Published: 05:00, 10 October 2021
| Updated: 09:57, 10 October 2021
Dartford manager Steve King praised his team’s defending after a third successive clean sheet on Saturday.
The Darts defeated Hungerford 1-0 at Princes Park, a game that they dominated but were unable to score more than Ade Azeez’s 63rd-minute goal.
It meant they had to be rock solid defensively - and they were, with keeper Dan Wilks not being called into serious action during the 90 minutes despite captain Tom Bonner missing out through injury.
“We defended when we needed to defend properly,” said King. “We limited them to very little, one shot but nothing for Dan (Wilks) to save.
“I was more disappointed with the forwards in not scoring more, I think that was the disappointing thing but how can you grumble after another win - seven out of eight - and Ade scores again.
“We’re lucky that we’ve got four outstanding centre-halves at this level - they were strong, aggressive and defended properly. Tom Bonner had a groin strain so we didn’t want to risk him.
“It doesn’t matter who we play at centre-halve or in goal, they’ve got one job and that’s to keep a clean sheet.”
Azeez took his tally for the campaign to 11 goals while it was another assist for the impressive Danny Leonard, who has made the step up from Southern Counties East Sheppey look seamless.
“To be fair to Danny he has five assists, has scored three goals in his last four games and made goal after goal for Ade from minute one at St Albans away,” noted the Dartford boss.
“It is his first season at this level, he is an exciting player and he has a few things to work on. The forwards know the ball is going to come in so that’s brilliant for someone like Ade to get on the end of.
“When you’ve got a player like Ade then you know you’re always in the game because if you give him a chance then he normally scores. This is the highest-ever scoring ratio he’s had in his career.”
King was not a fan of Hungerford’s gameplan to frustrate and waste as much time as possible, virtually from the first kick of the game.
He revealed he spoke to referee Alex Blake before the game – but his plea appeared to fall on deaf ears.
Like the home fans, the Dartford boss was left frustrated by their delay tactics which started in the first 10 minutes.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for their manager, he has done an unbelievable job in the two years he has been there,” said King.
“We used to play Hungerford and beat them no problem, now he has made them super competitive and they’ll beat a lot of teams. I spoke to the ref before the game and said he needs to stop the antics and his words were ‘I can’t book someone in the first five minutes’ and I said you can.
“It’s a certain way they play, the only way you stop that is either you go one or two goals in front or the referee deals with it in the first minute, says he’s not having it and sets the tone of the game. He lost the game completely for me, the referee.
“They should have had a man sent-off, the right-back had already been yellow carded and took Noor Husin completely out. I had words at half-time (about that).
“In the second half we upped our intensity and they couldn’t handle that, then a few more antics came out. In my brain I was going ‘please score’ as it stops it and that’s what happened.”