Match Report by Allan Mitchell
Hemel got back to winning ways with a deserved win over Dartford who had been pushing back up the table after an indifferent start to the season.
The Tudors came into the game after a disappointing result at home to Braintree the previous Tuesday, a performance that manager Brad Quinton publicly apologised for in his post game interview.
The home side came out of the blocks very quickly and caught Dartford on the back foot, creating three excellent chances in the first seven minutes. Darts keeper Mitchell Beeney saving well from Reece Grant in the first minute, then McKenzie (5) and Iaciofano (7). Chris Smith then saw his header cleared off the line as Hemel piled forward.
Iaciofano had a good shout for a penalty turned down halfway through the half when he appeared to have been ‘taken out’ by ex Tudor Moussa Diarra, who looked to have made no attempt to play the ball, but the referee waved away the appeals.
The Tudors supporters started to wonder if it was going to one of those days and they would live to regret those missed chances as the game settled down and the visitors weathered the storm. It still took The Darts 40 minutes to muster a shot on target and that came from the penalty spot after Altintop chased into the box and was adjudged to have been tripped by Josh Hill. The Darts player looked as though he was heading for the floor before there was any contact but the official saw it as a foul and pointed to the spot.
Darts skipper Luke Coulson stepped up and despatched the ball past Craig King to give his side a fortunate lead on the balance of play.
It was harsh on Hemel and it looked as though they’d go in a the break a goal down but Reece Grant did well to rob Altintop just a minute later as he tried to clear the ball and the Tudors striker drove into towards goal before calmly slotting the ball past Beeney to restore parity. It was no more than they deserved and the two sides went in at half time all square.
Dartford made a change at the interval and they started the second half much better than the first but despite long periods of possession they rarely threatened Craig King’s goal and Hemel still looked dangerous on the counter with Joe Iaciofano forcing another superb save out of Beeney just before the hour mark.
The game looked as though it might head towards a stalemate as both sides started to cancel each other out but on 70 minutes, Hemel took the lead. They had forced a free kick close to edge of the box, out on the left. The penalty area packed waiting for a cross, George Williams laid it back to Arj Krasniqi who was waiting, unmarked at the edge, he drove it goalwards and it appeared to strike Diarra’s outstretched arm and the official pointed straight to the spot.
There was a short ‘discussion’ between Krasniqi and Iaciofano about who was taking the penalty but it was the latter who grabbed the ball before sending Beeney the wrong way with another superb spot kick.
Dartford thought they had equalised in the 80th minute when Diarra headed the ball into the path of Paul Rooney who tucked the ball home but the official felt that Diarra had fouled his man and disallowed the goal.
The referee wasn’t endearing himself to the Dartford bench and after calling for another foul as they tried to get back into the game, something was said and Darts manager Alan Dowson was given a red card and had to leave the touchline.
There was a scare right at the end of the game when Alex Wall flicked the ball onto Altintop at the back post but King reacted superbly, saving at point blank range to secure the points for Hemel.
A much better performance all round from the Tudors and Brad Quinton echoed that in his post match interview.
Hemel: King; McKenzie, Ajayi, Hill © Smith (C), Re, Brown, Roberts, Krasniqi, Iaciofano (Whittaker) Grant (Williams G) Subs not used: Mathews, Briscoe, Smith (B)
Attendance: 564 Tudors man of the Match; Bradley Roberts (Sponsors man of the Match; Bayley Brown)