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Dover Athletic 1 Dartford 2 match report: Captain Luke Coulson scores late penalty to win National League South Kent derby for the Darts after substitute Destiny Oladipo cancels out Olly Box’s first-half goal

Captain Luke Coulson’s late penalty earned Dartford a much-needed National League South win at Kent rivals Dover on Saturday.

Coulson found the net six minutes from time after Whites substitute Destiny Oladipo had got the basement boys level in the second period.

Dover's Freddie Oliver up against Dartford captain Luke Coulson in midfield during the Darts’ 2-1 National League South win on Saturday. Picture: Randolph File
Dover's Freddie Oliver up against Dartford captain Luke Coulson in midfield during the Darts’ 2-1 National League South win on Saturday. Picture: Randolph File

Academy product Olly Box had earlier given the Darts the lead with a goal on his first league start, as it finished 2-1 and Dartford ended a five-game losing league run.

Jake Leberl’s side saw penalty appeals dismissed by referee Dan England in the fourth minute at Crabble for handball as George Nikaj’s shot was charged down.

Four minutes later, a combination of Dover goalkeeper Dan Jinadu and on-loan Watford defender Scott Holding denied Box at the other end before Jinadu pushed away Coulson’s 20-yard shot.

Box then blazed wide of Jinadu’s left-hand post in the 21st minute after he had been played through on the left by the influential Coulson while debutant Tom Clifford shot over.

The Darts - despite only scoring twice in their last five league fixtures - looked the more dangerous of the teams and went close again when Coulson curled over in front of a crowd of 794.

First-half Dartford scorer Olly Box gets ahead of Dover defender Scott Holding. Picture: Randolph File
First-half Dartford scorer Olly Box gets ahead of Dover defender Scott Holding. Picture: Randolph File

But the visitors deservedly broke the deadlock on 35 minutes. Coulson’s in-swinging corner was only half-cleared by Nikaj and Box’s deflected shot went beyond Jinadu for a goal on his league debut.

Searching for a swift response, Dover’s top scorer, Zidan Sutherland, was denied by keeper Billy Terrell before midfielder George Wilkinson failed to hit the target on 43 minutes.

Whites’ defence had to remain alert in the early stages of the second period to clear a succession of left-wing crosses.

Luke Baptiste found space at the other end and forced a 50th-minute fingertip save from Terrell.

Soon after, Sutherland couldn’t quite connect at the back post after an excellent right-wing run by Nikaj before they hit the crossbar.

Dartford's Jack Smith assesses his options. Picture: Randolph File
Dartford's Jack Smith assesses his options. Picture: Randolph File

And Sutherland got his feet in a tangle after more excellent work by Nikaj. The ball fell kindly to teenager Wilkinson, whose effort cracked against the woodwork with Terrell at full stretch.

Dartford nearly added a crucial second on 65 minutes, Jack Smith nodding over Fumnaya Shomotun’s left-wing cross.

Home manager Leberl threw on big striker Oladipo for Charlie Naylor in an attacking switch midway through the second half.

That move paid dividends with the hosts’ leveller with 14 minutes left. Roman Charles-Cook crossed well from the left after a good pass out of midfield by Freddie Oliver and Oladipo was on hand to bundle home for his first league goal for the club.

The Darts nearly immediately restored their advantage, though, Maxwell Statham flashing his effort across goal.

But the visitors went in front in controversial style in the 84th minute.

Terrell banged a free-kick upfield and, as striker Elliott Romain and Dover skipper Jacob Mensah battled away, the ball popped up off Mensah’s arm - although the spot-kick appeared to be awarded as Romain then went to ground.

And 29-year-old Coulson lifted over Jinadu and into the back of the net for his eighth goal this season.

Terrell appeared to make an incredible save in the final minute of normal time as Wilkinson’s in-swinging free-kick took a deflection which appeared to have taken it past the 20-year-old to deny Dover a point they arguably might have earned with their second-half display.

It means Dartford completed the double over Dover, having won 2-0 at Princes Park in August.

Whites, on a three-match losing streak, remain 12 points adrift.

They made two changes from their team which started the extraordinary 6-4 defeat at Worthing last weekend. Sutherland and Charles-Cook replaced Nick Dembele and Peter Ojemen.

Teenage Dover Academy graduate Archie Hatcher, among the goals at Woodside Road, missed out through illness. They also have signed attacking midfielder Kai Neil-Gray - although he wasn’t involved.

For the Darts, presently under interim boss Tony Burman, King’s Lynn loanee Clifford came in for the sidelined Sam Odaudu. Box and Statham replaced big forward Alex Wall and defender Tommy Block in the other changes from Tuesday’s 1-0 home defeat against Chippenham.

There was also a Crabble comeback for youngster Terrell, who was on loan with Athletic earlier this season.

Dover Athletic: Jinadu, Charles-Cook, Mensah, Holding, Naylor (Oladipo 69mins), Oyenuga, Wilkinson, Oliver, Baptiste (Allen 61mins), Nikaj, Sutherland. Subs not used: Ojemen, Young, Dembele.

Dartford: Terrell, Wynter, Smith (Maloney 86mins), Nembhard, Rooney (Adebowale 86mins), Romain, Coulson, Shomotun, Box (Wall 77mins), Clifford, Statham, Subs not used: Whitefield, Boulton.

Referee: Dan England.

Attendance: 794.

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