Braintree Town win at Dartford to reach play-off final
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Dartford 0 Braintree Town 1
Braintree Town produced another superb away display, for the second time in the space of four days, to reach the National League South play-off final.
Having defied the odds to beat hosts Hemel Hempstead Town in the play-off eliminator at Vauxhall Road on Wednesday night, via a 3-2 penalty shoot-out success following a goalless draw, The Iron again upset the form-book by beating Dartford 1-0 in this afternoon’s semi-final tie, thanks to Billy Crook’s 72nd minute winner.
The Iron have certainly reached the final the hard way, having snatched a play-off berth by winning four of their last five league games during the regular campaign.
Brad Quinton’s men dug deep to beat The Tudors on Wednesday, and they saw off the Darts with a similar gutsy display at Princes Park, in front of a crowd of 1,704.
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Nathan McDonald had made a key penalty save in the shot-out success at Hemel Hempstead, and he was again in top form to keep the Darts at bay during the first half.
McDonald made excellent stops to deny Ronnie Vint and Danny Mills, but The Iron were more of an attacking threat in the second half and Luke Allen and Roman Michael-Percil both had chances before Crook bagged the winner.
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The Darts failed to clear the ball in a desperate scramble and Crook was on hand to stab the ball into the net.
The Iron then held on to set up a play-off final trip to Hampton & Richmond next Sunday.
For Dartford it was a double heartbreak, within just a week, because they had looked on course to win the league title last Saturday week, only to be pipped at the post by Havant & Waterlooville.
A last minute winning goal by Havant and Waterlooville snatched the title away from the Darts in the cruellest way.
In the other play-off semi-final, Hampton & Richmond won 1-0 at Chelmsford City, in front of a crowd of 1,651 at Melbourne Stadium.
The game turned in the 53rd minute, when Chelmsford’s Jazzi Barnum-Bobb was shown a straight red card for handling the ball on the line.
Max Kretzschmar stepped up and slotted the ensuing penalty beyond keeper Jake Jessup to give the Beavers the lead, which they managed to protect.
The Clarets had a last chance to take the tie into extra-time, but Elliot Omozusi drilled over.