Dartford 0-0 Staines Town

AFTER six weeks away from home, Dartford returned to Princes Park for a meeting with promotion-chasing Staines Town on Saturday.

Suspensions and injuries led to Darts being three regulars short as they attacked the Academy End under a glowering grey sky.

It is easy to see why Staines Town are well-placed to challenge Dover.

They are a well-drilled, busy outfit who crowd and harry the opposition for the whole 90 minutes and so it was on Saturday.

But it is a measure of how far Darts have come that they matched the visitors throughout the game and found time to cause alarms in the Staines defence, notably just before the interval.

Staines came at Darts from the off and Andrew Young was soon called upon to make a smart save from Taylor.

This was followed by a hefty clearance from Adam Gross but, gradually, the home side’s layered defence got to grips with the Staines attack, finding as much trouble with their squad numbers as anything thrown at them.

Every member of the Darts’ rearguard got a firm head or strong boot to the ball and countered mainly through Jamie ‘White Boots’ Coyle, whose inventive distribution opened the day for Brendon Cass and a cheeky Ryan Hayes to exploit.

On one occasion, Cass collected a ball out of defence, fed Hayes whose cross was headed nervously away.

Hayes then had a little spell when he did some neat jiggery-pokery to discomfit the visitors.

The referee also became confused when, just before the break, a Staines defender headed over his own bar under severe pressure, only for the man in black to award a goal kick.

The second half started the same as the first with Staines causing problems with a series of long throws into the Darts’ penalty area, but the home side were not going to wilt.

Behind them all was the immaculate Young, who capped a splendid display with a diving save from a close-range shot to prevent a certain goal on 88 minutes.

Finally, a word of praise for the players of both sides who did not commit a serious foul between them all afternoon and to the referee, Mr R Atkin, who got more things right than a biased observer would admit to.

Dartford: Young, Coyle, Gross, Flanagan, Guest, Osborne, Hayes, Dafter, Cass (Ward 83), Haworth, White. Subs not used: Isa, Eferakorho, Turay, Ibrahim. Att: 1,148.