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Dartford 0 Forest Green Rovers 1 match report

By Steve Tervet

Dartford remain in the Skrill Premier relegation zone with three games left after conceding a late winner against Forest Green on Saturday.

A tired Darts side were nine minutes away from a precious point but substitute Danny Wright scored less than a minute after coming on to leave them empty-handed.

Results elsewhere mean they're still only a point from safety, though.

Dartford's Max Cornhill gets stuck in Picture: Steve Crispe

Dartford were unchanged from their 1-0 win over Grimsby on Thursday night, meaning captain Elliot Bradbrook's thigh strain ruled him out once again.

The visitors could have been ahead inside a minute when James Norwood got in behind the Darts defence and forced Alan Julian to pull off a vital save with his foot.

Moments later, Yan Klukowski found a yard of space in the box and tried his luck from a narrow angle, with Julian again called into action.

Dartford had the ball in the net when Lee Noble's free-kick from the left-hand corner of the box crept into the bottom corner - but it must have been touched on its way in as the assistant raised his flag for offside.

Bradley Jordan sent a header looping over Julian's crossbar, before Rory McAuley nodded a Ben Swallow corner wide at the other end.

Forest Green were robust in the challenge but quick to go to ground themselves, and their antics increasingly wound up the home crowd as the game wore on.

When they did play, they looked a threat. Norwood arrowed a low shot towards the bottom corner and Julian did well to turn it behind.

Danny Harris takes on Dale Bennett Picture: Steve Crispe

The tempo started to lift and Noble went close twice inside a minute for Dartford. His first effort flashed just past the angle of post and bar, the second bringing an unorthodox save from Rovers keeper Sam Russell.

A frantic passage of play saw the home side claw a shot off the line and then go close themselves, with the ball dropping kindly for Danny Harris in the box. Harris, one-on-one with Russell, took a touch but lost the duel as Russell stood tall to keep his strike out.

Swallow fired wide and then over as Dartford finished the first half on top.

An ugly start to the second period saw Dale Bennett go down, accusing Harris of elbowing him, before Klukowski took out Noble on the touchline. Al Bangura dragged a low shot well wide when play was allowed to recommence. Norwood then had a good shooting chance but sliced his shot well side.

The visitors were starting to apply real pressure. Julian clawed a Klukowski shot out of the top corner and when Bradley Jordan's corner was flicked on by the giant figure of Luke Oliver, Norwood fired wastefully over.

Dartford were tiring and Mikel Suarez made way for Nathan Collier as manager Tony Burman looked to freshen things up.

The second Darts substitute, Alex Woodyard, was straight into action. His low cross from the right was only cleared as far as Jim Stevenson, whose low shot from the edge of the box was held by Russell.

Dartford put the Forest Green defence under pressure Picture: Steve Crispe

But Forest Green were turning the screw. Matt Taylor played a clever pass into the feet of Klukowski and he squared for Norwood, who looked certain to score. But a brilliant saving tackle by Mat Mitchel-King kept the scores level.

Jordan then swung over a cross from the right and it drifted all the way through the box to Norwood, who failed to hit the target.

It was one-way traffic, although the Darts then came agonisingly close to taking the lead with 10 minutes left. Lee Burns' long ball forward was flicked on by Collier into the path of Harris, who lifted the ball past Russell only to see Eddie Oshodi race back and clear off the line.

That lifted the home crowd, but they were silenced three minutes later. Forest Green's two substitutes combined for the goal, Lee Hughes picking out Wright with a header and Wright rolling his shot past Julian into the bottom corner.

Dartford, already exhausted, had the final stuffing knocked out of them by the goal. They have almost a week to recover before travelling to Braintree on Good Friday.

Dartford: Julian, Burns, Mitchel-King, McAuley, Sterling, Swallow, Cornhill, Stevenson, Noble (Woodyard 71mins), Harris (Akinwande 82mins), Suarez (Collier 65mins). Subs not used: Holloway, Eisa.

Forest Green: Russell, Oshodi, Oliver, Bennett, Hodgkiss, Green, Bangura, Klukowski, Jordan (Wright 81mins), Norwood, Taylor (Hughes 73mins). Subs not used: Barry, Rogers, White.

Attendance: 1,061.

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