Grimsby Town 3 Dartford 0
By Steve Tervet at Blundell Park
Dartford will need a miracle to reach the FA
Trophy final following a calamitous climax to the first leg of
their semi-final against Grimsby on Saturday.
The visitors trailed to Craig Disley’s
first-half volley but they looked to have to kept the tie alive
thanks to a solid performance in the second period.
However, goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli
inexplicably dropped another Disley shot over the line with five
minutes remaining and Andy Cook then drilled in a third goal two
Lee Noble (pictured) was shown a straight red
card in stoppage time to complete a miserable afternoon for Tony
Burman’s side. They must now score at least three goals in the
second leg at Princes Park on Saturday to have any chance of
getting to Wembley.
Striker Harry Crawford went straight into the
Dartford starting line-up, having
re-signed for the club on loan from Barnet 24 hours
The Darts started brightly. Crawford sent one
shot wide before almost conjuring a majestic opener when he looped
the ball over a defender’s head and volleyed straight at Town
goalkeeper James McKeown.
However, Grimsby started to assert themselves
as the half wore on, with on-loan Bury winger Marcus Marshall
causing Dartford big problems down the left flank.
Town broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion
on 25 minutes. A corner from the right was only cleared as far as
Disley, who sent a sweet volley flashing past Bettinelli from 25
The goal left Dartford reeling and Grimsby
surged forward in search of a second. Derek Niven rolled a shot
just past the base of the post and Bettinelli then had to palm an
Andy Cook effort behind as the home fans cranked up the volume.
Marshall continued to maraud down the left
wing and his enticing cross was somehow headed wide by Joe Colbeck
when it looked easier to score.
The pace of the game dropped after half-time.
Goalmouth action was at a premium, with Dartford regaining a
foothold in the tie and enjoying much more possession.
They went agonisingly close to scoring through
substitute James Rogers, whose left-footed volley drew a save of
real class from Town stopper James McKeown. The Mariners fans rose
to salute their goalkeeper’s reflexes.
Noble then floated over an inviting free-kick
which Darts skipper Elliot Bradbrook headed over from close-range.
With five minutes left, both sides looked to have settled for a 1-0
result ahead of the return leg at Princes Park.
However, Bettinelli’s howler gifted Disley his
second goal and Cook’s strike – following some hesitant Dartford
defending – put Grimsby in complete control before Noble saw red
for tangling with Aswad Thomas on the touchline.
Dartford: Bettinelli, Burns
(Green 56mins), Bonner, Arber, Rose, Hayes (Rogers 60mins),
Champion, Bradbrook, Harris (Collier 77mins), Noble, Crawford. Subs
not used: Wells, Wallis. Attendance: 3,573.