Published: 09:19, 24 November 2019
| Updated: 09:21, 24 November 2019
Steve King was proud of his patched-up Dartford side after they outplayed Maidstone in the FA Trophy.
The Darts were missing seven players for yesterday’s third qualifying round tie.
Full-backs Jordan Gibbons and Liam Gordon were ineligible with other absentees including Jordan Wynter, whose knee flared up on Thursday night, while central midfielders Billy Crook and Cameron Brodie pulled out on the morning of the game.
King’s answer was to throw caution to the wind in an attacking 3-4-3 formation that included striker Andy Pugh in midfield.
It worked, with Darts the better side in a 2-2 draw.
Boss King felt both Maidstone goals should have been ruled out for fouls in the build-up.
But he had nothing but praise for his side after everything they’d worked on went out the window.
He said: “We 100% deserved to win the game. It was a fantastic performance because we had seven missing.
“We had no full-backs, we had to play 3-4-3 with five forwards on the pitch and we just said we’ll be like the Red Arrows and go for the game.
“We didn’t work on the shape, we couldn’t work on the system because Billy Crook and Cameron Brodie pulled out the morning and that’s your two central midfielders.
“We’ve had to put Andy Pugh in there, and he did a good job, and we’ve got Luke Wanadio and Ky Marsh Brown as wing-backs when you want them high.
“You can play that system if you’ve got Jordan Gibbons and Liam Gordon. We’re playing it with wingers but what could we do?
“The players gave everything to the cause and I’m a proud man to see that spirit.
“When you look at the bench, we had four youth-team players, a keeper and a player (Laurent Mendy) who we signed from three levels below the other night. He came on and did all right.”
Darts twice fought back from a goal down with Elliott Romain’s double against his old club.
That’s four goals already for the striker since King brought him to Princes Park from Eastbourne.
“I’ll get goals out of him because I know him,” said King.
“I know how to play him, he knows my standards and how high the bar is set.
“He epitomised everything about our performance with the way he was chasing his own flick-ons and how he took his goals.
“It was, ‘I’m going to get in front of you to score’.
“He’s strong, he’s fearless, he’s not one of those centre-forwards who worries about being up against bigger people.”
The replay takes place at Princes Park on Tuesday night and King said: “We’ll have to see who’s available. I don’t know what we’ve got. It might be the Red Arrows again.”
More by this authorCraig Tucker