THE division’s best paying attendance of the season saw Darts battle to three points against county rivals Maidstone United and, at the same time, complete a double over their closest challengers.

Under a cloudless sky, Darts kicked off to the Academy End facing a chill, blustery wind. Darts’ parsimonious defence easily coped with the visitors’ unimaginative and wayward attack.

The first move of note was by Dartford when Ryan Hayes, in devilish mode, delivered a trademark free-kick on to Cody McDonald’s head with the latter’s effort being gathered by Stones keeper Andy Walker.

Two minutes later, Hayes left Ashley Ulph for dead but his cross eluded the advancing Darts’ forwards.

It was past the half-hour before Stones’ tricky Mushach Nugent jigged into the home area to test Andy Young with a snap shot on the turn.

Almost immediately after, McDonald received treatment following a couple of heavy tackles.

In the dying moments of the half, a Hayes cross was hit wide by John Guest before Jamie Day’s shot past a thicket of legs whizzed wide of Walker’s left post.

On the turnaround, Darts moved up a gear and soon claimed a penalty when Nathan Paul appeared to handle Adam Gross’s nifty cross into the box.

Darts were by now in control and took the lead on 63 minutes following a bizarre incident involving the normally-reliable Walker.

A long ball was heading towards Maidstone’s goal when Walker decided to come off his line to intercept as Rob Haworth began to chase a 50-1 long shot.

Walker arrived first and hit the ball to Haworth, who was forced wide by the Maidstone keeper.

He kept his feet despite the buffeting and rounded Walker to plant a rasping shot into the empty goal.

Maidstone, whose main attacking gambit was Aaron Lacy’s long throw, proved ineffective as Darts’ unrufflable defence had passed the long throw master class against Staines two weeks previously.

Heading out of defence was immaculate and powerful and it was just 15 minutes before time when Maidstone mounted an attack worthy of the name.

Elliott Bradbrook wove his way into the area, but his shot was pushed onto the underside of the bar by Young and away to safety.

The enthralled crowd was treated to an extra five minutes of time added on, mostly for treatment of and treatment to McDonald.

Dartford: Young, Coyle, Gross, Flanagan, Guest, Osborne, Hayes (Noble 77), Day, Haworth (White 90), McDonald (Cass 68), Dafter Subs nor used: Eferakorho, Ibrahim. Att: 2,013.