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Oxford City v Dartford

Dartford start the final day of the season in ninth place and could end up with a shot at promotion to the National League, when they travel to Oxford City.

The Darts have it all to do on Saturday, but gave themselves a fighting chance after beating Billericay Town on Easter Monday. Victory against the Essex side moved Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle’s side within a point of the Essex club, who currently occupy the final playoff place in seventh.

At one point it looked as though Dartford were withing a shout of finishing as high as third place, however a run of six games without a win including a 6-0 drubbing at relegation threatened Eastbourne Borough on Easter weekend left hopes hanging by a thread. Dartford’s heaviest loss since 2002 had Adam Flanagan questioning his player’s attitude and work ethic in the press.

The team responded even though they were within a few minutes of their season fizzling out.  Joe Healy and Andre Coker made way for Darren McQueen and Charlie Sheringham, the pair starting together for the first time. Louis Wells maintained his place in goal and with Bailey Vose being recalled to parent club Colchester United, Wells likely to now be first choice. Sheringham wasted a glorious opportunity to put the Darts in front when he had his penalty saved by Billericay Town goalkeeper, Mark Smith. Minutes later the visitors won a spot kick of their own after Daniel Johnson fouled Adam Cunnington, up stepped Jake Robinson who scored. Tom Murphy entered the action replacing McQueen and had a massive impact in closing stages. With two minutes remaining, Billericay Town defender Paul Rooney sliced a clearance and Murphy calmly side footed his shot into the net. The two minutes into added time Murphy used the time and space he had to drive the ball in for a dramatic winner.

Jamie Coyle spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and said: “The boys have provided a real Dartford performance. If you look back over the years, they really dug in to the end and showed that belief and desire that we’ve been after recently. It was a fantastic result against a good side. The reaction from Saturday’s performance was the biggest plus for us. We were very poor at Eastbourne and the players know that. We know it as a management team and everyone around the club knows it. They’ve reacted in a positive way, defended brilliantly collectively and looked a constant threat”.

A win at Oxford City will give Dartford a chance of making the top seven, but they still need results to go their way. If Billericay Town fail to win at home against fifth place Bath City, and St Albans City cannot beat champions Torquay United at home then a Darts victory will be enough. The Darts have recent history of their season going down to the final match and the omens are not favourable. Last term they lost the title on the last day and three years ago they missed out on a playoff spot.

The National South meeting earlier in the season saw one of the best first-half displays from a Dartford side under Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle. After just five minutes Andre Coker scored his first goal for the club and ten minutes later Jordan Wynter doubled the lead to record his first goal too. Oxford City’s Joe Oastler headed in two minutes after Wynter scored. Charlie Sheringham added the third on half an hour nodding home Ben Greenhalgh’s cross. The visitors pushed to get back in the game and made the Darts work hard for the victory in the second half, the Hoops made it 3-2 through Zac McEachran.

Dartford’s last visit to Marsh Lane came in the F.A Cup third qualifying round this season and it was Oxford City who progressed. A hat-trick from Kabongo Tshimanga and a goal from Bobson Bawling gave the Hoops a 4-1 win, Elliot Bradbrook scoring a consolation for the Darts. Tshimanga’s 23 league goals have helped Oxford City to what looks like a mid-table finish, the striker is third in the National South goalscoring charts and poses a threat to the Dartford defence. The 21-year-old recently earned an England C call up alongside goalkeeper Craig King. Manager, Mark Jones watched his side lose both Easter fixtures 1-0 at Bath City and 3-1 at home to Slough Town.

Head to Head

Oxford City wins: 2 / Dartford wins: 6 / Draws: 3

Current League Form

Oxford City (LLWWLW) Dartford (WLLLDDL)
Bath City A 0-1 Billericay Town H 2-1
Slough Town H 1-3 Eastbourne Borough A 0-6
Concord Rangers A 1-0 Chippenham Town H 0-1
Hemel Hempstead Town H 2-1 Weston-super-Mare A 1-3
Chelmsford City A 1-2 Truro City H 1-1
Dulwich Hamlet H 4-1 Hampton & Richmond H 2-2

Previous Six Meetings

13.11.2018 Dartford 3 Oxford City 2
06.10.2018 Oxford City 4 Dartford 1
24.03.2018 Oxford City 0 Dartford 2
19.08.2017 Dartford 7 Oxford City 1
25.02.2017 Oxford City 1 Dartford 1
29.10.2016 Dartford 1 Oxford City 0

Stats 

Charlie Sheringham made his 100th appearance on Saturday for the Darts (84 starts 16 sub appearances)

Only Woking (7) and St Albans City (9) have scored more 90 minute + goals than Dartford (6)

Dartford have conceded the most goals in the division in 15 mins before half-time(16), they have conceded the fewest in the middle third of the second half (5) in the league.

Kabongo Tshimanga has scored 23 league goals this season which equates to 37.1% of Oxford City’s tally, this is the highest proportion by any player in the league.

Dartford are second from bottom over the last six league games, only Truro City have earned fewer points.

Oxford City took a scalp when they beat Torquay United at Marsh Lane in August, however they won five and lost 12 against the top nine in the National South.

On This Day

Dartford have won their last three games on this day with the last victory taking place seventeen years ago. The Darts beat Wisbech Town 2-1 in the Southern League Division One East. Two years before, the Darts won just eighteen miles away from Oxford City when they beat Witney Town 1-0 in the Southern League South Division. In 1996, Dartford hosted Hythe United in the Kent League and recorded another 2-1 triumph.

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