AN INJURY time winner from Daniel Meadows consigned Dartford to defeat at Alfreton Town on Saturday.
Darts had selection problems before a ball was even kicked.
Tom Bonner reported sick before departure time, while both Danny Harris and Lee Noble were non-starters.
The visiting bench looked rather thin, with only Nathan Collier a recognised squad member and the rest of the subs being made up of academy students.
Darts, playing up the slope a la Watling Street, scored an early opener when Ryan Hayes jinked inside from out right and sent a typical curler beyond the despairing reach of home custodian Phil Barnes.
The auguries were fine but fate is a fickle lady.
Before Alfreton could break sweat, a neat Jacob Erskine flick to Harry Crawford saw Darts’ top scorer hit the inside of the post.
Amazingly the ball bounced out, turning one of Isaac Newton’s laws of motion on its head.
Crawford was no luckier when an astute Hayes cross beyond the far post came a shade too quickly for him.
To add insult to injury, a pin-point accurate Hayes cross on the half hour was headed firmly past Barnes only for the for the effort to be mysteriously ruled out, presumably for offside.
Dartford’s ill fortune had already been made evident when Erskine limped off with a groin strain after just 17 minutes.
As in the New Year’s Day game at Ebbsfleet, Darts were undone in time added on at the end of the first half.
On this occasion substitute Matty Harriott crossed to the far post, where Meadows squeezed the ball past Marcus Bettinelli.
Just before the hour Dartford restored their lead when yet another Hayes curler was headed home by Nathan Collier.
This time fifteen minutes elapsed before Alfreton hit back.
Now using local knowledge of pitch conditions, the home side were gaining in confidence and Anton Brown fired home to make it 2-2.
There was time for a home player to volley the ball at the Dartford bench. In the old days it was known as ungentlemanly conduct and rewarded with instant dismissal.
Both Mohamed Eisa and George Monger got pitch time late in the game but in the fourth minute added on fate turned against Darts when Meadows got Alfreton’s winner.
This Saturday Dartford are at home to Bromley in the FA Trophy, kick-off 3pm.
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Dartford: Bettinelli: Burns, Champion, Arber, Rose, Hayes, Wallis, Bradbrook (Monger 90), Rogers (Eisa 89), Crawford, Erskine (Collier 17). Subs not used: Martin,Sutton. Att: 522