This National League South play-off eliminator was played at the modern Princes Park Stadium, in Dartford, on a cloudy and cool early summer, Thursday evening.
The ground is completely covered throughout with terraced standing on three sides and seating on one. The ground has modern facilities and boasts a unique wooden support statue holding up the roof of a covered terrace. The playing surface is grass, but in excellent condition, at the end of a very long season.
Dartford finished fourth in the National League South, this season, having led the early season table. Chippenham Town squeezed into the play off eliminator places in seventh.
The top scorers for Dartford FC, this season, have been Marcus Dinanga, with 13 goals and Ade Azeez with 11 goals. Chippenham Town’s top scorer has been Jordan Young, with 9 goals.
Tonight’s eliminator winner will face Ebbsfleet United who finished third in the league, in Sunday’s National League South play-off semi-final, at Ebbsfleet’s Stonebridge Road ground.
Dartford came into the tie on the back of an impressive 7-2 away win at Eastbourne Borough last Saturday. Chippenham Town had also won away, 0-2 at Havant & Waterlooville. When Dartford and Chippenham Town last met here in November 2021, the scores were tied at 3-3, so it looked to promise action and a tight finish.
Dartford manager, Steve King, sent a clear message in the match programme about how hard this game could be tonight and the importance of the match and he pleaded for the Dartford crowd to be vocal in their support.
Dartford kicked off attacking towards their home support. The sun appeared and the crowd came to life.
The first half saw both sides taking the measure of each other. Chippenham had a chance on 15 minutes, which drew a good save, from Reice Charles-Cook, in the Dartford goal. Dartford created opportunities without ever turning them into clear cut chances, although they still looked the more likely to score, in the first half.
At the break the teams went in, with the game still goalless.
The second half was fought in much the same way. Dartford controlling play, but failing to capitalise and Chippenham Town waiting to attack on the break. Both sides had late chances to score but the game ended 0-0, after 90 minutes, forcing the match into extra time.
Extra time saw chances for both teams and some creative energy from Chippenham Town’s Mo Diabre. However at the end of the 30 minute extension there were still no goals, to separate the sides. The dreaded penalty shootout would be required, to see who progressed.
In the shoot out goals were almost as sparse as during the match. For Dartford, only Greenidge and Campbell converted, with Azeez, Allen and Durojaiye missing. Chippenham Town’s Young and Greenslade failed with their attempts, but Mehew and Collin scored to leave the last penalty down to Alefe Santos.
Santos converted confidently to send the travelling Chippenham fans wild and to put the away team into the Play Off semi-finals.