Dartford 2-3 Sutton United

FROM a neutral point of view, this pulsating match was marred by a trio of strange decisions.

Possibly Sutton might have won this encounter anyway, but three incidents certainly made it more difficult for Dartford to pull their chestnuts out of the fire.

The game was played at pace with both sides showing high levels of skill and invention and the visitors having the edge in the opening phases. Tommy Osborne was fouled 16 minutes into the game, but the referee saw it otherwise and the experienced McKimm curled his free-kick beyond the Dartford wall.

West nodded back and David Hughes got the merest of touches to guide the ball home.

Buoyed up, Sutton continued to press but Darts stuck to the task and well into the half carved out a couple of openings.

Firstly, a Cody McDonald shot was deflected for a corner and then the same player fed man-of-the-match Rob Haworth, whose shot under extreme pressure was smothered by visiting keeper Paul Nicholls.

With half-time looming, Sutton gained some breathing space when Chukki Eribenne, who tormented Darts last season at Ebbsfleet, hit home with a shot on the turn from close range.

Darts came out with sleeves metaphorically rolled up and within four minutes pulled one back. A right-sided Ryan Hayes corner to the near post was back-headed past the flapping Nicholls by Danny Dafter. Darts now laid siege to the Sutton goal and it was entirely against the run of play when Sutton were awarded a penalty.

Post-match opinion revealed it might have been a push, it might have been a clumsy clash of feet and it might have been outside the box. However, it was deemed a penalty and Eribenne hit it sufficiently wide of Young to make it 3-1 to the visitors.

Strike three against Darts came immediately after when manager Tony Burman was banished from the bench. Darts, however, never gave up and Haworth’s had work was rewarded, heading home from a corner with a couple of minutes remaining. On a positive note on-loan central defender, Stevenage’s Liam McDevitt, made a faultless debut for Darts.

Dartford: Young, Coyle, Osborne, Flanagan, McDevitt, Dafter, Hayes (Cass), Day, Haworth, McDonald, Butterworth. Subs not used: White, Baigent, Eferakorho, Palfrey. Att: 1,082.