Weston’s trip to Dartford threw up a thriller on Halloween, as the hosts came out on top with a 4-2 win.
Dartford had an opportunity inside the first 35 seconds when Paul Rooney sliced wide on his left foot following Lewis Manor’s knock-back, before home left-back Baris Altintop fired wide following a scramble inside the box from a corner. The Seagulls’ first chance fell the way of Reuben Reid, who drove over from 25 yards after being found by skipper Dayle Grubb.
Robbie Willmott had a shot kept out by the body of Mitchell Beeney after being slipped in behind by Reid, before a shot across goal from Opi Edwards 18 yards out narrowly skidded past the far post following an excellent counter-attack by the visitors.
Weston were to take the lead midway through the half when a pass over the top from Lloyd Humphries was brought down by Reid, who knocked the ball past Beeney to round him before slotting in from a tight angle to continue his good form in front of goal.
The Seagulls had a chance to double their advantage from 12 yards when Reid was hauled down from behind when bringing down a long Humphries free-kick, the referee Robert Claussen pointing to the spot. Reid stepped up to the spot having scored two penalties in his last two, this time placing his kick from 12 yards towards the bottom corner yet Beeney read it well and got down to tip aside for a corner.
Dartford had a goal disallowed for a foul on Jason Pope at the back post from a free-kick lofted into the area, before the Darts were to strike a few minutes later.
From a Weston corner, the ball was knocked clear to Luke Coulson on the edge of his area who was allowed to carry the ball from end-to-end, eventually digging a cross out for the arriving Rooney 12 yards out whose controlled volley nestled in the back of the net for 1-1.
Weston looked to hit back before half-time, Jordan Bastin firing wide from 25 yards following a cleared corner before Keiran Thomas headed over a Grubb free-kick.
In the second half, the home side were awarded a penalty inside the first minute when Thomas was adjudged to have fouled Bradbury on the turn from a throw-in. Darts skipper Coulson stepped up to the spot, and hammered his penalty in off the bar for 2-1.
As Weston looked to try and draw things level, Grubb had a low shot from 25 yards gathered by Beeney before substitute Luke Pearce had a 20-yard shot deflected wide. Pearce again looked for a goal following James Morton’s crunching tackle to win the ball in midfield and feed the striker, who fired just wide from the edge of the area.
A third followed for Dartford when the hosts won the ball midway inside the Weston half, Coulson finding Bradbury making a run in behind. The striker slotted the ball past Lee, with substitute Alex Wall on hand to force the ball home at the back post despite Bastin’s best attempts to clear the danger.
Jacob Jagger Cane fired over from the edge of the box following some good buildup play down the right, before Grubb curled wide from a similar position. Morton then fired over from 25 yards after a short corner routine by the Seagulls. Substitute Rex Mannings then drove over the bar from outside the area as Weston looked for a way back into the game.
The Darts were to put the game to bed with five minutes of normal time remaining, Coulson’s cross into the centre being flicked in by the heel of Wall and deceiving Lee to make it 4-1 for the hosts.
Weston were to grab a consolation when Humphries’ excellent diagonal pass found Willmott down the left, who pulled the ball back for Pearce just inside the area. Cutting onto his right, he drove a low shot past Beeney into the bottom corner for his first goal in a Weston shirt.
There was still time for Dartford to be reduced to ten men in added-on time, Wall capping off an eventful cameo performance by being shown a second yellow card for a foul on Mannings just outside the area on the right.
FT: Dartford 4-2 Weston (Rooney 39, Coulson pen 47, Wall 69, 85, Wall S/O 90+5 – Reid 23, Pearce 90+4)
Weston XI: Lee, Bastin, Thomas, Pope, Humphries, Willmott, Jagger Cane, Morton, Reid (Pearce 53), Edwards (Mannings 53), Grubb (C). Unused substitutes: Purnell, Avery, Roddy.
MOTM: Jacob Jagger Cane.