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Dartford manager Steve King delighted with 3-1 win at St Albans in National League South

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Dartford boss Steve King felt his team were 'exceptional' at times during their opening day win at St Albans.

It needed two goals in stoppage time from substitute Dan Roberts to claim a 3-1 victory for the Darts after Tom Bender cancelled out Ade Azeez's first-half header.

Danny Leonard - in action during pre-season against Charlton, impressed for Dartford at St Albans. Picture: Keith Gillard (50268478)
Danny Leonard - in action during pre-season against Charlton, impressed for Dartford at St Albans. Picture: Keith Gillard (50268478)

King was delighted with the points, and also the manner of Dartford's performance, particularly in the first half.

Debutant Danny Leonard, signed from Sheppey in the summer, impressed for the visitors as he gave former Dartford left-back Bender a torrid time.

"I thought we were exceptional in the first half, some of the football we played was exceptional," said King.

"Danny Leonard tore their defence to pieces, he put four unbelievable crosses in and we should have scored from all four of them, and that was going uphill.

"I know what Danny Leonard can do. I felt that he could have a big impact at this level for us. Every cross that came in was excellent and created danger for them.

"Even in the second half, he beat the defender and crossed for Dan Roberts which nearly ended up with an own goal.

"It went a bit flat in the second half from our point of view. Dan Wilks didn't have a save to make but he should have saved the goal they scored in my opinion.

"I said to the players that the subs needed to be ready to make an impact and that's what happened. They played a high line and we felt Dan Roberts could get behind them.

"But the second goal, look at the touch from Jack Jebb when the corner was cleared back to him, then to cross it on the half-bounce, it was a great ball in that Josh Hill flicked on for Dan Roberts to score.

"The third goal, Noor Husin cut them apart and Dan went through to score again."

While the goals came late, it was no more than Dartford deserved.

The visitors also had strong penalty appeals turned down by the referee.

"In my opinion we deserved to get the three points," added King. "Ade Azeez and Keiran Murtagh should have had penalties, the Ade one should have been a red as well but the referee didn't want to do that.

"We knew they were going to be a tough team to beat at home, they've got good players and a good manager so we're pleased to get points on the board from the first game."

Roberts comes up against his former club this weekend when Dartford host Slough at Princes Park.

The clubs have met plenty of times in recent months and King is hoping that the Darts fans turn out in big numbers for the opening home league game of the campaign.

"It's always a tough game against Slough and they had a good win last weekend against Chelmsford," said King.

"It seems like we've played them about 10 times in the last two years, we played twice in the league last season, the play-off games, the cup tie!

"They set their team up well, the two managers are great guys and I speak to them throughout the season.

"We had a really good following at St Albans, 250 or 300 at the game, and they were making a tremendous noise with their songs and the drum. Can we get that crowd to 1,500 at home?

"That might need us to get a few more wins on the board first but it would be great to have a big crowd at Princes Park. Every player said in the dressing room after the game what a difference it made and how good it was to have them back."

Dartford will visit Isthmian Premier League Cheshunt in a friendly on Wednesday evening, kick-off 7.45pm.

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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