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Dartford joint-manager Adam Flanagan fumes at defensive display in FA Trophy defeat to Eastbourne

By Matthew Panting

Dartford joint-manager Adam Flanagan blasted his team’s defending as “scandalous” after they crashed out of the FA Trophy.

The Darts dramatically scored twice in the last two minutes to make it 2-2 in Tuesday’s third qualifying round replay against Eastbourne at Princes Park.

But they conceded a free header from a corner to ex-Darts defender Tom Gardiner.

Dartford joint-manager Adam Flanagan was livid after Tuesday's defeat at Eastbourne Picture: Andy Payton
Dartford joint-manager Adam Flanagan was livid after Tuesday's defeat at Eastbourne Picture: Andy Payton

“We’ve not played well and have got ourselves back in the game,” said Flanagan.

“I think it is scandalous that we’ve then not in the last 30 seconds of normal time switched on from a set-piece and thrown whatever needs to be thrown in the way of their lad getting on the end of it.

“We got ourselves back into the game, probably undeserved if I’m being honest, because Eastbourne deserved their two-goal lead.

“But then you think you’ve got a chance because you’ve not played well and shown good character to get the two goals.

“You think extra-time might be ours but we switched off from a set-piece and the old boy came back to haunt us.”

One positive that came out of the games against Eastbourne was the emergence of Academy product Taylor Fisher.

He started Saturday’s match at Priory Lane and then came off the bench to score the equaliser on Tuesday night.

“We’ve got some good young lads, it’s trying to build the environment where they can come into the team and perform well,” said Flanagan.

“Taylor got an opportunity on Saturday and he took it. We’ve got Liam Gillies who is a potential prospect as well. There will be opportunities during the season for him to get minutes.

“That’s all positives as the club have had success over the years of bringing players through.

“As a management team, Jamie (Coyle) and I would like to try, where opportunities arise, to give the young players game and match time. If we can do it within our own environment, great. If they need to go out (on loan) to get a bit of knowledge, then we’ll look at that.

“We’ve been pleased with Taylor and Liam and hopefully as the season progresses we’ll see more of them.

“They’re young and they need to build that experience. It might be that they don’t start immediately unless there are injuries, which is what happened at Eastbourne.

“We haven’t got a massive squad so there will be opportunities for these young players and we’ve got the confidence to throw them in.”

Dartford skipper Tom Bonner is set to return from injury when they host Torquay on Tuesday night.

Flanagan added: “Since Gary Johnson’s gone there he has improved them. There’s a connection with his son so he’s had a few loans from Bristol City.

“The feedback is that they are the best team in the league. If you want to be in the mix then you need to challenge yourselves against these teams.”

Dartford have cashed in twice on summer departure Alfie Pavey in the last month.

Pavey joined Havant with an undisclosed fee finally decided by a tribunal. The striker then moved to Dover last week, with Darts benefiting again courtesy of a sell-on clause.

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