Dartford 3 FC Halifax Town 2
Dartford are into the FA Trophy
semi-finals after emerging victorious from a dramatic replay
against Halifax at Princes Park on Wednesday night.
Having been fortunate to escape
with a 1-1 draw from the original quarter-final in West Yorkshire a
week earlier, the Darts found themselves behind after just two
Two goals in as many minutes put them
in front after the break and when Ryan Hayes curled in a third
goal, 11 minutes from time, the tie looked as good as over.
However, Dan Gardner’s long-range
thunderbolt made it 3-2 and the last few minutes were a nervy
affair after Elliot Bradbrook (pictured) drilled a penalty
kick against the crossbar.
Dartford manager Tony Burman made four
changes from the side beaten 5-0 at Mansfield on Saturday.
Bradbrook returned after missing four games through injury and
there were also recalls for Hayes, Richard Rose and Jacob
The visitors had started strongly at
The Shay and they repeated the trick in north Kent. Just two
minutes had elapsed when Darts keeper Marcus Bettinelli allowed
Gardner’s soft effort to creep past him and nestle in the bottom
At the other end, Danny Harris ran
through only to be denied by Halifax stopper Matt Glennon. Erskine
then hit the bar with a header and referee Charles Breakspear
awarded a penalty for the foul which followed, only to see the flag
had already been raised for offside.
It should have been 2-0 to the Shaymen
midway through the half but Lee Gregory was guilty of a bad miss
from inside the six-yard box. When Bradbrook failed to connect with
a bicycle kick, the ball dropped to Harris and his stabbed shot was
gathered by Glennon.
The game was turned on its head when
Dartford scored two quickfire goals early in the second-half.
First, Erskine intelligently laid the
ball off to Lee Noble, who planted a precise shot into the bottom
corner. Then Bradbrook stormed into the box and beat Glennon with a
neat left-footed finish to mark his return in style.
Gardner and Gareth Seddon had shots
saved by Bettinelli but Town’s race looked to be run when Hayes
dropped his shoulder and found the bottom corner with a delightful
effort on 79 minutes.
The drama was far from over, though.
Gardner unleashed a powerful long-range shot which struck the far
post and bounced in to the delight of the hardy travelling
Straight from the kick-off, Dartford
went on the attack and Harris was brought down inside the box.
Bradbrook took the spot-kick but the ball cannoned off the bar and
away to safety.
The home side survived a frantic
finale and they now go through to a two-legged semi-final with Blue
Square Bet Premier leaders Grimsby Town.
Burman’s side travel to Blundell Park
for the first leg on February 16 before coming back to Princes Park
for the return on February 23.
Burns, Bonner, Arber, Rose, Hayes, Champion, Bradbrook, Noble,
Harris, Erskine (Collier 76mins). Subs not used: Wells, Wallis,
Rogers, D Green.