Darts get back to winning ways with fine display
Dartmouth AFC returned to winning ways on Saturday with a comfortable 3-1 victory over mid table Stoke Gabriel reserves at Longcross.
Charlie Smith and top scorer Karl Baker returned to the side in place of player manager Mark Forrester and Liam McAuley, and both players looked sharp on the ball in the opening exchanges.
In windy and wet conditions, Dartmouth started the brighter of the two teams and looked for space in behind the Stoke backline, and they came close to the first goal of the afternoon when Baker’s fierce effort cannoned back off of the crossbar.
Dartmouth didn’t have to wait much longer to be rewarded for their bright start.
Central midfielder Charlie Smith picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and weaved in and out of a number of defenders before squeezing the ball through the ‘keeper’s legs and into the net from a tight angle.
In tough conditions, the hosts were looking the more likely to find space in front of goal as they began to dictate the play through central midfield man Ryan Frost.
A number of half-chances were being created around the Stoke penalty area, with Dan Broadway and Ben Greeno both going close in quick succession as they looked to double their advantage.
Dartmouth’s second goal did arrive with 10 minutes of the first half remaining; Freddie Smith and Broadway combined before Baker’s quick feet allowed him to find an inch of space in the box to lash beyond the ‘keeper via the aid of a deflection.
Charlie Smith was denied his second goal of the game and his team’s third just before the interval when an excellent one-handed save from the away ‘keeper thwarted him from close range.
The home side returned from the changing rooms looking for the elusive third goal, but a combination of determined Stoke defending and poor finishing meant that the Dartmouth back three of Jordan Frost, Danny Rushe and Ollie Woolland had to be switched on to ensure the visitors didn’t find a way back into the game.
The introduction of reserve team player Nick Rushe provided another outlet in attack for Dartmouth, and he worked hard to link up with Baker and wing backs Smith and Webber.
The home team’s third goal duly arrived after 75 minutes, and it was well worth waiting for. With free-kick taker Forrester not on the field, captain for the day Webber stepped up and curled a beautiful 25 yard free-kick into the top right hand corner.
Much to the disappointment of Dartmouth’s defence and goalkeeper Ryan Walton, Stoke scored what turned out to be a consolation goal with 10 minutes of the game remaining to prevent them from claiming their third clean sheet of the season.
Youngsters Will Kenny and Solley Metchette played the last five minutes and both looked lively in the closing stages.
This was an important win for Dartmouth on a testing play surface and maintains their third-placed position in the league. Dartmouth’s man of the match was awarded to Ryan Frost.
The first team are without a game this weekend and their next fixture is away to league leaders Watcombe Wanderers on Saturday, November 28.
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