Dartford 3-3 Oxford City

THIS entertaining tie was heavily influenced by weather, which started as drizzle but ended up as an icy wind-backed monsoon which rendered the turf sodden and the goalmouths as consistent as workhouse gruel.

Despite this, both sides were bent on attack and City were first to show.

But inside two minutes, Darts went ahead when Rob Haworth fed Jamie Day on the left and the latter’s centre was driven home by man-of-the-match Cody McDonald, who scored the second-fastest Dartford Trophy goal. City, attacking the Car Park end, had the assistance of a swirling tail wind and made matters level on t20 minutes when they scored the first of their dead-ball goals.

Awarded a free-kick some 30 yards out, Jon Gardner pumped a wind-assisted free-kick beyond everyone into the top corner of Darts’ goal.

City appeared to be busy but not purposeful. Ray Powell slotted into the Danny Dafter role and Tommy Osborne continued his Indian summer, while Nic Barnes, Lee Noble, James White and Jamie Day drove Darts on for a second goal which came on 34 minutes. Ossie fed Day out on the left and his finely placed cross was headed firmly past Harrison by McDonald. Soon after Haworth got into the City box, but disappeared under a pile of bodies in the act of shooting.

The second half was barely a minute old when McDonald latched on a weak City clearance to hit Darts’, and his, third goal from six yards out.

Having got some breathing space, Darts continued to maintain control but were pegged back seven minutes later when Andy Gunn met Gardner’s free-kick with a glancing header for a softish goal.

There were one or two cheeky bits of skill from Noble before McDonald launched himself on a 50-yard run, brushing off three defenders on the way to unleashing a powerful drive which rebounded off the City crossbar. With time running out, City scored another dead-ball goal, this time Steve Jackman managing to get his head to a corner to make it 3-3.

Darts counter-attacked and forced four corners, from the third of which Haworth drive a powerful shot goalwards, only to be thwarted by Harrison’s brave save.

Dartford: Young, Coyle, Osborne, Powell, Guest, Barnes, White, Day, McDonald, Haworth, Noble. Subs not used: Hayes, Cass, Flanagan, Butterworth, Ibrahim. Att: 749