HAVANT BUBBLE TRULY POPPED BY THE DARTS
DARTFORD seized the initiative in the National League South title race by beating promotion rivals Havant & Waterlooville in a cagey top-of-the-table clash.
The Darts are two points clear thanks to an early firsthalf strike from Tom Murphy from what was Dartford’s sole shot on target of the afternoon.
It also brought an end to Havant’s 11-match unbeaten league run that stretches back to September.
Dartford manager Tony Burman said: “I am very pleased that we have got the three points and that we kept the clean sheet. It was a battling performance rather than a footballing one.”
The hosts started brightly and led after just two minutes when Murphy fired past Ryan Young from a good flick on by Alfie Pavey.
Yet despite trailing, the Hawks had much of the first half possession but they could not convert it into an equaliser, with their closest opportunity being a Rory Williams shot on 43 minutes which fizzed across the six yard box.
After the first half chill, the second half provided a thaw in a cagey atmosphere as both sides attacked with a little more purpose – Lee Bradbury’s Havant continuing to enjoy most of the possession.
But Dartford nearly doubled their advantage on 51 minutes, when talisman Ryan Hayes floated a cross to Pavey who rose well but headed wide.
Havant almost levelled on 59 minutes through Jordan Rose, whose shot was fired wide after the defender alluded the Darts’ defence.
Dartford pushed back and should have gone close through Andy Pugh on 64 minutes but the forward scuffed his shot wide.
The visitors, who had only lost once on the road before Saturday’s game, should have equalised on 70 minutes through Jason Prior, but the former Dartford man could only head over from close range.
Havant’s biggest chance of the afternoon came on 83 minutes, when Jordan Rose’s effort was well saved by Deren Ibrahim. The resulting scramble should have been tucked away by Prior, but the forward could only put his effort over the bar.
On 90 minutes substitute Matt Tubbs’ effort went just wide as the Hawks laid siege to the Dartford goal in the dying minutes.
Hawks boss Bradbury felt that they should have taken something from the gamem, saying: “I am pleased with the way the lads played. We have had a real go. We had better chances and dominated for long spells. I am proud.” STAR MAN: Tom Murphy (Dartford) ENTERTAINMENT: ★★★★★
COOLLY DONE: Murphy nets what proves to be the winner DREAM START: Dartford celebrate after Tom Murphy scores the only goal of the game in the second minute