excellent.”

For Maidstone United joint-manager Lloyd Hume, he was frustrated, disappointed and fed up that the club’s first ever visit to Princes Park ended in defeat.

“The reality is I look at that game, and I said to the players in the dressing room afterwards, I think we’ve battled as hard as them, we’ve matched them in every area, neither team created anything through the game, the difference is we’ve gifted them a goal,” Hume told www.kentishfootball.co.uk.

Hume was quick to back Walker, despite his costly rare error.

“Our keeper’s made a howler but Andy’s saved us a million times throughout the season so I’m not going to hold that against him right now,” he said.

“We’ve had one chance and it’s half an inch from going into the back of the net, hitting the underside of the bar.

“When you’re at the top and you’re all fighting for play-off (places), you need a little bit of luck on your side. The last game we played, at Tonbridge, we hit the woodwork three times, which stopped us getting three points and today we hit the woodwork again and it’s stopped us getting a point, so I’m rueing our lick at the moment.

“I can’t go into the dressing room today, like I have done before, and read them the riot act to some of the players because I don’t think anyone let us down today.

“We just didn’t play well. I don’t think Dartford played any better, we just nullified each other in terms of the systems if I’m honest and it was a bit of a scrappy derby.

“Yes, they will be very happy tonight, they’ve got three points, that’s all that matters to them and that’s what matters to us and we’re disappointed.”

Dartford: Andrew Young, Jamie Coyle, Adam Gross, Adam Flanagan, John Guest, Tommy Osborne, Ryan Hayes (Lee Noble 77), Jamie Day, Rob Haworth (James White 90), Cody McDonald (Brendon Cass 68), Danny Dafter.
Subs: Seun Eferakoho, Deren Ibrahim.

Goal: Rob Haworth 63

Booked: Lee Noble 83

Maidstone United: Andy Walker, Nathan Paul, Ashley Ulph, Ben Lewis (James Peacock 30), Peter Hawkins, Roland Edge, Meshach Nugent, Jay Saunders, Aaron Lacy, Lloyd Blackman (Craig Thompson 60), Elliot Bradbrook.
Subs: Nevada Pascale, Keelan Mooney, Steve Northwood.

Booked: Aaron Lacy 57, Jay Saunders 60

Attendance: 2,013
Referee: Mr Nigel Lugg (Chipstead, Surrey)
Assistants: Mr John Flynn (Crawley, West Sussex) & Mr Simon Griffiths (Horsham, West Sussex)

Last Updated ( Sunday, 01 February 2009 )
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