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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.

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.

Weymouth v Dartford

Dartford have promotion to the National league in their sights when they take on Weymouth in the National South Playoff Final at the Bob Lucas Stadium this Saturday.

The Darts have already made it through two rounds beating Slough Town in the elimination round then favourites Havant and Waterlooville in the semi-final last weekend. In both playoff matches, Steve King has relied on the depth of his squad as crucial changes have influenced the outcomes.

At Slough Town, a few alterations to the team and tactics as well as the half-time team talk improved Dartford’s performance. King told his players to be braver on the ball and when Charlie Sheringham scored a brace, he justified King’s decision to select him after being out of the squad before lockdown. A third goal was added by substitute Luke Wanadio to secure a 3-0 victory.

Another away game followed and this time it was Ky Marsh Brown’s turn to star against league runners up Havant and Waterlooville. The Darts went a goal down when Danny Kedwell’s was finished by Jonah Ayunga. Then two moments changed the game, first Josh Taylor was red carded for the Hawks late in the first half, then the Darts introduced Ky Marsh-Brown early in the second-half. Marsh-Brown set up Darren McQueen for the equaliser, then he won a penalty which McQueen scored sending the Darts into the final.

Steve King was on the receiving end of last season’s final when Welling United were beaten by Woking. Now he has the chance to return Dartford back to the National League after a five-year absence. This time he believes his side have a free hit and victory will complete a ‘miracle season’ after he steered the club from a relegation battle in October to promotion contenders. King told www.kentonline.co.uk that promotion would: “mean everything…It will be my fourth (play-off) final in National South. Just to go one step further when we have not been expected to would be the icing on the cake, really. We were fourth-bottom (when King took charge), there looked like there was a chance that we would get relegated. I’m just taking it in my stride, really. It’s just another game”.

After the win at Havant and Waterlooville, the Dartford boss praised his squads team ethic, he commented: “The group have done ever so well. They have been magnificent ever since we came through the door to have done what they have as a group”, he added: “We have had to change sides and I changed it at half-time (on Saturday). The boys who came off were disappointed, but they offered their support and they were shouting and hugging at the end and it has been a real team effort, whether they have started or not started”.

Weymouth will host the final having finished higher than Dartford in the National South and are looking to return to the National League after eleven years. The Terras ended the campaign in a respectable third place having only won promotion as champions of the Southern League Premier South last season. King knows that Saturday’s opposition will be difficult, he commented: “It will be tough, they play good football. They are quite a young side. Some of their players are on loan from Bournemouth. It’s going to be really tough, but we will give it one last go”.

Weymouth earned a place in the final after a dramatic finish in the semi-final against Dorking Wanderers. Yemi Odubade scored a last-minute winner to seal a 3-2 win after the home side threw away a two-goal lead. Mark Molesley’s side took the lead from the spot through captain Josh McQuoid, then Jaidon Anthony scored another to put Weymouth two up. Dorking fought back and with 17 minutes to go pulled a goal back through James McShane, and with five left on the clock Eliott Buchanan equalised. It looked as if the semi-final was heading for penalties until Odubade netted in stoppage time to send the Terras into the final.

Manager, Molesley praised his youngsters after the game, he told www.bournemouthecho.co.uk: “You’ve got to remember the average age of that squad (against Dorking Wanderers) was under 24. You forget about how young our team is. Fortunately, we’ve got some good, older, experienced players as well like Stephane Zubar, Yemi Odubade and Josh McQuoid, who have been there done it and seen it. The younger players can be buoyed that they have got some experience around them as well. But they have played maturely beyond their years and they have all season”.

Dartford’s last visit to the Bob Lucas Stadium ended in a 3-1 defeat back in August when Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle were in charge. The return fixture was due to take place on the final day of the season; however, the campaign was cut short. Abdulai Baggie opened the scoring and Brett Williams added two more before Norman Wabo scored a last-minute consolation for the Darts.

Havant and Waterlooville v Dartford

Dartford are one game away from a place in the National South playoff final and standing in their way will be Havant and Waterlooville this Saturday.

Victory for the Darts will give them a chance of promotion to the National League and for manager Steve King an opportunity to go one step further than last season. The Dartford boss lost the final last term when he took Welling United to the final. First comes the semi-final against Havant and Waterlooville who are looking to return to the top flight of non-league at the first attempt.

This weekend’s meeting will be the biggest showdown between the two sides since the final day heartache suffered by the Darts just over two years ago. A last minute goal from former Dartford striker, Jason Prior clinched promotion for the Hawks even though Dartford won their final day match against Bognor Regis Town. History aside, plenty has changed since Tony Burman’s reign and by the time the two sides met again in August, Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle were in charge. 

Havant and Waterlooville were one of the favourites this season to go up and they have justified their tag by finishing the shortened campaign in second. When Dartford played the Hampshire side at Princes Park it was one of Flanagan and Coyle’s better results as the points were shared. Adam Cunnington scored his first goal for the Darts as the Kent side deserved a half time lead. The second half told a different story and when Havant and Waterlooville’s Jonah Ayunga equalised just past the hour, Dartford were left hanging on for a draw, the second in three games in this fixture.

Dartford are currently seven games unbeaten against the Hawks, but with the depth of both squads and the amount of fire power on show this semi-final clash should be a close contest. The Darts can rely on Elliott Romain and Darren McQueen who have netted 16 league goals this season, whilst Havant and Waterlooville’s Ayunga is top scorer with one more than the Dartford pair. 

Yet it is Charlie Sheringham who has been catching the eye of Dartford manager, Steve King. Having been sent on loan to Leatherhead, the striker last featured in February for the Darts, but since football has returned Sheringham has impressed. First the 32-year-old scored in the 1-0 friendly win against Boreham Wood, then he grabbed a brace in the playoff elimination round at Slough Town. King commented after the 3-0 win: “I said to him when he came back after the lockdown that I don’t have favourites. The way he has come back, the attitude he has shown, the willingness, he listens. He has shown a good attitude. He started the second half against Boreham Wood and occupied the two centre halves, getting it and knocking it wide, and getting himself in the box and he scored a fantastic goal and I thought, ‘ooh, we may need that’. He can win fouls, he takes one touch then sets, the others take a touch and a touch and the whole picture changes”. 

Sheringham’s couple changed the momentum of the game at Arbour Park as the hosts created the better chances in the first half, Josh Jackman and Ryan Bird missing good opportunities. King made excellent use of the half-time interval, he said after the game: “I told the players to relax at half-time, get on the ball, I told them ‘if you get on the ball you will start opening them up’”, he continued: “They just had to be braver, that is what I said at half-time, ‘be braver on the ball’. It was about picking the right passes. We knew what kind of game it would be but if we got the first goal they would have to change their approach and start leaving holes and gaps and second half was really good”. Sheringham scored two poachers goals early in the second-half and the match was wrapped up when substitute Luke Wanadio’s drive beat the Slough Town goalkeeper at the near post.

Dartford may have an advantage having now played a competitive game since the restart. Meanwhile, Havant and Waterlooville have not played competitively since a 2-0 win on 7 April against Hampton and Richmond Borough, which extended their unbeaten run to four and saw a fourth consecutive clean sheet. Victory against the Middlesex club left the Hawks in second behind crowned champions Wealdstone with eight games remaining. There is no doubt that manager Paul Doswell would have expected his squad to push Wealdstone all the way to the title, even though the Hawks were three points behind having played a game more. Had the playoffs not taken place, then the Hampshire club would have felt aggrieved as there was enough to go in the season to make a comeback, and that led to a campaign to get the playoffs on.

The Darts were due to play Havant and Waterlooville at Westleigh Park as their next game before the country went into lockdown. Which means the last visit to take on the Hawks in Hampshire was a 0-0 draw in August 2017. Dartford are unbeaten in three away matches against Havant and Waterlooville, keeping clean sheets in their last two. The winner of this playoff semi-final will face Dorking Wanderers or Weymouth, with the highest placed team in the final standings at home.

Slough Town v Dartford

Steve King believes Dartford has a “free hit” in the National South playoffs after his side exceeded expectations since he took over as boss.

The Darts turned themselves into promotion contenders, even though they were relegation candidates when King was appointed in October. Now the Kent club are three games away from a return to the National League after a five year absence.

Finishing sixth in the league, on points per game, the Darts take part in the elimination round facing Slough Town on Sunday. Having finished higher in the National South, it will be the Rebels who will host the game on their patch. With fans unable to attend, King feels anyone could win on the day as playing at home as no real benefit, he commented: “We could beat Slough, Slough could beat us. Everyone in these play-offs can all beat each other and there is no home advantage. Slough have an artificial pitch but we train on one every single week”.

The Dartford manager is calling on his team to step up to Sunday’s challenge, he commented: “Slough are very tough at home, well coached, well drilled, they are hard to beat. They are one of those sides where you have to be on top of your game, otherwise they are capable of beating anybody in the division. To get through the tie the big players need to produce”.

Although the season was cut short Dartford did manage to fulfill both fixtures against the Berkshire club, losing by a single goal on each occasion. The last visit to Arbour Park was in January and a Dan Roberts goal was enough for the home side to complete a double over Dartford. Earlier in the campaign Tony Burman was in charge as the Darts squandered a two goal lead to lose 3-2.

King is happy with the fitness of his squad since the restart and with the players available he has a “good headache”. Amrit Bansal-McNulty and Tyrique Hyde are available from their parent clubs to continue the loan spell the pair were enjoying. Former Dulwich Hamlet and Ebbsfleet United goalkeeper Preston Edwards has come in as cover to first choice shot stopper Alhaji Sesay, that means Mark Smith will not be part of the playoff squad. Dartford will also no longer have the services of Andy Pugh, Liam Nash and Ryan Hayes, whilst Billy Crook is unavailable.

It will be the first competitive match in almost four months for both sides, so preparations in the current climate have proven difficult. On the field football is a different, as games will be staged behind closed doors. Health and safety protocols are in place meaning on the training ground teams are limited in what they can do to get ready for matchday. When the playoffs begin the matches themselves will have a completely different feel without fans and atmosphere. However both clubs are doing what they can to get their supporters involved.

The Darts managed a warm fixture when they beat National League side Boreham Wood 1-0 last weekend, Charlie Sheringham scoring the winner. King used his full squad playing a different side in each half.

Slough Town lost their last two league games 2-0 pre-lockdown against fellow playoff contenders Weymouth and bottom of the table side Hungerford Town. Even without a four month break form tends to go out of the window when knockout competitions start and Dartford will also have to get past Slough Town’s tight defence. This season the Rebels conceded just 38 goals in 35 league games. However, the Darts have Elliott Romain and Darren McQueen, two of the top four scorers in the league, making Sunday’s clash an interesting affair.

Preparations to even make the playoffs happen has gone beyond rivalry. Normally, Dartford boss, Steve King is looking to get one over on his opponents, but he has been working tirelessly with opposing managers including Slough Town’s Neil Baker and Jon Underwood to ensure all six clubs in the playoffs have a shot at promotion.

Whilst the trio leading their teams have come together in difficult circumstances, come the day of the elimination round expect normal service to return when their competitive streaks will be on display.

The winners of the elimination round will face National South runners up Havant and Waterlooville in the semi-final on Saturday 25 July. The playoff final is due to take place on Saturday 1 August.

Dartford v Chelmsford City

Dartford will be determined to change their fortunes against Chelmsford City this weekend at Princes Park.

Although the Darts won the corresponding fixture last season, it was a rare victory against the Clarets. Elliot Bradbrook settled the match to claim Dartford’s only triumph in this fixture in nine previous attempts. The last two meetings have been at Melbourne Stadium with the Essex club securing a 4-0 win in August and a 2-1 victory just over a year ago.

Dartford followed up progression to the Kent Senior Cup final with a win at St Albans City last weekend, a ground where the Darts had lost in all the previous four visits there without even scoring. When Joe Iaciofano put the National South strugglers ahead from the spot, the Darts could have easily felt that the inevitable defeat was about to happen. However, Steve King’s side had other ideas and within seven minutes the Darts were level when Liam Nash scored his second league goal of the campaign. Five minutes into the second-half Dartford went ahead when they were awarded the second penalty of the afternoon, up stepped Darren McQueen to move his season’s tally to 18 in all competitions.

Steve King described Dartford’s performance as ‘gritty’ and was pleased with the two tactical sides his team needed to show. Whilst the first half was full of attacking intent, the second half was opposite, he explained to DFCTV: ‘’We dug deep, St Albans had a right go at us in the second half with long throws coming into our box, which we had to defend properly and I think we got it spot on’’. He added ‘’We showed another side where we didn’t want to get beaten and people were putting their body on the line’’. The Dartford boss was also delighted with Nash’s goal, work ethic and link up play. The striker told DFCTV after the 2-1 victory: ‘’I’m happy to contribute, my main objective in every game is to score, but I don’t put too much pressure on myself and I try to give an all-round game’’.

Chelmsford City are still hopeful they can reach the top seven and a playoff spot. Results this term had been inconsistent under Rod Stringer and after a 6-2 home defeat to Oxford City in November the former boss was under pressure. Although results improved over the next eight games where the Clarets won four and drew three, the 1-0 reverse at bottom side Hungerford Town was the final straw. At one point it looked as though the new manager was going to be the experienced Garry Hill, however the parties couldn’t agree terms.

Instead Robbie Simpson has been in charge on a temporary basis, he only signed for the club in August after he was released by Milton Keynes Dons. The striker has plenty of playing experience notably representing Cambridge United, Coventry City, Oldham Athletic and Exeter City. Celebrating his birthday this weekend, Simpson initially got off to a difficult start when his conceded five in his first match losing 5-3 at Dulwich Hamlet, the following match was a 2-0 loss at Dorking Wanderers.

However, the Clarets went three games unbeaten with a 3-1 home win over Tonbridge Angels and a creditable 1-1 draw with Slough Town. Struggling on the road this season with just two away wins in the National South, Simpson took his side to league leaders Wealdstone and came home with all three points. Former Dart, Tom Knowles netted the winning goal, but he has since returned to his parent club Cambridge United after 24 appearances and five goals for the Clarets.

On the weekend, Chelmsford City hosted F.A Trophy semi-finalists Concord Rangers in an Essex derby and drew 1-1. The Clarets earned a point despite playing 70 minutes a man down after Troy Brown was sent off. Brown pulled back Concord Rangers striker Decarrey Sherriff to give away a penalty, Sherriff took the spot kick and scored. The equaliser came four minutes prior half-time, Shaun Jeffers set up Tom Wraight who shot past Chris Haigh in the Concord goal.

Speaking to www.chelmsfordcityfc.com manager Simpson said: “I was disappointed until the sending off, games are running out and we can’t afford to not do the right things. It took us until the sending off to get going and do the basics properly. But after that I’m was so proud of my players, they ran their socks off and stuck to the task”.

Simpson can all upon the experience of former Premier League striker Leroy Lita, who came out of retirement to play for Salisbury before penning a short-term deal with the Clarets. Lita made his name at Bristol City prior to his time in the top flight with Reading and Swansea City. Chez Isaac will return to Princes Park after he short spell with the Darts lasted three months, the midfielder made a dozen appearances under the management of Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle. Shaun Jeffers scored in this fixture in August 2016 in a 1-1 draw, the striker is Chelmsford City’s top scorer this term with 13 league goals.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 37 / Wealdstone wins: 57 / Draws: 21

Current League Form

Dartford (WDWLWW)Chelmsford City (DWDWLL)
St Albans CityA2-1Concord RangersH1-1
WealdstoneA0-0WealdstoneA1-0
Eastbourne BoroughH2-1Slough TownH1-1
Hampton & RichmondH1-2Tonbridge AngelsH3-1
Chippenham Town A5-1Dorking WanderersA0-2
Dulwich Hamlet H1-0Dulwich HamletA3-5

Last Six League Meetings

12.08.2019Chelmsford City4Dartford1
19.01.2019Chelmsford City 2Dartford1
07.08.2018Dartford1Chelmsford City0
10.02.2018Dartford1Dartford2
21.10.2017Chelmsford City1Chelmsford City0
18.02.2017Dartford0Chelmsford City1

Stats

Dartford have won just five games in their last 25 competitive matches against Chelmsford City (D5, L15).

The Darts win against the Clarets last term was the first in ten attempts at home.

On This Day

Dartford have played their last four games on 14 March at home with mixed fortunes. The Darts last victory on this day was in 1998 when they claimed a 4-0 win over Waterlooville, who would later merge with Havant Town to form next weekend’s opponents Havant and Waterlooville. Six years earlier, Dartford won by the same score against Poole Town, both matches were in the Southern Premier League. The last two fixtures also ended in the same score, this time a pair of 1-0 defeats. First, Harrow Borough came to Princes Park and won in the Isthmian Premier League back in 2009 and most recently in 2015, Alfreton Town beat the Darts in the National League.



St Albans City v Dartford

Buoyed by the fact the Darts reached a cup final this week, Dartford return to league action this weekend when they visit St Albans City.

The Darts have had nothing to show in their last four visits to Clarence Park, losing them all without even finding the back of the net. Dartford’s last victory there was nine years ago remembered by a freak long range Lee Burns header, but it was young Jack Pallen that scored the winner in a 2-1 triumph.

Over the last three weeks Steve King has made good use of the squad he has assembled with mid-week Kent Senior Cup games scheduled between National South fixtures. In that time the Darts have picked up four points from six, including the stalemate with league leaders Wealdstone and progressed through two rounds of the county cup to reach the final.

On Tuesday night a strong Dartford side strolled past Phoenix Sports in the semi-final. King made five changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Wealdstone, goalkeeper Alhaji Sesay was back in goal, Ronnie Vint replaced Josh Hill at centre back, Jake Jebb made his second start for the club. Luke Wanadio and Liam Nash who were on the bench against the Stones were selected to start. Goals from Jordan Wynter, Liam Nash’s brace, Elliott Romain and Amrit Bansal-McNulty, who has now extended his loan until the end of the season earned the Darts a comprehensive 5-1 victory.

In Dartford’s last league game, King made six changes to the side and his team came away with a creditable draw with league leaders Wealdstone. A solid defence, in which Tom Bonner and Josh Hill excelled, and the impact of Wanadio’s appearance from off the bench were positives in difficult playing conditions. Dartford survived the biggest moment of the match though when Weadstone’s Dennon Lewis missed a penalty.

The Darts bagged their first point of the season when they last played St Albans City in August under the guidance of Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle. New signing and current top scorer for the Saints, Joe Iaciofano scored for the Hertfordshore club, his first goal of the campaign to give the visitors the lead. However, Wanadio netted his first goal since returning to the Darts in the second half.

At Princes Park, Dartford have fared better against the Saints, but it’s the away fixture against Ian Allinson’s side that has troubled them over the last four years. St Albans City have won four in a row against the Darts on their own patch scoring eleven without reply. Last season, Dartford were beaten 2-0 when Solomon Sambou and Khale da Costa scored. The year before on the final day of the season, Sam Merson’s brace helped the Saints to a 4-0 win, Charlie Walker scored the only goal three years ago and two own goals contributed to another 4-0 reverse for the Darts in 2016.

St Albans City are in a relegation fight sitting second from bottom in the National South with just three home wins in the league this season. Although form has picked up for Ian Allinson’s side as they try and get themselves out of trouble in a very tight battle at the bottom, only a point separate St Albans City in 21st and Concord Rangers fifteenth place

Last weekend, they lost a six pointer against Chippenham Town with former Dartford defender Tom Bender heading the Saints in front. However, two goals in the space of four minutes turned the match around when Kieran Parselle then Scott Twine helped Chippenham Town to victory. Bender made 20 appearances for the Darts during the 2014/2015 campaign and scored against the Darts in 2016 for St Albans City, a season later he scored an own goal which gave Dartford a home victory.

However last month, the Saints did beat promotion chasers Bath City then Havant and Waterlooville on the road. Their last victory at home, four weeks ago, was against Maidstone United. Out of the teams around the relegation zone, St Albans City have one of the better records over the last eight games.

Head to Head

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

Current League Form

Dartford (DWLWWL) St Albans (LWDWLL)
WealdstoneH0-0Chippenham TownA1-2
Eastbourne Borough H2-1Havant & WaterloovilleA2-1
Hampton & Richmond H1-2Oxford CityH0-0
Chippenham Town A5-1Bath CityA3-0
Dulwich Hamlet H1-0Welling UnitedH1-2
Slough Town A0-1 Hampton & RichmondA1-2

Last Six Meetings

06.08.2019Dartford1St Albans City1
12.01.2019Dartford3St Albans City2
01.09.2018St Albans City 2Dartford0
03.02.2018St Albans City 4Dartford0
28.10.2017Dartford2St Albans City 1
25.03.2017St Albans City 1Dartford0

Stats

The last away win in this fixture was on 8 November 2016, when St Albans City won 2-0 at Princes Park. Since then the home side has won five of the last six.

The Darts have gone eight games without a clean sheet against St Albans City.

Dartford’s draw with Wealdstone was their 200th league game since relegation from the National League. The Darts have won 100, drawn 46, lost 54, scored 331 goals and conceded 246 in that time.

St Albans City have lost all four home games against sides in the top five, but they have drawn all three against the teams directly below the Darts.

Only Hungerford Town have picked up fewer points at home than St Albans City this season.

On This Day

Inflatable penguins made their debut when Dartford last won on 7 March in 1989, the Darts beat Atherstone United 3-0 at Watling Street in the Southern League Cup semi-final first leg on their way to wining the competition. Thirty years ago, Dartford drew 2-2 with Welling United in the last eight of the Kent Senior Cup and then 0-0 with Gloucester City two years later in the Southern Premier League. Witney Town beat Dartford 3-1 in 1998, Tommy Osborne and Adam Gross scored in a 2-2 draw with Margate in 2009. The last two games have seen the Darts fail to score, in front of the BT Sports cameras six years ago Dartford lost 1-0 at home to Chester and a year later, the Darts drew 0-0 at FC Halifax Town.

Dartford v Phoenix Sports

Dartford are one game away from reaching the Kent Senior Cup final when they host Phoenix Sports in the last four on Tuesday night.

The Darts last reached the final four years ago when they beat Charlton Athletic and are bidding to win the competition for the twelfth time in their history. Standing in the way, Isthmian South East side Phoenix Sports are aiming to cause an upset to have a shot at claiming their first ever county cup.

In the first competitive meeting between the two sides, the pair have often played against each other in pre-season friendlies because of the proximity of both clubs, Dartford’s opponents are based in Barnehurst just three and a half miles away.

After the quarter-final victory in the last round, Dartford boss Steve King stated he was taking the competition seriously and despite fielding many players trying to force their way into the first team, the Darts beat Folkestone Invicta 4-0. After a flowing move down the right between Amrit Bansal-McNulty and Tyrique Hyde, striker Liam Nash headed in the opener. Hyde added a second from the spot in the first half and after the break Billy Crook scored his first for the club. Elliott Romain came off the subs bench and added a fourth.

In the previous round Dartford beat Maidstone United 1-0 with King handing first starts to Craig Braham-Barrett and Nash. The only goal of the game was scored by Kyjoun Marsh-Brown to put the Darts into the last eight of the competition.

Since Dartford’s win in the last eight they were back in National South action against league leaders Wealdstone. King made five changes with Craig Braham-Barrett, Tom Bonner, Noor Husin, Elliott Romain and Darren McQueen returning to the starting eleven, whilst Mark Smith kept his place in goal. The game ended 0-0 with the Stones spurning the best chance when Dennon Lewis missed a penalty.

Phoenix Sports have played three games in the Kent Senior Cup to reach the last four and they started of their campaign back in November. The Sports beat a youthful looking Margate side in round one racking up four goals. Ben Allen opened the scoring and added another before Margate’s William Risdon was sent off. On the hour Allen completed his hat-trick and a fourth was netted by Jeff Duah-Kessie, there was time for a consolation game when Elliott Reeves made it 4-1.

In round two, Paul Byron’s side beat a Charlton Athletic under 23’s team 2-1 by coming from behind. The Addicks took advantage of winning a penalty when Junior Quitirna gave the London club the lead. However, two goals in a minute after the interval from Lauris Chin and Duah-Kessie put Phoenix Sports into the last eight.

In the semi-final Phoenix Sports were drawn against Isthmian South East title contenders Ashford United. Lee Bird put Phoenix Sports ahead with a delightful lob over home goalkeeper Sam Mott. David Smith levelled the tie for the hosts, but with three minutes remaining Phoenix Sports were awarded a penalty, Kenny Alireu sent Mott the wrong way to claim the winner.

Phoenix Sports are currently ninth in the Isthmian South East division, two steps below the Darts. They are currently ten points off the playoff places and have Ashley Probets in their squad, the defender played for Dartford during pre-season in 2010 but couldn’t quite earn a place in the squad after Tony Burman signed Tom Bonner instead.

The other semi-final will be between Whitsable Town and Dover Athletic or Gillingham.

Stats

Steve King has used 20 players in the two rounds that Dartford have played in this season’s Kent Senior Cup

If Dartford win the semi-final they will reach their 25th Kent Senior Cup final.

On This Day

Dartford reached the Kent Senior Cup final back in 1987 when they beat Ashford Town 1-0, the Darts went on to beat Maidstone United to lift the cup without conceding a goal in the competition. The Darts retained the cup the season after and didn’t concede a single goal in that campaign either.