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Home   Dartford   Sport   Article

Cambridge United 1 Dartford 1: match report

15 March 2014
by Steve Tervet

Alex Wall

Alex Wall

A magnificent 90th-minute goal from Alex Wall earned battling Dartford a point at high-flying Cambridge on Saturday.

The visitors looked like they were going to rue missed first-half opportunities when Tom Elliott put the U's ahead on 67 minutes at the Abbey Stadium.

But Wall, on loan from league leaders Luton, drove a dagger to the heart of Cambridge when he rifled Dartford level in the last minute of normal time.

There were two changes to the Dartford team which started against Chester eight days earlier. Rory McAuley, on loan from Cambridge, wasn't allowed to play against his parent club, so Kenny Clark partnered Mat Mitchel-King in central defence. And there was a recall for Lee Noble in midfield, with Alex Woodyard dropping to the bench.

Ex-Dartford pair Tom Bonner and Tom Champion both started for Cambridge, who drew 1-1 with champions elect Luton in midweek.

It was the visitors who had the first real effort on goal, Elliot Bradbrook controlling a pass from Noble and drilling a low shot straight at Will Norris in the Cambridge goal.

But the U's were dominating possession. Without McAuley organising their backline, Dartford looked uncertain when balls were swung into their box from wide areas.

And a moment of miscommunication almost cost them when Tyrone Sterling's under-hit backpass only just reached goalkeeper Alan Julian, with Elliott prowling.

At the other end, Dartford won a free-kick 25 yards out but Wall's powerful strike thudded into the gloves of Norris.

Crosses continued to cause the visitors problems. A deep delivery from the left was headed back across goal by Liam Hughes and the Darts only just scrambled the ball to safety.

But the men in sky blue shirts were hustling Cambridge in midfield and when Bradbrook nipped in to win the ball, Jim Stevenson carried it forward and drilled a shot just over the bar.

Stevenson's next effort deflected behind for a corner and Noble's right-wing corner dropped for Clark, who had a shot blocked from close-range.

And Clark went even closer when Norris dropped another corner inside the six-yard box. Clark got his toe to the bouncing ball but it brushed a Cambridge defender on the line and bounced wide.

The Darts were well on top as the first half drew to a close. Danny Harris went round Norris and squared the ball for right-back Lee Burns, who failed to connect properly as he burst into the box.

Max Cornhill then volleyed over on the stroke of half-time as the home fans became increasingly tetchy.

Cambridge boss Richard Money made a change at half-time, with on-loan Portsmouth striker Ryan Bird replaced by Delano Sam-Yorke.

But the visitors, inspired by the tricky Noble, still looked the more likely scorers. Stevenson drilled a shot over and Cornhill headed a Noble cross wide at the near post.

There were hearts in mouths, though, when Julian spilled a free-kick from substitute Josh Gillies and needed his defence to spare his blushes by hacking the ball clear. The resulting corner dropped kindly for centre-back Josh Coulson but he blazed the ball well wide when a composed touch was needed.

Gillies tried his luck with a shot from the edge of the box which Sterling did well to block.

But the pressure was mounting - and the Darts were about to crack.

Cambridge substitute Mitchell Austin teased over an inviting left-wing cross and Elliott got round the back to turn it past Julian from point-blank range.

That was the cue for the home fans to turn up the volume and they were howling for a penalty when Mitchel-King tangled with Sam-Yorke moments later, but referee Wayne Barratt was having none of it.

Dartford weren't done yet, with substitute Ben Swallow and Wall combining to set up Burns for a powerful strike which Norris did well to hang on to.

It looked like the U's had done enough to hold on.

But they'd reckoned without Wall, who collected Bradbrook's pass on the break and fired a superb half-volley into the top corner with 90 minutes on the clock.

Cambridge: Norris, Roberts (Austin 54mins), Coulson, Bonner, Taylor, Hughes, Champion (Gillies 59mins), Berry, Donaldson, Elliott, Bird (Sam-Yorke 46mins). Subs not used: Miller, Arnold.

Dartford: Julian, Burns, Mitchel-King, Clark (Collier 82mins), Sterling, Noble, Cornhill (Swallow 77mins), Stevenson, Bradbrook, Harris (Suarez 77mins), Wall. Subs not used: Woodyard, Ibrahim.

Attendance: 2,885 (175 away)

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