Cook stunner sinks Darts

Joe Cook’s 67th-minute screamer against Dartford proved to be the difference-maker as we left Princes Park last Saturday with a 1-0 victory.

The centre-back walloped an unprecedented 30-yard strike into the top-right corner past Billy Terrell, who was left with no chance.

Cook’s worldie proved to be the only goal of the game, giving us all three points.

This result keeps us 16th in the National League South table, although now only seven points off the play-offs.

Saturday’s win was also the third in a row, the first time we have achieved that across all competitions this season.

With current interim manager Tony Burman taking charge, Bobby Wilkinson said that he was intent on “bursting their bubble,” as they played on Saturday with a “new manager bounce.”

The result suggests that we did exactly that.

For the first time this season, our line-up and bench was left completely unchanged, following our 2-0 win versus Taunton Town.

Meanwhile, The Darts were led by Burman, former assistant to the recently-sacked Alan Dowson for the first time.

The match’s opening quarter indicated that the managerial change was to reap rewards.

We made a shaky start just two minutes in, when Gerard Benfield was brandished a yellow card.

The goalkeeper had been booked after rushing beyond his goal and bringing down Alex Wall outside of the box.

Luckily, our number one managed to rectify his foul and push behind Wall’s low-driven free-kick.

Our first chance would come just six minutes later, when Malachi Linton ran through on goal.

Unfortunately, the forward was denied a clear-cut chance when Joash Nembhard managed to slide in and block the oncoming shot.

We were again prevented from taking the lead thanks to a deflected effort after 14 minutes, Harry Parsons this time seeing his effort take a hit before reaching the hands of Billy Terrell.

Benfield was called into action again just before the half-hour mark when Maxwell Statham fired a low cross into the box.

Brooks managed to get a foot to the ball, but took it towards his own goal, leaving Benfield to push it away.

This nerve-wracking incident was then followed by Alex Wall heading Coulson’s corner over the bar.

But, as the half began to reach its end, the better chances started to head our way.

Brandon Goodship attempted an ambitious effort from long-range five minutes before the break, having intercepted a loose ball close to the halfway line.

Brooks then headed towards goal, only to have his attempt saved by Terrell.

In similar fashion, Charlie Rowan also saw his header saved during additional time.

But, despite both sides having chances, a big second-half was looming ahead as the scoreline remained goalless.

Though there were no clear-cut chances immediately after the break, Linton had another swipe at goal a few minutes before the hour mark.

However, similar to the first half, the forward saw his strike deflected by Nembhard once more.

It wouldn’t be long before the hosts took the lead, or so they thought.

Coulson fired beyond Benfield, only for the linesman to flag for offside.

After our second-half scare, the game would really change this time, with one piece for magic.

With what appeared to be a simple passage of play, Leo Hamblin rolled the ball towards Cook, who was in acres of space.

Taking two quick touches, Cook then curled the ball past Terrell from 30 yards out.

The goal, a sudden screamer, was worthy of winning any game.

From then on, it was our boys who took control.

Tom Bearwish fired a low cross into the box, which was only dealt when Statham scrambled clear.

We then had an even better opportunity to double our lead 14 minutes before full time when Olu Durojaiye played Goodship through on goal.

However, perhaps untypical of a man as in-form as our number 10, his strike ended up behind the goal.

A setback would then occur just over 10 minutes later, when Calvin Brooks was forced to make way with a suspected knee injury.

Luckily, the defender, who was replaced by Jordon Thompson, was able to receive treatment in the ground courtesy of the hosts.

Brooks’ injury was the last key moment in the game, as The Darts could not find an equaliser even with seven minutes of stoppage time.

For us, this means we have now won three games in a row, whilst keeping a clean sheet in as many matches.

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