Chelmsford were held to a draw in the first leg of the conference play off semi final after some resolute defending from Dartford.
The final day of the season
Both sides knew that they would be playing each other in the playoffs for a while and the last several games was just about trying to finish above each other and get the second leg at home. Two goals in stoppage time from Dartford on Saturday meant they got a 3-2 victory away at Poole and just finished above Chelmsford as they only drew.
With Dartford having the second leg at home it was clear form the start that Tony Burman (Dartford’s manager) seemed to be quite defensive, starting with just one up front; different to what they have been playing for a lot of the season.
In the opening stages, the game was very tight and there were very few chances. Dartford’s keeper was forced in to a quick save in the first 10 minutes but other than that there were very few chances throughout the first half. Both sides had half chances that sailed over or wide, but it was a very cagey affair, with neither side wanting to concede. Very much a typical play off game.
In the first five minutes, Dartford had the upper hand winning several free kicks in good areas, but failing to create much from them. But from then on it was very much mainly Chelmsford attacking. Dartford really had to dig in deep for the final 40 minutes, just doing anything to try and prevent Chelmsford from scoring and taking a 0-0 back to Princes Park for the second leg. Chelmsford used their physical advantage on Dartford well and their long throw in taker to good effect too, but Dartford defended superbly and limited them to shots from the edge of the area which were either blocked, wide or over.
Dartford will undoubtedly be happier with the draw, having the second leg at home as well as how the game was shaping out (Chelmsford attacking for large parts). But it is certainly not over. Chelmsford have already won twice at Dartord’s ground this season (once in league and once in FA trophy). But I certainly can’t see Chelmsford having the same dominance in the second leg as they did in the first so it may turn out to be a missed opportunity.
The second leg will certainly prove to be fascinating and I am certainly looking forward to the match. I think it is a real 50-50 as to who will go through and it is almost impossible to predict who will come out on top.