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Dartford 0-2 Eastbourne Borough
Dartford 0-2 Eastbourne Borough

Dartford sunk back into the relegation zone on Monday, as they lost to fellow strugglers Eastbourne. Despite a host of good chances, two goals from Yahya Bamba put any result out of reach for the Darts.

As has been a theme in recent weeks, Dartford started with good intensity, and a host of chances fell for winger Brandon Barzey. Tommy Block emerged victorious from his duel with Sam Beard and looked to play Barzey in behind the Eastbourne backline, but goalkeeper Harrison Foulkes arrived first to deny him any chance of scoring.

His first tangible chance, however, came when Luke Coulson spotted his overlapping run in the box and slipped him through on goal. Alas, Foulkes closed the angle well and denied Barzey’s shot from close range.

Block performed exceptionally well in the opening stages of the game and provided a physical presence on Dartford’s right. Unfortunately, the fullback was forced off through injury following an early collision and was replaced by Max Statham. Multiple lengthy injuries have hampered Block’s Dartford career to date, and he could now miss the season’s remaining games.

Ultimately, Ady Pennock’s side were made to rue their early missed chances. Eastbourne broke the deadlock in the 18th minute, as Rhys Byrne flapped at David Sesay’s cross, allowing Bamba to fire the ball into an open net at the back post.

Dartford came agonisingly close to levelling the game shortly after. Luke Allen’s speculative pass over the Eastbourne defence turned into a great chance, as Jordan Greenidge touched the ball past the onrushing Foulkes. However, the striker was unable to catch up with the ball, which rolled out for a goal kick.

Eastbourne were awarded a corner after Matt Green’s cross was cut out. Byrne, once again, missed the delivery, and the Sports almost doubled their lead before Jordan Wynter cleared off the line. Midfielder Alfie Bendle was one-on-one with Byrne just moments later but hit the inside of the near post despite having a large portion of net to aim at.

Dartford’s first half misery was compounded by an injury to Barzey, who has also struggled with fitness this season. He was subsequently replaced by young prospect Olly Box, and the Darts went into the break a goal down.

Eastbourne started the second half the better of the two sides. Some positive play from Finn Ballard McBride was followed by Jack Clarke’s early cross to Bendle, who once again hit the post with his header, and saw the ball cleared.

Box was one of Dartford’s brightest sparks on a dull day. His first ball into the freshly introduced Alex Wall was intercepted by Brad Barry, but his next found its way through to Luke Coulson, who slammed his shot goalward but saw it cleared off the line by Beard.

However, much like the first half, the Darts could not take advantage of their chances, and they were punished by Bamba once again. Green’s ball into the explosive winger bested Paul Rooney, and Bamba unleashed a ferocious shot that found the back of the net in front of the travelling Eastbourne fans.

Rooney was given licence to move into attacking areas for the Darts in an attempt to salvage something from the game. The defender skipped into the box and saw his path blocked by teammate Wall, but the ball trickled through to Box, whose curled shot thundered against the crossbar.

Nine minutes were added to the 90 as a result of multiple Eastbourne injuries and tactful timewasting. Despite this, the only Dartford chance in that time was created by Box, who skinned Beard and put a great ball across the face of goal for Rooney, but his bundled shot was deflected over.

Dartford: Byrne, Nelson, Rooney, Nembhard, Block (Statham 11’), Wynter, Allen, Sodje, Barzey (Box 43’), Greenidge (Wall 54’), Coulson

Subs not used: Smith, Shomotun

Yellow: Rooney

Eastbourne: Foulkes, Barry, Clarke, Bendle, Carter (Quick 64’), Ballard McBride, Beard, Diarra, Green (Ligendza 92’), Sesay, Bamba (Sheriff 77’)

Subs not used: Hutchinson, Vigar

Attendance: 1,305

Referee: Steven Hughes

Assistants: Steven Goldup & Daniel Blades