Dartford 2-0 Mansfield
DARTFORD scored twice at the end of the first half to inflict a defeat on Mansfield Town in front of the television cameras at Princes Park on Friday evening.
The Premier Sports TV Friday night coverage of live Conference football kicked off its 2012-13 coverage at Princes Park with a game which will probably not be bettered all season.
There was mild trepidation in the air as the TV guys took over erecting gantries, laying cables and generally going about their business.
They are a professional outfit with commentary personnel who know their stuff, which could show other broadcasters how to treat their audiences like real folk rather than camera fodder.
Dartford chipped in with the groundstaff preparing a surface fit for the occasion, diamond-mowed rather than straight up-and-down.
As ever, Darts attacked the Academy End on a bitterly cold evening with Ryan Hayes wide out left and Lee Noble and Elliot Bradbrook taking care of left midfield.
After the preliminary skirmishes it was end-to-end stuff and, in an early raid, Colin Daniel forced a brilliant finger-tip save from the restored Marcus Bettinelli.
As the half was drawing to a scoreless and welcome close, Darts buried the game.
The fourth official indicated a one-minute period of time added on.
Mansfield switched off but Dartford certainly didn’t.
A casual clearance out of defence was picked up by the hosts.
Bradbrook received possession on the edge of the Stags’ penalty area and steered a daisy-cutter through a forest of legs and into the net.
The advantage was quickly doubled thanks to Hayes, who took advantage of a lazy restart to race past the flat-footed visitors and hit a stunning left-foot shot into the top right corner of the visiting goal.
Game, set and match.
The icy cold which had chilled the spectators’ bones in the 1,737 crowd, was warmed by Ryno’s sheer audacity.
Mansfield needed to score an early second half goal to get back into the game.
Darts squeezed the visitors back and denied them space in the vital last third of the field while also keeping the Stags’ defenders on the back foot.
Mansfield’s most enterprising player Exodus Geohaghon tried to liven his colleagues with some enterprising runs but without success. .
With just a few minutes left Hayes was substituted, allowing him to receive a well-deserved round of applause for being man of the match from the home supporters.
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Dartford: Bettinelli, Burns, Bonner, Arber, Rose: Hayes (Rogers 84), Wallis, Noble, Bradbrook, Harris (Collier 8), Birchall (Erskine 81). Subs not used: Wells, Crawford. Att: 1,737