Match report by Allan Mitchell
After the excellent result on Saturday against Bath, the Tudors were quickly brought back down to earth against an excellent Dartford side who have big ambitions this season and have a budget to match.
Hemel started brightly again and forced a succession of corners early on with a couple of decent penalty claims being turned down by referee Isaac Searle, the first was when a shot appeared to strike a defenders hand and was deflected away from goal, with a corner being given. From the corner Kyle Ajaye appeared to be manhandled by ex Tudor Braham-Barrett at the far post but once again a corner was given. Dartford looked anything but assured at the back at this point but as has often been the case this season they took the lead with their first chance of the game. A freekick was fired into the back post and ex Tudor Connor Essam rose above his marker and buried his header past Boness on 13 minutes.
Almost inevitably, Dartford extended their lead just three minutes later when a corner found its way across the goal and under pressure a Hemel defender deflected the ball into his own net, repeating the pattern of recent games with the Tudors conceding goals in quick succession.
There is no lack of effort from Lee Birchams young side and they still managed to create a couple of chances, although Dartford looked threatening every time they moved forward, with pace and some very decent passing movements. Once again the visitors showed Hemel how it should be done when a corner was only half cleared to Ky Marsh-Brown who crossed to an unmarked Elliott Romain who had time to pick his spot, firing home past Boness to make it 3 – 0.
The second period saw Dartford take their foot off the gas somewhat, allowing Hemel back into the game but they created little to trouble Craig King. Despite Hemel seeing more of the ball the visitors nearly went four up when the excellent Essam crashed header off the crossbar from a corner. The ex Tudors skipper was showing his old club what they were missing with a powerful performance all round.
Elliot Romain had another chance for Darts minutes later but his first time shot hit his own player when it looked to be heading into the bottom corner and was deflected for a goal kick.
Hemel huffed and puffed and Bernard Christie brought the first real save of note out of King when his powerful shot was saved at full stretch by the Dartford keeper. JJ Lacey did well to lose his marker but he also saw he effort well saved as Hemel started to exert some pressure in the latter stages and they were finally rewarded when Christie at last found some space and drove home from just inside the box to reduce the deficit but it was all too little too late and Dartford saw the remaining minutes out without any more problems.
At the end of the day you have to say that Steve King, whilst having some good resources, has assembled a very good squad at Darts and they will certainly be in the mix at the end of this troubled season. Hemel’s job will be one of consolidation whilst they rebuild and there will be setbacks along the way but they have proved they compete and will pick up points along the way. Next up is Welling United, who are currently sitting second bottom after a poor start themselves, so it’s another chance to get back on the winning road.
Hemel: 1: Danny Boness 2: Gus Scott-Morriss 3: Luke Pennell 4: Kyle Ajaye (Jake Howells) 5: Nathan Carlyle (JJ Lacey) 6: Ryan Kinnane 7: Stephen Duke-McKenna 18: Jake Evans (Chris Paul) 9: Matt Bateman © 10: Bernard Christie 11: Reggie Young. Subs not used: Taofiq Olomowewe.
Tudors man of the Match: Bernard Christie.