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Dartford manager Tony Burman's reaction to the 3-2 win over Hemel Hempstead in National League South

By Matthew Panting

Dartford boss Tony Burman has urged his promotion contenders not to take a backward step in the National League South title race.

The Darts bounced back from the dismal 1-0 home defeat to Poole by beating play-off hopefuls Hemel Hempstead on Saturday courtesy of Alfie Pavey’s 90th-minute header.

Dartford were heavily criticised in many quarters following last week’s setback and Burman was relieved to see his team grab three points.

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Dartford celebrate Andy Pugh's first goal against Hemel Hempstead on Saturday. Picture: Andy Payton
Dartford celebrate Andy Pugh's first goal against Hemel Hempstead on Saturday. Picture: Andy Payton

“We can’t keep stepping backwards to go forwards,” said Burman.

“We’ve got to keep a consistency regardless of what 11 we play. That’s what we’ve got to carry on doing.

“It’s one game at a time but it’s the business end of the season and we’ve got to win as many as we can.

“It’s relief (to win the game). We’ve had a lot of stick. Some warranted in the right manner and some damn right disrespectful.

“The boys are trying their hardest. I don’t criticise my players that much in public. They’ve never let me down, I never say that as I think they are too strong words to say that. It’s just for other people’s benefits.

“It’s been a tough and difficult week to endure, and that’s for everybody. My only problem I’ve got is that we are a decent side and when we get ourselves in a good position, we take a step back.”

Dartford changed formation midway through the second half – a switch that paid dividends as two goals in the last nine minutes saw them come from behind to win in the snow.

It meant two-goal Andy Pugh playing off strikers Danny Mills and Pavey.

“We weren’t getting a lot of joy out wide so we changed it to a diamond and had Pughy in behind the front two,” said Burman. “I’ll probably get criticised for that but that’s the name of the game but it’s worked.

“Whether you like it or not, we haven’t won ugly. We’ve won with a bit of character and desire and shown again that we are back in the mix.

“We made things happen, especially in the second half. We kept going and that’s what you have to do.

“It’s about playing for the team and not being an individual. I was really pleased with the performance. There was too much arguing on the field last week for my liking.”

The mood around Princes Park at full-time was in stark contrast to the doom and gloom of the previous week.

But Burman sees it as a learning curves for the young guns in his squad.

“I’ve got some young players who have never been in position to win leagues, never been a number one striker, I stress that again, never been a number one striker where they’ve been,” he said.

“Sometimes you have to get them to come into the group, listen to people on the field instead of having a moan. Listen to guys who have experience and have won leagues, and today showed that they can do that.

“They’re learning all the time, especially the younger lads and this is another learning curve for them.

“Seven days in football is a long time, it was poor last week.

“We’ve had a really crap week, it’s been difficult with the some of the stick we’ve got but we’ve come back and I can enjoy my pint tonight!”

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