Published: 18:17, 28 December 2019
| Updated: 19:11, 28 December 2019
Dartford claimed their second win in three days as they eased past struggling Tonbridge in National League South - despite having defender Josh Hill sent off late on.
After scoring twice against Welling on Boxing Day, Darren McQueen broke the deadlock in the first period, before Elliott Romain scored the second to put them in control after the restart.
Hill was then sent off in the closing stages following an off-the-ball incident but that didn’t stop the Darts from sealing the victory, substitute Charlie Sheringham netting a late third.
Dartford’s first-half dominance began in the fifth minute when Romain headed towards goal after Ky Marsh-Brown’s corner but Tonbridge defender Jack Parter cleared off the line.
Nine minutes later, the hosts had their appeals for a penalty turned down. McQueen was bundled over by Angels captain Sonny Miles but referee Philip Stayings waved away their claims.
There was another opportunity for Steve King’s team with 24 minutes played when Tyrique Hyde’s right-wing cross found Romain but his header was easily saved.
Dartford’s early dominance did pay off in the 27th minute, though, when a clever back-heel from Hyde found McQueen. The 24-year-old made no mistake, smashing home his third goal in as many days to break the deadlock.
As the home side looked to extend their advantage, Hill climbed highest to get on the end of a Marsh-Brown corner, but he couldn’t beat keeper Jonny Henly.
Tonbridge almost gifted Dartford a goal on 38 minutes, as centre-backs Rian Bray and Miles collided. Liam Gordon fired towards goal, only for James Folkes to clear off the line.
Three minutes before the break, the hosts, once again, went close to deservedly extending their lead when Romain broke through, only for his effort to strike the post.
At the end of the first period, Alex Bentley had a chance for the visitors as he headed a D’Sean Theobalds corner towards goal but Dartford keeper Alhaji Sesay made the save.
Angels rarely threatened in the first half, although they did manage to create an opportunity inside the first two minutes after the restart as Jared Small cut in off the right wing and forced a save from Darts goalkeeper Sesay.
Small, again, attempted to create an opening for the visitors when his right-wing cross flashed across the face of goal.
Tempers began to fray shortly after the hour mark, with Tonbridge’s Small and Dartford’s Romain receiving a booking apiece in quick succession in separate incidents.
But, midway through the second period, Romain doubled Dartford’s lead in style. He picked up the ball, drove forward and hammered home from around 25 yards out.
In the final minutes of normal time, remarkable scenes saw Dartford defender Hill get sent off. Hill was dismissed for an off-the-ball incident which occured in his own penalty box, but the match continued from a Dartford free-kick - and not a Tonbridge penalty - due to the incident seemingly occurring while the ball was out of play.
Substitute Sheringham added the icing on the cake for the hosts, lashing past Henly to round off the victory.
The result sees Dartford move up to 10th in the table, remaining two points outside the play-offs places, while Tonbridge stay in the relegation zone in 21st.
Dartford: Sesay, Wynter, Gordon, Crook, Hill, Bonner, Marsh-Brown (Wanadio 75mins), Hyde (Hayes 80mins), Romain (Sheringham 84mins), McQueen, Berkeley-Agyepong. Subs not used: Vint, Liburd.
Tonbridge: Henly, Folkes (Smith 87mins), Parter, Bentley, Miles, Bray, Small, Theobalds, Williams, Donovan (Da Costa 70mins), Turner. Subs not used: Stirman, Hudson, McDonald.
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More by this authorThomas Reeves