It was an EIGHT goal thriller at Princes Park as Dartford earned just their second win in the last 6 games to maintain their push towards the National South playoff places.
In between the goals, the play was quite scrappy as the wind played a part, and both sides looked to hit long balls, but the goals were worth the wait.
Truro hit the front after 13 minutes through Andrew Neal’s header, but a diving header from Andy Pugh levelled on the half hour, and a thunderous volley from Elliot Bradbrook gave the Darts a 41st minute lead. Neal ghosted in for another header to level matters after 65, but the Darts hit the front again 90 seconds later through Luke Wanadio’s 9th of the season.
Jamie Richards looked as though he might have rescued a point for the Cornish visitors with 12 minutes left, but a mix-up in the Truro defence allowed Pugh to give the home side the lead in the 86th minute; a lead extended to confirm the win by Tom Murphy in stoppage time.
From the start, playing into the teeth of a strong wind, the Cornish visitors were on the front foot. A ball over the Dartford back line almost released Cody Cooke, but ran safely through to Deren Ibrahim. But Truro benefitted from the conditions as Dan Smith’s cross from the right was misjudged in the conditions by Ibrahim, and Andrew Neal drifted in behind the flailing keeper to head into the net off the body of the covering Keaton Wood after 13 minutes.
A couple of minutes later, it should have been two for Truro, when Ollie Knowles’ freekick from the left found Jamie Richards unmarked, but his glancing header flew past the right hand post.
Dartford were getting half-chances from set pieces; Luke Wanadio screwed a shot across goal, and good defending from Richards denied Andy Pugh a sight of the Truro goal, but the home side were gradually creeping back into the game.
The equaliser came on the half hour as a long clearance down the right wing gave Duane Ofori-Acheampong the opportunity to pressurise Richards. Ofori-Acheampong stole the ball, skipped away from the defender’s challenge, and played an inch perfect cross into the middle where Pugh met the cross with a diving header for his ninth League goal of the season, giving Martyn Rice in the Truro goal no chance.
The Truro bench were unhappy with the way Ben Gerring was being managed by the referee after an injury, but this was just distracting them at the moment Dartford took the lead in the 41st minute. Luke Wanadio won a throw on the left and swung a cross into the box that was headed clear by Richards. The dropping ball was controlled on his chest by Elliot Bradbrook, who hit a screaming 25-yard volley with his left foot into the right corner for his 8th League goal.
In stoppage time, the visitors had another clear sight of Ibrahim’s goal This time though, from Tyler Harvey’s cross, the ball struck the heels of Neal when the striker had the goal at his mercy, and the ball rebounded away out of the box.
Once again, Dartford were slow to get into the second half, but were working hard to limit Truro’s chances. Cooke, Richards and Ben Gerring all had headers that drifted wide, and Ryan Brett had a shot deflected wide, but Dartford were making the game very scrappy.
The pressure eventually told with an almost carbon copy header for Andrew Neal after 65 minutes. Knowles swung a freekick in from the right side that drifted over the bodies in the middle, but Neal had ghosted round the back, unmarked, to head past Ibrahim.
Less than 90 seconds later, and Dartford hit the front once more. Ofori-Acheampong did well to hold up the ball on the edge of the area and squared a pass to Wanadio. The winger skipped past Gerring’s challenge and as Rice dived to his left, lashed a shot past the keeper’s left hand side.
Alex Brown curled a shot over, having knocked Tom Wynter over in his desperation to get to the ball, but Truro levelled matters again with 12 minutes left. A long throw by Alex Hartridge was flicked on by Gerring into the path of Neal, searching for a hatrick, but this time Ibrahim was able to claw Neal’s header away from the top right corner. From the resulting corner, the cross fell towards the centre of the box, where Richards hit a volley with the outside of his right foot as he was falling backwards and the shot arrowed into the same top right corner; this time Ibrahim couldn’t get across. There was some doubt whether the goal had been awarded initially with two players grounded on the goal-line, but the referee eventually pointed towards the centre.
Both benches threw on fresh legs searching for the win, and it was Dartford who found the breakthrough. With the Truro defence appealing for an offside decision, Ofori-Acheampong chased what appeared to be a lost cause to the deadball line, and crossed into the middle. A mixup between keeper Rice and skipper Richards saw the ball drop out to Pugh, who swivelled and fired through the bodies to make it 4-3.
The scoring wasn’t over though as Bradbrook swept a 50-yard crossfield ball over the top of fullback Smith to release Tom Murphy, one of the substitutes, and Murphy clamly slipped the ball through the advancing Rice’s legs to make it five for the Darts with virtually the last kick of the game.
DARTFORD: Deren Ibrahim, Keaton Wood, Tom Wynter, Tom Bonner, Ronnie Vint, Alex Brown (Lee Noble 83), Ryan Hayes (Tom Murphy 90), Elliot Bradbrook, Duane Ofori-Acheampong, Andy Pugh, Luke Wanadio (Alfie Pavey 83).
Subs not used: Temi Eweka, Tony Coxall.
Goals: Andy Pugh 30 & 86, Elliot Bradbrook 41, Luke Wanadio 67, Tom Murphy 90+3.
TRURO CITY: Martyn Rice, Dan Smith, Jamie Richards, Alex Hartridge, Cody Cooke (Ben Adelsbury 83), Ben Gerring (Arran Pugh 78), Ryan Brett, Tyler Harvey (Niall Thompson 83), Stewart Yetton, Ollie Knowles, Andrew Neal.
Subs not used: River Allen, Les Afful.
Goals: Andrew Neal 13 & 65, Jamie Richards 78
Cautions: Ben Gerring 72
Referee: Mr Josh Smith
Assistants: Mr Ashley List and Mr Christopher Reeson