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Dartford 3 St Albans City 2 match report

Phil Roberts scored a late winner as Dartford climbed into the National League South play-offs.

They led twice against St Albans through Roberts and Elliot Bradbrook but were pegged back twice in a dramatic first half.

However, Roberts followed up his first goal for the club with a quality second to send Princes Park wild.

Phil Roberts celebrates his winning goal with Billy Crook Picture: Sean Aidan
Phil Roberts celebrates his winning goal with Billy Crook Picture: Sean Aidan

New signing Billy Crook made his debut in central midfield for Dartford while Charlie Sheringham returned up front after injury.

Dartford started on the front foot, pressing high up the pitch, and it set the tone for much of the first half.

They showed good intent and used the ball well with plenty of white shirts getting forward in support of Sheringham and Roberts.

Roberts, in particular, was proving a handful for the Saints defence. He forced two early saves from goalkeeper Dean Snedker, the second of which came at the end of a flowing Dartford move which saw the ball moved well from right to left.

Darts kept positive and Ryan Hayes almost picked out Sheringham with a floated cross before Ben Greenhalgh bent a free-kick narrowly wide from 25 yards.

The goal their start deserved came in the 21st minute - and what a goal it was. The ball sat up for Bradbrook, well outside the box, and his sweetly-struck shot gave Snedker no chance as it flashed into the top corner.

Ben Greenhalgh gets Dartford moving in midfield Picture: Sean Aidan
Ben Greenhalgh gets Dartford moving in midfield Picture: Sean Aidan

Crook went close with a low shot following a corner but St Albans then started to come back into the contest.

Bradbrook had to throw himself in front of a Michael Clark shot and Ronnie Vint stopped a dangerous run from Solomon Sambou but the visitors were level on 34 minutes.

It seemed far too easy for St Albans to make ground down the left and David Moyo's low cross was rammed into the back of the net by Zane Banton.

Dartford, to their credit, responded well and were back in front five minutes later.

Roberts, having just latched onto a Hayes pass and tested Snedker, charged into the box again and emphatically finished Sheringham's low cross after his strike partner had beaten the office trap down the Dartford right.

But in the first of two added minutes at the end of the first half, the visitors equalised. Dartford were caught sleeping as Sam Merson collected Banton's short corner, spun away from his man and rifled a powerful shot across Bailey Vose into the far corner.

Andre Coker heads towards goal Picture: Sean Aidan
Andre Coker heads towards goal Picture: Sean Aidan

The Darts were forced to make a change at half-time, with Vint unable to carry on after receiving treatment. Andre Coker came on and Bradbrook dropped back into defence with Greenhalgh moving inside to partner Crook in the engine room.

St Albans immediately put the home defence under pressure with long throws and crosses and it needed a smart save from Vose to deny Merson a second goal from close range.

At the other end, the visitors did well to clear their lines when Tom Bonner got his head to a Greenhalgh free-kick and Bradbrook nodded Crook's deep corner over the bar.

Sheringham glanced a header wide from another decent Crook corner but play became increasingly scrappy with both sides guilty of giving the ball away cheaply.

Set-pieces looked the best route to goal now and Greenhalgh's tempting delivery from wide on the left was almost turned in by Bradbrook, arriving late at the back post.

Roberts did well to help a deep Hayes cross back into the six-yard box but Coker was unable to get any power into his effort and Snedker claimed easily.

It looked like time had run out but Roberts provided a moment of late magic with a looping finish over the stranded Snedker.

Dartford: Vose, Wynter, Vint (Coker 46mins), Bonner, Johnson, Hayes (Darbyshire 86mins), Crook, Bradbrook, Greenhalgh, Roberts, Sheringham (Philpot 81mins). Subs not used: Driver, Onyemah.

St Albans: Snedker, McLeod-Urquhart, Clark, Sanderson (Kiangbeni 83mins), Knight, Bender, Diedhiou, Sambou (Wyatt 88mins), Merson, Moyo, Banton (Da Costa 85mins). Sub not used: Gardiner-Smith.

Attendance: 1,018.

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