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Post by TonyDart »

Sunday 3rd September 2023 Dartford Dev 3 Hastings United 0 scorers: Ascott(2), Chloe Brian
London & SE Regional League, Division 1 South
Manager: Dan Edwards, Coach Steve Sales
Team: Talisha Hickson, Charlie Torry, Ella Brian, Annie White, Naomi Nash, Emily Woodhouse, Molly Smith, Emma Healy, Amy Reader, Ellie Hinkley, Chloe Brian.
Subs: (all used) - Hannah Cleary, Abi Potter-Scarborough, Georgia Culpitt, Aimee Ascott, Robyn Smitherman

Dartford’s first half performance was less than convincing and without a recognised centre-forward present we struggled to get many shooting chances let alone scoring ones.

At the centre of the defence Annie White gave another fine performance alongside Naomi Nash who rarely put a foot wrong and the two full backs, Charlie Torry and Ella Brian making up the back four also gave performances that showed conviction.
The midfield performance in the opening 45 minutes was at times energetic and praiseworthy, but did lack consistency in trying to feed the two wingers, Chloe and Ellie.

The balls over the top came mainly from the back four which, time and again were hit with too much pace, and perhaps a more ‘loftier’ type of ball might have produced better results with the ball at least remaining in play rather than the ‘over-shooting’ balls that reached the bi-line without much hope of the wingers keeping them in play.

Just now and again though, the defence splitting diagonal through ball worked where they were able to get Chloe Brian and Ellie Hinkley into forward positions, but Hasting’s offside trap was constantly getting the better of the forwards.

The other factor that helped Hastings contain the Darts’ attacks was their goalkeeper who was alert to most things and her interceptions and gathering of the ball often frustrated the Darts.

There was little threat from the Hastings midfield and strikers, and their plan to nullify Darts with a steadfast defence approach worked for them.
The few times that Darts made progress towards the Hasting’s goal were thwarted by good goalkeeping positioning, when first Ellie shot on target but lacked power due to the defender crucially forcing her off-balance and then Molly shot in a real piledriver which the goalie looked to have covered before striking a defender full on. The best chance fell to Amy Reader in the 33rd minute when she received a beautiful through-ball from Emma and found herself in a one-on-one with the keeper. The goalie stood her ground well and saved well from Amy’s strike.

HT 0-0

In the opening minutes of play Darts managed to get some really good defence-splitting through balls and from one of these Darts took a deserved lead with a fine goal from Chloe Brian.

The prospects of scoring looked far better now and with Darts using all their subs in their differing rolls it was two-goal Aimee Ascott who punctured the Hastings’ defence with Darts now showing much more flair and imagination in all departments.

Nine minutes in to the second half a pass from Emily found Chloe whose great run opened up the Hastings defence when she easily beat her ‘man’ and sent over a dangerous cross. The ball ran loose and was met by Abi Potter-Scarborough who fired in a shot that had the goalie scrambling to save and from the rebound and follow-up from Hannah Cleary the goalie came out with full-marks.

Darts also produced some long-range shots, one from Charlie Torry which went straight at the goalie and from Molly whose 60th minute strike everyone was waiting for the net to bulge but missed agonisingly by just a few inches.

By now Darts were well on top and all that Hastings could show was a fairly weak free-kick which was easily dealt with by Talisha
After the 70th minute water-break, Emma had a fine shot well saved. Then Emily Woodhouse went on one of her characteristic charges through midfield feeding Aimee, but her marker managed to ‘see-out’ the ball for a goal-kick.

On 72 minutes Darts scored their second goal and the best of the game. A pass from Emily reached Emma who played it out to Hannah and from a lovely weighted cross which had a distinct outward swerve away from the keeper, Aimee Ascott came in strongly to knock it home for 2-0
With a two-goal cushion it allowed Robyn to enter the fray and with the customary ‘rolling-subs’ it enabled all the Darts’ players to show their qualities in the match.

Georgia Culpitt brought more ‘character’ to Darts play and was one of the main reasons why Darts at last began to spread the ball around and a much more positive feel was evident throughout the whole team.

Aimee was only inches away from grabbing her second when she just failed to reach a high Hannah cross and even with an acrobatic leap Aimee couldn’t quite get a touch to it.

Georgia almost increased Darts’ lead when she headed just over the bar. The build-up to this cross was excellent with Abi finding Aimee and Charlie overlapping and putting over a pin-point cross to Georgia – just a few inches lower and Georgia would have got her name on the score-sheet.

Darts’ got even closer to their third goal when, from a referee’s dropped ball, Annie White, just inside her own half pumped a great forward ball but a defender just managed to get a toe to it, but Aimee still managed to get a good cross into the box where Ellie thundered the ball goalwards. It struck the underside of the bar and bounced down on the goal-line before the goalie gathered, with no Darts’ following-up.

Darts now seemed able to attack at will and Amy was unlucky with her ‘goal’ that was pulled back for a close off-side decision. But finally, Dartford got their third goal.

Ella’s throw-in was headed on by Amy to Hannah – she passed it to Emma and then onto Amy again. Really nice inter-passing play from the Darts, and this ended with Amy Reader clipping it forward to Georgia whose goal-bound shot was beaten down by a ruck of defenders before, during one almighty scramble, Aimee popped up to hammer the ball home to complete the scoring. 3-0

So, summing up, after a disappointing first-half Darts’ more than made amends in the second. And somehow, to score three goals without an out-and-out striker in the side, was a compliment to the Darts who finally upped their work rate and accuracy of passing, enabling them to finally ‘get their act together’.

The rotation of players in the second-half using the ‘rolling-subs’ was used to great effect and at the finish, to have won two of their opening three games in this higher division is testament enough to the real strength of this squad and also showed the individual abilities of players who can stamp their mark on the game.

Well done Darts’ Devs.

Report by Tony Brown
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