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Dartford 2-3 Welling United
Dartford 2-3 Welling United

Two teams who are having difficult times in the league met in a pulsating F.A. Cup tie at Princes Park with Welling United claiming the bragging rights at Dartford.

Coming into the game, both teams have been struggling since the August Bank Holiday weekend. Dartford had lost all three of their matches, and scored just once, while Welling had claimed just one point from their three games but had failed to score in any of them.

Both goalkeepers made early saves. Jephte Tanga drew a relatively straight-forward save out of Dartford goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney before Welling’s custodian Ben Winterbottom had to work a little harder when keeping out Lewis Manor who had lost his marker from a far post corner.

Tanga sent in a cross that was just out of the reach of new signing Tristan Abrahams before the Darts drew first blood. Paul Rooney hooked it across and Manor again evaded his marker and headed home from close range.

Manor had another opportunity soon after when Beeney’s long clearance was headed on by Charlie Sheringham, however, his shot from twenty yards flew over. Abrahams then opened up an opportunity for Cameron Green whose low shot was kept out brilliantly by Beeney’s right foot.

‘Abrahams was unable to get enough power in his shot to bother Beeney after Lewis White had played him in before Rooney crossed to Sheringham whose stooping header went wide.

Just over a minute remained before half time when Welling levelled. White was fouled on the edge of the penalty area and Antony Papadopoulos stepped up and hit a free kick past the defensive wall and into the bottom corner.

Rooney might have put the Darts back ahead in stoppage time when Baris Altintop’s throw in was flicked on twice by Dartford heads but Rooney couldn’t nod with any power and Winterbottom made the save.

Early in the second period, Abrahams got clear but Beeney didn’t panic and tackled the Welling striker on the edge of the area.

Dartford then went back ahead with a very direct attack. Beeney hit a long goal kick forward, the Welling defence allowed it to bounce and Manor hooked it beyond a helpless Winterbottom.

Moussa Diarra was happy to scramble a low cross by Papadopoulos over his own bar before Welling levelled again. Green surged on a long run and attempted to play Tanga in behind. Although it was cut out by a stretching defender, it rebounded into the path of Papadopoulos and he made no mistake with a composed finish from just inside the penalty area.

TJ Bramble, having just come on for Welling, followed up on a poor clearance and shot just wide before an effort from Abrahams hit a Dartford defender and went wide when it could have gone anywhere.

Green shot over when he should probably have done better after it fell kindly to him however, it was not to prove costly as Welling went ahead with just under fifteen minutes remaining. A slick Welling passing move had Dartford chasing shadows and Abrahams got clear down the right hand side. He squared to the far post and found Papadopoulos who had arrived late and he tucked it home to complete his first ever hat-trick in senior football. 

Substitute Brandon Barzey got on the end of a deep Dartford cross and saw his first time shot come back out off the outside of the post before Manor fired over from close range after Alex Wall headed on a corner.

Winterbottom made a point blank range save from Manor to stop him from completing his hat-trick then Luke Coulson shot over from the edge of the area as the Darts searched for a leveller in the seven additional minutes, that eventually became nearly ten. Rooney had one last effort with a header that was clawed away by Winterbottom and moments later, Welling were celebrating a rare victory at Princes Park

Dartford: Beeney, Oduadu, Altintop, Diarra, Nembhard, Golding (Barzey 71), Wynter, Woods (Coulson 77), Sheringham (Wall 71), Manor, Rooney.

Subs not used: Miller-Rodney, Box, Boulton.

Goalscorers: Manor (18), (52)

Yellow cards: Woods, Diarra, Nembhard

Welling United: Winterbottom, Lema (Bramble 65), Green, Vaughan, Byrd, Burchell, Tanga, Odusanya, Abrahams, Papadopoulos (Kassarate 90+6), White (Adom 89).

Sub not used: Pitterson, MacAllister, Kamara, Muwonge.

Goalscorers: Papadopoulos (44), (62), (76)

Yellow cards: Abrahams, Winterbottom

Referee: Dean Skipper

Assistants: Billy Woods and Reece Pinchback

Attendance: 1,031

Images courtesy of Dave Budden