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Dartford 2 Gosport Borough 3 match report

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Dartford suffered their first home defeat of the season on an afternoon to forget at Princes Park.

Missed chances and bad defending cost the Darts against Gosport Borough, who scored either side of half-time through the prolific Justin Bennett.

Elliot Bradbrook pulled one back for the home side but it was game over when substitute Lee Wort made it 3-1 and a stoppage-time header from Tom Bradbrook came too late.

George Sykes goes up for this header with Gosport's Ryan Woodford Picture: Andy Payton
George Sykes goes up for this header with Gosport's Ryan Woodford Picture: Andy Payton

Former Barnet striker George Sykes made his full debut for Dartford, replacing the injured Andy Pugh in attack. Pugh, having scored two goals in the 3-2 win at Concord on Tuesday night, later pulled up with a groin injury and so it was Sykes who partnered the in-form Tom Bradbrook.

Gosport made two changes from their 2-2 draw with Whitehawk, manager Alex Pike bringing in Perry Ryan and Jamie White for Ryan Scott and George Barker.

The home side had the better of the first half and missed several good chances to score.

Sykes hooked a Jack Simmons cross wide and when Ryan Hayes dispossessed a sluggish Brett Poate, he ran through one-on-one with Nathan Ashmore but couldn't beat the goalkeeper from close range.

In the scramble which followed, Simmons and Lee Noble had shots blocked and Gosport survived.

Ronnie Vint then overlapped Hayes down the right and when his cross struck Mike Carter inside the box, Dartford appealed loudly for a penalty. Referee Lloyd Wood waved away their handball claims, however.

Still the hosts kept pressing. Tom Bradbrook turned the ball into Sykes' path and his low shot was grabbed by Ashmore. Simmons then caught TJ Cuthbertson dawdling at right-back and set up left-back Mark Onyemah, who forced another save from Ashmore.

Hayes got in behind Gosport again and passed to Tom Bradbrook but the visitors somehow cleared their lines again. Ashmore dived to his right to keep out a curling Hayes effort as Pike looked on nervously from the directors' box.

Elliot Bradbrook rose well to meet a corner but his header was hacked off the line.

And Dartford were left to rue those missed opportunities as Borough took a 42nd-minute lead.

On-loan left-back Mark Onyemah gets a shot away for Dartford Picture: Andy Payton
On-loan left-back Mark Onyemah gets a shot away for Dartford Picture: Andy Payton

Bennett, having just laid on a good shooting chance for Jamie White, stepped up to score from 12 yards after Noble had chopped down Ryan in the area.

The second half was less than two minutes old when Bennett controlled a long ball forward, cut inside and drilled a low shot straight at Deren Ibrahim.

Dartford now lacked an attacking spark and manager Tony Burman responded by making a double substitution just before the hour. Sykes and Simmons came off, with academy graduate Kaka Dembele and the experienced Barry Cogan sent on in their place.

Things were about to get worse for the Darts though. One long ball forward had the Darts defence in trouble and Callum McNaughton's pass back to Ibrahim was woefully under-hit, allowing Bennett to steal in and toe-poke the ball past Ibrahim's left hand.

Dartford needed an instant response and they got one. Hayes crossed from the right and Elliot Bradbrook forced the ball home from a yard out.

Suddenly the ground came to life as belief flooded back into the home supporters - and players.

Dembele offered Dartford a different dimension, lashing a low cross through the six-yard box and then dancing past a defender and seeing a low shot saved at the near post.

Tom Bradbrook was utterly baffled to be shown a yellow card when he jumped for a high ball with Ashmore. There was no contact between the players but referee Lloyd Wood clearly bought into Ashmore's theatrics, reaching for his pocket as the goalkeeper rolled around on the floor.

But the momentum had gone from Dartford's attacking play and Ryan dragged a shot well wide at the other end as time ticked away.

Wort killed the game off three minutes from the end. The substitute was left all alone and he contolled Bennett's pass before coolly chipping Ibrahim for Gosport's third goal.

Tom Bradbrook looped a header over Ashmore in the 90th minute but there was to be no dramatic late comeback.

Dartford: Ibrahim, Vint (Hamilton 78mins), Gardiner, McNaughton, Onyemah, Hayes, Noble, E Bradbrook, Simmons (Dembele 59mins), T Bradbrook, Sykes (Cogan 59mins). Subs not used: Adams, Turner.

Gosport: Ashmore, Cuthbertson, Williams, Ryan, Poate, Woodford, Dunford, Carter, White (Wort 77mins), Bennett, Wooden. Subs not used: Wheeler, Barker, Walker, Scott.

Attendance: 812.

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