Wednesdaqy 11 January 2017 // National League Youth Alliance Cup R4 // Report by Adrian Swan
Maidstone Ambers lost their unbeaten record this season slipping out of the Alliance League Cup at the fourth round stage in a closely contested match against their hosts Dartford Whites after being two goals up.
Due to a number of games being played at Princes Park today this game took place on the main Dartford pitch.
The home side nearly took the lead straight from kick off when the ball was played up to Alfie Cue whose shot on the turn was well saved by Ambers keeper Nathan Parsons diving low to his left.
The Ambers then settled down and created their first chance of the game on eight minutes when David Smith’s through ball put John Burtonshaw in on goal and although he managed to dribble around the advancing Dartford keeper Tony Coxall, he was forced wide out to the right of the area where his shot from an acute angle was cleared off the line by a Darford defender.
However the Ambers were not to be denied and took the lead from their next attack minutes later. Burtonshaw’s free kick found Jamie Rawsthorne at the far post and his cushioned header fell to Kyle McDowall who fired home from close range.
The visitors went close again on 16 minutes when Ben Fitchett’s deep right wing cross had Coxall stretching high above his head to turn the ball over the bar for a corner. Reece Bridge took the right wing corner sending over a deep cross to the far post where Will Thomas rose highest and sent his powerful free header high to the left of Coxall but Dartford full back Harvey Brinkley was guarding their left hand post and headed the ball away to safety.
The was an element of controversy about the Ambers second goal on 23 minutes with the home side calling for a foul on their keeper. Sam Fairweather-Oaks pumped a long ball forward from the half way line into the Dartford box where Smith jumped and challenged Coxall for the ball, who under pressure from the Ambers forward dropped the ball with Smith reacting quickest to sweep the loose ball home into the empty net. The referee decided that Smith had not impeded the home keeper when jumping for the ball and awarded the goal with both players needing treatment after the incident.
Rather than dwell on their misfortune this seemed to spur the home side on and for the rest of the half they were the better team.
Just after the half hour Dartford went close to pulling a goal back when Cue clipped the ball over the Ambers back line to the left of the area for John Ufuah to run onto and he hit a powerful first time shot that Parsons saved well diving low to his left. However a minute later they did reduce the deficit when an almost identical ball over the Ambers back line, this time from Brinkley, found Ufuah in the same position but this time he hit a superb half volley that flew high to the left of the diving Parsons into the top corner of the net.
Then on 39 minutes the home side might have drawn level when Shai Thorley-Porter made a good run down the right to the bye line before pulling the ball back to an unmarked Guylepsy Menga who ballooned his shot on the turn over the bar. Then right on half time there was another talking point when Fitchett clipped the ball over the Darts back line for Smith, who got to the ball fractionally ahead of the on rushing Coxall, who unceremoniously took out the Ambers forward, but was only booked as it was deemed that he made a genuine attempt to play the ball and the Ambers forward was heading away from goal.
The Ambers had the first chance of the second half on 52 minutes when Smith turned well in the box but no one was able to get onto his low cross that flashed across the face of goal. On the hour mark it was the turn of the home side to go close when Eli Graham’s free kick from wide right curled over to the far post where a diving Darius Izukanne just failed to make contact. Then on 66 minutes Dartford drew level when Cue’s through ball into the box fell to Ufuah whose shot on the turn beat Parsons low to his right.
It was now anyone’s game as both sides pushed for a winner.
On 75 minutes it was the home side who nearly scored when Ufuah made a good run into the box before having his low shot well saved by Parsons diving to his right for a corner. Minutes later it was the Ambers who went close when Bridge struck a powerful half volley from wide right of the area that flashed just over the bar.
They then missed a good chance to take the lead on 79 minutes when substitute Dylan Jones sent over a corner from the right that was missed by Coxall and headed down by Fitchett for Bridge, whose close range shot on the turn flew just the wrong side of the post. This miss proved even more galling for the Ambers as shortly afterwards Dartford took the lead.
Ufuah’s through ball found the run of Cue into the box and as he was about to shoot he was taken out by Thomas for a penalty. Liam Rosenfield took the spot kick firing the ball high to the right of Parsons who saved superbly, having dived that way he managed to palm the ball away to safety.
However the Ambers did not have a chance to dwell on this let off as a minute later the home side took the lead for the first time that afternoon. From a deep Rosenfield corner from the left, the ball flew over to the far post where Izukanne rose and powerfully headed home high to the left of Parsons and over a defender on the line.
Dartford then made a succession of substitutions and tried to run the clock down by taking the ball into the corners.
However despite this the Ambers did have a couple of chances in stoppage time with Burtonshaw firing a long range shot just wide before they might have forced a penalty shoot out on 93 minutes when Bridge’s cross from the left found an unmarked Jones who headed wide when well placed.