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Dartford 0-1 Hythe Town
HYTHE Town won all the psychological battles at Princes Park last night and in the end deservedly wrested the Kent Senior Cup from holders Dartford in a far from classic encounter.
In the period leading up to the final Hythe were persuaded to play the game at Princes Park which, naturally, put their backs up.
The first battle the visitors won was the coin toss allowing them to force the Darts to defend rather than attack the Academy End.
Secondly, they chose the tactics – up and under football at 90 mph.
Thirdly, they convinced the referee a belly-flop in Dartford’s penalty area was worthy of a spot kick.
Whatever, Hythe captain Dave Cook took the responsibility and scored what turned out to be the only goal of the evening.
Dartford had a golden opportunity to level matters almost immediately afterwards when referee Paul Harris spotted a Hythe handball and awarded Darts a penalty of their own.
Sadly Adam Green's effort was saved by Hythe keeper Dean Ruddy.
For a little while now Dartford have lost the knack of producing their customary 15-minute spell around the hour mark which resulted in a match-winning cluster of goals.
Not only has this been missing but, against Hythe, the Darts were drawn into a game of long, high balls out of defence.
As the game wore on Dartford did get the ball lower and had far the better of the second half.
However, the Ryman Division One South visitors have shown in this competition they are fully capable of defying the odds against supposedly superior opponents and at Princes Park they tackled like underdogs and had in Dean Ruddy a last line of defence who did not know what defeat was.
He was also aided by the woodwork and some wayward Dartford finishing.
After the non-event against Boreham Wood on Saturday, this cup final reminded Dartford that to win you must remain sharp – a timely warning ahead of the play-off lottery.
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Dartford: Wells, Burns, Green, Bonner, Goodacre (Noble 62), Champion, Hayes, Graham, Erskine (Garrod 81), Bradbrook, Pallen (Harris 56). Subs not used: Rogers, Jones. Att: 1,336.