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Dartford 0 Maidstone United 1 match report: Jack Barham scores the winner for Hakan Hayrettin's title chasers

Maidstone took another step towards winning the National South title after ending Dartford's unbeaten home record.

Ex-Darts striker Jack Barham scored the only goal in the first half as Maidstone did the double over their Kent rivals.

Maidstone United manager Hakan Hayrettin Picture: Steve Terrell
Maidstone United manager Hakan Hayrettin Picture: Steve Terrell

Barham also saw a penalty saved by Dan Wilks but it didn't matter, with the Stones, who ran and ran and ran, worthy winners at Princes Park.

Victory keeps them four points clear of Dorking, with four games remaining.

Darts made two changes to the side who won at Billericay on Good Friday, with Jernade Meade and Samir Carruthers in for Kristian Campbell and Kieran Murtagh.

Regan Booty returned in the visitors’ midfield after a three-match ban, taking Dominic Odusanya’s place in the only change from their win at Chippenham nine days ago.

Maidstone appeared to have benefited from the extra time off, taking the game to Dartford, backed by a sold-out away allocation of 700.

There was a blow for the Stones after a frantic start, with 22-goal leading scorer Joan Luque forced off injured inside 15 minutes, replaced by Christie Pattisson.

Luque had threatened moments before, denied by Wilks after collecting Sam Corne’s backheel, with Barham’s follow-up blocked.

Maidstone, 4-0 winners over Dartford when the sides met in December, took the lead in the 17th minute.

Barham, who scored a hat-trick in that game, was at it again, nodding home after an inswinging free-kick from Booty was flicked on by Michael Phillips.

The Stones were keeping Darts at arm’s length but Carruthers, the former Aston Villa midfielder, began to get a foothold as Steve King’s side fought back.

He played a couple of lovely passes for Marcus Dinanga to run on to as his influence briefly grew on the game.

From the first, Dinanga went for the early lob with Tom Hadler out of his goal, but couldn’t get the ball over the Stones keeper, and from the second he was snuffed out by Joe Ellul in the box.

Dartford manager Steve King Picture: Barry Goodwin
Dartford manager Steve King Picture: Barry Goodwin

Carruthers hit the inside of the post with a lovely 20-yard strike before Maidstone missed the chance to double their lead from the penalty spot.

Referee Dale Wootton pointed to the spot after Ellul hit the deck from a Booty corner but Barham, on penalty duties with Luque off injured, saw his 34th-minute strike pushed over by Wilks.

Dinanga had an effort blocked by the Stones defence from Jake Jebb’s cross as Dartford threatened early in the second half.

Ellul and George Fowler remained immaculate at the back for a Maidstone side who hit the bar twice in a matter of seconds just past the hour mark.

Ellul had the first effort, a cracking drive from the edge of the box which hit the underside of the bar, and Barham’s follow-up also stayed out.

Back came Dartford, with Dinanga firing narrowly past the far post after turning on the edge of the box before Carruthers put a strike into the stand after making room 20 yards out.

Deacon threatened at the other end from Hady Ghandour’s pass after Carruthers, worn down by Maidstone’s constant hassling and harrying, gave the ball away in midfield.

Deacon turned provider in the closing minutes, squaring for Ghandour, who missed from six yards out.

Dartford: Wilks, Wynter, Meade, Allen, Roberts, Bonner, Kalala (Alfa 70mins), Carruthers (Campbell 83mins), Robinson (Azeez 66mins), Dinanga, Jebb. Subs not used: Murtagh, Durojaiye.

Maidstone: Hadler, Hoyte, Fowler, Ellul, Binnom-Williams, Booty, Phillips, Corne, Deacon, Luque (Pattisson 14mins), Barham (Ghandour 72mins). Subs not used: Elokobi, Powell, Mersin.

Referee: Dale Wootton.

Attendance: 2,715 (700 away).

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