Dartford 0 – 0 Wealdstone FC, Saturday 29th February 2020

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From wealdstone-fc.com

Wealdstone were held to a scoreless draw against National League South play-off chasers Dartford at Princes Park on Saturday afternoon.

Dennon Lewis missed a penalty in the second half as the Stones shared the points for just the third league game this season.

Stones Manager Dean Brennan made one forced change to the side that lost to Chelmsford City on Tuesday night, as Ashley Charles returned from injury to replace the suspended Connor Smith.

The league leaders looked to bounce back with a positive performance following the disappointment of Tuesday night, Dartford aimed to continue their run of five consecutive home wins.

An evenly matched start to the game lacked key chances, the first fell to the Darts as Darren McQueen’s shot on-the-turn flew wide.

The game was competitive from the first whistle, with the wind blowing against the Stones in the opening period, passages of positive play were hard to create and perfect.

Dartford were struggling to get into full flow as well, often losing the ball with a good tackle from the Stones or a sloppy misplaced pass.

The first chance for Brennan’s Stones finally came five minutes before the interval when Charles leaped ahead of Darts goalkeeper Mark Smith and headed onto the crossbar.

“For me, it’s the clearest penalty you’re ever going to see on a football pitch”, claimed Brennan after Charles felt contact from Smith as his header hit the woodwork.

As the half ended, the game was on a knife-edge and you can sense a high anticipation for the second half to spring the game to life within the stadium as supporters swapped to opposite ends of Princes Park.

The wind speeds increased after the break and rain was briefly added to the game which denied both sides to set a tempo in the second period.

The rain stopped and Brennan was forced to substitute Charles who went down injured; top scorer Ross Lafayette was drafted on to bully Darts defender Tom Bonner and Josh Hill.

Substitute Lafayette almost made an instant impact, Moses Emmanuel threaded him in-behind and forced a save out of Smith before the hour-mark.

With the wind now going against the home side, Smith was struggling to get his goal-kicks to the half-way line and even asked for a sun cap once the clouds cleared into bright blue skies.

Dartford defended well when the Stones looked to counter on the break with Billy Clifford, Lafayette, Lewis and Moses Emmanuel not allowed to test Smith.

The game finally swung in Wealdstone’s direction when Lafayette was bought down by Bonner and the Stones had the golden chance to go ahead.

That opportunity fell to Lewis, who netted a spectacular penalty against Dorking Wanderers last weekend. His effort cannoned off the post and wide on this occasion.

Dartford then had a penalty appeal themselves moments later, Billy Crook went down in the penalty box but referee Tom Bishop deemed the substitute to have dived and was booked.

Suddenly the game was alive after 80 minutes as both sides pushed to find a winner, Michael Phillips tested Smith as he parried the midfielder’s shot away.

The final chance fell to the Stones in the dying moments, when Michee Efete stormed down the right and cut the ball back to Emmanuel, he lost his footing at the final moment right in-front of goal and the opportunity was gone.

Substitute Luke Wanadio was darting down the right-hand side for Dartford in stoppage time and Clifford ended it with an abrupt tackle for the team which killed the game.

The visitors remain six points clear at the National League South summit and stopped Dartford hitting their trebles at home with a hard-fought clean sheet.

Report by Dec O’Reilly

Wealdstone: Oxborough, Efete, Mendy, Clifford, Stevens, Okimo, Phillips, Charles (Lafayette, 57), Emmanuel (Sheppard, 88), Green (Watt, 72), Lewis.

Subs not used: Everett, McCoy.

Dartford: Smith, Ming, Braham-Barrett, Bansal-McNulty (Wanadio, 72), Hill, Bonner, Husin (Crook, 65), Hyde, Romain, McQueen, Wynter.

The Stones return to National League South action on Tuesday evening when they travel to Kent to face Tonbridge Angels at Longmead, kick-off is at 7:45pm.

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