Dartford and Wealdstone will have to try again next week in a bid to earn a Quarter Final place in The FA Trophy after a 2-2 draw on Tuesday evening.
Conference South Dartford and their Isthmian League Premier Division opponents could not be separated during 90 minutes of a captivating Third Round tie at Princes Park as the Stones twice fought back from a goal behind to earn a replay.
The Darts had won all seven of their matches in 2012, and early substitute Lee Noble underlined their obvious confidence with a speculative long-range effort that dropped just wide. The hosts took the lead in the 28th minute after an uncharacteristic mistake from Stones shotstopper Jonathan North. He spilled the ball at the feet of Jacob Erskine and Danny Harris was on hand to sweep home the loose ball.
It looked as though that would be enough to secure a half-time lead, but Wealdstone levelled in stoppage time as Richard Jolly found himself on the spot to fire home Chris O’Leary’s knock-down from a Scott McCubbin free-kick.
If the visitors thought they would be able to push on from that position, they were rocked six minutes after the break when Noble’s skidding 30-yard effort crept into the bottom left-hand corner.
However, perhaps with one eye on Saturday’s vital League fixture against table-topping Woking, and missing talismanic playmaker and Conference South Player of the Month for January Elliot Bradbrook, who had hobbled off in the sixth minute, Dartford lost the initiative. Wealdstone piled on the pressure, and were finally rewarded ten minutes from time when O’Leary bravely rose above Matt Jones to loop a header out of the reach of Louis Wells and over the line via the underside of the crossbar.
Perhaps the 770-strong crowd should not have been surprised by the draw – the clubs’ last four meetings have finished all-square – and that was how it ended, despite the Darts’ Jon Wallis smashing an injury-time free-kick narrowly off-target.
Darts boss Tony Burman said afterwards: “We don’t want a replay. I don’t think Wealdstone want a replay either. They’re doing well, They’ve got an opportunity in their league. Nevertheless that is what we’ve got.”
Dartford: Louis Wells, Matt Jones (Richard Graham 82), Adam Green, Tom Bonner, Tom Champion, Jon Wallis, Lee Burns, James Rogers, Jacob Erskine (Tony Garrod 72), Elliot Bradbrook (Lee Noble 6), Danny Harris.
Substitutes not used: Ryan Hayes, Deren Ibrahim.
Wealdstone: Jonathan North, James Hammond, Alan Massey, Wes Parker (Kurtney Brooks 46), Tommy Hoban, Connor Smith, Scott McCubbin, Chris O’Leary, Peter Dean (Scott Fitzgerald 90), Richard Jolly, Lee Chappell (David Hicks 85).
Substitute not used: Tautis Poniskaitis.
Referee: Justin Amey
Assistants: Lloyd Wood & Mark Mellor
Fourth Official: Thomas Ramsey
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