Dartford 3 King's Lynn 0
17th August 2002
If King's Lynn were expecting life in the Eastern Division to be little more than a case of turning up, playing and being promoted they were brought down to earth with a bump at Gravesend.
The Linnets return to regional Southern League competition against Dartford - who play at Gravesend and Northfleet's Stonebridge Road ground - was anything but glorious.
Technically speaking Peter Morris's men were not out-played by their hosts, in fact in terms of possession they were far superior, but in terms of commitment to the cause of winning and scoring the goals needed to do that they were second best.
They lacked the drive and guts needed to compete at this bruising level of non-league football and played in fits and starts. They were apprehensive about making positive moves at either end of the pitch and unwilling to play the ball to each other on the ground, while seemingly quite happy to give it away.
Morris was not happy with his men's work saying: "It astounds me that we had 75 per cent of the game and got beaten 3-0, there is something wrong somewhere.
"We were only playing when we had the ball. We were standing around and not filling dangerous areas, just standing and watching. You have to play when you have not got the ball and we were punished for not doing that.
"We had 75 per cent of the game and good chances in both halves, but we've come off and lost 3-0 and it looks like we had a hammering, but we did not."
Lynn bossed the possession from the start. Goalkeeper Steve Corry, making his first appearance for the Linnets, was idle until the 21st minute when he saved a shot from the Darts most lively looking attacker Richard Usherwood.
And in the opening quarter Morris's men had scoring opportunities. The best fell to Adam Weston, who, after some lovely play with Adam Jones, shot over the crossbar.
In general however Weston and the forwards were reluctant to take up scoring chances in much the same way that the rearguard hung back from getting in the tackles to clear any danger from Dartford. Skipper Glen Fuff did a sterling job in trying to save face defensively, but even he was hard pushed to do the work of the entire back line himself.
And after 29 minutes the Darts took advantage. Usherwood crossed from the left and Lynn stood off and off as the home side played the ball about the box to Shaun Loft who shot home.
Ten minutes later Loft added a second. Again Usherwood was involved, this time running up the right wing, before back heeling to Dave Whelan who in turn played the ball on to set up the appropriately named, rather tall forward.
Lynn continued to have the majority of the game. Just before half time Weston had a header cleared of the line, after the break Steve Johnson, on as a substitute, also brought a goal line clearance from the hosts and a Paul Raynor free kick hit the woodwork. But with a two-goal cushion at home Dartford could afford to sit on the lead.
And although it was Lynn who deserved a goal in the second half it was the home side who got one. This time it was the Darts skipper Paul McCarthy who was allowed to dash forward into the danger area with very little difficulty. Corry clumsily spilled his eventual shot and Graham Robertson was on hand to direct the rebound into the net.
Morris added: "I feel let down and I think that the players have let people that travelled three hours down.
"I get paid for being at the game, but the supporters travel themselves and pay to watch. There was smashing support at Dartford and the players let them down."
Dartford: Tucker, Whelan, Evans, Ratchford, Kevin (Adlington 45), Tutton, Martin (Morrish 62), Robertson, Loft, Usherwood (Bates 74).
King's Lynn: Corry, Jones, Staff, Gowshall, Fuff, Cowling (Blois 50), Weston, Raynor, Freestone, Stephenson (Johnson 60), Holmes (Anderson 41). Unused substitutes: Bacon, Dobrowlski.
Referee: F Meilack (Broad Oak) Bookings: