Billericay 0-1 Dartford

IT was dull, blustery and chilly on Saturday but Dartford took all the Essex side could throw at them and returned home with three well-deserved points, ending Billericay's unbeaten home start into the bargain.

Darts brought in Adam Flanagan and Jamie Day into the line-up for Rob Haworth (transport accident) and Ryan Hayes (relocated to the bench).

In a game of contrasting styles, the Blues shaded the opening period but foundered on a well-drilled Dartford rearguard which gave nothing away apart from a rather fortuitous penalty just before the break.

When Billericay did create openings they found Andrew Young in superlative form.

One particular strike was held effortlessly by Young under the crossbar with what can only be described as an immaculate reception.

He followed this up with a neat flick away from a blistering shot from out wide and rounded off a busy half by saving a penalty awarded for a handling offence.

Darts were more measured in their approach with Butterworth and Noble producing strong runs and Powell, up front, working openings.

Lee Noble received the customary close attention and it was a free-kick awarded when he was upended which led to the only goal of the game on 18 minutes.

Spotting a gap in the Billericay wall, Noble fired in a shin-high rocket which took a slight deflection and left Buckfield wrong-footed in the Blues' goal.

The second half saw the Blues going all out for a leveller, but Danny Dafter and his midfield colleagues were always a step ahead of the game, winning almost everything.

When Billericay did break through, Darts' back four mopped up comfortably.

And, of course, there was man-of-the-match Young to supply the coup de grace.

With 20 minutes to go, Hayes replaced a quiet Brendon Cass and set the Blues problems which were alien to them.

Noble was taken off following lengthy treatment on 80 minutes to be replaced by James White and soon afterwards, James Taylor replaced Powell who had been very effective in his forward role.

A healthy crowd enjoyed the encounter although the handball obsessed element had a jaundiced view of the referee who added on an extra five minutes at the end.

Dartford: Young, Coyle, Osborne, Flanagan, Guest, Dafter, Butterworth, Day, Cass (Hayes 70), Powell (Taylor 88), Noble (White 80). Subs not used: Eferakhoro, Kessell. Att: 719.