Maidstone United 1-2 Dartford

A PUNGENT, river-borne windy dank evening at Central Park was brightened by Dartford, who sliced their way through high-flying Maidstone to establish a two goal lead midway through the first half.

The swirling conditions failed to blunt incisive Darts who, slightly favoured by the wind, soon had Stones on the back foot with Ray Powell ending a searing run with a shot which rebounded off keeper Walker's left post.

A series of Ryan Hayes free-kicks penned the homesters back and a Lee Noble run ended when he was cut down on the edge of the area.

On 18 minutes, a left-side corner was slipped out to Steve Butterworth whose fierce drive from outside the box beat Walker to put Darts one up.

Before the dust settled, a dazzling move involving Powell, Noble, Cass and Hayes opened up Stones and Rob Haworth nodded past Walker to make it 2-0.

With Noble and Butterworth calling the shots it was a surprise when Maidstone were able to get back in the game just before the break.

A couple of corners ended with Meshach Nugent turning in the box to fire home past Andrew Young.

Now having what advantage the gusty wind gave, Maidstone tried to get back on terms.

But whereas Darts had used the pitch to good effect, the home side tried the aerial route more often than not.

Darts were, generally, content to contain the hosts but a long run along the left and a testing cross from Butterworth was cleared off the line to remind the home side of Dartford's potential.

Maidstone rung the changes and, indeed, put Darts under pressure with a series of corners late in the game.

But the pressure was more apparent than real and Young and the Darts' rearguard saw the game through to the final whistle.

Dartford: Young, Coyle, Osborne, Powell, Guest, Dafter, Butterworth, Hayes (Barnes 84), Cass, Haworth, Noble. Subs not used: Flanagan, White, Norman, Kessell. Att: 667.