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Home Dartford Sport Article
Lee Noble scored a contender for goal of the season as Dartford battled to a priceless win over Hereford.
The Darts led 1-0 courtesy of Alex Wall's early goal but the visitors put them under huge pressure in the second half at Princes Park.
It seemed only a matter of time until Hereford would score but Noble, only just on as a substitute, crashed a magnificent volley into the net to send the home crowd wild and secure three more precious points in Dartford's Skrill Premier survival bid.
Tony Burman named the same side which beat Woking 5-1 in midweek, while for the visitors, Rhys Evans returned in goal after more than three months out injured.
Evans watched Elliot Bradbrook's low free-kick deflected off Jim Stevenson and wide in the opening stages, but he was soon picking the ball out of his net.
Alex Woodyard played a pass into Wall's feet, wide on the right, and he turned inside before sweeping a left-footed shot across Evans and into the far corner. The ball bounced just before it reached Evans but the keeper should have done better.
Rather than sit on their lead, Dartford kept on the front foot.
Danny Harris ran at the Bulls defence and laid the ball across to Max Cornhill, who thumped a shot over.
The home side weren't allowing Hereford to settle on the ball and there was almost a moment of calamity when Woodyard's floated cross skipped off the head of Luke Graham and almost looped over the back-pedalling Evans.
But gradually the visitors began to pose a threat going forward.
High balls into the box looked their best route to goal, with Michael Rankine directing two headers straight at Alan Julian, who also denied Rod McDonald.
The home crowd, though, were getting right behind their side, who continued to pass the ball patiently in pursuit of a second goal. A good move involving Wall and Bradbrook ended with Woodyard returning the ball into the box, where Stevenson had a goal-bound shot well blocked.
Hereford went straight on the attack at the start of the second half and after Sam Smith's low shot had forced a good save from Julian, Graham got his head to a left-wing corner and the home side only just cleared the danger.
At the other end, Woodyard's excellent free-kick caused an almighty scramble inside the six-yard box. There were plenty of white shirts on hand but none could force the ball over the line.
But all the running was being made by the visitors and nerves started to spread around Princes Park.
Jonathan Brown fired a shot just wide and a Frankie Artus header dropped inches wide of the post before Rankine's knock-down was volleyed over by Smith.
And Smith went close again moments later, heading Dan Walker's right-wing cross wide of the near post.
But then, totally against the run of play, came a moment of pure genius from Noble. The diminutive midfielder had been on the field only four minutes when the ball dropped to him, 30 yards out, and he caressed a glorious volley across Evans and into the far corner.
The home fans rejoiced as the Bulls players looked at each other in despair.
Now desperate for a goal, Hereford poured forward again. Walker's speculative effort slipped through Julian's gloves but - luckily for the Darts - crept just wide.
Hereford's orange wave kept rolling towards the Dartford goal but time was against them now.
And the home side, buoyed by Noble's wonder strike, continued to throw themselves into challenges, determined not to relinquish the points.
A huge roar greeted the final whistle as the home fans hailed a result perhaps more important than any other so far this season.
Dartford: Julian, Burns, McAuley, Mitchel-King, Sterling, Woodyard (Noble 67mins), Cornhill, Stevenson, Bradbrook, Harris (Clark 90mins), Wall (Swallow 84mins). Subs not used: Collier, Suarez.
Hereford: Evans, Leadbitter, Graham, Collins, McDonald (Bush 72mins), Walker, Purdie (Sharp 72mins), Artus, Brown, Smith, Rankine (Williams 77mins). Subs not used: Edge, Lloyd-Weston.
Scored some good goals, but that has to be my best...— Lee Noble (@leenoble7) February 22, 2014
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