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Dartford 3 Oxford City 2 match report

By Steve Tervet

Dartford moved into the National League South play-off places with victory over Oxford City on Tuesday night.

They flew out of the blocks at Princes Park and scored three goals in 26 minutes before half-time.

But it was a different story in the second half as Oxford fought back and almost forced a draw.

Dartford joint-managers Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle Picture: Andy Jones
Dartford joint-managers Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle Picture: Andy Jones

Dartford, playing their first game for 10 days, were unchanged, with Ryan Hayes and Elliot Bradbrook among the substitutes.

There were three changes to the Oxford side which held Tranmere to a 3-3 draw in the FA Cup on Saturday, including a debut for new signing Jack Self.

Andre Coker showed good early intent down the Dartford right, taking on Self and whipping in a cross which goalkeeper Craig King took off Jamie Philpot's toe in the six-yard box.

At the other end, Sam Nombe cut inside and curled a shot wide but the hosts were soon in front.

Coker got his toe to a bouncing ball in midfield, strode through the space that opened up in front of him and coolly finished past King.

One goal soon became two and this time it came from the left-hand side. Ben Greenhalgh and Mark Onyemah combined to feed Jordan Wynter, whose shot from outside the box rolled into the bottom corner with King rooted to the spot.

Three minutes later, though, Oxford pulled a goal back when the unmarked Joe Oastler headed home a free-kick from the left-hand touchline.

It was frantic stuff and Dartford should then have made it 3-1 on the counter-attack. One ball over the top got Philpot in behind and when he turned the last man, King did well to save. The ball ran for Charlie Sheringham, who seemed to have an open goal, but somehow a blue and white shirt got back to deflect his effort behind for a corner.

Oxford had their moments going forward but it was no surprise when they conceded again on 30 minutes.

Greenhalgh made ground down the left, crossed with his right foot and although King got a hand to Sheringham's close-range header, he couldn't keep it out.

It was easy for Dartford now, with City looking weary after their weekend exertions, and Sheringham warmed King's palms with an instinctive half-volley.

At the other end, Ronnie Vint threw himself in front of a Kunie Otudeko shot and probably saved a goal as the ball deflected up over the bar.

Oxford enjoyed more possession at the start of the second half but were unable to penetrate a well-organised Darts defence.

Reece Fleet steered one shot wide and saw another two blocked before Kabongo Tshimanga fired into the side netting.

Dartford responded by getting into a good area down the right but Daniel Johnson steered his shot wide at the near post.

A triple substitution by the visitors had little impact and Sheringham forced a save from King when he got his head to a Greenhalgh corner.

Greenhalgh's next delivery, a floated free-kick, reached Vint at the far post and his flying header was superbly tipped over by King.

But it was Oxford who struck next, in the 73rd minute, when Zac McEachran swept a low cross inside the far post.

Dartford's response was to send on Bradbrook and Hayes for the last 15 minutes but the home side survived a scare when McEachran had Bailey Vose scrambling with a shot which curled just wide.

Vose made a crucial save with his legs to deny Kyran Wiltshire as Dartford went into the last five minutes living dangerously.

City pushed all the way to the end but a combination of good defending and poor finishing kept it at 3-2.

King came up for a corner in stoppage-time but Dartford cleared their lines and with the goalkeeper stranded upfield, Hayes hit the post with a shot from all of 50 yards.

Dartford: Vose, Onyemah, Wynter, Vint, Bonner, Greenhalgh (Bradbrook 76mins), Noble, Philpot (Oyenuga 89mins), Coker (Hayes 76mins), Johnson, Sheringham. Subs not used: Murphy, Sam-Yorke.

Oxford: King, Jones (Jefford 63mins), Godwin-Malife, Self (Ashby 63mins), Musonda, Oastler, Nombe, Fleet, Tshimanga, Otudeko (McEachran 63mins), Wiltshire. Subs not used: Fasanmade, Dawling.

Attendance: 766.

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