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Dartford 2 Ebbsfleet 1 match report

By Matthew Panting

Dartford took the derby honours with a narrow but enthralling victory over Ebbsfleet on Boxing Day in National League South.

All the goals came in the second half as Tom Bonner and Duane Ofori-Acheamping put the Darts ahead.

Anthony Cook pulled one back for the visitors but it was not enough for Ebbsfleet.

Darts celebrate Tom Bonner's goal against Ebbsfleet. Picture Andy Payton

Darts celebrate Tom Bonner's goal against Ebbsfleet. Picture: Andy Payton

The Fleet opted for the midfield battle of Stuart Lewis ahead of Jack Powell's craft while Dartford were without the suspended Tom Wynter. Ryan Hayes dropped to the bench and in came ex-Fleet man Bonner and Tom Gardiner at right-back.

Bonner was nearly left red-faced as early as the sixth minute as he turned an Andy Drury free-kick back towards his own goal but keeper Deren Ibrahim was down low to gather.

A backpass at the other end caused Fleet keeper Nathan Ashmore to handle inside his area. The indirect free-kick was touched to Elliot Bradbrook but the wall blocked his shot, Ronnie Vint looped the ball back in but Ofori-Acheampong was flagged offside as the ball went into the net.

Both sides continued to push forward, the odd meaty challenge in midfield was in good spirits and referee Ian Fissenden kept his cards in his pocket in the first 45 minutes.

Fleet captain Danny Kedwell met Cook's deep free-kick but headed straight at Ibrahim while Luke Wanadio saw his shot deflected wide at the other end for Dartford.

Drury's expert delivery on dead balls kept Dartford's defence honest and it needed a fine defensive header by Vint to prevent Dave Winfield heading in at the far post. 

It took just three minutes of the second half to find the first goal. Wanadio's corner found Bonner unmarked eight yards from goal and he headed past Ashmore to score against the club he left in the summer.

Dartford's Danny Harris on the ball as Fleet's Kenny Clark slides in. Picture Andy Payton

Dartford's Danny Harris on the ball as Fleet's Kenny Clark slides in. Picture: Andy Payton

Bradbrook saw his volley saved by Ashmore before Darts were in dreamland when a second goal arrived just past the hour mark.

Ofori-Acheampong had already tested Ashmore with a low drive but he made no mistake when he got to the ball ahead of Winfield and burst clear before producing a calm finish into the far corner.

It was almost 3-0 on 65 minutes as Tom Gardiner burst down the right-wing but Ofori-Acheampong was denied at the near post. 

Fleet were left shellshocked and playing off scraps. Sean Shields came on but couldn't get into the game before boss Daryl McMahon made a double change midway through the half, bringing on Bradley Bubb and Powell.

It fell to Cook to try to assist a grandstand finish. Cook, Fleet's best player on the day, was fed the ball after a wayward midfield pass by Dartford's Wanadio.

He still had plenty to do but fired brilliantly beyond Ibrahim.

That gave Fleet 10 minutes to salvage an equaliser but they could not fashion another clear-cut chance against a Dartford defence, led by the outstanding Ronnie Vint. The 20-year-old Academy product gave a classy performance to lead his team to the three points and move them up to fourth in the table.

The sides meet again at Stonbridge Road on New Year's Day, kick-off 3pm.

Dartford: Ibrahim, Gardiner, Vint, Bonner, Wood, Noble, A Brown, Bradbrook, Wanadio (E Brown 87mins), Harris, Ofori-Acheampong. Subs not used: Hayes, Pugh, Dembele, Coxall.

Ebbsfleet: Ashmore, Cook, Connors (Powell 68mins), McCoy, Winfield, Clark, Rance, Drury, Kedwell, McQueen (Bubb 68mins), Lewis (Shields 57mins). Subs not used: Phillips, Miles.

Attendance 2,404.

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