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Tonbridge Angels 0
1 Dartford
Napa (24')
Sonny Miles clears with a well timed header after being pushed.

A flat game that fell in Dartford's favour due to a defensive error

A Kent derby was on the itinerary for Tonbridge Angels in their penultimate home game of the season. The hosts faced second-placed Dartford who had previously won in eight away fixtures this campaign.

Two changes for the Angels saw top scorer Jordan Greenidge return after being forced to watch in the previous game against his parent club, Hemel Hempstead. Jeremy Santos earned his first start since his return to Longmead on loan from League One outfit Charlton Athletic. Dartford, who played a rearranged fixture on Thursday night, made four changes for their trip south. 

The early stages of the game were in Angels’ favour. Jordan Greenidge rolled past Dartford’s captain Tom Bonner, firing an early shot which was easily collected by the opposition's shot stopper. As the game progressed through the first 20 minutes, Tonbridge pressed well causing a few nervy moments at the back for the visitors. There was however nothing conclusive to show for it.

Despite subtle signs of hope for the blues, it was the visitors who struck first. A clearance from goalkeeper Dudzinski fell into the danger zone and right-winger Malachi Napa beat skipper Sonny Miles to the bounce and finished it without hesitation past a vulnerable Jonny Henly.

The goal felt slightly against the run of play, but Tonbridge didn’t crumble. Dartford, who before today hadn't won on the road in six matches would've been thinking about trying to kill the game but as the half drew to a close, neither team had looked dangerous enough to add to the scoresheet. The Angels were keeping possession well and looking positive through the likes of loanee Jeremy Santos, but possession of course doesn't win games. 

The second half saw little action. Usually, National League South makes for a much more entertaining watch than higher levels of the game but, on this occasion a combination of solid defending and low levels of creativity made for a stale contest.  

The teams were battling in the centre of the pitch and the heat was frequently spilling over with the referee reaching for his pocket multiple times. Sometimes, moments of dispute can trigger a game-defining moment but neither team could produce anything convincing in the attacking third. 

A change of formation for the Angels arose, the coaching staff looking to influence the game by introducing a second striker in the form of Tommy Wood. Devonte Aransibia and Tommie Fagg also came off the bench in an attempt to add some substance to a what had been a relatively dull game. 

As the match entered injury time, the impressive turnout of 1484 probably weren’t expecting another goal and they didn’t get one despite a moment of chaos in the Dartford box during the dying moments. The game ended Tonbridge Angels 0, Dartford 1. 

The manager Jay Saunders commented on his disappointment in his side’s choices throughout the fixture. "The game felt flat, and it was really about decision-making today, but we made the wrong decisions all over the pitch."

Published Saturday 15th April 2023 (last updated Monday 17th April 2023)