Dartford 1 Nuneaton Town 2
Saturday 14th September 2013 (Skrill Premier)
Report courtesy of Nuneaton News;
IT IS often said having the ability to win without playing well is the sign of a good team.
If that is the case then Nuneaton Town really might have what it takes to sustain their fantastic start to the season.
Eight games in and they are still second in Skrill Premier, second to Cambridge United on goal difference and now five points clear of third placed Forest Green Rovers with 20 out of 24 points to their name.
That is not only play-off form, it is title winning form. That said, Boro did not play well in many senses against Dartford.
They were as poor as they have been all season across midfield and Amari’i Bell’s propensity for trying to do way too much on the ball was a factor in the left back being below the high standard he has set.
When goalkeeper James Belshaw gifted Dartford a goal to let them back into it after 28 minutes it was far from certain Nuneaton would win a sixth game of the season.
That was the bad, but there was plenty of good, not least the form of Louis Moult. It was his two goals which put Kevin Wilkin’s side two up in the first eight minutes.
The first was a crisp header in the fifth minute and then three minutes later he whipped in a brilliant free-kick from 25 yards that Darts keeper Alan Julian could only watch fly in.
Moult will grab the headlines again and rightly so, but his performance was not consistent throughout – as was summed up when his wild strike from distance shattered a roof light in the stand, sending Boro fans scurrying.
It’s arguable only three other players were at the levels they’ve set this season – Gaz Dean, Gavin Cowan and Theo Streete.
Three of the back four were at their best as they resisted Dartford’s attacks, which were pretty regular in the first half as they cut through Boro’s midfield.
The second had little sting to it until the final few minutes when Cowan cut out a couple of dangerous balls and Streete made a brilliant block.
Belshaw too deserves credit. Yes he dropped a clanger, but he responded admirably with assured handling and consistent kicking.
He showed character that was matched by the team. True, they were not at their best, but the effort was certainly there even if the fluidity was not.
One final negative - the terrible performance of the referee. There was no way five Boro players should have been booked. Of the yellows, only Danny Sleath and possibly Adam Walker deserved their cautions.
In fact, Dean got away with the most cynical foul for a lunge in the centre circle that halted a Dartford break.
Daniel Cook’s lack of consistency was certainly infuriating.
There was one change to the team which beat Wrexham 2-0 as Bell returned at left-back at the expense of David McNamee, who impressed, but clearly not enough to keep out the on loan Birmingham City youngster.
New loan signing from Peterborough United, Michael Richens, joined McNamee on the bench. There was no place in the squad for the club’s other loan signing Dimi Evtimov.
The Nottingham Forest keeper missing out as Belshaw kept his place.
Moult almost scored in the second minute with a header from a Bell cross that Julian kept out well.
He was on the scoresheet three minutes later though as Boro took the lead.
Dean was hacked down on the right, earning Kenny Clark a caution. James Armson drilled over a good ball and when it dipped over Streete, Moult was there to meet it with a powerful header.
That was good finish but it was nothing compared to his second goal. Andy Brown was fouled 25 yards out and Moult stood over the ball.
He took a short run up before clipping the ball brilliantly under the bar and away from a static Julian.
From there it was wide open with both sides trading attacking blows. Belshaw made a great save from Danny Harris’ deft shot in the 11th minute before doing well to hold Alex Woodyard’s 25 yard drive soon after.
Boro had their chances too, Wes York firing over before being well denied by Julian from the edge of the box.
Dartford pulled one back when Belshaw came for a corner but only succeeded in palming the ball down for Elliot Bradbrook to tap into the empty net from a couple of yards.
Brown responded with the crispest of volleys two minutes later, but again Julian was equal to the task, saving the shot at the second attempt. Boro had two great chances to extend the advantage at the start of the second half.
First Armson blazed from 10 yards after Bradbrook tried to run the ball out of his own box but only succeeded in running it into the Boro man’s path.
Sleath then had the ball in acres down the left.
He did well to pull back for Moult to run on to. He had a great chance for his hat-trick but Clark raced over to make an excellent block.
Throughout the second half Boro had looked comfortable with Dartford giving their forwards no service whatsoever.
However, with three minutes left there was a scramble in the box and Streete was called on to make a goal saving block, not for the first time this season.
Dartford’s final hurrah saw Lee Noble drill a well struck shot in from 25 yards that Belshaw held on to on a slippery surface.