Hendon 3-0 Dartford

FATE ensured Darts' debut in the Ryman Premier was chequered, with delays caused by a crash on the M25 being the start of a traumatic afternoon.

With an hour's delay for the team and supporters' coach, the players and management drove to Hendon meaning the usual pre-match preparation was disrupted.

In addition, John Guest was dealt the cursed nine of diamonds, resulting in him having less than half an hour on the pitch.

The opening period was punctuated by a series of free-kicks which destroyed any pattern of play.

From a typically half-way award, Hendon took the lead when the strapping Brian Haule got to the ball first to head the hosts in front.

Darts responded at once with Nic Barnes being within inches of the leveller.

Then a typical run and pinpoint cross by Lee Noble found Barnes, whose shot beat keeper Blackmore but ended up in the custodian's hands from a goal-line clearance.

A Ray Powell move along the right saw a cross reach Jamie Coyle, whose shot was fielded by Blackmore.

Then came the turning point.

A Hendon hoof downfield nearly caught Guest out as he tussled for possession with Haule.

After swapping shirt pulls, Guest held Haule and the referee, going into clairvoyant mode, realised Haule was going to run 25 or so yards and plant his shot past Tony Kessell and waved his red card at the Darts defender.

Moments later, the elusive James Bent popped up in the inside right position and fired a low cross-shot past Kessell to double Hendon's advantage.

Though kicking down the slope in the second half, Darts faced an uphill struggle and made a couple of substitutions to change things around.

Rob Howarth replaced Brendon Cass on 56 minutes and Steve Butterworth replaced Noble on 65.

Butterworth almost pulled one back for Darts when he shot past Blackmore following an opening created by Howarth.

However, a Hendon hoof off the line and out of the ground denied the visitors.

It was game, set and match soon afterwards as substitute Chris Bangara headed home Hendon's third.

Dartford: Kessell, Coyle, Norman, Flanagan, Guest, O'Brien (Hayes 77), Powell, Barnes, Cass (Howarth 56), Dafter, Noble (Butterworth 64). Subs not used: White, Osborne. Att: 389