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Dartford FC striker Phil Roberts off the mark with two goals against St Albans City

Phil Roberts says Dartford already feels like home after scoring his first two goals for the club.

Roberts was the Darts' matchwinner on Saturday with his brace sinking play-off rivals St Albans at Princes Park.

It's been a turbulent season for the 24-year-old but first impressions at Dartford have been good on both sides.

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Phil Roberts wheels away after scoring Dartford's winner against St Albans Picture: Sean Aidan
Phil Roberts wheels away after scoring Dartford's winner against St Albans Picture: Sean Aidan

Roberts said: "I had a good pre-season at Hemel Hempstead but the last game before the season started, I pulled my hamstring.

"From there had a stagnant season where I kept trying to rush it back and it wasn't right. I had to come away from it and really get my hamstring right.

"Dean (Brennan) and Stuart (Maynard) left to go to Billericay and then we had Jordan Parkes in for a bit, when I was just coming back to full fitness.

"It was a bit of a rocky stage at Hemel. I didn't feel settled within the squad, I didn't know what was going to happen and that played on my mind a bit.

"Joe Deeney came in and I don't think we would have worked for each other to be honest.

"I knew there was interest from other clubs and being from Ilford, Dartford's only half an hour away. The way this club is, how well it's run and how settled it is, how everything's there for you, it made my mind up that is somewhere I want to be, really set down roots here and try to play my best football."

Roberts played against Dartford for Braintree last season so he had an idea of what to expect.

He said: "Coming up against them, I knew they had a tight-knit squad because of the way they graft and work hard.

"But when you come in and see how friendly everyone is from the minute you open the front door to when you see people around the place, children might be training, it seems like a really family-orientated place and that's helped me to settle down quickly. I don't think I've ever settled into a team as quickly as I've settled here.

Phil Roberts sets off as Charlie Sheringham plays the ball forward Picture: Sean Aidan
Phil Roberts sets off as Charlie Sheringham plays the ball forward Picture: Sean Aidan

"If you're happy with what you're doing and where you are, it naturally takes the edge off.

"You might not be enthusiastic to come into training and that sets the tone for the rest of the session, then you might have a bad game and you think 'I don't even want to be here, I don't really like it' whereas here it just seems to go from strength to strength."

Roberts is a natural finisher and he proved it on Saturday, bursting into the box and slamming Charlie Sheringham's low cross into the roof of the net to open his account for Dartford.

"I was just happy I made contact with the ball," he admitted. "Charlie rapped it across and it's the only way he could have got it across.

"I just let it hit me and when I saw it hit the back of the net, it was a relief. As a striker, you can work hard, play well and have good games but you're judged on goals.

"Last week, at Wealdstone, I worked harder than I've ever worked but I'd rather just score a goal!"

Roberts showed his class two minutes from time with an exquisite finish to win the game.

Billy Crook's ball over the top sent him clear and with Saints defender Lewis Knight trying to wrestle him, Roberts hooked a half-volley high over stranded goalkeeper Dean Snedker and turned to see the ball drop under the crossbar.

He said: "It was great to be able to win the game, that's what strikers love. They're the chances you relish.

"When you take them, you're the hero and when you don't, you're the villain so it was nice to be on that side of things."

Read more from Phil Roberts in the Dartford Messenger on Thursday.

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