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Dartford 1 Altrincham 2 match report

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Dartford slipped closer to relegation when they lost at home to Altrincham on Saturday.

Goals at the start of each half from Damian Reeves won the game for Alty and despite a deflected strike from substitute Ryan Hayes, the Darts finished empty-handed at Princes Park yet again.

Dartford midfielder Peter Sweeney takes on Altrincham's Peter Cavanagh Picture: Andy Payton
Dartford midfielder Peter Sweeney takes on Altrincham's Peter Cavanagh Picture: Andy Payton

Jordan Chiedozie, a loan signing from Cambridge United, made his debut up front for the hosts, with Harry Crawford the man to make way. Elliot Bradbrook filled in for Brighton loanee Tom Dallison at centre-half, while Nathan Green returned on the left wing.

Altrincham's only change from their 0-0 draw with FC Halifax a week earlier saw Jordan Sinnott - the son of manager Lee - drafted in for Simon Richman.

It took the visitors just 10 minutes to break the deadlock - and their goal came from a Dartford set-piece.

Lee Noble's free-kick from wide on the left came to nothing and as the yellow shirts streaked forward, Nicky Clee played in Reeves for a shot which drifted across Deren Ibrahim into the far corner.

The hosts tried to respond, Peter Sweeney playing a pass into Andy Pugh's feet, but although the striker turned and got a shot away, veteran goalkeeper Stuart Coburn made a routine save at his near post.

That was as good as it got in a first half which lacked quality - and any real fight from the Darts.

Central midfielders Jake Moult and Peter Cavanagh were allowed to run the game for Altrincham, with the visitors afforded too much time on the ball all over the pitch.

James Lawrie forced a save from Ibrahim after strolling through midfield and Dartford then lost Green to injury, with the introduction of Nathan Collier from the bench prompting a change of shape.

Things looked bleak at half-time and they got even worse five minutes after the restart.

One long ball cut the Darts defence open and with Bradbrook appealing for an offside flag which never came, Reeves steadied himself and scored with a shot which went in via the inside of the far post.

Dartford manager Tony Burman sent on a third centre-forward, Crawford, in an attempt to salvage the situation, before withdrawing Andy Pugh and sending on Hayes.

Sweeney's wayward volley from 35 yards was greeted with ironic cheers from the frustrated home faithful, although Chiedozie's flick wide from a Callum Driver cross was a more worthy effort.

A looping header from Crawford dropped tamely into Coburn's arms but the deficit was about to be halved.

Hayes, who'd been on the field for only three minutes, cut in from the right wing and his low shot seemed to take a deflection before sneaking inside Coburn's left-hand post to make it 2-1.

Ryan Hayes joined Dartford from Slade Green in 2005 Picture: Andy Payton
Ryan Hayes joined Dartford from Slade Green in 2005 Picture: Andy Payton

With skipper Bradbrook now playing in his regular central midfield position, there was more bite to Dartford's play as the game entered its final 10 minutes.

Coburn made a crucial punch to stop Bradbrook heading in a dangerous Sweeney cross and Chiedozie then had a goalbound shot blocked after latching onto Noble's pass.

A game of eight yellow cards saw Cavanagh collect his second in the 89th minute but the 10 men of Altrincham negotiated four minutes of stoppage-time and condemned Dartford to their ninth home defeat of the season.

Dartford: Ibrahim, Driver, McAuley, E Bradbrook, Richards, Harris (Crawford 56mins), Noble, Sweeney, Green (Collier 32mins), Pugh (Hayes 65mins), Chiedozie. Subs not used: Daley, Kessell.

Altrincham: Coburn, Leather, Havern, Marshall, Griffin, Moult, Cavanagh, Sinnott (Williams 73mins), Lawrie, Clee (Crowther 82mins), Reeves (Perry 81mins). Subs not used: Gillespie, Parton.

Attendance: 982.

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