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Dartford 2 Welling United 1 match report

Harry Crawford celebrates scoring for Dartford Picture: Keith Gillard
Harry Crawford celebrates scoring for Dartford Picture: Keith Gillard

Dartford climbed out of the Conference relegation zone when they beat Welling on Tuesday night.

Max Cornhill's terrific half-volley illuminated a poor first half at Princes Park and half-time substitute Harry Crawford made it 2-0 with a header shortly after coming on.

Harry Beautyman pulled a goal back for the visitors but they finished with nine men after Jake Gallagher and Chris Bush were both sent-off in the closing stages.

Dartford's first league win since September lifted them above the Wings, who have now taken just four of a possible 30 points away from Park View Road this season.

Tony Burman was missing defenders Mat Mitchel-King and Nathan Collier through injury, so Darts captain Elliot Bradbrook - normally a midfielder - dropped back to partner Rory McAuley at centre-half. New signing Callum Driver was named among the substitutes, while former Welling striker Andy Pugh replaced the injured Tom Bradbrook in attack.

The visitors, playing for the first time in 10 days, made two changes from their 2-1 home defeat to Barnet. Jonathan Henly replaced Benjamin Buchel in goal and Charlie Penny was handed his league debut up front, with Malachi Hudson dropping to the bench. Welling player-manager Jamie Day lined up against his old club in central midfield.

Dartford had beaten Bromley 4-3 in a pulsating FA Cup tie three days earlier, so their start - and the atmosphere - was perhaps predictably flat.

Neither side fashioned a chance of any description until midway through the first half, when Kieron St Aimie connected with Penny's cross and forced a good save from Jason Brown.

That warning seemed to spark Dartford into life and Peter Sweeney caressed a sweet left-footed volley just past the angle from all of 30 yards.

The deadlock was broken on 33 minutes. Ryan Hayes took a quick throw which released Danny Harris down the right flank and when his cross was only half-cleared, Cornhill ran on to the loose ball and powered a precise half-volley into the far corner.

Jonathan Henly's dive is in vain as Max Cornhill puts Dartford 1-0 up Picture: Keith Gillard
Jonathan Henly's dive is in vain as Max Cornhill puts Dartford 1-0 up Picture: Keith Gillard

Those two efforts were rare highlights in a first half horribly short on quality, though.

Crawford replaced Pugh at the break and he scored within six minutes of coming on.

Welling surrendered possession cheaply in midfield, Lee Noble spread the ball wide right for Hayes and his left-footed cross was powered in by the head of Crawford.

The home side now had a swagger about them while Welling's attacking play was rather predictable. Crawford ran clear down the inside-right channel and had a shot turned behind.

Day's side did start to cause Dartford some nervous moments as the game wore on, though, with Brown clawing a Joe Healy cross out of the top corner and Bradbrook throwing himself in front of a goalbound shot from Beautyman shot.

Hudson, on from the bench, had a shot blocked and Jamal Fyfield then latched onto a deep cross, swivelled in the box and drilled a shot straight at Brown.

At the other end, Sweeney curled a free-kick wide and Henly got down to keep out a Noble piledriver.

Gallagher then caught Sweeney late, earning himself a second booking and an early bath.

Beautyman slammed home a late goal but a bad night for Welling got even worse when Bush was dismissed for an apparent stamp on Noble.

Dartford: Brown, Burns (Driver 88mins), McAuley, E Bradbrook, Bender, Sweeney, Hayes (Daley 86mins), Cornhill, Noble, Harris, Pugh (Crawford 46mins). Subs not used: Ibrahim, Vint.

Welling: Henly, Fyfield, Gallagher, Bush, Beautyman, Penny, St Aimie, Jefford (Chambers 68mins), Williams, Day, Healy (Hudson 68mins). Subs not used: Fagan, Bassele, Corne.

Attendance: 1,512.

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