Welling United 1 Dartford 1
Darts keeper Alan Julian saves smartly from Luis Cumbers Picture: Keith Gillard
Dartford finally ended their 10-match losing streak with a hard-fought draw away to local rivals Welling on Friday night.
Jim Stevenson gave the Darts an early lead, although that was quickly cancelled out by Ross Lafayette's penalty.
The derby, played in front of Park View Road's biggest league crowd of the season, lacked intensity and quality but Dartford, for whom this was a first Skrill Premier point since October, will care little.
Welling's team bore two changes from their last outing, a 3-1 defeat at Aldershot on December 28. Connor McLaren came in for De'Reece Vanderhyde and returning skipper Lee Clarke replaced the suspended Blaine Hudson.
This was Dartford's first game since their Boxing Day defeat at the hands of the Wings and there were two new faces in their starting line-up. Defender Rory McAuley and ex-Welling striker Andy Pugh, both on loan from Cambridge United, made their Darts debuts, while Danny Harris returned after injury to replace Max Cornhill.
The game started scrappily but Dartford's opening goal, on 10 minutes, was very easy on the eye.
A patient passing move, involving most of the visiting players, saw play switched from left to right before Harris whipped in a low cross. It fell to Elliot Bradbrook and although his effort was blocked, Luton loanee Stevenson followed in to score.
Jim Stevenson puts Dartford ahead at Welling Picture: Keith Gillard
Ross Lafayette celebrates his goal for Welling Picture:Keith Gillard
But the Darts have let leads slip away from them too often and this one only lasted eight minutes.
They brought trouble on themselves, conceding a series of needless free-kicks and inviting Welling player-boss Jamie Day to whip in dangerous deliveries from out wide.
And from one of these, Lafayette was hauled down by Mat Mitchel-King, leaving referee Justin Amey little choice but to point to the spot.
Lafayette stepped up and found the bottom corner, despite Alan Julian diving the right way.
The two-goal salvo suggested the game would burst into life, but it didn't.
Welling enjoyed more possession and territory but it was Dartford who went closer to a second goal before the break.
Day lost possession 20 yards from his own goal and then barged Dave Martin to the floor. The winger took the free-kick himself but it was a poor effort and easily blocked by a defender.
Dartford's Dave Martin battles with Welling's Baily Cargill Picture: Keith Gillard
Injury forced Lafayette out of the game just before half-time, Luis Cumbers coming on in his place, before Loui Fazakerley replaced Baily Cargill at the start of the second half.
Dartford won three corners in quick succession and from one, Harris drew a good near-post save from Butcher.
The visitors stayed on the front foot and Stevenson rifled a terrific low shot just wide of the left-hand post after Pugh had chested the ball into his path.
But one pass split the Darts defence at the other end and Julian had to to be alert to race off his line and smother Cumbers' dinked effort.
Play drifted along aimlessly for long periods, as it had in the first half.
Harry Beautyman almost conjured something from nothing, unleashing a powerful shot from 30 yards which Julian saved well, diving to his left.
The home side started to apply pressure as time ticked away, with Dartford defending desperately in an effort to close out the result.
Andy Pugh on his Dartford debut against his former club Picture: Keith Gillard
A foul near the halfway line gave them momentary respite and Martin's deep free-kick was met by the head of Bradbrook, although Butcher saved easily.
But nerves were jangling in the away end when Kurtis Guthrie was bundled over just outside the Dartford area. Day whipped the free-kick over the wall and Julian scrambled across to save at his near post.
The visitors, though, threw themselves into tackles to keep Welling out and they almost won the game in the fourth minute of stoppage-time.
Butcher made a hash of trying to collect a bouncing ball and it went behind for a corner, which Mitchel-King almost converted. His point-blank effort was hacked off the line by Day and Mr Amey was then surrounded by angry Dartford players when he blew for time before the subsequent corner could be taken.
Welling: Butcher, McLaren, Franks, Bergqvist, Cargill (Fazakerley 46mins), Day, Clarke, Beautyman, Guthrie, Healy, Lafayette (Cumbers 43mins). Subs not used: Hughes-Mason, Turner, Joe Obersteller.
Dartford: Julian, Burns, Mitchel-King, McAuley, Sterling, Woodyard, Bradbrook, Harris (Kamara 87mins), Stevenson, Martin, Pugh (Collier 82mins). Subs not used: Ibrahim, Hill, Monger.
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