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Dartford 0 Torquay United 0 match report

By Steve Tervet
Dartford captain Elliot Bradbrook on the ball against Torquay Picture: Andy Payton

Elliot Bradbrook missed a penalty as Dartford drew with Torquay United on Saturday.

The visitors had the better of the first-half chances, forcing several good saves from Darts goalkeeper Jason Brown and hitting the woodwork.

Dartford, though, looked good in the second period - only for Bradbrook to waste the game's best chance when he failed from 12 yards.

There were two changes to the Dartford line-up from their 1-0 defeat at Kidderminster.

Ryan Hayes started his first competitive game for almost 10 months, the talismanic winger having missed much of last season with a knee injury. He took Luke Daley's place in midfield, while Tom Bradbrook started up front in place of Harry Crawford.

The rib injury Lee Burns sustained at Woking in the first week of the season kept him out again, so Nathan Collier continued at right-back.

For the visitors, Ben Harding (injured) and Ryan Bowman (suspended) were missing, while Ashley Yeoman dropped to the bench. In came Toby Ajala, Courtney Richards and Duane Ofori-Acheampong.

Dartford started the game at a good tempo but it was the Gulls who created the early chances.

When an attempted clearance was charged down, Ofori-Acheampong bore down on goal and the hosts were indebted to Brown, who stood tall to save.

Brown and Ofori-Acheampong resumed their duel moments later, the striker turning smartly in the box and Brown denying him for a second time. From the resulting corner, Gulls skipper Luke Young warmed Brown's palms from distance.

Dartford do their best to block this strike from Torquay's Duane Ofori-Acheampong Picture: Andy Payton

But the men in white were playing some decent football - and they had chances, too.

Hayes picked out Andy Pugh with a delightful floated cross from the right and the centre-forward's header back across goal forced a good diving save from Martin Rice.

The same player then went close again. Adam Green's flat left-wing cross was controlled by Pugh, who arrowed a low volley goalwards. Rice turned his shot behind.

Peter Sweeney swung over a deep corner which was headed wide, on the stretch, by Elliot Bradbrook.

But Dartford's poor passing in midfield invited Torquay forward and the technically astute visitors needed no second invitation.

Had it not been for a brilliant treble save from Brown, the home side would have been behind. Brown palmed out a low Louis Briscoe effort, somehow blocked Ajala's rebound from point-blank range and then saved from Young as well.

Brown was beaten by the next effort, a low shot across the face of goal by Young, but the far post came to his and Dartford's rescue.

The home side were counting their blessings to still be in the game at this point.

However, they might still have struck late in the first half.

Dartford's Peter Sweeney on the ball against Torquay Picture: Andy Payton

Elliot Bradbrook's left-wing cross was headed wide of the near post by his younger brother Tom Bradbrook and Pugh then sent a lazy lob wastefully over the bar after a defensive mix-up between Aaron Downes and Angus MacDonald had gifted him an opportunity out of nowhere.

A speculative low shot from Ajala flew behind at the start of the second half.

Then came the golden opportunity for Tony Burman's men to go in front. Collier played a long ball down the right-hand channel, Tom Bradbrook got the wrong side of Downes and he was clearly hauled down by the Torquay defender.

Elliot Bradbrook stepped up but his penalty clipped the top of the bar and sailed behind.

The visitors breathed a sigh of relief and then went close at the other end.

Courtney Cameron had two efforts on goal in the space of a minute, the first held by Brown and the second deflected behind.

Another shot from Cameron flashed across goal and just flew past the angle.

Then, the Darts couldn't quite force a dangerous Hayes corner over the line as Torquay survived a scramble in the six-yard box.

Hayes swept a wild shot well over and Cameron had a free-kick saved by Brown in stoppage-time, but neither side could find a winning goal.

It was head-in-hands time for Bradbrook at the final whistle.

Dartford: Brown, Collier, McAuley, Mitchel-King, Green, Hayes, Cornhill, E Bradbrook, Sweeney (Daley 67mins), Pugh (Crawford 75mins), T Bradbrook. Subs not used: Noble, Harris, Ibrahim.

Torquay: Rice, Tonge, MacDonald, Downes, Cruise, Briscoe (Wakefield 86mins), Young, Richards, Cameron, Ofori-Acheampong (Benyon 86mins), Ajala (Yeoman 70mins). Subs not used: Pearce, Seabright.

Attendance: 1,163.

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