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Dartford 0 Taunton Town 1 match report

Dartford still have work to do to seal second spot in National League South after Taunton grabbed a late winner on Thursday night.

The Darts lead third-placed Oxford City by two points but now have only one more game in hand as they aim for home advantage in the play-offs.

Maxwell Statham - hit the bar for Dartford in the first half. Picture: Simon Hildrew
Maxwell Statham - hit the bar for Dartford in the first half. Picture: Simon Hildrew

There was late drama off the pitch as well with Dartford manager Alan Dowson sent off by referee Harry Wager, presumably for dissent, after the linesman insisted a free-kick on halfway was moved back by just one yard.

Despite arriving late to the ground, Taunton were the side quickest out of the blocks.

Dylan Morgan shot just wide after Nat Jarvis nodded down a third-minute centre and the same player was denied by an excellent Tom Bonner block moments later when a near-post corner was helped on.

Taunton hit the woodwork on eight minutes, Ollie Chamberlain letting fly from 25 yards but his right-foot shot coming back off the post.

Dartford’s first real attack also saw them hit the post, Max Statham’s header coming back off the upright from a Luke Allen left-wing delivery after 11 minutes.

That bright opening with chances at either end did not set the tone of what was to follow as both sides struggled to string any passes together.

The game livened up on 25 minutes when Dartford’s Bobby Dunn earned himself a booking for needlessly taking out Chamberlain right in front of the opposition dugout. Referee Harry Wager surprisingly decided not to take any further action despite a melee involving both sets of players and managers as well as some choice language.

Marvin Herschel, restored to the Dartford side after three loan spells away, was their only spark in the first half and his tricky footwork nearly created an opening just past the half-hour.

The woodwork was hit for a third time on 36 minutes but Allen – who scored a stunner from long range to beat Dover on Easter Monday – saw his left-foot shot touched onto the bar by Taunton keeper Jack Bycroft.

Dartford replaced Dunn with Richard Chin at the break and switched formations at the same time.

While Herschel had an early effort saved by Bycroft, it was Taunton that seemed to have the upper hand although the second half was more memorable for a flurry of yellow cards dished out by referee Harry Wager. Taunton’s Dave Sims-Burgess with perhaps the crudest of the challenges, seeing yellow for a foul on Jernade Meade.

The referee was never in control of the game, although he was not helped as Taunton repeatedly surrounded him whenever a player went down.

The game looked to be heading for a bore draw until a right-wing cross fell perfectly for Cameron Evans to slot past keeper Ben Dudzinski from close range.

Dartford: Dudzinski, Statham, Essam, Bonner, Meade, Wynter (Murtagh 56mins), Dunn (Chin 46mins), Allen, Herschel (Smith 81mins), Bradbury, Coulson. Subs not used: Fonkeu, Napa.

Taunton: Bycroft, Grimes, Ball, Wannell, Evans, Guest, James, Morgan, Chamberlain (Smith 46mins), Sims-Burgess (Stearn 84mins), Jarvis (McCootie 74mins). Subs not used: none.

Referee: Harry Wager.

Attendance: 877.

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