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Dartford 2 AFC Telford United 1 match report

By Steve Tervet
Man-of-the-match Luke Daley holds off Telford defender Rod McDonald Picture: Andy Payton

Two goals in 12 second-half minutes took Dartford to their first win of the season against AFC Telford at Princes Park.

The home side trailed to a Tony Gray strike at half-time and they looked off the pace.

But winger Luke Daley, who had his best game so far in a Dartford shirt, brilliantly brought them level before Andy Pugh's first goal of the season sunk the visitors from Shropshire.

Dartford manager Tony Burman made two changes to the team he picked at Barnet on Bank Holiday Monday. Ryan Hayes returned on the right wing and Peter Sweeney also started for the home side. The two players to make way were Lee Noble and Max Cornhill.

For the visitors, Kristian Platt, Sean Clancy and Adam Farrell replaced Godfrey Poku, Michael Grogan and Sam Smith in a 3-5-2 formation.

Sweeney's inclusion in central midfield had the Darts ticking straight away. Their passing was crisp even if the final ball left a little to be desired on occasion.

Hayes had a shot saved by goalkeeper Jonathan Hedge and Daley then stole possession on the halfway line, ran 50 yards and threaded a dangerous ball through the six-yard box. It was met with generous applause, if not with the crucial touch from an onrushing striker.

A terrific in-swinging corner from Hayes fizzed all the way through the crowded Telford box and found Elliot Bradbrook at the far post. The Darts skipper couldn't quite guide his effort inside the far post though, and he received a knock in the process.

Players from both sides pile in as Dartford try to convert a corner Picture: Andy Payton

Bradbrook, as he tends to be, was in the wars again moments later. The midfielder needed treatment after helping the home side survive a scramble caused by a Telford corner.

The visitors had their moments, encouraged by some hesitant Dartford defending.

Andy Owens volleyed a deep right-wing cross wide and goalkeeper Jason Brown then had to get down to deal with a low Sean Clancy effort after the hosts had failed to clear their lines.

A smart ball forward then sent Pugh running in behind Telford's Steve Akrigg and with Hedge off his line, Pugh might have tried to lob the goalkeeper first-time. But instead, he cut inside, lost the ball and committed a foul trying to win it back. His hesitation bore all the hallmarks of a striker who hadn't scored for the club since joining in the summer.

And from Telford's next attack came them the opening goal. Dartford made a hash of dealing with a cross from the right and Gray had time to pick his spot with a neat volley inside Brown's left-hand post.

Dartford fell flat after that.

Pugh had two shots blocked in the dying embers of the first half but Burman had a face like thunder when the players left the field at half-time.

Andy Pugh, who scored the winning goal, plays the ball past Telford's Neil Byrne Picture: Andy Payton

Telford almost doubled their lead moments after the restart. A long throw from the left travelled all the way to Rod McDonald, whose header hit the crossbar and bounced down on the line. The home side just about hacked the ball clear.

Burman introduced Harris for Tom Bradbrook and within a minute of coming on, the forward had helped Dartford restore parity. Harris drove towards the penalty area and when the ball reached Daley, he arrowed a brilliant shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

Harris was everywhere. He combined with Pugh to set up Daley for a shot which flew over, and from a clever Harris flick on the touchline, Daley raced into the box and narrowly missed the target for a second time.

Telford might have retaken the lead when Mike Phenix's cross found Clancy unmarked in the box - but a brave diving block by Nathan Collier stopped his shot.

And the excellent Daley laid on Dartford's second goal in the 64th minute. He sprinted down the left and whipped over a wonderful cross which Pugh, arriving late, gleefully slammed into the net.

The visitors had reasons to feel aggrieved when Adam Green handled an Adam Farrell cross. In the left-back's defence, the ball was drilled straight at him from close-range, but it would have been no surprise to see referee Christopher Powell point to the penalty spot.

Dartford almost scored a third goal when substitute Lee Noble's free-kick was flicked towards the top corner, only for Farrell to leap and head it off the line.

A gilt-edged chance went begging as the clock ticked past 90 minutes. Dartford had a three-on-one counter-attack which saw Sweeney pass to Harris and Harry Crawford run on the his flick, only for Hedge to stand tall as the substitute tried to go round him.

But the miss mattered not as Dartford survived four added minutes to claim the points.

Dartford: Brown, Collier, McAuley, Mitchel-King, Green, Hayes (Noble 69mins), E Bradbrook, Sweeney, Daley, Pugh (Crawford 76mins), T Bradbrook (Harris 52mins). Subs not used: Cornhill, Ibrahim.

Telford: Hedge, Baynes, Owens (Deacey 72mins), McDonald, Byrne, Akrigg, Platt, Clancy (Cooke 72mins), Farrell, Phenix, Gray (Smith 59mins). Subs not used: Lever, Pryce.

Attendance: 923.

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