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Eastbourne Borough 6 Dartford 0 match report

By Steve Tervet

Dartford's play-off hopes are hanging by a thread after they were thrashed by lowly Eastbourne on Saturday.

The home side hadn't won in their previous 15 matches but they tore the Darts to shreds at Priory Lane.

Jamie Coyle and Adam Flanagan's side remain three points outside the National League South top seven with just two matches remaining.

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

Already down to the bare bones, Dartford were further depleted by the loss of loan striker Darren McQueen to an injury sustained in training with parent club Sutton during the week.

Charlie Sheringham was still out and Andy Pugh only fit enough for the bench so on-loan Maidstone winger Andre Coker led the Darts attack supported by Joe Healy on just his fourth appearance for the club.

There was also a change in goal, with Bailey Vose dropped and Louis Wells drafted in having joined from Margate just before the transfer deadline.

Elliot Bradbrook, Mark Onyemah and Billy Crook were among the other Dartford players ruled out by injuries but even allowing for all of the absentees, there was no excusing Dartford's abysmal performance on the south coast.

They lost their battles all over the pitch, gave the ball away cheaply and looked wide open every time the Sports broke forward.

It all started in the 14th minute, when Kane Wills' driven cross was headed back across Wells by Charlie Walker, who was stood unmarked inside the six-yard box.

At the other end, Coker drove a shot straight at goalkeeper Sam Howes after a neat turn on the edge of the box but the ball simply wasn't sticking up front and Eastbourne gratefully accepted the invitation to drive the visitors back.

Dave Martin looked boxed in near the corner flag but he managed to turn away from two defenders before lashing a shot just wide from a narrow angle.

The second goal wasn't long in coming, with Ryan Hayes punished for giving the ball away on the touchline. Left-back Kristian Campbell surged past him and although Wells did well to save Walker's powerful shot, Lloyd Dawes teed up Wills for a simple finish.

It was easy for Eastbourne, far too easy, and Mike West slid Martin through only for the offside flag to save Dartford.

Healy wafted a half-volley well wide when Coker flicked on a high ball but the home side continued to pose a threat every time they attacked.

Walker almost converted Tobi Adebayo-Rowling's low cross and one ball then opened up the visitors defence, with Wills running clear and denied by the faintest touch from Wells which took the pace off his shot and allowed Tom Bonner to get back and clear.

But it was 3-0, two minutes before half-time, when Wills picked up the ball in space and lashed a 25-yard strike high beyond Wells.

Coyle and Flanagan had little choice but to ring the changes at half-time and they sent on Andy Pugh and Tom Murphy for Ronnie Vint, who was far from fully fit, and Hayes.

There was more effort for a while but still little cohesion while Walker and West had half-chances for Eastbourne.

West saw his long shot palmed behind by Wells and although the resulting corner didn't beat the first man, West's second cross was not cleared and Corey Jordan passed the ball into the bottom corner.

Barely had play restarted than Eastbourne scored again, West rolling back the years with a stunning strike which kissed the inside of the far post on its way in.

Nico Cotton ran 50 yards and his low cross was almost turned in by Walker, who did complete a hat-trick from the penalty spot in the 68th minute.

Martin curled a free-kick onto the roof of the net as the Sports threatened even more punishment while the away end echoed to mournful chants of "we only want one goal."

But Dartford couldn't even manage that, despite a spell of late pressure, as the game petered out.

Eastbourne: Howes, Adebayo-Rowling, Campbell, Wills, Jordan, Ransom, West (Briggs 71mins), Torres, Walker, Dawes (Bingham 28mins, Cotton 62mins), Martin. Subs not used: Blackmore, Shaw.

Dartford: Wells, Driver, Vint (Murphy 46mins), Bonner, Johnson, Hayes (Pugh 46mins), Wynter, Noble (Smith 85mins), Greenhalgh, Healy, Coker. Subs not used: Vose, Leveson.

Attendance: 731.

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