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Match Centre

PUBLISHED
23:37 3rd July 2012
By  Kai Day

At a very cold and wet Princes Park Stadium in Dartford, Cambridge United extended their unbeaten run to seven games, picking up a point away from home.

United had gone a goal down, as Crawford reacted quicker to punish some poor defending. United however didn't take long to respond as a Michael Gash freekick found the bottom left corner of Battinelli's goal.

Richard Money made three changes to the side that beat Braintree on boxing day. Jonathon Hedge replaced an injured Craig Ross in the United goal and Curtis Hayes-Brown and Liam Hughes replaced the suspended James Jennings and Tom Shaw.

United Line Up: Hedge; Haynes-Brown, Coulson, McAuley, Roberts; Dunk, Jarvis, Hughes, Pugh; Gash, Smith. Subs: Gibson, Willmott, Wellard, Hurst, Taylor.

Dartford Line Up: Bettinelli; Rose, Rodgers, Champion, Arber; Bonner, Hayes, Noble, Erskine; Bradbrook, Crawford. Subs: Ibrahim, Wallis, Harris, Collier, Porter.

On a very muddy pitch at Princes Park, both sides struggled to retain possession. The first meaningful attack of the afternoon was created by Harrison Dunk, as he burst forward down the left before playing the ball back to Smith, who was standing in an offside position. 

Throughout the game United used their pace to their advantage, and again created another chance from out wide as some neat interplay by Andy Pugh and Liam Hughes produces a crossing opportunity for the latter. Hughes' lofted cross was almost met by the head of Smith, but Bettinelli gathered the ball just in time.

The majority of Dartford's chances were being created down the left side and a cross from The Darts almost caught out the U's defence but the chance was wasted as no Darts player gambled, allowing Haynes-Brown to clear.

The first goal came courtesy of a neat finish from Harry Crawford. Dartford's corner was not cleared by the United defence and the ball landed at the feet of an unmarked Crawford, inside the area, and his neatly placed finish allowed The Darts to take the lead.

United had plenty of chances to equalise, with Smith coming the closest. Smith picked up a Dunk through ball on the right hand side of the area before driving a low shot across Bettinelli, who managed to get a hand to the shot. Despite the power of the shot it trickled towards the goal, before being cleared as Pugh looked to capitalise on the loose ball.

The equaliser did come before half-time however. Hughes earned The U's a freekick as he was brought down just outside the area. Michael Gash lined up for a shot, and drove the ball low to the right. Despite its lack of pace it caught out Bettinelli and slowly found its way into the Dartford net.

The U's dominated the second half and had many chances to take the lead. Gash fired over a well placed freekick and some last ditch defending stopped Smith scoring twice as he broke free.

Gash did have the ball in the net towards the end. Rossi Jarvis took a shot from outside the box which hit Gash and was deflected into the net, only for the linesman to rule that Gash was standing in an offside position.

In stoppage time United had two further chances to take the lead. Gash held the ball up and played it back to Hughes, whose shot was block. The ball fell back at the feet of Gash however and his shot was parried by Bettinelli, but not cleared. Pugh picked up the loose ball and cut it back to Willmott, whose shot was also kept out.

Attendance: 1716

16:56: FULL TIME.

16:53: A great chance for United. Gash holds the ball up well before playing it into Hughes. His shot is blocked and it finds Gash again whose shot is parried. United get the ball from the clearance and Willmott's low shot is well saved.

16:51: There are to be 4 added minutes.

16:50: United changing things up with Sam Smith being replaced by Wellard. Hughes will play in his more natural striker role, whilst Wellard will play in central midfield.

16:45: A United clearance falls to Robbie Willmott who powers down the field before cutting inside and taking a shot which is deflected for a United corner. Jarvis' delivery is poor however and Dartford clear.

16:43: Gash takes a shot from the edge of the area which is spilled by the keeper. He clears, but only to the edge of the area where Rossi Jarvis takes a shot, which is deflected into the net by Gash but the flag is up for offside.

16:37: A freekick is delivered into the box by Dartford and Crawford's floating header drifts just wide of Hedge's left post.

16:35: Dartford make a second change as Collier comes on.

16:34: United press forward again. Jarvis plays the ball to Gash on the edge of the box and his shot is fumbled by the keeper, who just manages the gather it again before Smith could nip in.

16:32: Smith bursts down the left and into the box but a late tackle clears the ball for a United corner. Jarvis swings the ball in and Dartford clear for another U's corner from the opposite side. Jarvis again delivers but the ball evades everyone before United cut the ball back to Pugh on the edge and his shot is deflected into the hands of the Dartford keeper.

16:28: Crawford runs with the ball down the left and its cut back to Harris. His low drive nearly goes out for a throw on the right but is kept in and crossed into the area. The ref gives a freekick to United for a push and The U's get the chance to clear.

16:25: A through ball is met by a fantastic run from Gash, who cuts the ball back to Smith whose low drive is blocked and cleared for a United throw by the left side corner flag.

16:21: Neat football again gives United a decent change. Pugh plays the ball into Gash in the aea and he runs his man and cuts the ball back, but Smith is unable to gather and Dartford clear. 

Dartford replace Noble with Harris.

16:19: First change of the game for United who replace Dunk with Robbie Willmott. The attendance at Princes Park is 1716.

16:18: Hughes plays a ball wide to Dunk who races forward before crossing to Smith. His shot is blocked and Dartford clear.

16:15: Pugh weaves his way past two Dartford players on the right before playing the ball into the centre. It is handled by Noble and the U's get a freekick. Gash steps up to take again and his attempted placed shot flies over the crossbar.

16:14: A neat exchange of football from United. They gather the ball in midfield and Jarvis plays it out right to Roberts, who plays the ball into Hughes. Hughes' cross however the gathered by the keeper.

16:11: A scrappy start to the second half. Both teams are struggling to keep hold of the ball on the pitch, the only shot on target so far being blazed high and wide into the carpark from Hayes.

16:06: Jarvis and Gash get the second half underway. 

15:50: Half-time.

15:47: Dartford immediately try to regain their lead, but a Hayes low drive from close range is blocked by Haynes-Brown and United clear.

15:45: GOAL: United have a freekick just on the left edge of the area after Hughes was tripped as he tried to turn with the ball. Gash deceives the Dartford keeper by driving the ball low into the right hand corner of the net. United 1-1 Dartford.

15:42: Roberts plays a pass through the Dartford backline, which Smiths picks up and drives a low cross into the area. Nobody gambles and the ball goes out for a throw.

15:39: United's best chance of the game falls to Smith, who shoots from the right of the box. The keeper gets a hand to it and it just falls short of the goal where Pugh is unable to reach the ball before it is cleared. This is a good spell of possession from the U's.

15:38: Roberts delivers a freekick from halfway, which Sam Smith controls in the Dartford area. Theres no room for a shot however and the ball is played to Hughes on the outside of the box whose box is cleared.

15:35: Dunk picks the ball up and plays it forward to Roberts. Roberts knocks the ball into the space where Dunk has continued his run. He is bundled over and United claim a freekick but the ref is not moved.

15:32: Pugh, who has switched to the left, cuts inside and plays the ball to Rossi Jarvis who, on the edge of the box, makes a mess of his shot and it trickles wide.

15:28: Sam Smith knocks the ball forward, but is fouled as he attempts to pick the ball up again. The freekick is delivered by Jarvis and put behind for a U's corner. Jarvis puts the ball into the near post and the ref gives Dartford a freekick for a push.

15:24: GOAL. A corner from the left hand side is not cleared by the United defence and it lands at the feet of Crawford who places his shot neatly into the right hand side of Hedge's goal. 1-0 to the home side.

15:23: Dartford again attack down the left hand side, and produce another cross that asks questions of the United defence. No attacker goes for the ball however and it goes out for a goalkick.

15:16: Pugh breaks down the right, and plays the ball forward to the on-running Liam Hughes. Hughes' cross is floated in and met by the Datford goalkeeper, under pressure from Smith.

15:15: Dartford start to build some play on the left and produce a superb in-swinging cross which evades both Hedge and McAuley but Hayes-Brown is there to head the ball half-clear before a freekick is given for a late tackle on Roberts.

15:10: Dunk starts a counter attack, busting forward down the left before cutting inside. He plays the ball out wide again, but Sam Smith is offside. Both teams are trying to play passing football but are finding it tough on a very muddy pitch.

15:03 United start brightly. They pick the ball up in the middle and Jarvis feeds dunk in the area but the ball is cleared for a throw. Hayes-Brown takes and launches long into the area but the ball is cleared.

15:00: The teams are out. United are kicking towards their own fans who have brought a large away following and occupy the entire terrace to my right hand side. Dartford start the game and we are underway!

14:38: Richard Money gives a first start to Curtis Hayes-Brown, who comes in at left back for the suspended James Jennings, who picked up his fifth yellow cad of the season against Braintree on Boxing day. Hedge regains his place in goal and Liam Hughes moves into midfield to replace the suspended Tom Shaw. 

Cambridge United team to play Dartford: Hedge; Haynes-Brown, Coulson, McAuley, Roberts; Dunk, Jarvis, Hughes, Pugh; Gash, Smith. Subs: Gibson, Willmott, Wellard, Hurst, Taylor. Dartford: Bettinelli, Rose, Rogers, Champion, Arber, Bonner, Hayes, Noble, Erskine, Bradbrook, Crawford. Substitutes: Ibrahim, Wallis, Harris, Collier, Porter.

14:30: Welcome to Dartford for this afternoons Blue Square Bet Premier clash. Earlier in the season when Cambridge United met Dartford, The Darts left the R Costings Abbey Stadium with a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Danny Harris and Nathan Collier. 

However, much has changed since. Then manager Jez George has reverted to his role of Director of Football and Richard Money was brought in to replace him. The U's are currently on a 6 game unbeaten run, and Money will be hoping his youthful United side can carry on this run. Team news to follow.