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Southport 2-2 Dartford
DARTFORD were twice pegged back by Southport as they were forced to settle for a share of the spoils on Saturday.
Most football supporters seemed to be heading north-west on Saturday, particularly to Old Trafford, with the result Dartford arrived at Haig Avenue just before 2pm after six hours on the road.
Tony Burman likes to get around two hours for match preparation but was denied this luxury at Southport. The result was Darts were slow to get into their stride. Although the visitors had the better of the first half, they took some time to find their feet.
The upside was Harry Crawford came out firing like Rambo and virtually took on the home rearguard single-handed, much to the displeasure of the seated home contingent in the main stand. He was up at the Southport back four and thoroughly deserved to open the scoring on 29 minutes when latching on to a Ryan Hayes free-kick and getting through the home rearguard to slot home the best goal of the game. This certainly spoilt home keeper Tony McMillan’s 200th appearance celebrations.
As is well known, your correspondent is loath to criticise referees but Saturday’s official just didn't seem to know what time of day it was. Suffice it to say he was still chatting to the match assessor an hour after the final whistle.
Just as Burman’s side were about to go in 1-0 up at the interval, a speculative ball into Darts’ penalty area caused a moment’s indecision and allowed Andy Owens to smash home the equaliser.
What had been, overall, a poor game improved marginally in the second, half but defences continued to nullify what attacking pay there was. On the hour a fine Hayes delivery found Danny Harris whose shot was parried by McMillan. Tom Bonner was first to react and McMillan’s celebratory afternoon was again marred as the Dart put the visitors ahead again.
Darts seemingly had done enough to take home three points and were easily mopping up what attacking Southport could manage, mainly through the home side’s best player Godfrey Poku.
But an 83rd minute trip by Jon Wallis on Shaun Whalley set up a Whalley leveller from the penalty spot. The home side had the ball in the net almost immediately afterwards but were denied an undeserved match winner for offside.
Princes Park will host two Dartford home games this week against Stockport tomorrow and Wrexham on Friday, both at 7.45pm.
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Dartford: Bettinelli: Burns, Champion, Bonner, Green: Hayes, Wallis (Evans 90), Bradbrook, Rogers: Harris (Erskine 88), Crawford. Subs not used: Collier, Arbet, Sutton. Att: 823