Published: 05:00, 03 May 2022
Dartford boss Steve King admitted his team got exactly what they deserved on Monday.
The Darts blew their chance to tighten the grip on third place in National League South by losing at home to Braintree.
Coupled with Ebbsfleet’s late winner at Billericay, it meant their north Kent rivals regained third spot in the division just 48 hours after dropping points themselves.
“Abysmal,” said King after his side’s late defeat to Braintree. “I thought we were poor, we didn’t deserve anything. Our desire levels weren’t there and we were shocking.
“I can count on one hand how many times we’ve played like that all season.
“That’s not acceptable to beat a good team like Slough 6-0 on Saturday, who have beaten Maidstone and Ebbsfleet over there recently, and then to perform like that is unacceptable.
“We went into their game, a little bit long ball-ish. They want to fight you, that’s their motto and that’s how they are, you’ve got to withstand that.
“We had a few shrinking violets out there who weren’t up to the level of winning the battle first which gives you a foothold in the game – we didn’t have it.”
King made changes from the side that won so impressively at Slough last Saturday.
But he pointed out it wasn’t a weakened team and that they should have performed much better than they did.
“It’s surprised me,” said the Dartford boss. “We made changes as we had to as we’ve got a few niggles here and there, but we’re putting in like for like.
“It’s not like we’re taking good players out and putting poor players in.
“We changed the front two of Marcus and Jordan and put Ade and Jake in who have scored 25, 27 goals between them this year.
“Keiran Murtagh has done his groin so will probably miss the play-offs now which is a big loss for us so George Porter came in.
“Danny Leonard was like for like with Kalvin, he could have put the ball in earlier a few times but they are the little margins that we weren’t hitting that we normally do.
“Tom Bonner was outstanding, Reice Charles-Cook in goal was outstanding and did what he had to do, he couldn’t do anything with the goal.”
Dartford’s only previous loss at Princes Park this season was to Maidstone.
King congratulated Hakan Hayrettin’s side on their title success, but felt the defeat to Braintree on home soil was much harder to take.
“Having the home form like we’ve had – losing just once in 19 league games before this one - we’ve lost to Braintree who, no disrespect, had nothing to play for,” said King. “That’s another kick in the balls when you think the only game we lost was to the champions, Maidstone.
“To have only lost to them was an unbelievable achievement so to lose this one leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
“Fair play to Maidstone, they deserved it. To only lose two of 25 games, and win most of them, was tremendous so hats off to Hakan, Terry Harris and their football club.
“But for us, to play against a team that had nothing to play for (in Braintree), had made three or four changes from their team on Saturday and left their forwards out and then put them on from the bench, I’m really disappointed.”