Dartford 0-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 10th Jul 2021 14:52
Tawanda Chirewa’s second-half goal saw Town to a 1-0 victory over Dartford at Princes Park in their opening pre-season friendly. The midfielder curled home in the 73rd minute to see the Blues to the win.
Town’s first pre-season friendly against Dartford at Princes Park remains 0-0 at half-time.
All six of Town’s summer signings - Wes Burns, Lee Evans, Rekeem Harper, Macauley Bonne, Vaclav Hladky and Matt Penney - started the first half as the Blues got their pre-season fixtures under way.
As expected, none of the more senior players training with the U23s - Flynn Downes, Teddy Bishop, Kayden Jackson, Myles Kenlock and Brett McGavin - were involved.
Released Town youngster Kai Brown was among the subs for Dartford, who play in National League South.
The Blues squad wore black armbands and the game was preceded by a minute’s applause in tribute to Paul Mariner, whose death was announced this morning.
Town fans, at an away game for the first time since the visit to Blackpool in early February 2020, sang songs in tribute to the legendary striker.
With rain falling steadily, Bonne, playing in a front two alongside James Norwood, went close to his first goal for his hometown club in only the second minute, taking the ball on a couple of strides before hitting a powerful shot which struck the top of the bar.
The game started at an unusually frantic pace for a pre-season friendly, perhaps due to the atmosphere created by the returning fans. On seven Luke Woolfenden headed wide from a corner on the right off a defender.
In the 14th minute, Penney crossed low from the left after good work from Armando Dobra but home keeper Dan Wilks claimed ahead of Norwood.
The game continued to played at a pace far higher than a lot of the Blues’ first-team fixtures last season with the new signings very much involved.
Evans, wearing the captain's armband, sprayed a number of passes out to the flanks, while Penney showed his attacking intent with numerous crosses from the left.
Harper was very neat and tidy in the centre of midfield, showing quick feet, while Burns showed his pace down the right and Bonne his strength up front, in addition to his early effort at goal. Hladky hadn’t been called into action.
On 29 Bonne hit the woodwork again, this time the outside of the left post, after more good work from Dobra, however, the linesman had raised his flag.
Two minutes later, the Albanian U21 international felt he should have been awarded a penalty when he drove into the box before being felled. The referee showed no interest.
In the final scheduled minute before the break, Burns made a run from inside the Town half before eventually being brought down 25 yards out. Norwood’s free-kick slammed into the gut of one of those in the wall.
That was the final action of a lively and unusually competitive half. Bonne had gone closest to a goal with his early strike and it was Town who presented the greater threat throughout, albeit without creating many clear-cut chances. At the other end, Hladky had had a quiet first 45 minutes in goal for the Blues.
As expected, Town changed their entire XI ahead of the second half with Tomas Holy the only senior man involved and skippering. Midfielder Idris El Mizouni and central defender Corrie Ndaba were the most experienced of the outfielders.
In a throwback to an earlier era, the fans behind each goal switched ends ahead of the half with Princes Park standing for the most part.
A minute after the restart Gerard Buabo, who starts as a full-time scholar this summer and was up front with fellow new first year Nico Valentine playing off him, headed a right-wing cross to sub Dartford keeper Craig King.
On 49 former Blues youngster Kai Brown shot low through to Holy from the edge of the area.
A minute later, Dan Roberts tried to catch Blues keeper Holy out with a chipped effort from the left which the big keeper palmed behind.
After a Buabo break which ultimately came to nothing, Dartford, who had made a number of changes at the break, threatened through Luke Wanadio, who forced Holy to save at his left post.
Jesse Nwabueze shot over in the 56th minute for the Blues having cut in from the right flank.
Three minutes later, El Mizouni, playing alongside Tawanda Chirewa in central midfield, curled an effort from distance which looped not too far wide of the post.
In the 65th minute, Samuel Odaudu forced Holy into the game’s best save to that point with a low shot from the edge of the box which the keeper was just able to tip past his left post.
Unsurprisingly given their greater experience, the home side began to dominate and shots at the Town goal were becoming a more regular occurrence. On 69 Jack Jebb struck an effort from outside the box which Holy claimed.
However, in the 73rd minute the Blues took the lead, Chirewa, who made his senior debut as schoolboy at Colchester in November 2019, curling a superb strike past King in the Dartford goal and just inside his left post.
Five minutes after the Town goal George Porter shot straight at Holy from 20 yards, then on 84 ex-Blue Brown ran on to a looped ball over the top from the back but put his effort wide of the post as well as Holy.
Town almost went two goals in front in the 87th minute when Cameron Humphreys made a clever run to the right of the box and cut back to Valentine, whose effort was cleared off the line.
Nwabueze saw a strike deflected wide for a corner in the closing moments before the referee confirmed that the Town fans travelling to an away game for the first time in 17 months were celebrating a victory.
While results aren’t a particular concern in pre-season, a win is always welcome, perhaps more so given the very young side which was fielded in the second half.
The young lads more than held their own against their more senior opposition weathering a spell when the home side were starting to get on top just prior to the goal. In the latter stages they might have increased their lead with the Darts tiring.
Town are next in friendly action against Bury Town on Tuesday evening.
Town first half: Hladky, Donacien, Nsiala, Woolfenden, Penney, Harper, Evans (c), Burns, Dobra, Norwood, Bonne.
Town second half: Holy (c), Agbaje, Stewart, Ndaba, Armin, El Mizouni, Chirewa, Humphreys, Nwabueze, Valentine, Buabo. Att: 1,620.
Photo: Matchday Images
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