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Oxford United loanee Josh Johnson hits ground running to impress Dartford boss Alan Dowson in latest spell at Princes Park

Josh Johnson has received a glowing report from Dartford boss Alan Dowson - just one game into his latest loan spell.

The teenage Oxford United midfielder is back at Princes Park for a second time, having linked up with Dowson’s squad last season.

Dartford manager Alan Dowson likes what he sees so far from Josh Johnson. Picture: Keith Gillard
Dartford manager Alan Dowson likes what he sees so far from Josh Johnson. Picture: Keith Gillard

He scored on his return and was man-of-the-match in last Saturday’s 4-1 National League South win at Chippenham.

“JJ was our best player, he ran his socks off, scored a good goal and nearly got another one,” said Dowson. “He won the ball back and played it simple.

“I can’t praise the lad enough. Derek Fazackerley at Oxford, who helps us out a lot, said that he’d matured a lot over the summer and pre-season, but he’s had a little injury.

“He looked more like a man. One minute they’re like a shy kid who has gone out on loan and on Saturday he had a lot more maturity about him.

“He chased around, won balls, put his foot in, scored a good goal - all the things you want - and he gave us something extra in midfield.”

Experienced centre-back Moussa Diarra also turned in his best display since joining on loan from Barnet while two penalties from striker Harvey Bradbury should do wonders for his confidence.

“Moussa at centre-half had his best game so far,” noted Dowson. “It was the same when I signed him at Woking, when he first joined there he was shocking for two games. I know there’s a good player in there so hopefully he can show that now.

“I knew it would take him time as he missed a lot of time out through injury. He won every header and looked more like his old self. I knew he would come good.

“Harvey’s got himself two penalties just after he went clean through and I thought he should have scored.

“It’s going to do the world of good for his confidence, people will say it’s only a penalty, but when you’ve got to take one again two minutes later, you’re left with the question of do you put it in the same place or not. He scored them both so that’s great for him.”

The performance at Chippenham impressed Dowson, whose team made it back-to-back league wins.

“It was our best performance by a million miles,” noted the Dartford boss. “We played well against Bath on the first day of the season but we didn’t come away with a win.

“We played good football, we didn’t look in danger and to go there and win 4-1 should give everyone plenty of confidence.

“Our record that way hasn’t been that great over the past year, the last time we won was probably at Bath which was my first game in charge. You’ve got to give credit where credit’s due. We battled and worked very hard.

“We’ve got to look at the positives and only one team has conceded fewer goals than us in the league now. We’ve got to keep on going.”

The only dampener was a ridiculous red card for Maxwell Statham, whose second caution was for time-wasting when he took less than 10 seconds to take a throw-in with his team 4-1 ahead.

Statham will miss the re-arranged league trip to Hampton this Saturday but Tyrell Miller-Rodney is back from suspension.

“Unbelievable,” said Dowson on the red card. “Apparently, it’s happened in a game when a team has been losing as well - how can you time-waste when you’re losing?

“The referee gave out so many cards. We knew it was going to be a little bit different this season but being card-happy is ridiculous.

“I think if referees don’t give out a booking then they think they’re doing something wrong in the game. They look for things and should just let the game flow.

“We all need to sit down as I don’t think they know the rules and I don’t think we know them, either. We had a meeting at the start of the season when they said what was going to happen and we started with 12 minutes of stoppage time and lots of red cards.

“It’s calmed down a bit but let’s all get together and hear what it should be.”

Dowson is in no doubt about the task his team face at Hampton, a team that he managed previously. The teams drew 1-1 at Princes Park in August.

“They won at Havant on Saturday,” noted Dowson. “I thought we did enough to win the game at our place but it will be a tough place to go now as the expectations are that much greater with new owners.

“I had four great years there, we kept them up, won a championship and got to a play-off final. It’s a really good club, new owners have come in and they’re doing things differently.

“I’m looking forward to it, if we play like we did on Saturday then we’ll win it, and if we don’t then we’ll come unstuck again.”

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