St Albans City 0-0 Dartford

THIS FA Trophy third round qualifying tie started promptly under an icy, grey-flecked sky, backed by a wind direct from Siberia.

Loan signing Liam McDevitt was omitted to avoid being cup-tied, but fellow loanee Adam Gross was in the line-up at left back.

Tommy Osborne fitted into the number two shirt and ever-present Jamie Coyle was alongside skipper Adam Flanagan.

Kicking up the slight slope in the first half, Darts readily took the initiative and tested keeper Paul Bastock from a right-side corner.

After a brief flurry by the hosts, Lee Noble fired a long-range volley narrowly wide of Bastock’s right post.

Cody McDonald then laid the ball off for Jamie Day, who also narrowly missed the home right post. Shortly after the half-hour a lengthy fracas in the home penalty area earned the displeasure of the Dartford travelling faithful, but not the referee’s and Steve Cousins was subsequently booed for the rest of the game.

It was impossible to see from the press box, but the roar of “handball” in unison from 200 throats around the same time surely means they couldn’t all be wrong.

Minutes before the break the home crowd at last became vocal when a left side cross was cleared off the line by Adam Gross.

The second half was mainly stalemate and, maybe, slightly shaded by St Albans who were prompted by the balding Cousins and skipper Ben Martin.

However, anything St Albans managed to conjure up was confidently dealt with by Darts’ rearguard and the sure handling of Andrew Young.

In front of them, Darts’ midfield - apparently not there at Tonbridge according to one supporter - did a very efficient job, while McDonald and ubiquitous Rob Haworth kept the home defence busy. A good, all round performance.

Dartford: Young, Osborne, Gross, Flanagan, Coyle, Dafter, White, Day, Haworth, McDonald (Cass 80), Noble (Butterworth 75). Subs not used: Hayes, Eferakorho, Ibrahim. Att: 525.