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Welling United v Dartford

Dartford approach their third Kent derby in a row this weekend aiming to maintain their lead at the top of the National South against local rivals Welling United.

Manager, Steve King returns to Park View Road for only the second time as Dartford manager and will be hoping to keep his side’s unbeaten start intact. The Darts have dropped just two points in their six league games and that was in their last National South outing against Tonbridge Angels. The 1-1 draw saw Dartford go behind for the first time this term when Tommy Wood headed the Angels in front, but former Welling United midfielder Jack Jebb equalised for the Darts.

Last weekend Ade Azeez claimed a F.A Cup hat-trick in the second qualifying round against Hythe Town. Azeez took home the match ball in a 5-1 victory which saw Danny Leonard score his first for the club and Michael Kedman play a part in the fourth goal on his debut. Kedman impressed as a triallist in friendlies and has joined the squad along with Deshane Dalling, meanwhile Bagasan Graham has left Princes Park after just one appearance. Azeez secured his hat-trick in the final minute, the 27-year-old has now scored seven goal as many games since arriving at Dartford in the summer and his boss feels there is more to come from the striker.

Despite a near perfect start, King is still looking for perfection from everyone in the squad including in defence, he told Dartford FC TV after the F.A Cup triumph: “We’ve only had two clean sheets and that was a cornerstone to what we did previously. I know it sounds greedy, we’ve conceded the least in the division, but I know we’re better than what we’re showing in certain times and moments in games”.

King will have assessed the fitness of some of his players over the last week, Jernade Meade and George Porter both missed the Hythe Town fixture with injuries. Jake Robinson came off the bench after missing the Tonbridge Angels draw, whilst Jordan Wynter played in the F.A Cup tie despite carrying an injury. 

Last time King returned to Park View Road he guided the Darts to a 3-0 Boxing Day victory with goals from the front duo of Darren McQueen, who netted a brace and Elliott Romain. The return fixture at Princes Park on New Year’s Day in 2020 ended with Dartford completing a league double over the Wings. The Darts racked up another four goals to make it seven without reply in the 2019/2020 campaign, this time Romain scored the brace with McQueen finishing the goal rush, Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong opened the scoring.

Perhaps those score lines reflect the changes in fortunes between the two clubs with King being the catalyst. The Dartford boss left Welling United in the summer of 2019 after guiding the Wings to the National South playoff final. In the campaign that followed both sides were struggling at the wrong end of the table under new management. King moved to Princes Park in October, got the better of his former side and repeated the playoff near miss with Dartford. Over the last two years the Darts continue to challenge for the title, whilst Welling United have been unable to reach the same heights whilst King was in charge.

So much so that the Wings have just seen Steve Lovell resign as manager after a shock F.A Cup exit to Isthmian Premier League side Harrow Borough. Almost going full circle, Lovell’s first game as Welling United manager was against Dartford the last time the sides met. On that occasion the match ended all square at Princes Park despite the Wings starting the day bottom of the table. The Darts had to come from two down to rescue a point, Luke Allen and Berkeley-Agyepong cancelling out Lyle Della-Verde’s goal, a former Dart who left Welling United this season and Dipo Akinyemi’s strike. Lovell’s encouraging start continued until the season was curtailed.

However, this season began dreadfully with Welling United losing their opening three matches conceding twelve goals in the process. Lovell brought in new signings Pepe Dylan and Teddy Perkins to strengthen the defence and since then the Wings are unbeaten in their last two league games. A 2-1 victory at Concord Rangers was followed by a 2-2 draw with Slough Town and after five games played the Wings are third from bottom.

With no changes to the starting eleven in the last two league games it looked as though Lovell became settled with his best team. Yet he chose to rotate his line-up for the London Senior Cup penalty shoot-out success over Hanwell Town, then again in the F.A Cup. Being taken to penalties by an Isthmian South Central side then losing 2-0 to an Isthmian Premier League team sealed Lovell’s fate. His predecessor, Brad Quinton also lost his job following a shock F.A Cup exit last term when the Wings lost to a Danny Leonard inspired Sheppey United side, Daniel Wilks was Welling United’s goalkeeper. Wilks is not the only former Welling United in Dartford’s squad. Josh Hill, Jebb, Luke Wanadio and George Porter have all spent some time at Park View Road during their career.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 22 / Welling United wins: 10 / Draws: 10

Current League Form

Dartford
(DWWWWW)
    Welling United
(DWLLL)
   
Tonbridge Angels H 1-1 Slough Town H 2-2
Bath City A 3-1 Concord Rangers H 2-1
Eastbourne Borough H 3-1 St Albans City A 0-5
Dulwich Hamlet A 2-0 Hungerford Town H 1-4
Slough Town H 3-0 Havant & Waterlooville A 0-3
St Albans City A 3-1      

Previous Meetings

Dartford 2 – 2 Welling United (06/02/2021 – National South)
Dartford 4 – 0 Welling United (01/01/2020 – National South)
Welling United 0 – 3 Dartford (26/12/2019 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Welling United (01/01/2019 – National South)
Welling United 2 – 0 Dartford (26/12/2018 – National South)
Dartford 4 – 1 Welling United (01/01/2018 – National South)

Stats

  • A Dartford win will make it their best league start since the 2009/2010 Isthmian Premier League title winning campaign. It will also be the first time since 2009 that the Darts have won their opening four away games in the league.
  • The Darts have lost just once in their last fourteen matches against Welling United, winning eight and drawing five
  • Dartford have kept three clean sheets in the last four fixtures against Welling United

On This Day

This week the Darts were drawn against rivals Maidstone United in the next round of the F.A Cup, fifteen years ago the two sides met on 25 September in the Isthmian Division One South. Richard Avery and Eddie McClements scored the goals to earn the Darts a 2-1 Kent derby victory. Two years prior the Darts started their four game winning streak on this day by beating Arlesey Town 3-2 in the Southern League Division One East. Fast forward to 2010 and Dartford edged past Lowestoft Town in the F.A Cup second qualifying round 2-1, Carl Rook and Danny Harris found the back of the net. The most recent game was in the National League when the Darts beat Braintree Town 2-0 in 2012, this time Tom Bonner and Jacob Erskine grabbed the goals.

Dartford v Hythe Town

Dartford enter the 150th edition of the F.A Cup this weekend with a home tie against Isthmian South East side Hythe Town in the second qualifying round.

Steve King will be looking to get off the mark in this competition as a Dartford boss having lost to Kingstonian in his first game in charge and Slough Town last season. Hythe Town have history with the Darts having caused a Kent Senior Cup upset in the final of 2012 beating Dartford on their own patch. Since then the Cannons have continued to play at step four, so like almost nine years ago the two sides are two divisions apart.

The level of football each team is currently playing makes no difference to King, he spoke to Dartford FC TV: “It’s going to be a tough game, it doesn’t matter the level, it’s a F.A Cup game and so the levels go out of the window”, he continued: “I’ve been in teams that have knocked Premiership sides out of the competition”. King knows Hythe Town will approach the second qualifying round tie as underdogs and the danger that poses to the Darts, he added: “Hythe Town are under no pressure, they have a decent manager who has put a good side together. It’s going to be a tough game and we need to be on it”.

Dartford were the last team to lose their perfect start to the campaign in the top six divisions, but they still came away with a point in their last outing, a 1-1 draw with Tonbridge Angels. King made two changes to the side that beat Bath City a week earlier including the introduction of Bagasan Graham, his first start for the club. Graham replaced Luke Wanadio, whilst up front Dan Roberts was in for Jake Robinson.

The Angels deservedly went ahead when Tommy Wood’s header beat Dan Wilks at the far post, only the fourth goal the Dartford goalkeeper has conceded this term. Then on the stroke of half-time birthday boy Jack Jebb took advantage of goalkeeper’s Jon Henly’s headed clearance. Jebb hit a well controlled half volley back over the Angels goalkeeper to level in style. The midfielder also hit the post before his first of the season and picked up the Man of the Match award.

Despite remaining unbeaten King was still left frustrated by aspects of Dartford’s performance partly down to how Tonbridge Angels executed their game plan, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “It’s the worst we’ve played this season but sometimes people look into it and think that but the opposition are there to stop you playing – and they did”.

Catch all the latest highlights and interviews on Twitter @dartfordfc or on Dartford FC TV

Whilst Dartford have played a game a week, Hythe Town’s fixture list has been more like the schedule non-league teams are used to at the early stages of the season. The Cannons have played seven games, two of which have been in the earlier rounds of the F.A Cup.

Starting from the preliminary round Hythe Town were involved in a dramatic game against Westfield with four goals in second half injury time. The Cannons went two up through Frannie Collin and Kane Phillip and looked in control, but Phillip was then sent off. Then the drama started as Westfield scored three in stoppage time to lead 3-2, but a minute after conceding Eli Benoit rescued the tie for the Cannons to force a replay. Hythe went to Westfields for a second attempt three days later and scored another three, this time they won 3-1 with goals from Tom Walmsley, Noel Leighton and Collin. In the last round Nathan Gordon’s goal was enough to see of Ascot United 1-0.

Hythe Town opened their campaign with a goal from former Dart, Alex Brown, however they lost 2-1 to Corinthian. The midfielder made 89 appearances for the Darts scoring ten times and is one of a few former Dartford players in the Cannons squad. James Rogers was part of the Darts midfield that won promotion to the National League in the 2012 playoffs, he made 102 appearances for the club. Tom Wynter delayed his retirement to return to Hythe Town, the defender made 81 appearances for Dartford. Alex Flisher was only at Princes Park for three months in which he made nine appearances and scored one goal.

Since the opening day, in the league the Cannons beat VCD Athletic, lost to Ramsgate, defeated East Grinstead Town and on Tuesday won 2-1 against Sittingbourne. Liam Smith and Collin put Hythe Town two up before the Brickies pulled a goal back. The Cannons are beginning to hit their stride with four victories in their last five games in all competitions and are now eighth in the Isthmian South East.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Hythe Town wins: 1 / Draws: 1

Current Form

Dartford
(DWWWWW)
Hythe Town
(WWWLWW)
Tonbridge AngelsH1-1SittingbourneH2-1
Bath CityA3-1East Grinstead TownA1-0
Eastbourne BoroughH3-1Ascot United (FAC)H1-0
Dulwich HamletA2-0RamsgateH0-3
Slough TownH3-0VCD AthleticA2-1
St Albans CityA3-1WestfieldA3-1

Previous Meetings

Dartford 0 – 1 Hythe Town (24/04/2012 – Kent Senior Cup Final)
Dartford 2 – 1 Hythe United (27/04/1996 – Kent League Division One)
Hythe United 0 – 0 Dartford (04/11/1995 – Kent League Division One)

Stats

  • Dartford have progressed past the second qualifying round in five of the last six seasons
  • Hythe Town last went beyond the second qualifying round 11 years ago and are competing in the F.A Cup for the 25th time
  • Dartford have lost their last two F.A Cup ties, the last time they lost three in a row was between 1950 and 1952 (Reading in 1950, Guildford City in 1951 and Hendon in 1952)
  • The Darts have also lost their last three home F.A Cup ties (Swindon Town in 2017, Kingstonian in 2019 and Slough Town in 2020)

On This Day

Brendon Cass netted a hat-trick in a F.A Cup first qualifying round replay to send Dartford through on this day in 2007. The Darts defeated Sittingbourne 5-1 with Adam Flanagan and Eddie McClements scoring the other two goals. This will be the tenth F.A Cup tie Dartford have played on 18 September and so far the Darts have won six. The very first F.A Cup fixture on this day was in 1897 when Dartford beat Mid Kent 5-2. Away ties at Bromley in 1926 and Callenders Athletic in 1948 both ended up in 2-1 victories. The biggest win came in 1982 as the Darts brushed Haywards Heath aside 6-1 and in 2001 Deal Town were beaten 3-0. Fixtures against Northfleet United in 1909 and Waltham and Hersham in 1971 ended in draws, whilst the only defeat came against Dorking in 2004 when the Darts lost 1-0.

Dartford v Tonbridge Angels

Dartford’s first Kent derby of the season could see them set a Post-war record of consecutive wins from the start of a league campaign.

The Darts host Tonbridge Angels having taken maximum points this term to lead the National South table by two points. Dartford last won their opening five league games in 1989/90 and have not won the first six for 125 years.

In 1896 the Darts recorded seven straight wins from the opening day of the Southern League Second Division championship winning season. Although they did manage six in a row in the London Professional Midweek League in 1933 and the Dartford and District Premier League in 1906, but these were additional competitions alongside the main league Dartford entered.

Last weekend, Steve King’s side recorded their third 3-1 victory of the campaign when they beat Bath City in their last outing. Dartford have now scored three in four of their five games so far with the goals shared evenly between the recognised strikers signed over the summer.

Ade Azeez returned to the starting line-up and opened the scoring against Bath City, the third time he has scored the opener since joining the Darts. The striker headed in his fourth of the season, which came after the hosts had an effort cleared off the line by Tom Bonner. Josh Hill and Kieran Murtagh came back into the side, but Jake Robinson retained his place and doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time heading from close range, adding to his brace against Eastbourne Borough.

Just like the victory over the Sports, the opposition improved in the second half and halved the deficit Alex Fletcher scoring for Bath City. Once again, the Darts saw off their opponents, this time with the help of goalkeeper Dan Wilks and a third goal scored by George Porter, who came off the bench to calmly score his second Dartford goal since arriving in the summer. 

Steve King spoke to Dartford FC TV after the game and commented: “That was the old cliché of a game of two halves. We controlled the game first half; we could have gone in at half-time two or three to the good. We were dominant without excelling, a bit like last week”, he continued: “Second half Bath came out and gave it a right good go, they should have easily scored one, two, maybe three goals. That was the toughest second-half against us we’ve had”. King also praised his squad and was pleased with timing of the substitutes who came on to make an impact. For a fifth match in a row a substitute came on to score a goal. 

Dartford have won the last six home games against Tonbridge Angels, the last a 1-0 victory in January when Nassim L’Ghoul’s late strike was enough to separate the sides. The previous two matches against the Angels at Princes Park have ended 3-0 meaning the Darts have kept three consecutive home clean sheets in this fixture. Dartford’s have form against their fellow Kent side with ten wins in the last eleven, the only dropped points came in Adam Flanagan’s and Jamie Coyle’s last match in charge when the Darts lost 3-2 at Longmead in September 2019.

Tonbridge Angels made a slow start to their campaign losing a Kent derby in their season’s opener. Steve McKimm’s made the short journey to Stonebridge Road and were humbled 5-1 by Ebbsfleet United. A successive loss followed at home to Bath City, but the Angels got off the mark versus Hungerford Town in a 3-1 victory, Joe Turner netted his 50th goal for the club in his 160th appearance. Unfortunately, their fourth fixture was abandoned late on when St Albans City’s Devante Stanley suffered a double leg break. On the weekend Ibrahim Olutade came off the bench to snatch a point for the Angels in the eighth minute of injury time to earn a 1-1 draw with Hampton and Richmond Borough.

Two former Darts started in their last outing, Ricky Modeste’s performance earned him a place in the National South’s team of the week. The winger made only three appearances in his only season with Dartford last term. Full back Craig Braham-Barrett is also on Tonbridge Angels’ book and he made 13 appearances last season taking his total for the Darts to 29 over two campaigns.

Assistant manager, Barry Moore told Angels TV after the 1-1 draw: “It felt like a win because we should have won, it’s not often that we say that. Hungerford set the ball rolling for a few of the lads, we played a bit more like the Tonbridge sides that we’ve had in the past in terms of getting teams on the back foot, pressing, working hard for each other and not giving up and against Hampton we proved that”.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 69 / Tonbridge Angels wins: 38 / Draws: 24

Current Form

Dartford
(WWWWW)
Tonbridge Angels
(DWLL)
Bath CityA3-1Hampton & RichmondH1-1
Eastbourne BoroughH3-1Hungerford TownA3-1
Dulwich HamletA2-0Bath CityH0-1
Slough TownH3-0Ebbsfleet UnitedA1-5
St Albans CityA3-1

Previous Meetings (last six)

Dartford 1 – 0 Tonbridge Angels (05/01/2021 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Tonbridge Angels (28/12/2019 – National South)
Tonbridge Angels 3 – 2 Dartford (03/09/2019 – National South)
Tonbridge Angels 0 – 3 Dartford (15/10/2016 – F.A Cup)
Dartford 3 – 0 Tonbridge Angels (15/12/2012 – F.A Trophy)
Tonbridge Angels 0 – 1 Dartford (03/03/2012 – National South)

Stats

  • Dartford have kept five clean sheets in their last six matches against Tonbridge Angels
  • In seven of the last ten meetings the winning side has scored three or more goals in the game
  • Substitutes have accounted for six of the 14 Dartford goals this season with a sub scoring in each game so far

On This Day

Dartford are looking for their first win on this day for 36 years after taking just one point in their last six outings on 11 September. Way back in 1985, the Darts beat Wycombe Wanderers in the Alliance Premier League, now the National League. It was only one of eight league victories that season as Dartford were relegated back to the Southern Premier League ending a two year stay at the top of non-league. In their last game on this day, Dartford drew 1-1 with Thurrock in 2010 with Elliot Bradbrook rescuing a point in the National South. In 2004, the Darts lost a seven-goal thriller 4-3 to Berkhamsted Town in the Southern League Division One Eastern. Eastbourne Borough (1-2 in 2001), Witney Town (0-1 in 1999), Thamesmead Town (0-4 in 1993) and Rushden Town (2-4 in 1990) were the others who inflicted defeat on Dartford since the Wycombe Wanderers triumph.

Bath City v Dartford

Dartford are the only side with a perfect record in the National South this season ahead of their trip to Bath City this weekend.

The Darts made it four straight victories by claiming all six points available over the Bank Holiday weekend and will approach Saturday’s game with confidence. Steve King has so far managed to keep a settled side making just six changes to the starting eleven so far this term. But the depth and quality of the squad has been called upon when needed, substitutes have chipped in with goals in each of the victories.

Four of those changes came in the Bank Holiday Monday win against Eastbourne Borough. Kieran Murtagh missed out through injury but should be okay to travel to Bath City and Danny Leonard was out through illness. George Porter started in the victory, but was substituted after picking up an injury.

The Darts followed up the 2-0 away triumph over Dulwich Hamlet with a wonderful first half home display against Eastbourne Borough. In only his second start for the club Jake Robinson opened his account with a brace, the first after seven minutes was a predatory finish. The striker netted a second from the penalty spot after some sublime build up play led to a handball. Robinson spoke to Dartford FC TV after the game and said: “I’m delighted to get off the mark and get going. All the strikers are firing and that’s a good sign”. The Sports hit back immediately after the break when Greg Luer made the most of a lack of concentration to cut Dartford’s lead in half. Ade Azeez was brought on and his well-placed header secured his third goal of the campaign and another three points for the Darts.

After an excellent first half, King was left frustrated by his team’s second half performance, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “The first half performance we played like Brazil, the second half we played like rag-arse rovers. It was chalk and cheese”. In his interview with Dartford FC TV the Darts boss gave a balanced appraisal.

Results wise it has been a brilliant start to the season for the Darts, but they will need to prepare well for their next opponents. Bath City’s heavy reverse on the weekend means that the Romans will want to desperately bounce back. Jerry Gill is one of a few managers to have got the better of King since he was appointed as Dartford boss. The Bath City boss led the Romans to a 3-0 win at Twerton Park in November 2019 inflicting King’s first league defeat as Dartford manager. Last season, the sides only played each other once with the Darts winning at Princes Park thanks to a Noor Husin goal.

Bath City began their campaign with consecutive wins, beating Billericay Town and Tonbridge Angels without conceding a goal. New signing from Weymouth, Cody Cooke scored in each of the opening three games which ended with a defeat in their last home fixture against Chelmsford City. The Bank Holiday period ended with the heavy 5-1 loss at Oxford City, the cause not helped by the sending off of Eddie Jones.

Recently, the Romans have missed the trickery of forward Mo Touray who hobbled off early in the Chelmsford City defeat. On loan from Salford City, Touray had to sit out last weekend’s fixture at Oxford City. Other than that forced change, Gill has only made four changes in total to the starting eleven, since the opening the day, but will be without Jones when his suspension begins.

Gill spoke to www.bathcityfc.com after the Oxford City match, he stated: “We were very good for 35 minutes, we were the dominant side and we scored a fantastic goal”. The Bath City boss was unhappy with key decisions for Oxford City’s opening goals, he commented: “What I can’t defend is two horrendous decisions that lead to the first two goals”, but for Gill it was no excuse, he continued: “I’m not blaming the referee for the result because what happened after that is we folded”. The Romans boss welcomes the visit of Dartford on the Saturday and is determined for his side to put “their own personality on the game”.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 34 / Bath City wins: 40 / Draws: 19

Current Form

Dartford
(WWWW)
Bath City
(WWLL)
Eastbourne BoroughH3-1Oxford CityA1-5
Dulwich HamletA2-0Chelmsford CityH1-2
Slough TownH3-0Tonbridge AngelsA1-0
St Albans CityA3-1Billericay TownH3-0

Previous Meetings (last six)

Dartford 1 – 0 Bath City (17/10/2020 – National South)
Bath City 3 – 0 Dartford (30/11/2019 – National South)
Dartford 3 – 0 Bath City (09/02/2019 – National South)
Bath City 1 – 2 Dartford (04/08/2018 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 0 Bath City (21/04/2018 – National South)
Bath City 2 – 1 Dartford (24/10/2017 – National South)

Stats

  • Dartford have won eight of the last nine meetings against the Romans
  • Bath City’s win on 30 November 2019 ended a run of seven straight defeats against the Darts
  • Dartford have never won their opening five league games since reforming. The last time they achieved that feat was in the 1989/90 Southern League Premier season under Peter Taylor.

On This Day

Richard Rose’s injury time winner at Princes Park earned Dartford a 2-1 win over Newport County nine years ago. The Exiles were the pacesetters in the National League and went on to win promotion via the playoffs under the late Justin Edinburgh. Harry Crawford had given Dartford an early lead, but Newport County’s Aaron O’Conner levelled before Rose’s late goal.

Two years earlier the Darts were in the National South and Charlie Sheringham’s brace helped Dartford beat Weston-super-Mare 4-1. The striker opened and closed Dartford’s scoring with James White and an own goal sandwiched between.

The Darts have won their last three on this day all at home with this current run starting in 1999 when they beat Burnham 2-0 in the Southern League Cup. Out of the six away trips on 4 September, the Darts have won once in 1978 beating Tonbridge 3-2 in the Eastern Floodlit Cup. Dartford have never won an away match in the league on this day, the last being a 2-1 loss at Herne Bay in the Kent League.