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Thurrock 0 Dartford 1 match report

By Steve Tervet
Dartford's Bode Anidugbe takes on Tarik Moore-Azille Picture: Dawn Hyslop

Dartford started their pre-season campaign with victory away to Thurrock on Saturday.

Tony Burman used 19 players at Ship Lane, where Rory McAuley's 49th-minute goal separated the sides.

There were five new signings in Dartford's starting XI, with goalkeeper Jason Brown playing behind a back-four which included McAuley and Adam Green. In attack, Andy Pugh partnered fellow summer arrival Tom Bradbrook, while right-winger Ryan Hayes made his first appearance for exactly eight months following a knee injury.

Dartford dominated the first half, although they seemed to have left their shooting boots at home.

Max Cornhill and Pugh both dragged shots well wide from distance, before Bradbrook managed to miss from just a couple of yards out. Darts skipper Lee Burns threaded a low cross through the six-yard box but Bradbrook turned the ball the wrong side of the post with the goal at his mercy.

Tom Bradbrook goes close for Dartford at Ship Lane Picture: Dawn Hyslop

At the other end, Brown pulled off a good save to deny Callum Ibe, before catching a mis-hit effort from the same player at his near post.

The first piece of real link-up play between Bradbrook and Pugh saw the strikers exchange passes on the edge of the box before Bradbrook drove a shot straight at Thurrock keeper Andy Walker.

Bradbrook then played a one-two with Burns, whose looping effort with the outside of his right boot had Walker back-pedalling and scrambling to claw the ball out of the top corner.

Burman made four changes at the break, giving trialists Jordan Adekunle, Dan Thompson, Luke Daley and Tom Derry their chance to impress.

But it was two familiar names who combined for the opening goal, four minutes after the restart. Lee Noble swung over a corner from the right and McAuley's towering header found the back of the net.

Derry, who played up front with Thompson, tried his luck from all of 35 yards and forced a smart save from Walker. Moments later, Daley drove down the right wing and powered a shot towards the top corner, which Walker tipped over.

Walker saved his side for the third time in as many minutes when he beat out Green's wicked drive. Daley tapped the rebound wide.

Thompson's clever reverse pass then picked out Derry on the edge of the box and he called Walker into action yet again.

But despite their superiority, Dartford almost had their lead cancelled out when Thurrock right-back Lewis Clark, racing in at the back post, scooped a deep cross over the bar.

The next chance fell to the visitors, who were in control for most of the afternoon. Adekunle accelerated down the left-hand side and centred for Derry, who shot over.

Thurrock, though, should have equalised in stoppage-time. Brown got lost under a high cross and Tarik Moore-Azille was faced with a tap-in, but he couldn't adjust his feet quickly enough and Brown's blushes were spared.

Dartford are at home to Millwall on Tuesday.

Thurrock: Walker, L Clark, Moore-Azille, Gilman, King, Sutton, Honeness, Spence, Warner, Ibe, J Clark. Subs: Gent, Martin, Hyslop, Jex, Stimson.

Dartford: Brown, Burns (Dembele 66mins), Mitchel-King (Vint 70mins), McAuley, Green (Anidugbe 66mins), Hayes (Daley 46mins), Collier, Cornhill (Adekunle 46mins), Noble (Suarez 70mins), T Bradbrook (Thompson 46mins), Pugh (Derry 46mins).

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