Saltdean United tasted defeat for the first time in their 2021/22 league campaign, as they were comfortably beaten 3-0 by early season pacesetters Dartford at Hill Park on Sunday.
A double from Emma Green and a solo strike from Emily Read ensured that the Darts maintained their perfect start to the season at a sun soaked Hill Park.
The away side began brightly and should have opened the scoring inside three minutes, striker Nicha Dyett’s header sailing narrowly over the Saltdean crossbar. The visitors eventually found the breakthrough their fast start merited on six minutes, when Read’s attempted cross from the right deceived Lauren Graves and flew straight into the back of the Saltdean net, with no other Darts player applying a touch.
The hosts initially responded well to that early setback and almost found an equaliser on 11 minutes, however Georgia Bridges driven effort from the edge of the box flew narrowly wide. Dartford also continued to create chances in a frantic first half, Shauni Griffiths going close on 20 minutes with a speculative effort from distance after a lung busting run from midfield.
Chloe Winchester provided Saltdean’s biggest threat for the majority of proceedings, and her first chance of note came on 30 minutes when she narrowly failed to direct a precise header on target from a dangerous delivery. Tammy Waine also went close for the home side on 30 minutes, when her improvised header from a deflected corner flew narrowly off target.
Saltdean’s best chance of the game fell to Chloe Evans on the stroke of half time, however she could only fire wide when put through one on one to the frustration of the home bench.
Much like the first half, it was Dartford who began brightly in the second period and the away side continued to regularly test the Saltdean rearguard. Joanne Woodgate was next to try her luck on 55 minutes, when her stinging effort required a smart fingertip save from Graves
The away side found their second goal from the resulting corner on 56 minutes. After the hosts failed to properly clears low delivery, midfielder Green collected ball on the edge of the box and dispatched a precise effort through a crowd of bodies and into the net, despite the best intentions of Saltdean defenders on the line.
Dartford made it 3-0 barely two minutes later with almost a carbon copy of their second goal. From another low delivery into the box, Saltdean failed to clear the danger and Green capitalised with another powerful strike into the roof of the net to put the game firmly in control of the visitors.
Saltdean thought they had pulled a goal back on 64 minutes when Winchester played In Bridges, who finished smartly beyond Dartford keeper Jade Charlton, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag. Woodgate also had a great chance to make it 4-0 to the visitors 15 minutes from time, her lobbed effort dropping just wide of the target as Dartford continued to exploit gaps in the Saltdean defence.
The final chance of the game fell to Dartford with 5 minutes remaining, when Griffith’s cross was only parried by Graves, with Dyett unable to turn it the rebound from close range following some more last ditch defending from the home side.
That was the last action of a frustrating afternoon for Saltdean, who were second best for the majority of proceedings, as Dartford made it two wins from two to come away from Hill Park with all three points.
Report: Dan Fox
Picture: Simon Roe Photography