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Post by TonyDart »

Match Report: Dartford 2 Saltdean Utd 0
London & SE Regional League, Premier Division played on Sunday 18th February 2024, kick-off 3pm on 3G
Team: Jade Charlton, Gabby Howell, Chana Hinds, Georgie Davis, Bethany Powell, Hannah Cleary,
Lizzie Adams, Paris Smith, Shauni Griffiths, Emily Vaughan, Nicha Dyett
Subs (all used): Emily Woodhouse, Meghan McKeag, Molly Hawkins
Scorers: Chana Hinds, Emily Vaughan


The games with Saltdean United have always been a tight affair and this one was no different.

The opening spell saw Darts shooting on sight but for the most part didn’t trouble United’s tall goalkeeper and a hard-fought contest between two strong midfields meant that if chances came along, they really would have to be taken.

On 22 minutes, an interception from Shauni set up Hannah Cleary for a good effort on goal, then followed by Paris who fired in from just outside the penalty area but saw it whistle past the wrong side of the post.

28 minutes though, came a real scare for Darts as Saltdean made strong progress down their right and a great cross should have ended with a goal – but the ball went across the goal-mouth at height and eluded everyone, including the striker at the far post who really messed up what was a good chance of opening the scoring.

Slowly but surely though, Darts built up stronger momentum and played with much greater purpose and continued to rain-in plenty of shots on goal, together with good defence-penetrating passes and crosses .

A great long-range attempt was next from Shauni’s free-kick. It hit a defender and was deflected into the path of Beth who met it beautifully and hit a great shot from 30-yards which just whistled past the right-hand post

On 36 minutes, another Darts explosive free-kick and the crowd waited for the net to bulge, but instead it flew just inches wide.

Then Shauni played a great pass to Nicha who hit a great shot from just on the corner of the penalty box and was heading for the top right-hand corner, but the keeper pulled off a brilliant save, palming it over for a corner.

A few minutes before half-time, and this time it was Emily Vaughan who hit a long-range shot but was just over the bar.

Then, on the brink of half-time, Nicha earnt the Darts a couple of throw-ins as they made yard-by-yard up the right flank. Gabby’s throw landed accurately at the feet of Nicha but a desperate leg from a defender forced the ball out for a corner.

The resultant corner was taken short with Hannah and Paris drawing out a couple of defenders and the ball was swung over deep into the 6-yard box and Chana was quickest to react and managed to stab the ball over the line with the keeper floundering trying to deal with the presence of Emily Vaughan.

2023-24 v Saltdean Utd 2-0 Chana scores Darts' first goal.jpg
Chana scores the all important first goal

So, a welcome and deserved lead for the Darts at half-time

HT 1-0

In the second minute of the second-half a great through ball for Paris to chase and reached it just keeping it in play and sent over an excellent cross which zipped across the face of the goal, no more than a foot from the goal-line but Shauni, who met it beyond the far post had such an acute angle she couldn’t quite squeeze it past the keeper.

Great control by Shauni constantly had the Saltdean defence in a tangle and Nicha’s constant harassing of the defenders, brought problems for Saltdean, but with score-line still only 1-0, they were always in with a shout.

2023-24 v Saltdean Utd 2-0 Nicha battles.jpg
Nicha battling away against the Saltdean defence

On 60 minutes, A strong free-kick by Saltdean was heading for the top right-hand corner before Jade pulled of a wonder-save tipping it over the cross-bar.

On 70 minutes, Darts got that all-important second goal. The ball came over from the left and there was the ever-resourceful Emily Vaughan, alert in the goal-mouth, who steered the ball into the net.

With the Darts’ defence being marshaled effectively by Georgie Davis, this allowed the midfield to run the show and Darts were now putting Saltdean under constant pressure with attacks on all fronts.

Chana almost got her second goal of the afternoon. After more great work by Nicha, Lizzie and Paris the goalkeeper found herself sprawled out5 on the ground and way off her line and when the ball broke loose, Chana fired it in with venom which had ‘Goal!” written all over it but it struck a defender’s leg on the line and rebounded to safety.

In the 84th minute, Saltdean almost scored with a breakaway goal, but Meghan was at the near-post to block the shot, but this was only after the referee had over-ruled an offside flag and allowed the Saltdean attack to continue.

In the last five minutes Darts created another chance down the centre to Nicha who quickly fed the ball onto Molly Hawkins and as she cut inside her effort was stopped and cleared by a defender.

And still Darts pressurised Saltdean into more hasty clearances, after winning a series of throw-ins whereby Gabby more-than-often found Nicha around the 6-yard line, and Saltdean were under the cosh to relieve their lines and somehow, they just about achieved that.

They survived from conceding another goal – but only just - when literally on the referee’s blow for time Paris smashed in a long-range shot that missed by only inches.

FT 2-0

Report by Tony Brown
Photos by Taur Everard and Alex Barber, ABcVideo
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