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Steve King praises his Dartford squad's character after patched-up side held their own in FA Trophy ties with Maidstone United

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Dartford manager Steve King believes the attitude of his injury-hit squad will stand them in good stead.

The Darts were down to the bare bones for Tuesday’s FA Trophy third qualifying round replay defeat against Maidstone.

Dartford's Luke Allen and Maidstone's Matt McClure do battle in Saturday's FA Trophy draw at the Gallagher Picture: Matthew Walker
Dartford's Luke Allen and Maidstone's Matt McClure do battle in Saturday's FA Trophy draw at the Gallagher Picture: Matthew Walker

Only Ryan Hayes and teenager Cameron Brodie were recognisable names on the bench – and to make matters worse Luke Allen came off at the death with a knee injury.

“We did more than enough again to at least get something out of the game, if not win it,” said King.

“That’s testament to the team and the spirit they’ve shown.

“We only had 12 senior players. Ryan Hayes was the senior substitute and Cameron Brodie is only 18. The rest were youth team players.

“Out of everything that is being thrown at them, they showed so much spirit to dominate the majority of the game.”

Allen joins the likes of Lee Noble, Charlie Sheringham, Jordan Wynter and Sam Blackman on the sidelines while Billy Crook (hip) is also ruled out.

It’s a combination that is limiting King’s options, but he says there’s nothing more the club can do.

“We’ve got a fantastic medical set-up, it’s just bad luck,” added King.

“I’ve been at full-time clubs and not had the medical team that we’ve got here.

“We need to get a couple in if we can as you can’t run a team with one senior player on the bench.

“Having said that, this squad are showing good character and resilience. We’re not getting big decisions so we’re due a bit of luck in that respect and also with the injuries.

“I can’t complain with their commitment levels. All the players have got heart and all the time you’ve got that, you ask a player to play here or play there, they’ll do it.

“Would you get the best out of them playing in those positions? Obviously not, but we’re asking players to give it their all and they’ve certainly done that.”

Jordan Gibbons was cup-tied having played for Whitehawk already in the FA Trophy this season while Liam Gordon was not allowed to play by parent club Dagenham.

Both return for Saturday’s National League South trip to Bath, who sit fifth having won four of their past five games.

“They’re a good footballing side and it’s a tough place to go,” said King, who was due to watch Bath’s FA Trophy replay against Gosport on Wednesday.

Gordon’s loan spell runs out after Saturday’s game but Dartford are hoping to extend that deal until January.

Meanwhile, Darts have signed keeper Alhaji Sesay, who has previously been at Bristol City, to provide competition for Mark Smith.

“We needed a back-up keeper to put pressure on Mark for that jersey,” said King.

“He’s had good experience and been at Bristol City for the last five years.”

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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