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Dartford v Slough Town

Dartford will be hoping to get back to winning ways this weekend when they host Southern Premier League Playoff winners Slough Town in the National South. 

It’s not often the Princes Park dugouts are going to be slightly crowded, with both sides being guided by joint managers. Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle will be in the ‘black and white corner’ attempting to record a seventh league win in nine games, whilst the visitors will be led by Neil Baker and Jon Underwood. 

The same two managers were in charge of Slough Town when Dartford last played the Rebels in the 2016/2017 season. The Darts drew the Berkshire side in the F.A Cup third qualifying round with the tie played at Arbour Park. On a difficult afternoon, Dartford were made to work for their 3-2 victory with two late goals, against the then leaders of the Southern Premier League. Elliot Bradbrook made amends for his early own goal with an equaliser and his 100th for the Darts. Deren Ibrahim gave a penalty away for James Dobson, scorer of five National South goals this term, to put Slough Town ahead. With seven minutes to go, Bradbrook scored his second of the game and in the final minute Andy Pugh coolly finished a good move to send Dartford through. 

On Tuesday night, Flanagan and Coyle handed a debut to new signing Dan Darbyshire, when Dartford hosted Torquay United. The striker signed a professional contract with Queens Park Rangers in March 2017, but left the London club this summer. Tom Bonner returned from illness and a hamstring injury, Andre Coker was back in the starting eleven, Kudus Oyenuga replaced Charlie Sheringham and Elliot Bradbrook was rested. 

Despite a 2-0 defeat Dartford could find some positives in their performance as they created chances in the first half. However, second half goals from Ruairi Keating and the National South’s top scorer Jamie Reid fired Torquay United to the top of the league. Coyle spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk after the game and said: “The first half was the best we’ve played all season. I don’t think anyone could grumble if we went in three or four up. They cleared two or three off the line, we’ve hit the outside of the post and we had 14 attempts on target in the first half. To do that against a side of their quality, a full-time team, there’s loads of positives to take out of that but unfortunately it summarises our season”. Coyle described the Darts attacking qualities are ‘lacking punch’, he added: “We still need to look at that area because although the boys have given a real good shift and created some brilliant chances, we need to be more ruthless in front of goal”.

Dartford remain in sixth place and are now six points behind the new leaders Torquay United. Prior Tuesday’s fixture the Darts were on good form with six wins in the seven outings leading up to the 2-0 loss.

Last weekend, the Slough Town exited the F.A Cup in the second round for a second year in a row. Hosting Gillingham at Arbour Park they fell to a Darren Oldaker strike, but made a decent account for themselves against a side sitting three divisions higher. It was the eighth time the Rebels reached the second round of the competition in their history. 

It’s been three weeks since Slough Town’s last league game having beat Sutton United on penalties in round one of the F.A Cup, then losing 3-2 against Weston-super-Mare in the F.A Trophy. Focusing on cup competitions means the Berkshire club with up to three games in hand on those above them. 

At the moment, the Rebels are in fourteenth and five points from a playoff place, which is their target this season. Neil Baker spoke on the Non League Football Show podcast last week and commented: “We’re always looking to try and progress so you have to put the target of the playoffs in there. When there is six playoff places up for grabs it gives you an opportunity. You really need to be in and around the mid-table mark after the Christmas period and in touching distance to have that opportunity”, the joint manager added: “We’ve got one or two games in hand on pretty much everyone, we win one of those and we’re right back in touch. We’re delighted on where we are at the moment”.

Last season’s Southern Premier League playoff winners started their campaign getting used to their new surrounding picking up two wins and two draws in August from seven games. However, Slough Town excelled in September winning all four league matches beating Chelmsford City, Oxford City, Eastbourne Borough and Hungerford Town. Although they have lost three of their last five in the National South over the last two months, they are still in a healthy position. 

Dartford faced an in-form striker on Tuesday night and this weekend they may have to again. Slough Town’s, Mathew Stevens has scored 11 goals in all competitions having made 19 appearances so far, the 20-year-old has found his goal scoring form since the hat-trick he netted against Eastbourne Borough in September. In the National South, the former Peterborough United striker who signed for Slough Town this summer has scored six in his last seven games.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 / Slough Town wins: 0 / Draws: 0

Current League Form

Dartford (LWWWLW) Slough Town (LWDLLW)
Torquay United H 0-2 Woking H 0-1
Hampton & Richmond A 1-0 Concord Rangers H 1-0
Oxford City H 3-2 Hemel Hempstead Town A 1-1
Gloucester City A 2-1 St Albans City A 2-3
Truro City A 1-3 Welling United A 1-2
Dulwich Hamlet H 2-1 Hungerford Town H 2-0

Previous Meetings

01.10.2016 Slough Town 2 Dartford 3
29.10.1988 Slough Town 1 Dartford 2
10.01.1981 Dartford 4 Slough Town 1

Stats

The Darts have a 100% record against Slough Town winning all three meetings.

Dartford’s failure to score on Tuesday night ended a run of scoring in nine consecutive league games.

Slough Town have lost their last four away games in the National South.

On This Day

Dartford came close to causing a F.A Cup upset in 1984 when they drew 1-1 with AFC Bournemouth in the second round. Guided by John Still, the Darts took the lead through Steve Robinson. The Cherries equalised to force a replay which they won 4-1, and so Harry Redknapp’s side went on to earn a dream tie with Manchester United. Aside from the last match Dartford played on 8 December, the Darts have a good record on this day. Defeat at home to Lincoln City in 2012 ended an unbeaten run stretching back to 1962 over eight games. In 2001, Dartford were involved in a nine goal thriller beating Burnham 5-4 in the Southern League Division One East.

Dartford v Torquay United

Dartford’s exit from the F.A Trophy last week leaves them concentrating on the National South and next up is Torquay United at Princes Park. 

It was only twelve years ago since the Darts were competing for the Isthmian Division One North title, whilst Torquay United were battling to keep their Football League status. Although the two sides have met since then, back in the 2014/15 campaign, it’s the first time they have come up against each other in the National South.

The Darts last hosted the Seagulls just over four years ago in the National League. Torquay United were the big draw for the division back then and Dartford managed to draw 0-0, however it could have been better had Elliot Bradbrook not grazed the top of the crossbar from the penalty spot. At the end of that season Dartford were relegated and four years on Torquay United followed.

A week ago, Dartford were knocked out of the F.A Trophy by a former player in a dramatic finale to match. The replay took place after Kudus Oyenuga scored a late equaliser at Eastbourne Borough in a 1-1 draw. Once again Dartford found themselves behind in the tie when Dean Cox’s brace put the Sports in control. In the final minute of the ninety Andre Coker gave Dartford hope and in injury time academy player Taylor Fisher scored on only his second appearance. Heading into extra time, ex Dartford defender Tom Gardiner popped up with a header to knock out his former side.

Taylor Fisher who started the first game against Eastbourne Borough to make his debut, was trusted to come off the bench last week. Joint Manager, Adam Flanagan spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and praised the academy set up, he commented: “We’ve got some good young lads, it’s trying to build the environment where they can come into the team and perform well”, he added: “Taylor got an opportunity on Saturday and he took it. We’ve got Liam Gillies who is a potential prospect as well. There will be opportunities during the season for him to get minutes”, he continued: “We haven’t got a massive squad so there will be opportunities for these young players and we’ve got the confidence to throw them in”.

Only second defeat in eight competitive games, however they remain the form team in the National South with six wins from the last seven outings. At home in the league, the Darts are five unbeaten picking up 13 points from the last 15 available at Princes Park.
Captain, Tom Bonner is set to return from injury whilst former skipper Elliot Bradbrook returns after missing the F.A Trophy replay due to work commitments. Andy Pugh is still on the road to recovery from his leg break in pre-season.

Torquay United made a slow start to life in the National South and as early as September sacked Gary Owers after defeat to Chippenham Town. In came the experienced Gary Johnson, who is yet to taste a league defeat with his new club. The Gulls have won five and drawn three since Johnson’s appointment and have moved from 14th to third in the table.

Johnson has had international managerial experience with Latvia, won the F.A Trophy, National League and League Two with Yeovil Town then returned to the club to guide them to the Championship for the first time in the Glovers history. The 63 year old also led Bristol City to the Championship and Cheltenham Town back into the Football League.

Dartford boss, Flanagan recognises the influence Torquay United’s new boss has had since joining the Devonshire club, he said: “Since Gary Johnson’s gone there he has improved them. There’s a connection with his son so he’s had a few loans from Bristol City. The feedback is that they are the best team in the league. If you want to be in the mix then you need to challenge yourselves against these teams”.

The Darts will need to watch out for Jamie Reid, the striker has managed 12 goals this term and is the second highest scorer in the National South. The former Exeter City forward has his current total in Torquay United’s last 11 league games, including a hat-trick against Eastbourne Borough. Saikou Jennah has also been hitting the target of late with his trio of goals versus Concord Rangers and brace against Billericay Town recently. On Saturday, Torquay United visited newly promoted Dulwich Hamlet and goals from Reid and Jennah made sure of the three points.

Victory for the Devonshire club moved them into third place and a point behind league leaders Welling United. The Darts moved down to sixth on the weekend because they were without a fixture, but Flanagan and Coyle’s side are only four points from the top of the National League.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 0 / Torquay United wins: 0 / Draws: 2

Current League Form

Dartford (WWWLWW) Torquay United
Hampton & Richmond A 1-0 Dulwich Hamlet A 2-0
Oxford City H 3-2 Concord Rangers H 4-1
Gloucester City A 2-1 St Albans City H 4-1
Truro City A 1-3 Billericay Town H 2-2
Dulwich Hamlet H 2-1 Weston-super-Mare A 2-2
Chippenham Town A 2-1 Wealdstone A 0-3

Previous Meetings

04.04.2015 Torquay United 1 Dartford 1
23.08.2014 Dartford 0 Torquay United 0

Stats

The Darts top the form guide over the last six games, one point ahead of Torquay United in second place.

The Gulls are unbeaten in their last nine away games making them the form team on the road.

Dartford and Torquay United have scored in each of the last nine league matches.

The Darts have scored two or more in their last five league matches at home. Torquay United have scored two or more in their last five away games in the National South.

On This Day

Dartford last won in the league on 4 December back in 1990 when they hosted Cambridge City in a Southern Premier League fixture, the Darts won 2-0. Since then they have been knocked out of the Kent Senior Cup in 1993 losing 5-1 to Folkestone Invicta, drew 0-0 with Dulwich Hamlet three years later in the F.A Trophy and lost 2-1 to Corby Town in the Southern League South in 1999. Since the turn of the millennium, 14 years ago the Darts drew 2-2 with Boreham Wood in the Southern League Division One East, beat Whitstable Town in the Isthmian League Cup in 2007 and lost their last fixture on this day 1-0 away to Nuneaton Town in the National League. In 1989, Dartford did record a comprehensive 5-0 triumph over Wealdstone in the Southern League Cup second round.