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Dartford 4-0 Hereford
DARTFORD destroyed Hereford United this afternoon at Princes Park.
They made the perfect start when Ryan Hayes gave the Conference new boys a sixth minute lead and second half strikes from James Rogers, Danny Harris and Jon Wallis completed the rout against the former Football League outfit.
The hosts started brightly and almost went in front in the opening minute when Elliot Bradbrook rose high to meet Richard Rose’s and his header hit the post.
But the Darts didn’t have long to wait to make the breakthrough which arrived in the sixth minute as they surged forward after a Hereford attack broke down.
Harry Crawford’s shot was charged down by Byron Anthony and while the fans were appealing for handball, the ball fell to Hayes who curled a shot beyond Bulls keeper Dan Hanford from inside the area.
Hayes tried to repeat the trick three minutes later but this time his curler flew well wide.
Crawford was unfortunate not to find the target in the 12th minute with a well struck shot from inside the box that went about a foot wide and he tried his luck again from long range moments later but this time his effort went straight at Hanford.
Sam Clucas’ 20th minute shot from outside of the area sailed harmlessly over the bar, while Anthony had to hack the danger clear as Crawford whipped in a dangerous cross.
Hereford were awarded a free-kick in dangerous position on 36 minutes after Ryan Bowman was fouled by Rose, but the chance was wasted when the ball was played short to Chris Carruthers, whose effort went about 15 yards wide of the post.
Carruthers came much closer three minutes later when his shot from outside of the box went inches over the bar.
Bradbrook almost doubled Dartford’s advantage in stoppage time but his header from Hayes’ corner went over and he had another chance before the half-time whistle when he broke into the box but fired wide.
Dartford started the first half strongly and were even better in the second period, making it 2-0 within two minutes of the resumption of play.
Hayes delivered another excellent cross from the right and Rogers was on hand to head home from close range.
Mark Arber was cautioned for a clumsy challenge on Clucas with Harry Pell flashing the resulting 25 yard free-kick just wide of Marcus Bettinelli’s post.
Arber made a great tackle inside the area to deny substitute Tom Nichols the opportunity of sending in a cross.
Marley Watkins should have scored for Hereford on 64 minutes but his looping header from Bowman’s delivery went just over.
There was a change of referee in the 71st minute when injury forced Dean Treleaven to be replaced by fourth official Benjamin Knight.
Darts made their first change two minutes later as Crawford made way for Harris seconds before Jacob Erskine glanced a header just wide from a corner.
Harris fell at the vital moment after being put clean through, much to the relief of Hanford in the Hereford goal.
But there was nothing the keeper could do in the 76th minute to deny the substitute who unleashed an unstoppable curling shot into the top corner.
Hayes almost added a fourth with a shot from outside the box before he was replaced by Lee Noble and Bradbrook made way for Jon Wallis.
Watkins should have pulled one back but dragged a shot wide when completely unmarked from Clucas’ 83rd minute low cross.
Instead it was Dartford who added to their tally five minutes later as substitute Wallis smashed a free-kick home from 20 yards.
Noble’s shot on the turn was saved by Hanford in stoppage time as Darts went in search of a fifth.
It wouldn’t have flattered them had they got it so dominant were Tony Burman’s side from start to finish.
Instead they had to settle for just the four goals but the evidence from this display is that Dartford can rightly be considered as play-off candidates.
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Dartford: Bettinelli, Rogers, Champion, Bonner, Rose, Burns, Bradbrook (Wallis 81), Arber, Hayes (Hayes 81), Crawford (Harris 73), Erskine. Subs not used: Sutton, Collier. Att: 1,601.
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