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Dartford v Bath City

Unbeaten in the National South, Dartford will be determined to keep their current run going this weekend when they host promotion hopefuls Bath City.

The Darts opened their league campaign with a 1-0 victory over Chelmsford City followed by a goalless draw at Hampton and Richmond Borough. Bath City tasted an opening day defeat at Oxford City but recorded their first league win last weekend against Billericay Town. Both teams reached the playoffs last term with the Darts falling short in the final and the Romans getting knocked out in the eliminator round.

Defensively, Dartford have been perfect in the league with two clean sheets and if it wasn’t for a controversial penalty in the F.A Cup then their defence wouldn’t have been breached at all this season. However, it hasn’t quite clicked in attack yet with Ky Marsh-Brown the only goalscorer for Steve King’s side, his header on the opening day was enough to earn all three points against Chelmsford City. That has been Dartford’s only goal in their last four competitive games stretching back to the Playoff Final defeat. At the other end only Slough Town and Havant and Waterlooville have netted against the Darts in the last seven competitive matches.

Defensive duo: Tom Bonner and Ronnie Vint kept the Beavers at bay

Dartford’s first away game of the campaign last weekend ended 0-0 at Hampton and Richmond Borough in a game that saw the defences on top. Tom Bonner and Ronnie Vint remaining solid in the centre as they continue to strike up a reliable partnership at the back. Making his debut, Jack Barham replaced Ricky Modeste in the only change to the starting eleven. After the game the striker spoke to DFCTV and said: “We didn’t play to our maximum but coming away with a point is never bad. If we know that really is the minimum of what we can offer, then we have a good chance this year”. Having joined in the summer and after nursing an injury, Barham is confident good times are on their way, he explained: “It’s going to take me a couple of weeks to get my fitness back. I felt like jelly in the second half especially after about 60 minutes, but I can see myself scoring lots of goals. I’m excited now to show everyone what I can do”.

This fixture was supposed to be the next home game in the 2019/2020 league schedule. However, the campaign was halted and so the last time the Darts hosted Bath City was in February 2019. Dartford ended the Romans’ unbeaten run of nine games that day with some stunning goals. Lee Noble curled his shot from outside the box into the top corner, Charlie Sheringham nodded home Ryan Hayes’ pinpoint cross and Phil Roberts cut inside to unleash another curling strike, from outside the box, into the bottom corner.

For more match highlights visit Dartford FC TV

Last season the score was reversed putting an end to Dartford’s seven consecutive victories against Bath City.  Three first half goals, one from Tom Smith and a brace from Andy Watkins handed the Romans three points at Twerton Park inside the first 35 minutes. To sum up Dartford’s day, Elliott Romain missed a penalty in one of very few defeats manager Steve King has suffered since his appointment in October last year.

This season, in the National South, Bath City were beaten 2-0 on the first day of the season against Oxford City. Defeat came just days after leaving it late in the F.A Cup to overcome Winchester City. The Romans were given a scare by the Southern Division One South side needing to come from behind. Tommy Conway scored a brace, his first coming just two minutes into his debut before Winchester City took a 2-1 half-time lead. The on-loan striker from Bristol City equalised and a late deflected Tom Richards strike earned Bath City a third qualifying round tie against Dartford’s conquerors Slough Town. After the reverse at Oxford City, Conway was scoring again, grabbing another Twerton Park brace in their 2-0 victory over Billericay Town, both goals assisted by Freddie Hinds on his second debut for the Romans, also joining on loan from Bristol City.

Linking Up: Bristol City pair Tommy Conway and Freddie Hinds in action for Bath City

Hinds turned from provider into a goalscorer on Tuesday night scoring the winning goal to knock Slough Town out of the F.A Cup. An evenly contested tie saw the Romans defence stand strong with several decent saves from goalkeeper Ryan Clarke. Hinds early second half goal was enough to see Bath City into the fourth qualifying round.

Bath City’s ties with Bristol continued this week with the signing of Lucas Tomlinson on loan from Bristol Rovers. Manager, Jerry Gill already has City players Conway and James Taylor in his squad. Over the summer keeping top scorer Tom Smith was imperative, he has featured in every game so far. Out of the new signings Freddie Grant, Ryan Harley and Callum Evans have earned first team places.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 32 / Bath City wins: 39 / Draws: 19

Previous Six Meetings

30.11.2019Bath City3Dartford0
09.02.2019Dartford3Bath City0
04.08.2018Bath City 1Dartford2
21.04.2018Dartford2Bath City0
24.10.2017Bath City1Dartford2
04.03.2017Dartford2Bath City0

Stats

Dartford have won their last four homes games against Bath City going back to 2016

The Darts last lost to Bath City at home in April 1990, which was the only defeat in the last six home games against the Romans (W5 L1)

Dartford have kept three consecutive clean sheets against Bath City at Princes Park. The Romans last scoring in 2016 when the Darts won 4-1.

On This Day

Allan Tait scored the winning goal eleven years ago against Isthmian Division One North side Sittingbourne. The 1-0 victory in the F.A Trophy first qualifying round was a stern test for the Darts who went on to claim the Isthmian Premier League crown that season. Almost eleven years on, the two sides met in a friendly (on Monday night) with Dartford winning 5-2. Five years ago, at Princes Park, Ryan Hayes netted a superb last-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Hemel Hempstead Town. The Darts were two down at half-time until Danny Harris then Hayes helped the home side earn a point. It is also the 50th anniversary of Dartford’s 7-0 F.A Cup win against Harrow Borough, but the biggest win on this day was 18-0 in 1891 against Old Wilkinson. 

Hampton & Richmond Borough v Dartford

Dartford aim to make it two consecutive league victories in their first away game of the season this weekend, when they travel to Hampton and Richmond Borough.

The Darts opened their National South campaign on Tuesday night with a hard earned 1-0 home win against Chelmsford City. Ricky Modeste made his debut whilst Jordan Wynter and Kyjuon Marsh-Brown were chosen to start. Making way for the trio were Abdul Osman, Gavin McCallum and Charlie Sheringham.

King was rewarded with the selection of Marsh-Brown after he headed the winning goal on 23 minutes. It’s been a mixed few days for the winger, who was harshly adjudged to have conceded the last minute penalty in the 1-0 F.A Cup reverse against Slough Town on the weekend.

Manager, Steve King described his side’s display as ‘gritty and determined’ praising the defence in particular, he told DFCTV: “The back five was solid and didn’t let anything through all night”. At the other end of the pitch the Darts boss can see room for improvement, he added: “Going forward I didn’t think we were as potent, as free flowing as we have been…but we worked extremely hard”.

Ky Marsh-Brown scored his first Dartford goal at the Beveree

In fact Marsh-Brown will have fond memories of last season’s visit to the Beveree where he scored his first goal for Dartford in a 2-1 win. Elliott Romain scored the winning goal after Tyrone Lewthwaite had earlier equalised. The reverse fixture at Princes Park saw Hampton and Richmond Borough win 2-1 back in February. Luke Wanadio gave Dartford an early lead against his former club, but Danilo Orsi-Dadomo and Ryan Hill turned the game around for the visitors.

Dartford will have to try and find their way past former goalkeeper Alan Julian if they want to add to their points tally this season. Signed from Billericay Town in the summer, Julian made 45 appearances for the Darts on his way to picking up the 2013/2014 Supporters Player of the Year. He left that May 2014 to play for Sutton United before moving on to Bromley then Billericay Town.

Meanwhile, Dartford’s Abdul Osman could return to where it all started for him some 16 years ago. The midfielder played nine times for Hampton and Richmond Borough before being scouted by Watford, where he was part of the Hornets youth team. The 33 year old made his Dartford debut in the cup defeat last weekend and came on as a substitute on Tuesday night.

Alan Julian (left) playing for the Darts and new signing Abdul Osman (right)

Hampton and Richmond Borough have repeated Dartford’s scorelines so far but in reverse. The Beavers progressed in the F.A Cup beating F.A Vase semi-finalists Corinthian with a Ruaridh Donaldson goal. Then the Gary McCann’s side lost 1-0 to St Albans City on Tuesday night. Tyrell Miller-Rodney was one of two changes to the line up, the right back was sent off with two minutes remaining.

After the departure of last season’s top scorer Dadamo-Orsi, the Beavers are hoping summer signing Nico Muir can repeat the form he was in for Hendon when McCann was his manager, the striker scored 40 goals during that spell and was on loan at the Beveree last season from Hartlepool United. As well as Muir and Julian making their debuts already this campaign, Rene Steer and Christian Smith are also new faces in the squad to have made an appearance this term.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 7 / Hampton and Richmond Borough wins: 5 / Draws: 2

Previous Six Meetings

08.02.2020Dartford1Hampton & Richmond2
05.11.2019Hampton & Richmond1Dartford2
23.03.2019Dartford2Hampton & Richmond2
17.11.2018Hampton & Richmond0 Dartford1
30.03.2018Dartford1 Hampton & Richmond0
02.09.2017 Hampton & Richmond2Dartford2

Stats

Dartford have lost just once in the last seven meetings against Hampton and Richmond Borough (W4, D2) and twice over the last ten (W6, D2).

The Darts are unbeaten in their last three visits to the Beveree (W2, D1).

Dartford have won just one of their last eight opening away fixtures in league competition, in 2018 when the beat Bath City 2-1 (D2, L5).

On This Day

Dartford’s last game on 10 October was way back in 2009 when they were knocked out of the F.A Cup by Chelmsford City. The third qualifying round ended up in a 4-1 defeat with former Dartford manager and captain Adam Flanagan scoring for the Darts. On a brighter note, the Darts went on to win the Isthmian Premier League to join the Clarets in the National South the following season. The last away trip on this day was in 2006 with Dartford beating Tonbridge Angels 3-1 in the Isthmian League Cup second round. In 1891, the Darts racked up a 10-2 friendly victory over Stone.

Dartford v Chelmsford City

Dartford start their National South campaign off the way they finished the regular season last term with a home fixture against Chelmsford City.

Seven months ago the Darts eased to victory in uncertain circumstances when they hosted the Clarets. Games were beginning to be cancelled across the country due to the outbreak of coronavirus, yet the National South pressed on with its schedule for one more week, and it was to be the last.

The Darts ran out 3-0 winners with Jack Jebb setting up Josh Hill to head home the opening goal. Just before half-time Billy Crook’s shot hit the post, only for Elliott Romain to double the lead with the rebound. A third was added in the second half when Noor Husin excellently finished a one two with Jebb. It turned out to be Crook’s last appearance in a Dartford shirt, the midfielder moved to Chelmsford City in the summer and could make his league debut against his former club.

For more Dartford FC video’s check out DFCTV

Dartford kicked off their 2020/21 season with a F.A Cup second qualifying round tie at home to Slough Town. Steve King selected four of his summer signings in the starting eleven. Craig King, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Abdul Osman and Gavin McCallum all made their debuts. Kairo Mitchell also made his first appearance replacing Charlie Sheringham in the second half.

The Darts exited the competition at the first hurdle for the first time in five years, leaving Steve King waiting for his maiden F.A Cup victory for the club. With the tie heading for penalties it was a spot kick that decided the outcome when Kyjoun Marsh-Brown was adjudged to have committed a foul in the box. Slough Town’s Jack McKnight scored the penalty on his debut to hand the Rebels a passage into the next round.

Steve King put the loss down to his side not taking their chances and two contentious penalty decisions. The Darts thought they should have been awarded a penalty when McKnight blocked Craig Braham-Barrett’s shot with his arm, but nothing was given. In the last minute Dartford conceded a penalty which looked harsh. Kyjoun Marsh-Brown challenged Ada Okorogheye, only for the striker to go over on his ankle, however the referee thought there was contact and pointed to the spot.

Despite those decisions King pointed out his team had enough opportunities to win. Charlie Sheringham was left to rue a close range miss in the first half and Jack Turner in the Slough Town goal was in inspired form. The Rebels goalkeeper thwarted Romain, Tom Bonner and Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong. Dartford’s new shot stopper, Craig King made one notable save from Ollie Muldoon’s effort.

Chelmsford City visited National North side Kettering Town in their F.A Cup tie with former Dartford midfielder, Chez Isaac in the starting line up and Crook on the bench. Isaac made 12 appearances for the Darts, whilst Crook played 21 times scoring once. Another former Dart and summer signing, Phil Roberts was unavailable and will have wait to link up with Crook again, the pair were part of the Braintree Town team that won promotion to the National League in 2018. Roberts had an impressive spell at Princes Park scoring eight goals in 16 games, he returns to the Clarets for a third spell.

Returning trio: Billy Crook, Phil Roberts and Chez Isaac whilst with the Darts

Chelmsford City manager, Robbie Simpson handed debuts to former Tonbridge Angels, Maidstone United and Dover Athletic goalkeeper Lee Worgan, Cadell Fraser-Robinson, ex Heybridge Swifts goalscorer Alex Teniola, Adam Liddle, who was signed from Derry City, Adebola Oluwo and Callum Harrison, he was substituted for Cameron James who rejoined the club in the summer break.

Simpson was disappointed with a 2-0 defeat on a day when his team ‘lost their personal battles’. With an injury list to contend with, the Clarets started with four academy players on the bench. James, Crook and Danny Imray weren’t fit to start, Tom Wraight is out for the long term and Mickey Spillane pulled his hamstring during the game.

The Clarets boss is now looking towards Tuesday night at Princes Park, treating the National South opener as a benchmark for the Essex club, he spoke to Clarets TV and explained: “It’s weird that our last game was away there as well. So that will actually be good to see where we were to where we are now, we can test ourselves”.

The Chelmsford City manager is one of many outsiders to tip Dartford for promotion to the National League, he added: “They are favourites to win the league and rightly so in my opinion. They are a very good side”.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 39 / Chelmsford City wins: 55 / Draws: 22

Previous Six Meetings

14.03.2020Dartford3Chelmsford City0
12.08.2019Chelmsford City4Dartford1
19.01.2019 Chelmsford City 2Dartford1
07.08.2018Dartford1 Chelmsford City0
10.02.2018Dartford1 Chelmsford City2
21.10.2017 Chelmsford City1Dartford0

Stats

Dartford have won the last two home games against Chelmsford City, the last time that happened was between 1999 and 2000. The last time they won three home games in a row against the Clarets was between 1971 and 1973.

The Darts have won two of the last four fixtures against Chelmsford City. Before this run they had won just two of the last 17.

Dartford have failed to score in their last two competitive games. Under Steve King they have never gone three consecutive matches without scoring.

On This Day

Usually Dartford are a couple of months into their league campaign by now, so the 6 October is the latest that a league campaign has started in the club’s history. It comes on the eighth anniversary of the Darts claiming a memorable away victory at Grimsby Town. Tom Bonner and Adam Birchall were on target to cause one of Dartford’s many surprises in the National League that season. That was the last of four straight wins on this day, Ashford Town were beaten 3-1 in the Southern League Division One East at home in 2001, Moor Green lost 2-1 thirty years ago in the Southern Premier and the Darts travelled to Northwich Victoria in 1984 and won 1-0 in the National League. Two years ago, Dartford crashed out of the F.A Cup third qualifying round losing 4-1 at Oxford City as Kabongo Tshimanga scored a hat-trick.

National South Season Preview Part IV

Maidstone United

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 9th
F.A Cup: 2nd Round
F.A Trophy: 1st Round
Top Scorer: Ibby Akanbi (9 goals)

A former Football League club, the only in the division started their move through the non-league scene almost 20 years ago. In that time, they made light work in reaching the Isthmian Premier, consolidated themselves then moved to a new stadium. Since then the Stones won three promotions in four seasons to reach the National League. After three years they were relegated, and last term was their first back in the National South. Maidstone United were hoping for a swift return, but instead had to settle for ninth after losing five of their last six matches.

Manager: Hakan Hayrettin

Appointed as manager in January 2019, Hakan Hayrettin is a well-respected coach and Maidstone United represents his first managerial role outside of Essex. Starting out in 2003 with Waltham Forest, Hayrettin’s best moment came almost a decade later when he won the Isthmian Division One North with Grays Athletic, as they notched up an impressive 102 points. After working closely with John Still at Luton Town, he returned to Essex as manager of Braintree Town until they were relegated. Whilst at Maidstone United, Still called upon Hayrettin once more where he has been boss ever since.

Summer

Just over seven and half months ago, Scott Rendell hit the headlines when his goal knocked out Premier League opposition Norwich City in the F.A Cup. Rendell was playing for non-leaguers Luton Town at the time and since then he has spent time at Woking, Aldershot Town and last season Eastleigh. The striker has also gained experience with Cambridge United, Peterborough United and Wycombe Wanderers, now he will be sharing his footballing knowledge at the Gallagher Stadium. The Stones also signed Kreshnic Krasniqi from National South champions Wealdstone and defender Joe Ellul from Maidenhead United. George Porter, Christie Pattison, Raphe Brown and Charlie Seaman have all signed for the Stones as well.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 44 / Maidstone United wins: 45 / Draws: 19

Oxford City

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 13th
F.A Cup: 1st Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round
Top Scorer: Zac McEachran (9 goals)

Spending the majority of last season with interim managers, Oxford City still managed to maintain their consistency of mid-table finishes. The Hoops enjoyed some more F.A Cup success reaching the first round proper for the third year in a row. Shortly afterwards Mark Jones departed and that’s when Justin Merritt and Andy Ballard took over. The interim duo had an immediate impact winning five of their first six which included some high scoring entertaining games. Oxford City now have a new manager at the helm with early nineties top flight playing experience.

Manager: David Oldfield

Waiting to take charge of his first competitive game at Oxford City, David Oldfield made his name in football back in the eighties. The former midfielder impressed at Luton Town before joining Manchester City where he won promotion to the top flight. He played the first half of the nineties at Leicester City and was part of the team making it to the Premier League. After returning to Luton Town he went on to represent Stoke City, Peterborough United and Oxford United before entering the world of non-league as a player and briefly as a manager with Brackley Town.

Summer

At the age of 21, Harvey Bradbury has spent most of his fledgling career out on loan with the likes of Havant and Waterlooville, St Albans City, Hungerford Town and Woking. Son of former Portsmouth striker Lee, Harvey joins Oxford City from Millwall. The Hoops have strengthen their back line with the signings of Dan Matsuzaka from Braintree Town and Louis Hall (Bedford Town), the pair could be playing in front of former Sutton United goalkeeper Ben Dudzinski. Winger, James Roberts joins from Spennymoor Town and Lewis Coyle signs from Thatcham Town. Aaron Drewe and Jacob Bancroft are the latest to join the Hoops.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 7 / Oxford City wins: 3 / Draws: 3

Slough Town

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 5th
F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round
Top Scorer: Ben Harris (9 goals)

Three games into their second season in the National South and it looked like it could be a long campaign for Slough Town. In the end it was, but not because they had no points to show in the opening matches, but because they made the playoffs losing in the eliminator round against Dartford. The Rebels took a while to get going and when they put a run of one defeat in 19 their confidence grew. The Berkshire club can be delighted with what they have achieved since joining the National South.

Managers: Jon Underwood and Neil Baker

It’s not often joint managers work, but at Slough Town it definitely does. Jon Underwood and Neil Baker have been leading the Rebels since May 2013, before that they were both at Goldalming Town. The duo seem to have the knack of making their teams into playoff contenders, at Goldalming Town they reached the Isthmian Division One South playoffs, whilst at Slough Town they have been promoted twice through that route to the Southern Premier then the National South. Last season, they guided the Berkshire club to the National South playoffs but fell short this time.

Summer

There hasn’t been much action in the transfer market at Slough Town. Midfielder, Jack McKnight has been signed from Eastleigh and Louis Lomas has come in on loan from Championship club Norwich City. McKnight impressed the management team a few season’s ago when he scored against hem for Basingstoke Town. Lomas has been a regular in Norwich City’s under 23 squad and spent time on loan at Tampa Bay Rowdies last term in the USL Championship. Olly McCoy, Ada Okorogheye and Michael Edegbe all joined before Slough Town’s F.A Cup win over Dartford.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 4 / Slough Town wins: 3 / Draws: 2

St Albans City

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 20th
F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round
Top Scorer: Joe Iaciofano (17 goals)

Embroiled in a relegation battle last time out, the Saints will have to live life without golden boot winner Joe Iaciofano, who netted just under half of St Albans City’s goals. The Hertfordshire club were on course to record their lowest points tally since dropping out of the division nine years ago. Even then they didn’t spend long outside the National South and have been in this league for 12 of the previous 16 seasons. The club have rebranded with a new crest and have signed a sponsorship deal with rock band Enter Shikari.

Manager: Ian Allinson

A former Arsenal winger who turned to management back in 1989 with Baldock Town, Ian Allinson moved around before settling at Boreham Wood. It was in Hertfordshire where he picked up his first honours as a manager taking an unfancied side to the National League via two playoff promotions. Allinson moved the Wood from the Isthmian Premier League to the top flight of non-league on very low crowds, but due to work commitments he left in October 2015. Four months later Allinson rocked up at St Albans City where he has had mixed results so far.

Summer

Losing Joe Iaciofano in the summer meant finding a goalscorer was a priority for Ian Allinson. The St Albans City boss is hoping Shaun Jeffers will be that man after signing the striker from Chelmsford City. Also arriving from the Clarets is forward Joseph Chidyausiku and to add to the attacking line, Mitchell Weiss comes in from Kings Langley and Chid Onokwai from Haringey Borough, where he scored ten goals in as many games before injury cut his season short. Following Onokwai from the North London club is midfielder Romeo Akinola. Also, in the middle of the park, the Saints have brought in Michael Oluwadara Dada from Barking and Kyran Witshire from Oxford City. Luke Warner-Eley had a very short spell with Dartford playing six times before leaving the club, he joins the Saints from Royston Town. Defenders, Joy Mukena (Bracknell Town), Devante Stanley (Biggleswade Town) and goalkeeper Michael Johnson (Dagenham and Redbridge) will also be at Clarence Park this season.

Head to Head

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

Tonbridge Angels

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 15th
F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 1st Round
Top Scorer: Joe Turner (11 goals)

It took some time to settle in their first campaign back in the National South after a five-year absence. The Angels won promotion the hard way winning two playoff finals and that determination would stand them in good stead. Tonbridge Angels lost two thirds of their opening 15 games, then the second half of the season that was played out, they tasted defeat just three more times in 16 outings. In the end they were still in a relegation battle with many of the top sides to play, but they showed they can beat the teams around them.

Manager: Steve McKimm

You will find on Steve McKimm’s honours list two playoff wins in the same season. Tonbridge Angels’ route back to the National South was far from easy, after an Isthmian Premier League playoff win over Merstham, they beat Metropolitan Police in a ‘super-playoff’. He had come close before in 2016 with the Angels so winning two in a season tasted all the sweeter. As a player, McKimm also coached at Sutton United and before then had spells with Margate, Gravesend and Northfleet where he won the Isthmian Premier League title, Kingstonian, Farnborough, Hayes and Yeading United and Dulwich Hamlet.

Summer

Nine months after leaving the Angels, D’Sean Theobald is back at the Longmead Stadium. The midfielder’s performances earned him a move to Poland’s top flight with Korona Kielce, but his stay didn’t go to plan so Steve McKimm links up with Theobald again. Another two players return to the Angels, striker Alex Akrofi scored 15 times for Aveley last season and defender Arthur Lee was at AFC Hornchurch last term and was part of the Kent side’s promotion winning team. At full back, Kristian Campbell arrives from Eastbourne Borough and Javaun Splatt gets a chance following a two year scholarship at Derby County’s Academy, Splatt has also had loan spells with Mickleover Sports and Carshalton Athletic. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 68 / Tonbridge Angels wins: 38 / Draws: 24

Welling United

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 12th
F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 1st Round
Top Scorer: Anthony Cook (8 goals)

In one summer Welling United suffered two big losses, the playoff final defeat to Woking just over a year ago and former manager Steve King. Owner, Mark Goldberg decided changes were needed to help the finances of the club and so appointed himself as manager, tapping into the resources already at the club. Goldberg lasted until January and as defeats become more frequent decided it was time to hand the reins over. Welling United went on to pick up form to comfortably finish mid-table, making what they achieved under King stand out more.

Manager: Bradley Quinton

A promotion winner with Braintree Town just over two years ago, Bradley Quinton led the Iron to the National League via the playoffs. Whilst he had a shot at the National League his tenure lasted until October 2018 when he resigned. In January 2019, he was appointed to stop Welling United’s slide as the Wings were in the bottom three of the National South and soon after fortunes improved. Quinton previously played a part in Enfield Town reaching a playoff spot in 2017 and at the Middesex club he worked under current Braintree Town boss George Borg.

Summer

Two former Dartford players have joined the Wings this summer, although both players made very limited appearances for the Darts. Rowan Liburd played just three games during his loan spell under Steve King, the striker signs from Hereford. Marcel Barrington was also at Dartford last season and he is now back alongside Bradley Quinton where the pair worked together at Braintree Town. Lionel Ainsworth brings plenty of experience to the squad after a career at various Football League clubs, the winger enjoyed a spell north of the border at Motherwell and joins from Dulwich Hamlet. Former Yeovil Town winger, Tyrique Clark anddefender Quba Gordon (Maldon and Tiptree) were added to the squad as well as goalkeeper Mohammed Oulad Laarbi and midfielder Emmanuel Maja. Former Staines Town man William Efambe will join Lanre Azeez (Hastings United), German Petrov and Stefan Ilic (Lewes) as new members at Park View Road.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 22 / Welling United wins: 10 / Draws: 9

National South Season Preview Part III

Ebbsfleet United

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 22nd (National League)
F.A Cup: 1st Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Round
Top Scorer: Gozie Ogwu (13 goals)

Relegated by the narrowest of margins, Ebbsfleet United become the fifth Kent side in the National South. With the National League decided using points per game the Fleet were 0.002 points short, despite being in the top three of the form guide when football stopped. Off field damage, with players being paid late, caused instability at the club and finally it caught up with the Kent side. Now Ebbsfleet United enter a new era appointing a manager from the fifth tier of German football, who has begun to overhaul the squad.

Manager: Dennis Kutrieb

German managers seem to do well in the professional game and now the National South has one of their own trying to make a mark. Dennis Kutrieb left Tennis Borussia Berlin at the top of the fifth tier of German football before moving to Ebbsfleet United. In Germany he was on course for his third promotion in six years with two different clubs. Kutrieb is a highly rated young manager and as well as leading the NOFV-Oberliga Nord in March which eventually earned his former side promotion, he led Tennis Borussia Berlin to second spot the year before.

Summer

The Fleet have a new look squad this season and it would be easier to list who they haven’t signed. The first port of call is Dennis Kutrieb’s former club Tennis Borussia Berlin where he takes with him defender Sefa Kahraman and the attacking Alex Eirich. Welcoming back for a third spell at the club is former Eastbourne Borough player Michael West, and following the midfielder from Priory Lane is goalkeeper Tom Hadler and defender Tobi Adebayo-Rowling. Also coming up from Sussex is midfielder Josh Payne, who makes his loan spell from Crawley Town into a permanent deal. Adam Mekki also had a loan spell at Stonebridge Road last term, he has signs on from Bromley following defender Jake Goodman. Dagenham and Redbridge have been raided for players with midfielder James Dobson (season long loan),defender Will Wood and striker Reece Grant crossing the River Thames. Former Manchester United youngster, Lee Martin joins after helping Exeter City to the League Two playoff final last season. Ben Chapman moves from Dulwich Hamlet, winger Iffy Allen from local rivals Maidstone United and defender Ben Frempah from Championship club Wycombe Wanderers. The forward line has been bolstered by the signings of Charlie Rowan (former Watford and Queens Park Rangers defender), Bobby-Joe Taylor (Dover Athletic), Greg Cundle (Concord Rangers) and Rakish Bingham (Dundee United).

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 66 / Ebbsfleet United wins: 55 / Draws: 32

Hampton and Richmond Borough

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 8th
F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 2nd Round
Top Scorer: Danilo Orsi-Dadamo (12 goals)

A steady climb up the table had the Beavers challenging for a playoff place and on points per game marginally missed out. Two years ago, Hampton and Richmond Borough were in a three-way title race up until Easter. That summer they changed manager and finished the following campaign in a disappointing fifteenth. Last season the Beavers continued where they left off and made a slow start, but the side started to click, the Middlesex club made sure that Dorking Wanderers were left clinging on to that last playoff place.

Manager: Gary McCann

Compared to his previous job Gary McCann has only just begun at Hampton and Richmond Borough. Appointed in the summer of 2018, he had just lost the Isthmian Premier League playoff final on penalties against Dulwich Hamlet with his former club Hendon. It was there where he joined as a goalkeeper in 1997 and later, he spent 13 years as Hendon’s manager where he was often praised for his work. The Beavers kept tabs on him and decided to make a move in May 2018, since then McCann has slowly moved Hampton and Richmond Borough towards the playoff places.

Summer

Manager, Gary McCann will be delighted to have Nico Muir on a permanent basis. The striker was on loan from Hartlepool United last term and played under McCann for Hendon where he netted 40 goals. Although the Beavers lost the services of their top scorer last season, Danilo Orsi-Dadamo to Maidenhead United they have managed to sign left back Rene Steer from the Magpies. Midfielder Christian Smith moves from Dulwich Hamlet, whilst Nathan Minhas arrives from Bracknell Town and Danny Bassett from Tooting and Mitcham United. They have also signed former Dartford goalkeeper Alan Julian from Billericay Town.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 7 / Hampton and Richmond Borough wins: 5 / Draws: 2

Havant and Waterlooville

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 2nd
F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 1st Round
Top Scorer: Joseph Ayunga (17 goals)

Favourites last season Havant and Waterlooville will feel slightly aggrieved that the season was cut short. The Hawks were just three points adrift of eventual champions Wealdstone, but at least they had the chance via the playoffs. The Hampshire club may have been beaten in the semi-finals by Dartford, however their squad remains strong for the forthcoming campaign. Even with the loss of golden boot winner Jonah Ayunga, they found a suitable replacement, another golden boot winner. Expect the 2018 National South champions to be challenging for the title again for a third time in four years.  

Manager: Paul Doswell

In his first season at Havant and Waterlooville, Paul Doswell’s directive was to get the club back to the National League. Trusted to lead the Hampshire side because of his wealth of experience and previous non-league success, the Hawks boss came close. Doswell had spent 11 years at Sutton United before moving closer to home, in that time he won the Isthmian Premier and National South titles with the U’s, he also guided them to the fifth round of the F.A Cup losing to Arsenal. At Eastleigh he took them from the Wessex League to the National South.

Summer

Joint National South top scorer Jonah Ayunga departs after making a move to League One side Bristol Rovers. So, the Hawks replace the striker with another National South top scorer Joe Iaciofano from St Albans City. Having signed from Woking in the summer Godfrey Poku has been appointed captain and joining him from the Cards is Moussa Diarra. Midfielder, Billy Clifford won the National South with Wealdstone last season and will be hoping to help Havant and Waterlooville to go one step further this time. After suffering an injury at Sutton United, Tommy Wright also took a break from football, now former U’s manager Paul Doswell welcomes the striker back in to the game. Theo Widdrington is back at Westleigh Park, the midfielder spent a loan spell there in 2017. Lucas Sinclair has joins from AFC Totton, goalkeeper Joe Tupper (Margate) and midfielder Daniel Ajakaiye (Hastings United). Sam Dowdridge also moves to Havant and Waterlooville but has been sent back out on loan to Bognor Regis Town.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 6 / Havant and Waterlooville wins: 3 / Draws: 4

Hemel Hempstead Town

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 11th
F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 1st Round
Top Scorer: Sam Ashford (10 goals)

It was no surprise that Hemel Hempstead Town started last season well. They appointed Sammy Moore as boss who had previously guided an unfancied Concord Rangers to the top seven, he took some of the players with him. The Tudors were in a strong position at the end of October but then lost their way ending in a still creditable eleventh. This summer it has been all change again, with a new manager installed the Hertfordshire club hope to recreate or better their fifth-place finish of two years ago.

Manager: Lee Bircham

Managing his hometown club, Lee Bircham was appointed this summer to take charge of Hemel Hempstead Town. Last season he was denied a shot at promotion with Berkhamsted who were top of the Southern League Division One Central when football stopped. His former club had won 20 of the 28 completed fixtures and had a one-point lead over F.A Trophy semi-finalists Halesowen Town. Bircham also had a good track record at local club Bovingdon where he won the Hertfordshire Premier Division with an 18-point margin, his side racked up 116 goals in just 28 matches.

Summer

The Tudors have looked towards the lower leagues for a pair of goalscorers. Alie Bangura scored an impressive 27 goals in just 23 appearances for Biggleswade United last season and Dan Webb netted 42 times in 45 matches for Leighton Town. Hemel Hempstead Town have brought in experience from the National League signing Ryan Sellers and Reece Beckles-Richards from champions Wealdstone. Defenders, Ben Jefford and Tommy Cooney arrive from Oxford City and Braintree Town respectively, whilst Ade Cole and Jacob Cook both move from Billericay Town. Lee Bircham also made a double signing when he took defenders Daniel Akubuine and Ryan Kinnane from Berkhamsted. George Essuman comes in from Margate, Kyle Ajayi (AFC Dunstable) and Reggie Young (Farnborough). Outfield player Rowan Vine ended up in goal against the Darts when he was Gosport Borough a few years back, he joins the Tudors as well as Jake Evans and Dean Snedker.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 5 / Hemel Hempstead Town wins: 1 / Draws: 4

Hungerford Town

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 22nd
F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round
Top Scorer: Liam Ferdinand (5 goals)

The Crusaders would be plying their trade in the level below, however with no promotion to the National South, Hungerford Town survived. In the National South, the Berkshire side have been often amongst the relegation favourites and will likely keep that tag going into the forthcoming season. That shouldn’t deter the Crusaders as the advantage of being underdogs is the potential to surprise, like they did when they reached the playoff places three years ago. Hungerford Town will enter their fifth season in the National South with a new boss leading the way.

Manager: Danny Robinson

Just over two years ago Danny Robinson was walking out at Wembley with local rivals Thatcham Town. He had guided the Berkshire club to the F.A Vase final in which they claimed glory with victory. If that wasn’t enough Thatcham Town were also promoted in that campaign and last season he was on the verge of another promotion with the club. Robinson started his managerial career as a 21-year-old with Winchester City’s reserves before progressing to their first team. At Alresford Town he picked up the Hampshire Senior Cup before Thatcham Town then Hungerford Town came calling.

Summer

Hungerford Town will have a new look squad hoping to improve their fortunes. Danny Robinson’s previous club former a winning mentality and now a number of F.A Vase winners make the step up with their boss. Baboucarr Jarra is back for a second spell with the Crusaders and after collecting a F.A Vase winners medal with Thatcham Town he went on to play for Thame United. Also playing in that final two years ago was defender Curtis Angell, he follows Robinson as well as Matt Partridge and Callum Willmoth. Another player to return to Hardenhuish Park is striker, Luke Hopper from Chippenham Town, joining him up front will be Ryan Seager (Yeovil Town) and James Harding, who scored 21 goals in 24 starts for Cinderford Town last term. Midfielder, Jack Self and Portuguese full back Nuno Felix also arrive from Chippenham Town. The Crusaders have also signed a pair of wingers in former Oxford City man Craig Fasanmade and Wanjau Smith who joins from Slimbridge after netting 17 goals in 23 appearances last season. At 37 years-old Keith Emmerson will provide plenty of experience in defence from Winchester City. Kensey Maloney (Westfields), goalkeeper Luke Cairney (Poole Town) and Kyle Tooze (Truro City) sign with the Berkshire club, whilst Ralph Graham returns after a loan spell from Swindon Town.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Hungerford Town wins: 3 / Draws: 2

National South Season Preview Part II

Concord Rangers

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 16th
F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: Finalists
Top Scorer: Decarrey Sheriff (9 goals)

Just over a year ago Concord Rangers were denied a place in the National South playoffs despite finishing in sixth. Thames Road was deemed unsuitable for the next level up and so the Beachboys missed out on a potential big day. Little did the Essex club know they would get their chance to create history and have their big day, even if it’s been put on hold for the time being. Concord Rangers will at some point play at Wembley in the delayed F.A Trophy final against League Two side Harrogate Town, the Beachboys could well create more history.

Manager: Danny Scopes

When Danny Scopes was promoted within the club, following Sammy Moore’s departure last summer, chairman Ant Smith was confident the Concord Rangers boss would give his all. His first season back as boss of the Beachboys ended with a trip to Wembley and so the Essex club couldn’t ask for more. Not only that, Scopes was a former player of the club and previously worked within the youth system. His first spell between 2007 and 2012 was as a joint manager alongside Danny Cowley, when Concord Rangers climbed from the Essex Senior League to the Isthmian Premier League.

Summer

Five players return to the Beachboys this summer after one season away and three of them used to play for the Darts. Alex Wall made an immediate impact after returning to Concord Rangers from Hemel Hempstead Town, the former Dartford striker scored the winner in the F.A Trophy semi-final. Tyrone Sterling and Sam Blackman are the other two former Darts back at Concord RangersBlackman suffered a nasty injury shortly after joining Dartford, keeping him out for the long term. Unable to make his way into the team under Steve King the midfielder is back at Thames Road. Sterling follows the same route as Wall by re-joining from Hemel Hempstead Town as did Tosan Popo. The final returning player is Frazer Shaw who spent a season away at local rivals Chelmsford City. The Beachboys have also signed Ryan Charles from Maldon and Tiptree, Odei Martin (Heybridge Swifts), Sam Remfry (South Park), Nathan Carlyle on a month’s loan from Queens Park Rangers, Tom Hanfrey, a former AFC Bournemouth academy defender and Jason Raad from Aveley.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 5 / Concord Rangers wins: 3 / Draws: 3

Dartford

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 6th
F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round
Top Scorer: Darren McQueen (17 goals)

At the start of last term Dartford were expected to make the top seven, by the end of the campaign they were underdogs in the playoff final. A topsy-turvy campaign saw the Darts battling relegation and joint managers Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle relieved of their duties. Appointing one of the best managers at this level, the club surged up the table and into the playoffs. The Kent club beat Slough Town and favourites Havant and Waterlooville before losing on penalties against Weymouth. Now they are seeking a return to the National League after five years away.

Manager: Steve King

A highly successful non-league manager, Steve King guarantees to bring you entertainment. If he could beat his playoff nemesis King would have even more promotions to his credit. Much of his early managerial career was spent in Sussex where he won the National South title with Lewes, his third promotion in five years with the club. He went on to win another title at Farnborough and embark on F.A Cup runs with Macclesfield Town and Whitehawk. However, for every title there is playoff heartbreak losing finals with Farnborough, Whitehawk, Welling United and last season with the Darts.

Summer

The Darts have been busy in the transfer market making sure there is plenty of competition for places. The first job in the summer was replacing the National South’s joint top scorer from last season Darren McQueen. So in came Jack Barham from Dorking Wanderers, who has also played under King at Welling United and recently Kairo Mitchell, a former Leicester City academy player with experience at Nuneaton Borough and Coalville Town. Coming back to the Darts after seven years away, central defender Connor Essam joined from Hemel Hempstead Town. Since his last spell with the Darts, Essam has played for Dover Athletic, Leyton Orient and Eastleigh. King has signed David Ijaha from Dulwich Hamlet and Gavin McCallum from Welling United who have also worked with the Dartford boss previously. Jazzi Barnum-Bobb has played for three Welsh clubs, Cardiff City, Newport County and Wrexham, the defender joins Dartford’s back line. Winger Ricky Modeste has spent half his footballing career with rivals Dover Athletic and switches to the Darts. Midfielder, Abdul Osman arrives from Queen of the South and has played in the Greek top flight. In goal, Craig King (Oxford City) will be pushed for the number one jersey by Chelsea academy goalkeeper Ethan Wady. The Darts also signed Michael Fernandes on loan from Colchester United.

Dorking Wanderers

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 7th
F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Round
Top Scorer: Jason Prior (14 goals)

The youngest club in the division was formed 21 years ago and have won five league titles and 11 promotions to propel themselves up the pyramid. Last season was their first at National South level and once again the Wanderers were looking forwards and showing their ambitions. The Surrey club finished seventh to have a shot at another promotion. Dorking Wanderers knocked out Bath City in the playoff eliminator round before losing 3-2 to eventual winners Weymouth in the semi-final. They don’t hang around in divisions long and will be looking upwards yet again.

Manager: Marc White

Dorking Wanderers have climbed the non-league pyramid and Marc White has been able to witness their rise from day one. A founder member just over 20 years ago, his club have won 11 promotions and last season he guided the Surrey club to the playoffs in their first ever campaign in the National South. White has overseen the club moving to a new stadium as well as all the on-field success and has had clubs from higher leagues interested in his services, but he has his heart on getting to the Football League with the Wanderers.

Summer

When Alfie Rutherford and Wes Fogden left Havant and Waterlooville they were the last of the group that won back to back promotions with the Hawks. Now the duo will be reunited with Ed Harris and former Dartford striker Jason Prior at Dorking Wanderers, who were also part of that squad. One of the biggest signings, as far as experience goes, is that of Barry Fuller, the former Gillingham full back also made over 200 appearances in the Football League with AFC Wimbledon. Goalkeeper, Sam Howes has made his loan spell into a permanent deal, defender Callum Kennedy signs from Billericay Town and midfielder Kane Willis comes in from Eastbourne Borough.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Dorking Wanderers wins: 1 / Draws: 0

Dulwich Hamlet

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 19th
F.A Cup: 1st Round
F.A Trophy: 1st Round
Top Scorer: Danny Mills (13 goals)

After a few years of agonisingly waiting persistently knocking on the National South door, Hamlet won the Isthmian Premier playoffs at the fourth time of asking. It was only a matter of time before Dulwich Hamlet succeeded and they did so two years ago. After so much determination the London club will not give their spot up easily in the National South. In their first season at this level they finished fourteenth with healthy crowds since their return to Champion Hill. Last time out Hamlet were concentrating on avoiding the drop finishing in the bottom four.

Manager: Gavin Rose

When last season started, Gavin Rose had just clocked up ten years in charge of Dulwich Hamlet and he’s still going. Hamlet’s longest serving manager admitted the club weren’t living up to their potential when he was appointed and now, he can’t quite believe how far the London club has come. A former midfielder who enjoyed a career including spells at Wimbledon, Charlton Athletic and Queens Park Rangers, Rose guided Dulwich Hamlet to the Isthmian Division One North title in 2013 and won the Isthmian Premier League playoffs in 2018 to earn promotion to the National South.

Summer

Impressive performances at Dartford last term, Tyrique Hyde moves to Dulwich Hamlet after 12 appearances with the Darts. The midfielder follows former Dartford defender, Sanchez Ming who has already had spells with the Hamlet making over 200 appearances for the club in the past. The pair join up with another three signings from Kent clubs, midfielders Michael Timlin moves from Ebbsfleet United and Jordan Higgs from Bromley, in addition to forward Korrey Henry from Welling United. Jesse Debrah spent a loan spell in defence at Champion Hill last season, he completes a move from Championship club Millwall. More excitingly for Hamlet fans is the return of Reise Allassani, the winger scored 16 times in 28 games for the club before being picked up by Coventry City. After some loan spells last season, he is back at Champion Hill.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Dulwich Hamlet wins: 3 / Draws: 3

Eastbourne Borough

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 18th
F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 1st Round
Top Scorer: Greg Luer (8 goals)

If there is a consistent team in the National South then look no further than Eastbourne Borough. Three consecutive eighteenth place finishes they will begin their tenth year in row in this division. Borough drew the most amount of games last season and at one stage completed a sequence of six on the spin. The Sussex club initially struggled in front of goal but managed to find the net in each of their last 11 matches, losing just once but drawing seven. If they want to improve Borough will need to tighten up at the back.

Manager: Danny Bloor

Arriving at Eastbourne Borough as number two to Jamie Howell, Danny Bloor also worked with Mark McGhee and Charlie Oatway as well as Lee Bradbury during their spells as managers. Several candidates went for the Borough job and in the end the Sussex club opted for Bloor to pull everyone together, after difficult times at Priory Lane. Briefed to keep Eastbourne Borough in the National South and re-establish a bond with the supporters, Bloor has started taking small strides forward by making his side tougher to beat as they became draw specialists prior last season coming to a halt.

Summer

Bringing Football League experience to the midfield, Chris Whelpdale signs from Chelmsford City. The 33-year-old has previously represented Gillingham, Peterborough United, Stevenage and AFC Wimbledon. Goalkeeper, Luke Glover scored a winning F.A Trophy goal last season when playing for Haywards Heath Town, he completes a move to the Sports. James Hammond arrives from local rivals Lewes and Mitchell Dickenson joins from Hemel Hempstead Town. From lower leagues, Eastbourne Borough have picked up Charlie Towning (Three Bridges), Joe Kay (Newhaven) and striker Charlie Lambert (Peacehaven and Telscombe). James Vaughan has been studying out in the United States, now he will be playing at Priory Lane this season.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 12 / Eastbourne Borough wins: 6 / Draws: 4

National South Season Preview Part I

Dartford came so close to promotion last season by reaching the playoff final. This time they plan to go one better in Steve King’s first full campaign at the helm. In a season that was cut short at all levels of the non-league game, no teams were relegated from the National South bringing a familiarity to Dartford’s opponents. A lot has changed over the last seven months, new protocols, changes in management and three golden boot winners moving on. Here’s the first part of a club by club preview to whet your appetite…

Bath City

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 4th
F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 2nd Round
Top Scorer: Tom Smith (13 goals)

The Romans have bowed out at the quarter-final stage of the playoffs in the past two seasons. Since their two-year flirtation with the National League, the West Country side have slowly built their way up to become competitive promotion contenders. Bath City will be aiming to return to the non-league summit after an eight-year absence. The cause will be helped by the National South’s Player of the Year, Tom Smith being in their ranks. He could be a key player yet again having scored 18 times from midfield in all competitions last term.

Manager: Jerry Gill

A former Bath City defender who made over 200 appearances for the club in the nineties. Gill has been in charge at Twerton Park since October 2017 turning the Romans from a top ten side in to a top five side. He enjoyed success as a player notably reaching the League Cup final and winning promotion to the Premier League with Birmingham City. After a 44-day spell managing Weymouth, who had financial issues at the time, Gill picked up coaching experience with Bristol Rovers, Birmingham City and Kidderminster Harriers as well as with Norwich City’s and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ academies.

Summer

Manager Jerry Gill signed a new contract to keep him at Twerton Park until 2022. Ryan Harley made over 350 Football League appearances with the likes of Exeter City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Swindon Town, he arrives from Milton Keynes Dons. Freddie Grant, a left back with experience at this level joins from National League side Maidenhead United. After four years at Weston-super-Mare, Jason Pope moved to Hereford before switching to the Romans. Callum Evans signs from Port Vale having also had a spell at Macclesfield Town, Donovan Wilson comes in after time at Port Vale, Exeter City and Spanish clubs Jumilla and Burgos. Goalkeeper Will Henry steps in to the squad providing National South experience, which he picked up on loan at Hampton and Richmond Borough, Chippenham Town and Hungerford Town. Also, coming to Twerton Park on loan will be Bristol City pair Tommy Conway and James Taylor.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 32 / Bath City wins: 39 / Draws: 19

Billericay Town

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 17th
F.A Cup: 1st Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round
Top Scorer: Jake Robinson (14 goals)

More headlines were made off the pitch than on it under Billericay Town’s former owner, now the media circus shackles have been removed. Instead the Essex club has a former Premier League midfielder leading the team and keeping the club and non-league in the media spotlight. Success came quickly when Ricay went from Isthmian Premier champions to promotion contenders. However, with the owner leaving, the Blues second campaign back in the National South was tougher and they spent much of last term looking over their shoulder winning just three of their last 24 games.

Manager: Jamie O’Hara

A Dartfordian who made his name as a midfielder at Tottenham Hotspur, Jamie O’Hara also represented England at under 21 level. He enjoyed spells notably at Millwall, Portsmouth and Wolverhampton Wanderers and ended up at Billericay Town in the seventh tier of the English game. He helped the Blues claim the 2017/2018 Isthmian Premier League title, two league cups and a county cup. O’Hara left Ricay before returning as player assistant manager and in September last year he was promoted to manager. Alongside football management O’Hara can be heard on national radio channel Talksport.

Summer

Providing some trickery on the flanks, former Dartford winger Luke Wanadio moves across the bridge to Essex. Wanadio had two spells with the Darts both lasting a season, he also had spells with Bromley, Aldershot Town and Dulwich Hamlet. Four more players make the trip from Kent with two, Frank Sutherland and Lawrie Wilson coming from relegated Ebbsfleet United. Lewis Knight signs from Maidstone United and Jai Reason will lead the line after arriving from Dover Athletic. Also, making the step down from the National League will be Shamir Fenelon from Maidenhead United. Josh Hutchinson joins Ricay from Potters Bar Town, Hani Berchiche (Welwyn Garden City) as well as two trialists who impressed Jamie O’Hara in pre-season, Chevron McLean (Maldon and Tiptree) and Ruben Soares Junior (Grays Athletic). Former Fulham and Queen’s Park Rangers full-back, Joe Felix joins the Essex club having previously been at Hampton & Richmond Borough, Woking and Farnborough. With former Dart, Alan Julian leaving the goalkeeper position has been filled by Dion-Curtis Henry and from AFC Wimbledon in comes Ayoub Assal on loan for a month.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 4 / Billericay Town wins: 2 / Draws: 1

Braintree Town

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 21st
F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round
Top Scorer: Femi Akinwande (6 goals)

A surprise package when they gate-crashed the National South playoffs and won promotion two years ago, knocking out Dartford in the process. The Iron returned to the National League at the first time of asking, this time their stay lasted one campaign as they yo-yoed between divisions. Braintree Town were nowhere near to reproducing a swift return and instead slid down the National South after a reasonable first two months. The Iron conceded the most goals last term and had the season not been curtailed were on target to finish in the bottom two.

Manager: George Borg

An experienced manager familiar with Braintree Town, Borg has had a few spells with the Iron. In his latest one it started in December 2019 when player manager Jake Hutchings stepped sown. His appointment came 15 years after the first time he led the Essex club back in 2004. Borg enjoyed success in the late nineties when Aldershot Town were back on the rise to the Football League. In 1998 he won the Isthmian League First Division then later added the Isthmian League Cup, two Hampshire Senior Cups and came runners-up in the Isthmian League Premier Division.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 / Braintree Town wins: 6 / Draws: 4

Chelmsford City

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 10th
F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Round
Top Scorer: Shaun Jeffers (13 goals)

Regularly amongst the playoff places the Clarets fell short of their normal standards last time out. Often dubbed a sleeping giant, the Essex club parted company with Rod Stringer back in January after the former boss had taken Chelmsford City to the playoffs three years running. At the turn of the year the Clarets were only seven points adrift of the top seven and in the last 16 of the F.A Trophy when Stringer departed. Entering their thirteenth consecutive season in the National South, Chelmsford City are currently the longest serving club in the division.

Manager: Robbie Simpson

Just over a year ago Robbie Simpson was signed as a player by Rod Stringer. Five months later the forward was put in temporary charge of Chelmsford City and in March he became permanent player-manager. Simpson enjoyed a long career in the Football League after he had already represented both Cambridge clubs, United and City at non-league level. Coventry City took a chance and afterwards he played for Huddersfield Town, Oldham Athletic, Leyton Orient, Exeter City and Milton Keynes Dons. He also had a second spell with Cambridge United when they had returned to League Two.

Summer

The Clarets signed former Dartford midfielder Billy Crook this summer taking him back across the Thames to Essex. Crook won promotion with Braintree Town before joining the Darts in January 2019. Another former Dart and returning for a third spell with Chelmsford City is Phil Roberts. The striker had a brief spell at Princes Park and at the age of just 26 has been around the non-league circuit, he was also pivotal in helping Braintree Town up alongside Billy Crook. Last season’s Isthmian Division One North top scorer, Alex Teniola will hope to continue grabbing goals after completing a move from Heybridge Swifts. Also boosting the attack, Adam Liddle comes in from Derry City, Adam Morgan (Romford) and Tom Blackwell (Coggleshall Town). Former Tonbridge Angels, Maidstone United and Dover Athletic goalkeeper Lee Worgan will bring experience between the sticks and providing competition on dual registration from Heybridge Swifts will be Jacob Marsden. Defender, Adebola Oluwo (Fisher FC) and midfielder Callum Harrison (AFC Sudbury) are now Clarets and Cameron James has re-joined the club for a second spell from Colchester United. Cadell Fraser-Robinson also joined the Clarets after completing a scholarship at Stevenage.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 39 / Chelmsford City wins: 55 / Draws: 22

Chippenham Town

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 14th
F.A Cup: 1st Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round
Top Scorer: Scott Twine (6 goals)

A consistent team in the National South since they cruised their way to the Southern Premier League title three years ago, the Bluebirds finished thirteenth in consecutive seasons and were on course to ending last term in fourteenth. Yet it wasn’t all plain sailing last season, in mid-January they were embroiled in a relegation battle, appointed a new manager who steered them to safety winning five of their last six games. The Wiltshire club hope to keep that momentum going into the new campaign and improve on their mid-table finishes.

Manager: Michael Cook

Another manager who made the most of an interim spell, Michael Cook was appointed as permanent boss in March. The former Gloucester City manager took over the Bluebirds in January following the departure of Mark Collier. In that time Cook turned Chippenham Town’s fortunes around. After the home hammering to Dartford in February, he guided the Wiltshire club to five wins from seven matches with the last fixture a creditable draw against champions Wealdstone. At Gloucester City, he felt he wasn’t given a fair chance, so now is the time to prove his managerial capabilities.

Summer

Michael Cook’s former club Gloucester City were raided this summer as the former Tigers boss signed a trio of players from their local rivals. Covering all outfield positions Chippenham Town will now have striker Marlon Jackson, midfielder Joe Hanks and defender Spencer Hamilton in their squad. Both Danny Greenslade and Bradley Ash join the Bluebirds from Hereford. Former Sutton United striker, Ross Stearn returns to Hardenhuish Park from Bath City, whilst Luke Ruuse makes his loan spell from Bristol Rovers permanent.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 / Chippenham Town wins: 1 / Draws: 2

Dartford v Slough Town

Finally the new season kicks off this weekend starting with the home F.A Cup tie against Slough Town.

Dartford have only played three competitive matches since March and one of those was the playoff eliminator versus the Rebels. The Darts ran out 3-0 winners at Arbour Park, leaving their opponents without another competitive fixture since.

That day Charlie Sheringham changed the momentum of the game, the striker who has signed on for this campaign scored a brace before the now departed Luke Wanadio wrapped up the match. However, the three goal winning margin didn’t tell the whole story, as it was Slough Town who created the better chances in the first half with missed opportunities from Josh Jackman and Ryan Bird.

Picture courtesy of www.dartfordfc.com

The Darts managed to play Jon Underwood and Neil Baker’s side pre and post Steve King’s appointment last season. Tony Burman took interim charge for the first meeting at Princes Park which saw the Darts take a two goal lead. Last season’s top scorer Darren McQueen, who left the club this summer, found the net and shortly afterwards Josh Hill doubled the advantage. Slough Town pulled a goal back before the break through Dan Roberts and in the second half Matthew Lench and Ben Harris completed the turnaround.

At Arbour Park in January, Steve King was in charge as his side went down 1-0 to a Roberts goal. The Rebels hadn’t beaten the Darts before they completed the league double over them last season ending Dartford’s five game unbeaten run in this fixture, which includes two previous F.A Cup meetings.

Picture courtesy of www.dartfordfc.com

It’s a tough draw for both of the National South sides who met in this competition four years ago. In 2016, Dartford were made to work for their win, coming from behind on two occasions against lower league opposition. The Rebels, then in the division below and with home advantage were leading with seven minutes to go.

An early Elliot Bradbrook own goal put the Darts on the back foot, but the captain equalised in the second half. Slough Town’s James Dobson regained the lead from the spot piling pressure on Burman’s side. In the closing stages of the tie Andy Pugh came to life, first the striker won a penalty scored by Bradbrook and then he went on to net the winner right at the end.

The first F.A Cup clash between the two sides came in 1988 when they played for a place in the first round proper. The player manager led by example, Peter Taylor showed some clinical finishing to earn his side a 2-1 victory. The Darts went out at the next stage to Kettering Town in a campaign where they reached the F.A Trophy semi-final and came runners up in the Southern Premier League.

Dartford’s transition over the last year under Steve King has been incredible. In a sense with club favourite Lee Noble leaving after 12 memorable years it feels as though one era has officially ended. The dynamic midfielder played 489 games in a Dartford shirt, the sixth highest appearance maker in the club’s history.

Picture courtesy of www.dartfordfc.com

Yet the Darts can look forward to some exciting times and some new faces. Jack Barham will be hoping to form a decent partnership up front after signing from Dorking Wanderers, Ricky Modeste arrives from rivals Dover Athletic and full back Jazzi Barnum-Bobb comes in from Wrexham.

David Ijaha worked with King before and made his move from Dulwich Hamlet and coming in on loan is Michael Fernandes from Colchester United. Former Oxford City goalkeeper, Craig King will have competition between the sticks with the arrival of American, Ethan Wady on loan from Chelsea. That leaves two players returning in Connor Essam from Hemel Hempstead Town, who has had loan spells at Princes Park before and Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong signed from Aldershot Town after a successful spell with the Darts last term.

After this F.A Cup second qualifying round tie, Slough Town will begin their third season in the National South since promotion. Managers, Underwood and Baker are not a pair for wholesale changes, but they have signed Jack McKnight from National League side Eastleigh and Louis Lomas on loan from Norwich City. Three other players have signed in the last few days, Olly McCoy from Birmingham City under 23’s, although he is unfit to play this weekend. Centre forward, Ada Okorogheye and goalkeeper Michael Edegbe will be available.

Both sides begin their National South campaigns on Tuesday night when Dartford host Chelmsford City and Slough Town welcome Hemel Hempstead Town.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 4 / Slough Town wins: 2 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

19.07.2020 (NSP)Slough Town0Dartford3
18.01.2020Slough Town1Dartford0
28.09.2019Dartford2Slough Town3
16.02.2019Slough Town2Dartford2
08.12.2018Dartford1Slough Town1
01.10.2016 (FAC)Slough Town2Dartford3
29.10.1988 (FAC)Slough Town1Dartford2
10.01.1981 (FAT)Dartford4Slough Town1

NSP – National South Playoff / FAC – F.A Cup / FAT – F.A Trophy

Stats

Dartford have been knocked out before the third qualifying round just once in the last 11 seasons, when the Darts suffered a shock defeat against Uxbridge in 2015.

Dartford have won all four knockout games against Slough Town, twice in the F.A Cup (1988 and 2016), once in the F.A Trophy (1981) and once in a playoff (2020).

The Darts have lost their last two F.A Cup home ties (1-5 v Swindon Town in 2017 and 2-3 v Kingstonian in 2019).

Both sides have kept just one clean sheet in this fixture and they came in the last two meetings.

On This Day

Dartford have played three F.A Cup ties on this day with the most recent back in 2001. The Darts then in the Southern Division One East hosted Croydon Athletic of Isthmian Division Three in a second qualifying round replay, the lower league side drawing 2-2 in the first game. Dartford made it through with a 4-2 victory in the end, against a side that went on to claim the Isthmian Division Three title that season scoring 138 goals in the process. In 1964, Dartford drew fellow Southern Premier League club Bexley United and won 3-1 at home in the third qualifying round. The Darts went out that season to Aldershot Town in a first round replay. In 1959, Dartford were knocked out in a 2-0 home defeat against Tunbridge Wells United at the second qualifying round stage.