Nelson proves worth at both ends of the pitch
David Cuffley Dartford 2, Norwich City 7: Assistant manager Ian Butterworth is backing the Canaries to increase their goal tally from set-pieces thanks to the new aerial threat posed by defender Michael Nelson.
Dartford 2, Norwich City 7
Assistant manager Ian Butterworth is backing the Canaries to increase their goal tally from set-pieces thanks to the new aerial threat posed by defender Michael Nelson.
Nelson, signed from Butterworth's former club, Hartlepool, and fellow centre-back Gary Doherty both scored first-half goals from dead-ball kicks as City hit the goal trail in no uncertain fashion against Ryman League club Dartford at Princes Park on Saturday.
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Nelson struck inside three minutes when he headed home from Simon Lappin's free-kick and twice went close to adding to his tally before the interval, while skipper Doherty scored from a Lappin corner with a powerful header.
Afterwards, Butterworth said he hoped the new centre-half would be as valuable in the opposition penalty area as in his own.
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He said: "That's one of the reasons we signed him and we scored with two set-pieces today. We did a little bit of work on Friday just so there was a degree of organisation today and it came off.
"Doherty scored a great header as well. It's something I've always been keen to work on."
Triallist Scott Neilson, from Cambridge City, scored a fine individual goal and strikers Chris Martin and Jamie Cureton each scored twice in the second half to wrap up a comprehensive win.
Michael Spillane and Lappin took the eye in midfield, but new signing Owain Tudur Jones had a quiet afternoon and Wes Hoolahan had little chance to shine in an unfamiliar role as Martin's striking partner.
There may have been concern, too, at the way Dartford carved openings to score fine goals through Lee Noble and James White, who also struck the woodwork.
Said Butterworth: "There were some good goals.
"It's the time of year when everyone wants to get back on that field but we've got to make sure we nurse them through things.
"One or two got knocks and Cody McDonald hadn't trained all week, so we had to be careful with him a little bit. We had to be careful with Wes in a way because that was his first 90 minutes as well, and Adam Drury came through very, very well.
"It's the first 90 minutes, players getting their touch and finding their feet a little bit and that's what pre-season's about."
Nelson headed home from Lappin's free-kick after Neilson had been brought down and almost added a second when he headed narrowly wide from a Drury cross.
But the hosts drew level with a well-worked goal after nine minutes. Ryan Hayes crossed from the right and Noble stole into the six-yard box to beat goalkeeper Declan Rudd from close range.
Dartford gave City a run for their money until seven minutes before half-time, when the visitors regained the lead with a superb goal through Neilson. The triallist latched on to a raking diagonal pass by Spillane and cut inside on to his left-foot to beat 'keeper Andrew Young with a curling shot from the edge of the area.
Spillane's header was clawed off the line by Young two minutes before the break, but Doherty headed home from a Lappin corner moments later to make it 3-1.
Ten minutes after the break, substitute Matty Pattison set up goal number four with a well-judged through-ball to Martin, who showed excellent control before tucking a low shot past Young.
Martin struck again after 66 minutes, heading home from a cross by Neilson for his second goal.
Dartford reduced the arrears after 68 minutes when White scored with a superb diving header from a cross by substitute Adam Burchall.
With just over 20 minutes left, McDonald was given a rousing welcome on his former home ground when he replaced Martin - and had a hand in two goals in the space of four minutes for fellow substitute Jamie Cureton.
First, McDonald was felled by Billy Burgess and referee D'Urso pointed to the spot. Cureton's penalty was well saved by substitute 'keeper Sam Mott, but Cureton was first to the rebound to knock the ball home.
Cureton scored his second with 10 minutes left, floating in a delightful shot from a pass by McDonald.
Dartford - Young (Mott, 56 min), Burgess, Gross, Beales (Eferakerho, 56 min), Coyle, Dafter (Dent, 70 min), Hayes (Dingri, 81 min), Day, Burns (Burchall, 64 min), White, Noble (Isa, 35 min, Crouch, 81 min).
Norwich City - Rudd, Otsemobor, Drury, Doherty (Dumic, 66 min), Nelson, Tudur Jones (Pattison, 53 min), Neilson (McVeigh, 82 min), Spillane (Gill, 74 min), Martin (McDonald, 69 min), Hoolahan (Cureton, 53 min), Lappin. Subs (not used) Steer, Adeyemi, Stephens.
Referee - Andy D'Urso (Billericay).
Attendance - 1,910.
Goals - Dartford: Noble (9 min), White (68 min). City: Nelson (3 min), Neilson (38 min), Doherty (43 min), Martin (55, 66 min), Cureton (76 min, 80 min).