Dartford 3-4 Dorking Wanderers
Dartford 3-4 Dorking Wanderers

Two goals in the last ten minutes and a controversial sending off turned the ‘third coming’ of Tony Burman into the Dartford dug-out from triumph to disaster as substitute Giuseppe Sole late magnificent unstoppable free-kick saw Dorking edge a seven-goal thriller.

In truth this was a game for long periods you really couldn’t see Dartford losing – yet they did which possibly explains their season and the departure this week of joint managers Jamie Coyle and Adam Flanagan.

Yet despite going behind early on, two Ben Greenhalgh strikes gave the home side the advantage until that was surrendered in first half stoppage time when Dorking levelled from the spot. 

Charlie Sheringham then thumped home a stunning header from Ryan Hayes’ cross to restore the lead before everything went wrong for Burman and the Darts in the final ten minutes – the visitors levelled the scores on 83 minutes as Sole stepped up with a free kick that would have been shown over and over again should a small Argentinian playing in Spain, or a Portuguese now plying his trade in Turin netted themselves, before Lee Noble was shown a red card by referee Bishop when most observers thought a yellow card would have sufficed. 

Within a minute, James McShane was heading home to completely ruin Burman’s return and condemn the Darts to their fifth defeat of the season!

The afternoon began badly for the home side as Niall McManus rocketed a brilliant shot beyond Mark Smith in the Darts goal to leave the pre match optimism somewhat deflated. 

The home fans in the crowd of 897 moods were lifted somewhat when Greenhalgh then netted twice inside three minutes either side of the half’s midway point.  The equaliser was a fine low drive from the edge of the box whilst the go-ahead goal came as Dartford’s Greenhalgh turned well to fire in a shot as the ball dropped nicely for him from a long throw that Dorking keeper Ryan Sandford could only help into the net. 

Just as the referee indicated first half stoppage time, Jordan Wynter misjudged a challenge on McManus and Jason Prior duly sent the visitors in level at 2-2.

The second half began with Greenhalgh denied a hat-trick by a smart Sandford save, before Hayes pinpoint right wing cross “begged” Sheringham to score off it, and the Darts striker duly obliged powering the header beyond Sandford to send the majority of Princes Park wild.

Dorking to their credit kept applying pressure but too often the final ball into the Darts area was over hit or couldn’t get past the first defender.  Into the final ten minutes, and Burman’s third stint as Dartford boss looked as if it was going to begin with the win, only for Sole to step up and sensationally curl the ball up and away into the top corner from a helpless Smith and into the net. The Darts could have had three Smith’s in goal but they still couldn’t have kept out Sole’s free kick which was as near perfect as any free-kick could be.

The game turned well and truly against the Darts five minutes from time when Noble challenged for the ball on half-way and to the shock of most of the crowd, referee Bishop waved the red card in the Dartford man’s direction.  Yes, it was a heavy challenge, but worthy a sending off?  Sadly, for Noble, the official thought so! 

And weren’t the ten men made to pay as within ninety seconds McShane finally got on the end of one of the Dorking crosses and his header flew past Smith to send the Darts crashing to defeat.  Sub Darren McQueen did have a late chance to earn a point but couldn’t keep his shot down and the points were heading south round the M25.

Afterwards Burman insisted that he didn’t want the managers job full time again, but on this performance, there is certainly a base for the new man to build whoever he may be!

DARTFORD – Mark Smith, Jordan Wynter, Lee Noble, Ronnie Vint, Ryan Hayes, Luke Allen, Charlie Sheringham, Ben Greenhalgh (Cameron Brodie 82), Alex Flisher (Norman Wabo 88), Josh Hill, Adam Cunnington (Darren McQueen 61)

Subs – Jay Bacon, Rob Howard

DORKING WANDERERS – Ryan Sandford, Isaac Philpot, Samuel Beard (Edward Harris 46), Jake Gallagher, Daniel Gallagher (Tom Richards 70), David Ray, Niall McManus, Matthew Briggs, James McShane, Jason Prior, Elliott Buchanan (Giuseppe Sole 59)

Subs – Jerry O’Sullivan, Slavomir Huk

Referee – Mr Bishop

Assistants – Mr Loe & Mr Crossley