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Dartford 2-2 Wealdstone - People were running all over the place like headless chickens - Burman PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The FA Carlsberg Trophy Third Round
Tuesday 14th  February 2012
Stephen McCartney reports from Princes Park Stadium

DARTFORD manager Tony Burman refused to blame the enforced fourteen day break on his side’s lack of sharpness after they were held to a draw thanks to two headed Wealdstone goals.

The recent cold snap meant that this FA Carlsberg Trophy Third Round tie was twice postponed due to the Big Freeze and the last thing Burman wanted was for this game to go to a replay to see who will travel to either Cambridge United or Guiseley (which has now been called off three times) in the Quarter-Finals.

The Blue Square Bet (Conference) South highflyers twice took the lead through Danny Harris and substitute Lee Noble, but the mid-table Ryman Premier Leaguers twice fought back through two headed goals from prolific striker Richard Jolly and a brave powerful header from central midfielder Chris O’Leary, which forced next Tuesday’s replay at Grosvenor Vale.

Burman said after Dartford’s fifth successive draw against The Stones: “We don’t want a replay. I don’t think Wealdstone want a replay either.  They’re doing well, they’ve got an opportunity in their league.  Nevertheless that’s what we’ve got.”

Burman lost influential skipper, 15-goal leading goalscorer, midfielder Elliot Bradbrook through a hamstring injury after only seven minutes tonight – a blow ahead of Saturday’s top-of-the-table showdown away to Woking on Saturday.

Burman said: “It seems like a hamstring.  Obviously it knocks you but that’s what we’ve got a squad for.  Are we going to be able to replace him?  Probably not!  But these things happen and it’s happened and we have to get on with it.”

Dartford, who went into the game on the back of seven straight wins last month, started well and Jon Wallis sent a left-footed half-volley over the Wealdstone crossbar from 25-yards after Harris knocked down a Matt Jones cross.

Bradbrook’s replacement, Noble, meanwhile, made a charging run down the right before whipping the ball into the penalty area and Harris turned and cracked a shot over at the near post.

A special piece of invention almost gave the Darts the lead when Noble noticed Wealdstone keeper Jonathan North had strayed off his line and with the outside of his right boot flicked the ball over the keeper’s head from 45-yards, but the ball bounced agonisingly wide of the right post.

Wealdstone weathered the early storm and created their first chance in the 18th minute when Alan Massey and Lee Chappell combined down the left and Chappell chipped the ball into the box and Peter Dean, with his back to goal, sent an ambitious overhead kick over the crossbar.

Dartford defender Tom Bonner then got on the end of a couple of free-kicks (Wallis and Adam Green) but headed over from inside the six-yard box.

Dartford went route one when they opened the scoring in the 28th minute with Harris’ eleventh goal of the season.

Keeper Louis Wells pumped a right-footed clearance straight over the heart of the Wealdstone defence and striker Jacob Erskine poked a low shot towards goal, which was blocked by North, who struggled to get back up off the deck and the ball fell kindly to Harris, who rolled a right-footed shot into the back of an empty net from ten-yards.

Burman said: “We felt we needed to be patient.  We thought it would be tight at the back but we felt if we could get the tempo going in the game we would create chances and we did that to put us 1-0 up and we probably should’ve probably seen that through to half-time.”

A slick two-man move involving Lee Burns and Jon Wallis resulted in Burns whipping in a cross from the right but Wallis snatched at his shot from 20-yards and his right-footed shot sailed over.

Wealdstone came back into the game and they were rewarded a free-kick in a dangerous position when Tom Champion pulled Jolly back.

Chappell stepped up and stroked a left-footed shot straight into Wells’ gloves and the keeper was penalised for stepping a yard outside of his penalty area by an eagle eyed assistant referee as he launched the ball up field.

Wells escaped without a card, but Dean blasted the resulting free-kick into the Dartford wall, but Wealdstone did equalise 34 seconds into stoppage time.

Connor Smith played the ball square to Scott McCubbin who had time and space to float a cross into the penalty area to pick out Dean at the far post and the striker headed the ball back across goal and Jolly caressed his header past Wells from six-yards to score his 29th goal of the season as the vocal travelling contingent started dreaming about returning to Wembley Stadium for the first time since 1985.

Burman added: “I’m disappointed with the goal.  Jonsey ended up playing it back to Louis and he’s took a big bobble when it’s gone back to Louis.  I’m half thinking Jonsey should’ve looked half forward than back and his first thoughts maybe that should be that way but nevertheless it’s happened and we’ve got punished for it and it’s one of those things.”

Reflecting on the first half, the Dartford boss said: “I thought we were excellent for 35 minutes.  They’ve had a ten minute spell in the first half where we’ve made some mistakes, giving free-kick’s away.

“Second half we’ve taken the lead but to be fair to Wealdstone they’ve come and had a go and that’s typical Cup football and it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, a team higher than you or lower than you, that’s how Cup football works out.”

But Burman was delighted when his side regained the lead with nearly five and a half minutes into the second half.

They won a free-kick down the left channel and Wallis floated in a curling free-kick into the box, which was headed away and the ball dropped to Noble, who cracked a low right-footed daisycutter from 25-yards, which took a deflection off Tom Hoban which flat-footed North and the ball nestled into the bottom left hand corner.

“It’s a shot that’s going on target, it’s gone in and you’re expecting us to take control a little bit,” said Burman.

A smart block from Dartford keeper Wells denied Wealdstone an equaliser five minutes later when substitute Kurtney Brooks and Connor Smith combined and Chappell’s angled left-footed drive from 20-yards was blocked by the keeper, who stood tall to narrow the angle.

Vocally supported by around 150 supporters, Wealdstone’s brand of football didn’t look out of depth against a Dartford side that lie in second place in the league above.

A short corner from the left almost punished Dartford in the 71st minute and Smith’s cross picked out Jolly at the far post but the 28-year-old marksman powered his header over from an acute angle some three yards out.

But Wealdstone, who arrived at Princes Park with just one loss from their last seventeen games, claimed a deserved draw when brave O’Leary went in where it hurt to power home an excellent header with ten minutes left.

Wealdstone played the ball from  left to right and full-back James Hammond had time and space to float over a diagonal cross towards the far post and O’Leary rose like a salmon above Matt Jones and planted a powerful header over Wells and the ball rocketed into the top far corner from fourteen yards.

Burman said: “It’s a great header that the fella’s put in, make no mistake about that!  That was a top class header!

The pair required treatment following their collusion and Jones hobbled off to be replaced by Richard Graham.

Dartford almost snatched victory inside injury time, but Wallis’ right-footed rasping drive from twenty-yards flew over.

Wealdstone's players aplauded their supporters at the final whistle for their excellent vocal support throughout the game.

Burman said:  “We wasn’t intelligent as we have been in the last few games.  People were running all over the place like headless chickens.  Having said that it’s happened, it’s out of the system.  We’ve got a replay.  I don’t think we deserved to win it.  Wealdstone didn’t deserve to win it to be perfectly honest.

“We knew tonight was going to be difficult.  We’ve had it.  Last year we played Crawley and they were in a higher league and teams will come here and do a lot better, maybe, than what they’ll do in their league programme and you have to accept that. 

“It’s Cup football.  It’s enjoyable. It’s obviously hurt us because we’ve drawn the game and we’ve come out with a couple of injuries.

“Saturday (at Woking) is for three points and we’ll move on to that game and that’s all we can do.

“I was hoping it could’ve been settled tonight but it wasn’t to be but we’ve played the game.  The players feel they could’ve done a lot better and it wasn’t to be but we can’t fault how they’ve been for the last six weeks or so.  They’ve been brilliant.  Yes, we’ve had a break but everyone’s had a break so there’s no excuses.”

Meanwhile, Dartford are the sole Kent side left in the competition after neighbours Ebbsfleet United lost their Third Round tie, going down 1-0 away to York City tonight, courtesy of a goal from Matty Blair.

Dartford: Louis Wells, Matt Jones (Richard Graham 85), Adam Green, Tom Bonner, Tom Champion, Jon Wallis, Lee Burns, James Rogers, Jacob Erskine (Tony Garrod 73), Elliot Bradbrook (Lee Noble 7), Danny Harris.
Subs: Richard Graham, Ryan Hayes, Deren Ibrahim

Goals: Danny Harris 28. Lee Noble 51

Booked: James Rogers 68

Wealdstone: Jonathan North, James Hammond, Alan Massey, Wes Parker (Kurtney Brooks 46), Tom Hoban, Connor Smith, Scott McCubbin, Chris O’Leary, Peter Dean (Scot Fitzgerald 90), Richard Jolly, Lee Chappell (David Hicks 85).
Subs: Scot Fitzgerald, Tautis Poniskaitis

Goals: Richard Jolly 45, Chris O’Leary 80

Booked: Scott McCubbin 68, Connor Smith 73

Attendance: 770
Referee: Mr Justin Amey (Bournemouth, Dorset)
Assistants: Mr Lloyd Wood (Dagenham, Essex) & Mr Mark Mellor (Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire)
Fourth Official: Mr Thomas Ramsey (Springfield, Chelmsford, Essex)

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 February 2012 )
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