Published: 16:56, 16 October 2021
| Updated: 12:51, 17 October 2021
Dartford's FA Cup run came to an abrupt end in the second half at AFC Sudbury on Saturday.
Jack Jebb's stunning strike put the Darts in control but skipper Tom Bonner saw red in a dreadful second half which saw Isthmian North Sudbury score three goals to book their place in the first round.
It was a first defeat of the season for Steve King's Dartford side, who sit five points clear at the top of National League South.
Dartford dominated possession in the first half, although chances were hard to come by for the visitors.
Connor Essam twice failed to find the target from Jebb corners and Luke Allen worked his way into the box just before the break but shot straight at keeper Josh Blunkell.
AFC Sudbury were hoping to make their own luck and two speculative attempts were their only efforts at goal.
Lewis O'Malley shot wide from 35 yards after Darts lost the ball cheaply. Then, on 26 minutes, a foul by Jebb handed Sudbury a free-kick near the halfway line. With everyone's back turned, the quick-thinking Jake Turner stepped forward and hit a first-time right-foot shot which went just over the bar with keeper Craig King quickly racing back to his goal.
If Sudbury were looking for a moment of magic then it was Dartford that delivered on the stroke of half-time. One second over the three additional minutes signalled, Jebb stepped forward and sent an unstoppable 30-yard left-foot shot into the top corner.
The home fans moaned at referee Oliver Mackey for playing so long but they had just taken an age to take a throw-in near the halfway line.
It took Sudbury just five minutes of the second half to level the scores. Bonner upended Shane Temple 25 yards from goal and former Welling man Reece Harris stepped up to curl a free-kick in via the underside of the bar, the assistant referee indicating that it had crossed the line.
A good save by Blunkell denied Noor Husin an immediate response and the game then turned when Bonner was red carded just before the hour.
Forward Temple went down as Bonner won the ball, referee Mackey not hesitating in giving the free-kick and reaching for a second yellow card.
Boss Steve King picked up a yellow card, presumably for dissent, before Darts replaced Dan Roberts with Josh Hill and the game resumed.
But there was a further twist as almost immediately, as Sudbury went ahead. Temple ran at the visiting defence and curled a stunning left-foot shot beyond King from 20 yards.
Cheered on by hundreds of away fans, Dartford had just under half-hour to salvage the tie but it was not until the 87th minute that keeper Blunkell was seriously called into action when he tipped away Essam's goalbound header.
The third goal arrived three minutes into stoppage time when Sudbury broke clear and skipper O'Malley raced through from the halfway line on the counter attack to before finding the far corner to send the home supporters into dreamland.
The final whistle saw needless celebrations in front of the visiting fans by Sudbury players, but referee Mackey quickly departed the scene and was oblivious to the clashes of both sets of players on the pitch. He will no doubt be pleased to hear that order was restored while he was in the comfort of the dressing room.
AFC Sudbury: Blunkell, Keys, Harris, Turner, Grimwood, O'Malley, Nyadzayo (Stokes 79mins), Frimpong, Shaw, Temple (Gilchrist 73mins), Andrews (Hipkin 90+6mins). Subs not used: Girling, Askew, Smith.
Dartford: King, Wynter (Sonupe 76mins), Meade, Husin, Essam, Bonner, Leonard (Porter 66mins), Jebb, Roberts (Hill 62mins), Allen, Azeez. Subs not used: Kedman, Murtagh, Dalling, Wilks.
Referee: Oliver Mackey.