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Dartford manager Ady Pennock says club paying price for inability to stamp out basic errors as National League South survival hopes look slim

Dartford manager Ady Pennock admitted his squad have lacked the quality when they’ve needed it.

The Darts are on the brink of relegation from National League South after losing 2-1 at home to play-off chasing Worthing on Tuesday night.

Dartford have struggled at home this season, winning just five games. Picture: Steve Terrell
Dartford have struggled at home this season, winning just five games. Picture: Steve Terrell

They gave themselves a glimmer of hope by beating Havant last Saturday but two defensive lapses again proved fatal at Princes Park.

Dartford have won just five home games all season and while the performance levels have improved under Pennock’s charge, he’s been unable to eradicate the basic errors that have plagued their campaign.

“It was out of our hands before the Worthing game and it has been for the last couple of weeks,” admitted a brutally honest Pennock.

“We’ve had opportunities to beat teams at home and we just haven’t produced and turned up in some games.

“It’s not through a lack of effort, it’s a lack of quality.

“The fans were brilliant again in midweek. They saw the effort but unfortunately they saw the mistakes and they’re used to that.

“We’ll go to every game still clinging on and you never know in football, you just never know. All we can do now is give it everything we’ve got.”

Dartford visit Yeovil this Saturday, a side that will be crowned league champions if they pick up a point at Truro tonight (Thursday). Their fate could be sealed in Somerset.

“I hope they have a good drink on Thursday if they win the league, a good drink on Friday as well, and carry on drinking into Saturday morning!” joked Pennock.

“It’s out of our hands anyway. Torquay won on Monday night and other teams have to play each other so they’ll pick up a point or three around us. It’s extremely difficult.

“We’ll know more by Saturday if it’s going to be over or not as there are games on Wednesday and Thursday as well.

“It was a big opportunity for us as Worthing weren’t firing on all cylinders. We had a good plan and it worked, it was lady luck and bad mistakes that cost us dearly.”

There was an element of fortune about Worthing’s equaliser when a cross sailed over the head of Darts on-loan keeper Rhys Byrne but the second goal was a dreadful mistake by Joash Nembhard.

“Nobody means to make mistakes, he didn’t mean to do it on purpose,” added Pennock.

“Everybody knows the problems we’ve got at the club and have had since the start of the season. I’ve been here a month and a week. They are what they are.

“It was a tough one to take. We played really well in the first half, the plan that we did before the game worked and we went 1-0 up. We went in at half-time and were arguably the better team.

“Their first goal was a fluke, the lad’s sliced it but we had good possession of the ball on the far side and we gave it away too cheaply, and they broke.

“The second goal we made a mistake and got punished. I can’t remember Rhys having a save to make.

“We pressed at certain times, we couldn’t press every single time as we’re not fit enough to do it. There were times when we did come off it. We kept a good shape, especially first half, but you can’t keep playing games and do what we do, we make mistakes and that’s it.

“These boys should be much fitter than they are and if you’re not physically fit then you’re not going to be mentally fit so maybe that’s the problem.

“I’ve got to say they did put a good effort in. they’re knackered in there. I’ve said before that we’re lacking quality in areas which everybody knows but they give me everything so I can’t complain on that side of it. I’m just bitterly disappointed and frustrated.”

One shining light again for Dartford was the performance of youngster Olly Box.

“Olly is a bright spark and I love him to bits, hopefully he’ll have a good future for us here,” said Pennock.

“He worked his socks off, his position play was very good, he got the penalty for us and had some little chances in the second half. He’ll only get stronger and better.”

Dartford visit Cray Wanderers in the London Senior Cup on Tuesday night.

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