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Weymouth v Dartford

Dartford have promotion to the National league in their sights when they take on Weymouth in the National South Playoff Final at the Bob Lucas Stadium this Saturday.

The Darts have already made it through two rounds beating Slough Town in the elimination round then favourites Havant and Waterlooville in the semi-final last weekend. In both playoff matches, Steve King has relied on the depth of his squad as crucial changes have influenced the outcomes.

At Slough Town, a few alterations to the team and tactics as well as the half-time team talk improved Dartford’s performance. King told his players to be braver on the ball and when Charlie Sheringham scored a brace, he justified King’s decision to select him after being out of the squad before lockdown. A third goal was added by substitute Luke Wanadio to secure a 3-0 victory.

Another away game followed and this time it was Ky Marsh Brown’s turn to star against league runners up Havant and Waterlooville. The Darts went a goal down when Danny Kedwell’s was finished by Jonah Ayunga. Then two moments changed the game, first Josh Taylor was red carded for the Hawks late in the first half, then the Darts introduced Ky Marsh-Brown early in the second-half. Marsh-Brown set up Darren McQueen for the equaliser, then he won a penalty which McQueen scored sending the Darts into the final.

Steve King was on the receiving end of last season’s final when Welling United were beaten by Woking. Now he has the chance to return Dartford back to the National League after a five-year absence. This time he believes his side have a free hit and victory will complete a ‘miracle season’ after he steered the club from a relegation battle in October to promotion contenders. King told www.kentonline.co.uk that promotion would: “mean everything…It will be my fourth (play-off) final in National South. Just to go one step further when we have not been expected to would be the icing on the cake, really. We were fourth-bottom (when King took charge), there looked like there was a chance that we would get relegated. I’m just taking it in my stride, really. It’s just another game”.

After the win at Havant and Waterlooville, the Dartford boss praised his squads team ethic, he commented: “The group have done ever so well. They have been magnificent ever since we came through the door to have done what they have as a group”, he added: “We have had to change sides and I changed it at half-time (on Saturday). The boys who came off were disappointed, but they offered their support and they were shouting and hugging at the end and it has been a real team effort, whether they have started or not started”.

Weymouth will host the final having finished higher than Dartford in the National South and are looking to return to the National League after eleven years. The Terras ended the campaign in a respectable third place having only won promotion as champions of the Southern League Premier South last season. King knows that Saturday’s opposition will be difficult, he commented: “It will be tough, they play good football. They are quite a young side. Some of their players are on loan from Bournemouth. It’s going to be really tough, but we will give it one last go”.

Weymouth earned a place in the final after a dramatic finish in the semi-final against Dorking Wanderers. Yemi Odubade scored a last-minute winner to seal a 3-2 win after the home side threw away a two-goal lead. Mark Molesley’s side took the lead from the spot through captain Josh McQuoid, then Jaidon Anthony scored another to put Weymouth two up. Dorking fought back and with 17 minutes to go pulled a goal back through James McShane, and with five left on the clock Eliott Buchanan equalised. It looked as if the semi-final was heading for penalties until Odubade netted in stoppage time to send the Terras into the final.

Manager, Molesley praised his youngsters after the game, he told www.bournemouthecho.co.uk: “You’ve got to remember the average age of that squad (against Dorking Wanderers) was under 24. You forget about how young our team is. Fortunately, we’ve got some good, older, experienced players as well like Stephane Zubar, Yemi Odubade and Josh McQuoid, who have been there done it and seen it. The younger players can be buoyed that they have got some experience around them as well. But they have played maturely beyond their years and they have all season”.

Dartford’s last visit to the Bob Lucas Stadium ended in a 3-1 defeat back in August when Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle were in charge. The return fixture was due to take place on the final day of the season; however, the campaign was cut short. Abdulai Baggie opened the scoring and Brett Williams added two more before Norman Wabo scored a last-minute consolation for the Darts.

Havant and Waterlooville v Dartford

Dartford are one game away from a place in the National South playoff final and standing in their way will be Havant and Waterlooville this Saturday.

Victory for the Darts will give them a chance of promotion to the National League and for manager Steve King an opportunity to go one step further than last season. The Dartford boss lost the final last term when he took Welling United to the final. First comes the semi-final against Havant and Waterlooville who are looking to return to the top flight of non-league at the first attempt.

This weekend’s meeting will be the biggest showdown between the two sides since the final day heartache suffered by the Darts just over two years ago. A last minute goal from former Dartford striker, Jason Prior clinched promotion for the Hawks even though Dartford won their final day match against Bognor Regis Town. History aside, plenty has changed since Tony Burman’s reign and by the time the two sides met again in August, Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle were in charge. 

Havant and Waterlooville were one of the favourites this season to go up and they have justified their tag by finishing the shortened campaign in second. When Dartford played the Hampshire side at Princes Park it was one of Flanagan and Coyle’s better results as the points were shared. Adam Cunnington scored his first goal for the Darts as the Kent side deserved a half time lead. The second half told a different story and when Havant and Waterlooville’s Jonah Ayunga equalised just past the hour, Dartford were left hanging on for a draw, the second in three games in this fixture.

Dartford are currently seven games unbeaten against the Hawks, but with the depth of both squads and the amount of fire power on show this semi-final clash should be a close contest. The Darts can rely on Elliott Romain and Darren McQueen who have netted 16 league goals this season, whilst Havant and Waterlooville’s Ayunga is top scorer with one more than the Dartford pair. 

Yet it is Charlie Sheringham who has been catching the eye of Dartford manager, Steve King. Having been sent on loan to Leatherhead, the striker last featured in February for the Darts, but since football has returned Sheringham has impressed. First the 32-year-old scored in the 1-0 friendly win against Boreham Wood, then he grabbed a brace in the playoff elimination round at Slough Town. King commented after the 3-0 win: “I said to him when he came back after the lockdown that I don’t have favourites. The way he has come back, the attitude he has shown, the willingness, he listens. He has shown a good attitude. He started the second half against Boreham Wood and occupied the two centre halves, getting it and knocking it wide, and getting himself in the box and he scored a fantastic goal and I thought, ‘ooh, we may need that’. He can win fouls, he takes one touch then sets, the others take a touch and a touch and the whole picture changes”. 

Sheringham’s couple changed the momentum of the game at Arbour Park as the hosts created the better chances in the first half, Josh Jackman and Ryan Bird missing good opportunities. King made excellent use of the half-time interval, he said after the game: “I told the players to relax at half-time, get on the ball, I told them ‘if you get on the ball you will start opening them up’”, he continued: “They just had to be braver, that is what I said at half-time, ‘be braver on the ball’. It was about picking the right passes. We knew what kind of game it would be but if we got the first goal they would have to change their approach and start leaving holes and gaps and second half was really good”. Sheringham scored two poachers goals early in the second-half and the match was wrapped up when substitute Luke Wanadio’s drive beat the Slough Town goalkeeper at the near post.

Dartford may have an advantage having now played a competitive game since the restart. Meanwhile, Havant and Waterlooville have not played competitively since a 2-0 win on 7 April against Hampton and Richmond Borough, which extended their unbeaten run to four and saw a fourth consecutive clean sheet. Victory against the Middlesex club left the Hawks in second behind crowned champions Wealdstone with eight games remaining. There is no doubt that manager Paul Doswell would have expected his squad to push Wealdstone all the way to the title, even though the Hawks were three points behind having played a game more. Had the playoffs not taken place, then the Hampshire club would have felt aggrieved as there was enough to go in the season to make a comeback, and that led to a campaign to get the playoffs on.

The Darts were due to play Havant and Waterlooville at Westleigh Park as their next game before the country went into lockdown. Which means the last visit to take on the Hawks in Hampshire was a 0-0 draw in August 2017. Dartford are unbeaten in three away matches against Havant and Waterlooville, keeping clean sheets in their last two. The winner of this playoff semi-final will face Dorking Wanderers or Weymouth, with the highest placed team in the final standings at home.

Slough Town v Dartford

Steve King believes Dartford has a “free hit” in the National South playoffs after his side exceeded expectations since he took over as boss.

The Darts turned themselves into promotion contenders, even though they were relegation candidates when King was appointed in October. Now the Kent club are three games away from a return to the National League after a five year absence.

Finishing sixth in the league, on points per game, the Darts take part in the elimination round facing Slough Town on Sunday. Having finished higher in the National South, it will be the Rebels who will host the game on their patch. With fans unable to attend, King feels anyone could win on the day as playing at home as no real benefit, he commented: “We could beat Slough, Slough could beat us. Everyone in these play-offs can all beat each other and there is no home advantage. Slough have an artificial pitch but we train on one every single week”.

The Dartford manager is calling on his team to step up to Sunday’s challenge, he commented: “Slough are very tough at home, well coached, well drilled, they are hard to beat. They are one of those sides where you have to be on top of your game, otherwise they are capable of beating anybody in the division. To get through the tie the big players need to produce”.

Although the season was cut short Dartford did manage to fulfill both fixtures against the Berkshire club, losing by a single goal on each occasion. The last visit to Arbour Park was in January and a Dan Roberts goal was enough for the home side to complete a double over Dartford. Earlier in the campaign Tony Burman was in charge as the Darts squandered a two goal lead to lose 3-2.

King is happy with the fitness of his squad since the restart and with the players available he has a “good headache”. Amrit Bansal-McNulty and Tyrique Hyde are available from their parent clubs to continue the loan spell the pair were enjoying. Former Dulwich Hamlet and Ebbsfleet United goalkeeper Preston Edwards has come in as cover to first choice shot stopper Alhaji Sesay, that means Mark Smith will not be part of the playoff squad. Dartford will also no longer have the services of Andy Pugh, Liam Nash and Ryan Hayes, whilst Billy Crook is unavailable.

It will be the first competitive match in almost four months for both sides, so preparations in the current climate have proven difficult. On the field football is a different, as games will be staged behind closed doors. Health and safety protocols are in place meaning on the training ground teams are limited in what they can do to get ready for matchday. When the playoffs begin the matches themselves will have a completely different feel without fans and atmosphere. However both clubs are doing what they can to get their supporters involved.

The Darts managed a warm fixture when they beat National League side Boreham Wood 1-0 last weekend, Charlie Sheringham scoring the winner. King used his full squad playing a different side in each half.

Slough Town lost their last two league games 2-0 pre-lockdown against fellow playoff contenders Weymouth and bottom of the table side Hungerford Town. Even without a four month break form tends to go out of the window when knockout competitions start and Dartford will also have to get past Slough Town’s tight defence. This season the Rebels conceded just 38 goals in 35 league games. However, the Darts have Elliott Romain and Darren McQueen, two of the top four scorers in the league, making Sunday’s clash an interesting affair.

Preparations to even make the playoffs happen has gone beyond rivalry. Normally, Dartford boss, Steve King is looking to get one over on his opponents, but he has been working tirelessly with opposing managers including Slough Town’s Neil Baker and Jon Underwood to ensure all six clubs in the playoffs have a shot at promotion.

Whilst the trio leading their teams have come together in difficult circumstances, come the day of the elimination round expect normal service to return when their competitive streaks will be on display.

The winners of the elimination round will face National South runners up Havant and Waterlooville in the semi-final on Saturday 25 July. The playoff final is due to take place on Saturday 1 August.

St Albans City v Dartford

Buoyed by the fact the Darts reached a cup final this week, Dartford return to league action this weekend when they visit St Albans City.

The Darts have had nothing to show in their last four visits to Clarence Park, losing them all without even finding the back of the net. Dartford’s last victory there was nine years ago remembered by a freak long range Lee Burns header, but it was young Jack Pallen that scored the winner in a 2-1 triumph.

Over the last three weeks Steve King has made good use of the squad he has assembled with mid-week Kent Senior Cup games scheduled between National South fixtures. In that time the Darts have picked up four points from six, including the stalemate with league leaders Wealdstone and progressed through two rounds of the county cup to reach the final.

On Tuesday night a strong Dartford side strolled past Phoenix Sports in the semi-final. King made five changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Wealdstone, goalkeeper Alhaji Sesay was back in goal, Ronnie Vint replaced Josh Hill at centre back, Jake Jebb made his second start for the club. Luke Wanadio and Liam Nash who were on the bench against the Stones were selected to start. Goals from Jordan Wynter, Liam Nash’s brace, Elliott Romain and Amrit Bansal-McNulty, who has now extended his loan until the end of the season earned the Darts a comprehensive 5-1 victory.

In Dartford’s last league game, King made six changes to the side and his team came away with a creditable draw with league leaders Wealdstone. A solid defence, in which Tom Bonner and Josh Hill excelled, and the impact of Wanadio’s appearance from off the bench were positives in difficult playing conditions. Dartford survived the biggest moment of the match though when Weadstone’s Dennon Lewis missed a penalty.

The Darts bagged their first point of the season when they last played St Albans City in August under the guidance of Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle. New signing and current top scorer for the Saints, Joe Iaciofano scored for the Hertfordshore club, his first goal of the campaign to give the visitors the lead. However, Wanadio netted his first goal since returning to the Darts in the second half.

At Princes Park, Dartford have fared better against the Saints, but it’s the away fixture against Ian Allinson’s side that has troubled them over the last four years. St Albans City have won four in a row against the Darts on their own patch scoring eleven without reply. Last season, Dartford were beaten 2-0 when Solomon Sambou and Khale da Costa scored. The year before on the final day of the season, Sam Merson’s brace helped the Saints to a 4-0 win, Charlie Walker scored the only goal three years ago and two own goals contributed to another 4-0 reverse for the Darts in 2016.

St Albans City are in a relegation fight sitting second from bottom in the National South with just three home wins in the league this season. Although form has picked up for Ian Allinson’s side as they try and get themselves out of trouble in a very tight battle at the bottom, only a point separate St Albans City in 21st and Concord Rangers fifteenth place

Last weekend, they lost a six pointer against Chippenham Town with former Dartford defender Tom Bender heading the Saints in front. However, two goals in the space of four minutes turned the match around when Kieran Parselle then Scott Twine helped Chippenham Town to victory. Bender made 20 appearances for the Darts during the 2014/2015 campaign and scored against the Darts in 2016 for St Albans City, a season later he scored an own goal which gave Dartford a home victory.

However last month, the Saints did beat promotion chasers Bath City then Havant and Waterlooville on the road. Their last victory at home, four weeks ago, was against Maidstone United. Out of the teams around the relegation zone, St Albans City have one of the better records over the last eight games.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 7 / St Albans City wins: 5 / Draws: 5

Current League Form

Dartford (DWLWWL) St Albans (LWDWLL)
WealdstoneH0-0Chippenham TownA1-2
Eastbourne Borough H2-1Havant & WaterloovilleA2-1
Hampton & Richmond H1-2Oxford CityH0-0
Chippenham Town A5-1Bath CityA3-0
Dulwich Hamlet H1-0Welling UnitedH1-2
Slough Town A0-1 Hampton & RichmondA1-2

Last Six Meetings

06.08.2019Dartford1St Albans City1
12.01.2019Dartford3St Albans City2
01.09.2018St Albans City 2Dartford0
03.02.2018St Albans City 4Dartford0
28.10.2017Dartford2St Albans City 1
25.03.2017St Albans City 1Dartford0

Stats

The last away win in this fixture was on 8 November 2016, when St Albans City won 2-0 at Princes Park. Since then the home side has won five of the last six.

The Darts have gone eight games without a clean sheet against St Albans City.

Dartford’s draw with Wealdstone was their 200th league game since relegation from the National League. The Darts have won 100, drawn 46, lost 54, scored 331 goals and conceded 246 in that time.

St Albans City have lost all four home games against sides in the top five, but they have drawn all three against the teams directly below the Darts.

Only Hungerford Town have picked up fewer points at home than St Albans City this season.

On This Day

Inflatable penguins made their debut when Dartford last won on 7 March in 1989, the Darts beat Atherstone United 3-0 at Watling Street in the Southern League Cup semi-final first leg on their way to wining the competition. Thirty years ago, Dartford drew 2-2 with Welling United in the last eight of the Kent Senior Cup and then 0-0 with Gloucester City two years later in the Southern Premier League. Witney Town beat Dartford 3-1 in 1998, Tommy Osborne and Adam Gross scored in a 2-2 draw with Margate in 2009. The last two games have seen the Darts fail to score, in front of the BT Sports cameras six years ago Dartford lost 1-0 at home to Chester and a year later, the Darts drew 0-0 at FC Halifax Town.

Dartford v Phoenix Sports

Dartford are one game away from reaching the Kent Senior Cup final when they host Phoenix Sports in the last four on Tuesday night.

The Darts last reached the final four years ago when they beat Charlton Athletic and are bidding to win the competition for the twelfth time in their history. Standing in the way, Isthmian South East side Phoenix Sports are aiming to cause an upset to have a shot at claiming their first ever county cup.

In the first competitive meeting between the two sides, the pair have often played against each other in pre-season friendlies because of the proximity of both clubs, Dartford’s opponents are based in Barnehurst just three and a half miles away.

After the quarter-final victory in the last round, Dartford boss Steve King stated he was taking the competition seriously and despite fielding many players trying to force their way into the first team, the Darts beat Folkestone Invicta 4-0. After a flowing move down the right between Amrit Bansal-McNulty and Tyrique Hyde, striker Liam Nash headed in the opener. Hyde added a second from the spot in the first half and after the break Billy Crook scored his first for the club. Elliott Romain came off the subs bench and added a fourth.

In the previous round Dartford beat Maidstone United 1-0 with King handing first starts to Craig Braham-Barrett and Nash. The only goal of the game was scored by Kyjoun Marsh-Brown to put the Darts into the last eight of the competition.

Since Dartford’s win in the last eight they were back in National South action against league leaders Wealdstone. King made five changes with Craig Braham-Barrett, Tom Bonner, Noor Husin, Elliott Romain and Darren McQueen returning to the starting eleven, whilst Mark Smith kept his place in goal. The game ended 0-0 with the Stones spurning the best chance when Dennon Lewis missed a penalty.

Phoenix Sports have played three games in the Kent Senior Cup to reach the last four and they started of their campaign back in November. The Sports beat a youthful looking Margate side in round one racking up four goals. Ben Allen opened the scoring and added another before Margate’s William Risdon was sent off. On the hour Allen completed his hat-trick and a fourth was netted by Jeff Duah-Kessie, there was time for a consolation game when Elliott Reeves made it 4-1.

In round two, Paul Byron’s side beat a Charlton Athletic under 23’s team 2-1 by coming from behind. The Addicks took advantage of winning a penalty when Junior Quitirna gave the London club the lead. However, two goals in a minute after the interval from Lauris Chin and Duah-Kessie put Phoenix Sports into the last eight.

In the semi-final Phoenix Sports were drawn against Isthmian South East title contenders Ashford United. Lee Bird put Phoenix Sports ahead with a delightful lob over home goalkeeper Sam Mott. David Smith levelled the tie for the hosts, but with three minutes remaining Phoenix Sports were awarded a penalty, Kenny Alireu sent Mott the wrong way to claim the winner.

Phoenix Sports are currently ninth in the Isthmian South East division, two steps below the Darts. They are currently ten points off the playoff places and have Ashley Probets in their squad, the defender played for Dartford during pre-season in 2010 but couldn’t quite earn a place in the squad after Tony Burman signed Tom Bonner instead.

The other semi-final will be between Whitsable Town and Dover Athletic or Gillingham.

Stats

Steve King has used 20 players in the two rounds that Dartford have played in this season’s Kent Senior Cup

If Dartford win the semi-final they will reach their 25th Kent Senior Cup final.

On This Day

Dartford reached the Kent Senior Cup final back in 1987 when they beat Ashford Town 1-0, the Darts went on to beat Maidstone United to lift the cup without conceding a goal in the competition. The Darts retained the cup the season after and didn’t concede a single goal in that campaign either.

Dartford v Wealdstone

League leaders Wealdstone are next to visit Princes Park as the Darts search for a first home win against the Stones since the early nineties.

Dartford have won just two of their previous 15 meetings against Wealdstone since their last home victory against them in 1991, in that time they have drawn five of their last seven when hosting this weekend’s opponents.

A difficult task awaits Steve King’s side when they take on a side who convincingly defeated the Darts on the opening day. Ross Lafayette’s brace book ended Josh Hill’s equaliser, a Dennon Lewis deflection and a goal by Connor Stevens. However, plenty has changed at Princes Park since the 4-1 reverse at Grosvenor Vale, a new manager and playing style as well as wholesale changes to the squad has seen the Darts climb the National South ladder. Meanwhile, Wealdstone have looked down at the rest of the league occupying top spot for the majority of the season.

The Darts were in Kent Senior Cup action on Tuesday night which gave King a look at the rest of his squad. Josh Hill and Liam Nash were the only survivors from the starting eleven that beat Eastbourne Borough, whilst Billy Crook, Jordan Wynter and Amrit Bansal-McNulty turned substitute appearances into starting appearances. Mark Smith, Sanchez Ming, Miloud Djouahaer, Ronnie Vint, Tyrique Hyde and Giovanni McGregor were all called upon as the Darts progressed to the semi-final.

Nash scored the opener before Hyde netted a penalty as Dartford led Folkestone Invicta by two at the break. Crook added the Darts third, his first goal for the club and Elliott Romain, who returns from suspension came off the bench to score his 13th goal for the Darts.

In the league Dartford are in seventh place, three points clear of Hampton and Richmond Borough who beat the Darts three weeks ago. However, King’s side bounced back with a 2-1 victory over Eastbourne Borough. Two new signings made their debuts, Noor Husin from Stevenage and Jake Jebb, who played nine times for Wealdstone this season. Jebb started his Dartford career off by scoring a sublime free-kick and although Alhaji Sesay’s goalkeeping error was costly when the Sports levelled, Darren McQueen scored from the spot yet again to clinch all three points.

King explained that changes in midfield were necessary as he started with a different three against the Sports. The Dartford manager pointed out a lack of goals from the middle of the park and in recent weeks standards had dipped. On Tuesday night in the Kent Senior Cup, Crook and Hyde responded with a couple of goals.

In the same evening Wealdstone were in action when they hosted Chelmsford City. The Stones missed the chance to extend their lead at the summit losing 1-0, the first time they failed to score on their own patch. Former Dartford loanee, Tom Knowles netted the only goal of the game. Defeat ended a streak of five consecutive league wins and an unbeaten run of seven games in all competitions.

During their recent good form, the Stones hit seven goals in back to back games beating title challengers Bath City 7-0, a week after beating another challenger Havant and Waterlooville 4-2. In the match that followed the Bath City triumph, Wealdstone beat Staines Town 7-1 in the Middlesex Senior Cup. Moses Emmanuel and Dennon Lewis also found form in front of goal in that spell scoring four each.

Dartford may be aiming for a return to the National League via the playoffs after a five year absence, Wealdstone are hoping to reach the same destination as champions, returning to the top flight of non-league for the first time in 32 years.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 13 / Wealdstone wins: 15 / Draws: 14

Current League Form

Dartford (WLWWLW) Wealdstone (WWWWWL)
Eastbourne BoroughH2-1Chelmsford CityH0-1
Hampton & RichmondH1-2Dorking WanderersH3-1
Chippenham TownA5-1Billericay TownH3-0
Dulwich HamletH1-0Bath CityH7-0
Slough TownA0-1Havant and WaterloovilleA4-2
Oxford CityH3-0Welling UnitedH1-0

Last Six Meetings

03.08.2019Wealdstone4Dartford1
05.01.2019Wealdstone1Dartford1
18.08.2018Dartford0Wealdstone3
17.02.2018Wealdstone1Dartford2
21.11.2017Dartford3Wealdstone3
28.01.2017Wealdstone0Dartford4

Stats

Dartford are top of the form guide in the last 8 games. Wealdstone have lost three of their last eight.

Wealdstone top the scoring charts with 66 goals and have the best goal difference of +33.

The Darts have gained just four points from 24 against clubs currently in the top six.

Mark Smith, Josh Hill, Tom Bonner and Luke Wanadio are the only four players to have started in the opening day defeat and have made over 20 appearances this season.

On This Day

In the season of Dartford’s greatest ever F.A Cup run, when they went out to top flight Derby County in the third round, Dartford also recorded their last victory on the 29 February. In 1936 the Darts beat Bath City 4-2 in the Southern League Central Section. In their only other win on this day, the Darts beat Cray Wanderers by the same score in the Dartford and District League in 1908. Since then they have been beaten 1-0 in 1952 against Weymouth in the Southern League and in the same league drew with Margate 1-1 in 1964. The last fixture Dartford played on this day was in 1992 when they lost 1-0 to Halesowen Town, also in the Southern Premier League. Whilst the first game the Darts played on 29 February was in 1896 and ended in a dismal 7-3 Kent League defeat to local rivals Northfleet.

Dartford v Folkestone Invicta

Dartford are in Kent Senior Cup action on Tuesday night when they host Folkestone Invicta in the last eight.

Steve King will probably use the quarter-final tie to give game time to players on the fringes of first team selection, especially as the Darts are chasing down a playoff place and face league leaders Wealdstone on the weekend.

In the previous round, Dartford beat rivals Maidstone United after making a host of changes to their starting eleven, only two players played the league game prior the second round match. King handed first starts to Craig Braham-Barrett and Liam Nash, whilst Marcel Barrington and Michael Onovwigun made rare starts. The only goal of the game was scored by Kyjoun Marsh-Brown to put the Darts into the last eight of the competition.

On Saturday, after a two week break Dartford beat Eastbourne Borough 2-1 with two more new players added to the squad. Jack Jebb got off to a flying start to his Dartford career scoring on his debut from an exquisite free-kick. The midfielder joined from league leaders Wealdstone and was part of King’s Welling United team that reached the playoff final. Noor Husin also made his debut, the 22-year-old was playing for Stevenage up until January and made 26 appearances for Notts County last term, the midfielder is an Afghanistan international.

The Darts last played Folkestone Invicta nine years ago in the Kent Senior Cup. The second round tie finished 4-1 to Dartford with Tom Bonner, Lee Noble and Ryan Hayes the only players of this current squad involved in that victory. In fact, Bonner found himself on the scoresheet after Jacob Erskine netted Dartford’s first, Richard Graham grabbed a brace. Victory ended a nine game winless run against Invicta which included eight defeats in a row, including a 6-1 reverse in the Southern League Division One East back in 2004.

Folkestone Invicta are chasing down Worthing at the top of the Isthmian Premier League, but suffered a setback on the weekend losing 1-0 to Wingate and Finchley. What made the result more disappointing is that it came off the back of beating the league leaders by the same scoreline just over a week ago. Invicta are now six points behind with a game in hand.

Invicta boss Neil Cugley has connections with Dartford having played for the Darts in two spells. His first spell was in 1978-1980 and second in 1986-1987, starting out as a defender he converted to a striker and even has a road named after him at the old Watling Street site. Cugley has been in charge of Folkestone Invicta for what is now his 23rd season.

Ira Jackson Junior has netted 23 goal in all competitions whilst fellow striker Johan Tor Horst has scored five in this season’s Kent Senior Cup and 12 this term. Tor Horst impressed clubs at a higher level and earned a move to Hull City where he spent three season’s.

So far, Folkestone Invicta have negotiated two rounds scoring eight over those county cup ties. In round one they beat Hythe Town 5-1 with a brace from Josh Vincent, one for Sam Hasler and two scored by Tor Horst, the striker then went on to net a hat-trick in the next round as Invicta defeated Tonbridge Angels 3-1.

Last Six Meetings

07.12.2011*Folkestone Invicta1Dartford4
12.09.2006^Dartford2Folkestone Invicta2
18.01.2005*Dartford1Folkestone Invicta 2
13.03.2004Folkestone Invicta 1Dartford0
24.02.2004Dartford1Folkestone Invicta 6
19.11.2002 Folkestone Invicta 1Dartford0

* – Kent Senior Cup / ^ – Isthmian League Cup

Dartford v Eastbourne Borough

Dartford are hoping to get back to winning ways this weekend by completing a double over Eastbourne Borough in the National South.

Storm Dennis caused havoc across the country last weekend resulting in both Dartford and Eastbourne Borough getting a ‘winter break’ of their own. The Darts were scheduled to take on Billericay Town, whilst the Sports were due to host league leaders Wealdstone, only for both fixtures to be called off because of the extreme weather conditions. So it has been a fortnight since both sides last played with Dartford losing their last outing at home against a Hampton and Richmond Borough side aiming for the playoffs. Eastbourne Borough picked up a draw versus Weymouth, another club aiming for a top seven finish.

When the Darts last met Eastbourne Borough, Steve King recorded his first victory as boss back in November. King handed a debut to Kyjoun Marsh-Brown and Liam Gordon, who has since returned to his parent club after a successful loan spell. Norman Wabo made a rare appearance under the current Dartford boss and opened the scoring after just four minutes, but the goal of the day was Elliott Romain’s thirty yard strike against his former club. The striker who has scored 12 goals in 19 games for the Darts will be suspended this weekend for his red card against Hampton and Richmond Borough. However, Amrit Bansal-McNullty returns from his suspension after his dismissal at Chippenham Town and new signing Giovanni McGregor is available after making his debut during Dartford’s last outing.

A fortnight ago, despite taking an early lead through Luke Wanadio’s sixth minute header, the Darts lost 2-1 to Hampton and Richmond Borough and manager Steve King was disappointed, he told DFCTV after the match: “We didn’t play at our level, we played nowhere near what we’re capable of and when you do that in this division and when you’re against a good side challenging for the playoffs you end up losing”. However, the Darts boss was impressed by Wanadio’s performance and believes there is more to come from the winger, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “He’s been one of the better players since I’ve come to the club. He wants to learn, he’s always listening and we’re only touching the iceberg. There’s a lot more to come”, King added: “There’s more goals to come from Luke. There was the year when he was at Dartford before and he scored 15 or so goals and then he got a move to Bromley. The only thing missing has been goals”.

Although there were some questionable decisions in the Hampton and Richmond Borough match, when Tom Bonner and Sanchez Ming ended up on the wrong side of challenges that may have seen a red card, King believes ultimately it was down to the team’s performance, he explained: “They were incidents that may change games, but that’s not the reason we’ve lost the game because we were not good enough”. Danilo Orsi-Dadamo and Ryan Hill were on target for the Beavers as the visitors took their chances, King believed ‘costly errors’ and a ‘lack of control in midfield’ were the main factors behind the defeat.

Eastbourne Borough have become draw specialists lately ending their last six league games all square. The run stretches back to New Years Day when they beat Dorking Wanderers and so the Sussex club are eight unbeaten and without defeat in 2020. The Sports under Danny Bloor, have become tougher to beat and are looking for ways to turn draws into victories. Their last stalemate was a last minute 2-2 draw with Weymouth in which the first half was a cagey affair. Eastbourne Borough’s Greg Luer put the hosts in front only for Abdulai Baggie and Jake McCarthy to give the Terras a one goal advantage. However, deep into stoppage time Charlie Walker grabbed an equaliser to extend the Sports unbeaten run.

Goals have not been in short supply in the last four meetings against Eastbourne Borough at Princes Park. The Darts have scored 12 and conceded ten in that time with the Sports winning 3-2 in their last visit in a F.A Trophy third qualifying round replay. Even though Andre Coker and Taylor Fisher scored two goals in as many minutes right at the end of the game, the visitors went straight down the other end to score an even later winner. In the last league meeting at Princes Park, Elliot Bradbrook scored a last minute equaliser, whilst Charlie Sheringham scored on his return to the club and got sent off. Often an entertaining affair between the two clubs, the Darts won the previous two matches at Princes Park 4-2 in September 2017 and 4-3 five months earlier.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 11 / Eastbourne Borough wins: 6 / Draws: 4

Current League Form

Dartford (WWLWWL) Eastbourne Borough (DDDDDD)
Hampton & Richmond H 1-2 Weymouth A 2-2
Chippenham Town A 5-1 Hemel Hempstead Town H 1-1
Dulwich Hamlet H 1-0 Concord Rangers H 2-2
Slough Town A 0-1 Chelmsford City A 1-1
Oxford City H 3-0 St Albans City H 3-3
Dorking Wanderers A 3-2 Slough Town A 1-1

Last Six Meetings

12.09.2017 Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 2
20.04.2019 Eastbourne Borough 6 Dartford 0
27.11.2018 Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 3
24.11.2018 Eastbourne Borough 1 Dartford 1
08.09.2018 Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 2
14.04.2018 Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 1

Stats

There has been 17 goals in the last three home games in the National South against Eastbourne Borough, an average of 5.66 goals per game.

Dartford have kept six league clean sheets in their last nine games. Billericay Town have gone 13 league games without a clean sheet.

Over the last eight matches Dartford have picked up 2.25 points per game, the joint best with league leaders Wealdstone.

Eastbourne Borough’s eight game unbeaten run is the best run since they won the National South title back in 2007/08.

On This Day

Lee Noble has scored in his last two games on 22 February, and both times the midfielder netted the second goal in a 2-0 victory. In 2011, conditions were poor in a hard earned 2-0 away win on a cold Tuesday night at Dorchester Town. Danny Harris opened the scoring when his persistence paid off with twelve minutes to go, Noble secured the win by calmly slotting the ball beyond the Dorchester Town goalkeeper. History repeated itself three years later when Noble wrapped up another 2-0 win, this time at home to Hereford United in the National League. Alex Wall had earlier put the Darts in front and with twenty minutes remaining Noble blasted a shot in after his own free-kick had been partially cleared.

Dartford v Hampton and Richmond Borough

Two teams with playoff aspirations go head to head this weekend when Dartford host Hampton and Richmond Borough at Princes Park.

Dartford won the last encounter on Guy Fawkes Night at the Beveree with new signings Kyjoun Marsh-Brown and Elliott Romain scoring in a busy ten-minute first half spell. Marsh-Brown celebrated his first start for the club by getting on the end of Liam Gordon’s pass to open his account, but the lead lasted just two minutes when Sam Deadfield equalised for the hosts. Ten minutes before half-time, Romain won a penalty when felled by Charlie Wassmer, the Darts striker picked himself up and netted the winner from the spot.

The Darts last hosted the Beavers in March last year and a late Darren McQueen strike earned Dartford a point. Hampton and Richmond Borough took an early lead through Oliver Sprague and held the advantage until the hour mark. Lee Noble earned the Darts a penalty which Charlie Sheringham dispatched. With nine minutes remaining, Chris Dickson looked to have won the match for the visitors, but McQueen had other ideas when his deflected stoppage time strike made it 2-2.

Steve King’s side moved up to sixth place last weekend with a resounding 5-1 win over struggling Chippenham Town, their biggest away win in the league since October 2016. Prior the game two signings were announced, attacking midfielder Giovanni McGregor wasn’t available for selection, but will be on loan from Crystal Palace until the end of the season. Instead Amrit Bansal-McNullty made an immediate impact scoring and getting sent off on his debut. The winger on loan from Queens Park Rangers was one of two changes as well as Liam Nash, the pair replaced Luke Wanadio and Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, who returned to Aldershot Town after his successful loan spell.

The game was as good as over by half-time as the Darts rattled in five goals. Darren McQueen won and scored a penalty and the lead was doubled when Nash on his first league start for the Darts. Chippenham Town halved the deficit a minute later through Callum Gunner, but the two-goal cushion was restored when Bansal-McNullty squeezed the ball in from the tightest of angles. The 19-year-old was involved in the fourth when his free-kick was deflected in, and the loanee also won the penalty leading to McQueen’s second spot kick. Bansal-McNullty’s afternoon ended early when he received two yellow cards in a goalless second-half and manager Steve King was also given a red card.

Dartford have now opened up a seven-point gap to rivals Maidstone United in eighth place, although the Stones have three games in hand. Victory made it seven wins from their last eight league outings, whilst at home the Darts have won four National South matches in a row scoring eleven without reply.

If the Darts thought they had racked up the highest score of the weekend, they only had to look as far as their next opponents. Hampton and Richmond Borough hit Hungerford Town with a bigger result, winning 7-1. Striker, Danilo Orsi-Dadomo and Ryan Hill both bagged a brace in the rout with the former opening the scoring on three minutes. However, Hungerford Town were level two minutes later when Zidan Akers picked up a wayward throw from debutant goalkeeper Dion-Curtis Henry before equalising. Ryan Hill scored the first of two Hampton and Richmond Borough penalties, Orsi-Dadamo also netted from the spot just past he half hour mark. Hungerford Town had manager Ian Herring sent off and the afternoon got worse for the side at the foot of the table. Second-half goals from Dean Inman, debutante Niko Muir, a second from Hill and Sam Deadfield completed the comprehensive win for the Beavers.

The Beavers had a slow start to their campaign much like Dartford, the Middlesex club lost their first four and eight of their first eleven. However, they have slowly turned their fortunes around picking up ten wins in their last 16, losing just once on the road in the league since 14 September 2019. The Middlesex club are ninth and level on points with Maidstone United with two games in hand over the Darts.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 7 / Hampton and Richmond Borough wins: 4 / Draws: 2

Current League Form

Dartford (WWLWWW) Hampton & Richmond (WLWWLD)
Chippenham Town A 5-1 Hungerford Town H 7-1
Dulwich Hamlet H 1-0 Slough Town H 1-2
Slough Town A 0-1 St Albans City H 2-1
Oxford City H 3-0 Concord Rangers A 2-0
Dorking Wanderers A 3-2 Dulwich Hamlet H 0-3
Welling United H 4-0 Bath City H 0-0

Last Six Meetings

05.11.2019 Hampton & Richmond 1 Dartford 2
23.03.2019 Dartford 2 Hampton & Richmond 2
17.11.2018 Hampton & Richmond 0 Dartford 1
30.03.2018 Dartford 1 Hampton & Richmond 0
02.09.2017 Hampton & Richmond 2 Dartford 2
17.04.2017 Dartford 3 Hampton & Richmond 1

Stats

Dartford have kept four consecutive clean sheets at Princes Park going 387 minutes without conceding in the league at home.

Darren McQueen’s double against Chippenham Town means he and Elliot Romain are the two top goalscorers in the National South.

The Darts have failed to win at home against those currently in the top ten.

Dartford are unbeaten in six games against Hampton and Richmond Borough (W4, D2).

Hampton and Richmond Borough’s 7-1 win over Hungerford Town was the first time since 1994 that they had scored seven in a match. The last time was a 7-1 win against Leatherhead.

On This Day

Andy Pugh and Lee Noble starred in Dartford’s famous 2-1 win at Wrexham on this day six years ago. Battling relegation the Darts visited the Racecourse Ground and took the lead when Pugh took advantage as goalkeeper Andy Coughlin failed to hold a free-kick, Pugh netted the rebound from close range. Wrexham equalised through Joe Clarke, but on the stroke of half-time Elliot Bradbrook scored the winner. That was Dartford’s third consecutive victory on 8 February, Charlie Sheringham scored the only goal of the game in 2011 as the Darts beat Weston-super-Mare. The last home fixture on this day was won by Dartford back in 2003, the Darts beat Spalding United 2-1 in the Southern League Division One East.

Chippenham Town v Dartford

Dartford begin February with a trip to relegation threatened Chippenham Town this weekend in the National South.

When the sides met back in October it was Steve King’s first league game at the helm and a late goal rescued a draw for the Darts. Elliott Romain was signed the day before the match and made his debut, and since then he has scored twelve times in his seventeen appearances. The striker has struck up an excellent partnership with Darren McQueen, but it was defender Josh Hill who came off the bench that day to calmly curl the equaliser into the Chippenham Town net with three minutes to go.

A fortnight ago, the Darts suffered a setback against fellow playoff contenders Slough Town in a 1-0 defeat. Last weekend, it was Dartford’s turn to secure a single goal win when McQueen smashed home a first-half winner at home to Dulwich Hamlet.

With competition for places all over the pitch, Steve King recently praised goalkeeper Alhaji Sesay for keeping his place ahead of Mark Smith, the Dartford boss told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We’re on a great run and he’s kept five clean sheets. He is part of that back five which has kept those clean sheets so at the moment he deserves the shirt”.

One player Dartford will be missing is Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong who has been recalled by his parent club Aldershot Town after a successful loan spell, the midfielder scored twice in six appearances. His return to Hampshire may lead to a search for a replacement, King commented: “We haven’t got anything like him. We’ve got other midfield players in the club, but we need to find another Jacob”, he continued: “We haven’t got another Jacob in the building, so we’ll be actively looking for another central midfield player that is like that”.

Dartford have won nine times in fourteen National South outings since they last played Chippenham Town propelling themselves from eighteenth to seventh in the league. What looked like a battle to avoid relegation has now become a promotion push via the playoffs.

Chippenham Town have travelled in the opposite direction since the last meeting in October. The Bluebirds were sitting in twelfth after the 1-1 draw with the Darts and now they are second from bottom. However, they do have a respectable home record of four wins and five draws from thirteen played and the seventh best defensive record in the division, the problem is in front of goal where the Wiltshire club are the lowest scorers.

A solitary win in twelve outings contributed to the departure of former manager Mark Collier in early January. Since then the Bluebirds have drawn away at Dulwich Hamlet and at home to title chasers Havant and Waterlooville making it three consecutive draws for Chippenham Town. Leading the team will be temporary manager, Michael Cook who has been given the task of staving off relegation. The former Gloucester City manager will be in charge until the end of the season.

The Bluebirds rode their luck in their 0-0 draw with Havant and Waterlooville last weekend when the Hawks hit the woodwork four times. However, it was Chippenham Town’s Luke Hopper who missed the best opportunity failing to score a one on one with goalkeeper Ross Worner. In Cook’s first game though, the Bluebirds were denied victory in the last minute, Callum Gunner put Chippenham Town ahead, but his goal was cancelled out by Dulwich Hamlet’s Shamir Mullings.

Last time the Darts visited Hardenhuish Park the winning goal came from an unlikely source. Jamie Philpot netted the opener in the first half and Nat Jarvis equalised on the stroke of half-time. The winner came from goalkeeper, Derren Ibrahim who scored from a free-kick inside his own half.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Chippenham Town wins: 1 / Draws: 2

Current League Form

Dartford (WLWWWW) Chippenham Town (DDDLLL)
Dulwich Hamlet H 1-0 Havant & Waterlooville H 0-0
Slough Town A 0-1 Dulwich Hamlet A 1-1
Oxford City H 3-0 Hemel Hempstead Town H 2-2
Dorking Wanderers A 3-2 Tonbridge Angels A 2-3
Welling United H 4-0 Bath City H 1-3
Tonbridge Angels H 3-0 Dorking Wanderers H 0-2

Last Five Meetings

26.10.2019 Dartford 1 Chippenham Town 1
13.04.2019 Dartford 0 Chippenham Town 1
13.10.2018 Chippenham Town 1 Dartford 2
20.01.2018 Chippenham Town 2 Dartford 2
09.09.2017 Dartford 3 Chippenham Town 0

Stats

Romain and McQueen have scored 19 of the 28 league goals scored under Steve King. Romain has gone three league goals without a goal, his longest barren spell in the league since joining the Darts. McQueen has scored nine goals in his last ten starts.

Dartford have won 10, drawn 5 and lost 2 against sides currently in the lower half of the table. The Darts have drawn all three games against those in the bottom three.

Chippenham Town have picked up 5 points out of a possible 30 against sides currently in the top seven.

On This Day

Dartford have won their last three matches played on 1 February and all three home games were won 1-0. Nine years ago, Elliot Bradbrook scored the only goal at Princes Park to record a rare victory over Braintree Town in the National South. In 1999, the Darts beat Chelmsford City and two years earlier Cinderford Town both in the Southern League Southern Division. Dartford’s last away day on this day was a 2-0 defeat in the Southern Premier League versus Worcester City. The last time both teams scored on 1 February was in 1986 when the Darts beat Altrincham at Watling Street in what is now the National League.