Looking for a first win of the season, The Darts play their opening away game of the campaign against Whitehawk on Wednesday night.
Dartford faced the Hawks three times last season and both teams got the upper hand away from home, with the Darts winning at the Enclosed Ground back in December. Andy Pugh’s first half strike turned out to be the winner, however the striker did miss this season’s opener through injury.
The Darts opened their National South campaign on Saturday with an agonising 2-2 draw against Wealdstone. With Pugh ruled out with a calf injury, Tony Burman choose winger Danny Harris to lead the line on his own. Alex Brown and Luke Wanadio made their first starts for the club whilst Duane Ofori-Acheampong made an appearance from off the bench.
Elliot Bradbrook’s afternoon was mixed when the captain put the Darts in front after good wing play from Ryan Hayes and Luke Wanadio. Bradbrook was later stretchered off resulting in seven minutes added on at the end of the match. Wealdstone equalised early in the second half when a counter attack was finished off by Elliot Benyon at the far post. After Dartford’s skipper was taken off, his replacement Lee Noble won a penalty which Ryan Hayes scored. Deep into injury time the Stones grabbed a point when Eddie Oshodi headed a corner into the top corner.
Away form for the Darts last season was mixed with a lack of goals at either end. Whilst the defence was tight the side lacked goals in attack. Burman will hope new striker Ofori-Acheampong’s fitness reaches the expected levels required to start, especially with Pugh feeling the strain in training prior the start of the season.
Whitehawk’s new boss Pablo Asensio has used his South American influence and contacts to build virtually a new squad. The Hawks line up this season with an international look including six Brazilians, four English, three Spanish, two French, two Argentinean, an Albanian and a Saudi Arabian player.
Danny Mills remains the main man in front of goal, top scoring for the Hawks last term with 23 goals. Sergio Torres was the only other player retained whilst Marvin Hamilton, who made one substitute appearance for the Darts re-signed for the Hawks as did Ahmed Abdulla. Former Ebbsfleet United midfielder Michael West turned his loan into a permanent deal. The only other player to be familiar with football on these shores is Duncan Culley, the striker was part of Hampton and Richmond Borough’s title winning squad last season in the Isthmian Premier.
The Sussex club opened their National South campaign with a defeat at Weston-Super-Mare. The Hawk’s universal squad suffered a 3-1 reverse after taking the lead. Jason Pope put past his own goalkeeper in the sixteenth minute but the Seagulls recovered with a Jake Mawford goal on half-time. Hamilton became the second player to score an own goal before Shawn McClousky sealed the three points for Weston-Super-Mare.
Rising through the non league pyramid over a six year period, Whitehawk are amongst the favourites to push for promotion after finishing their last two campaigns in the playoffs. The Hawks have reached the final losing to Boreham Wood in extra time and last term lost to Ebbsfleet United on penalties in the semi-final.
Head to Head
Whitehawk wins: 2 / Dartford wins: 2 / Draws: 0
Dartford have won one of their last six first away games of the season (Won 1 Drew 1 Lost 4)
The Darts had the fifth best away defence last term but fifth worst attack
Whitehawk were the second highest scorers last season behind champions Sutton United
The Hawks have won one of their last five first home games (Won 1 Drew 1 Lost 3)
On This Day
Dartford opened their National League campaign three years ago with a 1-0 victory over Alfreton Town. Adam Birchall joined the Darts with so much promise netting on his debut from a tight angle. Before the win in 2013, Dartford last played on 10 August back in 1968 recording a 5-1 triumph over Corby Town in the Southern League First Division.