AFC Sudbury v Dartford

Dartford have the opportunity to reach the F.A Cup first round this weekend when they visit Isthmian North side AFC Sudbury.

Dartford play two steps above their opponents, but have history with their hosts. Dartford had a tremendous tussle with AFC Sudbury for the Isthmian Division One North title back in 2007/2008 and a memorable controversial moment in their last visit to Brundon Lane. John Guest headed the Darts in front when the defender got on the end of Steve Norman’s free-kick. The Suds had prolific striker Jamie Rowe in their ranks and his brace gave the Suffolk side the advantage. Then came the goal that should never have counted, Brendon Cass tried forcing the ball over the line to no avail but the officials thought otherwise. A 2-2 draw thanks to the ‘ghost goal’ ensured there was enough distance between the two sides for the Darts to enter the final stretch of the title race.

The Darts took four points from AFC Sudbury that season after winning 1-0 at Princes Park earlier in the campaign, Adam Flanagan scoring the winner. In the end the title race went to Dartford’s penultimate match of the season and eventually Tony Burman’s side finished nine points clear to take the Isthmian Division One North title, the Suds lost their playoff semi-final against Canvey Island.

Dartford last reached the first round of the F.A Cup four years ago, but manager Steve King knows his team will need to be on their game against lower league opposition, he spoke to Dartford FC TV and explained: “It’s going to be tough for a different reason, obviously we’re favourites being two levels above, but they have got this far for a reason, so they have ability in their team. We will do no less preparation as we would if it was anybody else”, he added: “If we don’t hit good standards we will get turned over. It is my job to make us as professional as we can and to realise we have to give everything to get through to the next round, but what an opportunity”.

King has led the Darts through two rounds so far beating Hythe Town 5-1 to claim his first F.A Cup victory as Dartford boss. Ade Azeez netted a perfect hat-trick, Danny Leonard scored his first for the club and there was also an own goal. In the third qualifying round, the Darts faced a tough draw against rivals Maidstone United at the Gallagher Stadium, as the two highest ranked teams in the competition went head to head. Noor Husin’s free-kick, Leonard’s second F.A Cup goal and another by Azeez claimed a satisfying 3-0 victory.

Building up to the final qualifier Dartford were in National South action last weekend and found things frustrating against Hungerford Town in the first half. After the interval, Azeez broke the deadlock for his eleventh goal in just ten games in all competitions. Another win and clean sheet was deserved according to King, but he felt the score should have been better if his side took their chances in front of goal. The performances of the team have helped King to the National South’s Manager of the Month award whilst Azeez claimed Player of the Month.

AFC Sudbury began their F.A Cup journey in the preliminary round almost two months ago with an away tie against Cockfosters, an Essex Senior League side who Dartford will face in the next round of the London Senior Cup. Daniel Gilchrist opened the scoring on just five minutes, but AFC Sudbury’s lead was cancelled out when Charncey Dash equalised, the advantage was restored two minutes later as George Keys netted what turned out to be the winner.

AFC Sudbury were made to work hard in the next round and needed a last-minute winner to scrape through against Potton United. The United Counties Premier Division South side almost held out for a replay until Tyrese Osbourne scored the crucial goal from a rebound. In the second qualifying round the Suds did need a replay in an all Isthmian League North tie. After a 0-0 draw at home to Stowmarket Town they finished the job with another 1-0 victory, this time Romario Dunne scored the goal to keep the cup run going.

In the previous round the Suds played higher league opposition and yet again came out triumphant in another 1-0 victory. Up against Isthmian Premier League side, Cheshunt, Luke Hipkin scored the first-half goal to take them within one game of the F.A Cup first round.

Last weekend AFC Sudbury won another cup tie beating 2019 F.A Vase finalists, Cray Valley Paper Mills. Both teams play at the same level with the Millers in the Isthmian South East division. With no replay, the F.A Trophy second qualifier ended 0-0 and went to penalties, Alfie Stronge’s save was the last act to send the Suffolk side onwards.

In the Isthmian North, AFC Sudbury have made an excellent start and if they win their game in hand, they could go joint top on points. The Suffolk side have won six of their opening eight, drawing one and losing the other. At home, the Suds have recorded four points from nine and on the road, they have a perfect record with three straight victories without conceding.

Since that title race with the Darts thirteen years ago, AFC Sudbury managed promotion by winning the Isthmian Division One North in 2016, but they came straight back down finishing second from bottom. This season is their fifth campaign back in the Isthmian North having finished twelfth and eighth before the two curtailed seasons.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / AFC Sudbury wins: 0 / Draws: 1

Current Form

Dartford
(DWWWWW)
    AFC Sudbury (LDWWWD)    
Hungerford Town H 1-0 Cray Valley Paper Mills (FAT) H 0-0
Maidstone United (FAC) A 3-0 Cheshunt (FAC) H 1-0
Athletic Newham (LSC) H 5-2 Romford A 2-0
Welling United A 6-0 Stowmarket Town (FAC) A 1-0
Hythe Town H 5-1 Stowmarket Town (FAC) H 0-0
Tonmbridge Angels H 1-1 Dereham Town H 1-3

Previous Meetings

AFC Sudbury 2 – 2 Dartford (09/02/2008 – Isthmian Division One North)
Dartford 1 – 0 AFC Sudbury (22/09/2007 – Isthmian Division One North )

Stats

  • Dartford have made it to the first round five times in the last twelve attempts
  • The Darts are unbeaten in their last three F.A Cup away ties beating Maidstone United this term and Blackfield and Langley and Horsham in 2019
  • Dartford last lost an away F.A Cup tie against lower league opposition in 2002 when they went out in a replay 1-0 at Carterton Town.
  • AFC Sudbury have kept five consecutive clean sheets in all competitions and nine in their last ten.
  • The Suds last made it to the first round of the F.A Cup in the 2000/2001 season, they defeated Southend Manor, Brook House, Heybridge Swifts, Leek Town, Belper Town before losing to Darlington
  • The last time AFC Sudbury made it to this stage of the competition was back in 2007

On This Day

This will be Dartford’s seventh F.A Cup tie on 16 October and after losing 3-2 to Northfleet in 1895, the Darts are unbeaten in the previous five. On four occasions Dartford progressed to the next round beating Bromley 3-1 in 1912, Folkestone in 1926 and Ramsgate Athletic in 1948 (both games ending 2-0) and in 1982 the Darts knocked out Corinthian Casuals winning 2-1. Tonbridge were the only other side to halt Dartford’s progression in 1965 when the tie finished 0-0, but that was only temporary as the Darts won the replay 6-2.

Dartford’s last away victory on this day was a seven goal thriller against Margate, the Darts returned with all three Southern Premier League points in a 4-3 triumph. Eight years ago, Mohamed Eisa scored the only goal of the game as Dartford beat Charlton Athletic 1-0 in the Kent Senior Cup. Eisa has scored almost a century of Football League goals since after spells with Cheltenham Town, Bristol City, Peterborough United and currently at Milton Keynes Dons.

Dartford v Hungerford Town

Dartford return to National South action against Hungerford Town brimming with confidence after a superb F.A Cup win last time out.

Topping the league table two points ahead of rivals Maidstone United, the Darts knocked the Stones out of the cup last weekend and now face Hungerford Town at Princes Park in the league. Steve King’s side are unbeaten this term winning an impressive nine of their opening ten matches in all competitions. Their visitors also progressed in the F.A Cup on the weekend and have seven points in the league from their first five fixtures.

Steve King is expecting “another tough game” and has respect for their manager Danny Robinson who has been in charge of the Crusaders over the last couple of years, the Darts boss told Dartford FC TV: “Hungerford have got a great manager, for me he has done ever so well in the two years he has been in this league, he’s made them really competitive. They are a group who are together and play in a certain way where you have to be proper on it to get anything from the game”.

Yet to taste defeat at home to the Crusaders, Dartford drew 1-1 back in January at Princes Park after falling behind. Craig Fasanmade put Hungerford Town in front, firing a shot in at the near post, but Josh Hill equalised with a header from a Jack Jebb free kick. The Darts pressed for a winner and were denied on several occasions by the excellent goalkeeping of Luke Cairney. It was the second time Dartford drew with the Berkshire side at home, the Darts were victorious in this fixture in August 2016 and December 2018.

The depth of Dartford’s squad has been on display over the last month and the positive results have continued. The Darts scored five or more goals in three consecutive games for the first time in 46 years after beating Hythe Town 5-1, Welling United 6-0 and Athletic Newham 5-2. Last weekend they added another three goals to their tally in their F.A Cup third qualifying round triumph over Maidstone United.

Noor Husin’s free-kick, a third goal of the season by Danny Leonard and yet another strike by Ade Azeez earned the Darts a fourth qualifying round tie away at AFC Sudbury. In an interview with Dartford FC TV, Steve King praised the commitment of his players and was impressed with the counter attacking football his side played, he said: “I thought we were fantastic; our performance was like dogged determination. They didn’t cause us too many problems apart from the end when they were throwing balls into the box. We had the perfect game plan, when we broke, we broke out with a purpose and scored the second and third goals. It was a magnificent performance in the way we were solid”.

Over the last few weeks, Dartford’s squad has been tweaked with the arrival of Emmanuel Sonupe, who made a big impression on his debut in the London Senior Cup scoring twice. However he caught King’s eye sooner in the friendly against Leyton Orient, but due to a shoulder injury Sonupe had to wait to be signed. The former Stevenage and Yeovil Town winger also featured for the Darts as a substitute against Maidstone United and is waiting for a first league start.

Ronnie Vint becomes the second player to go out on loan by returning to Dulwich Hamlet for a few months. The defender has been playing catch up this term after an ankle injury in pre-season. As part of the best defence in the league it has been difficult for Vint to get time on the pitch, he spent a period on loan at Hamlet last season and impressed whilst there. Meanwhile, Tyrique Hyde has been picking up minutes at Hemel Hempstead Town and is due to return at the end of the month.

Hungerford Town have caused problems for Dartford in the past, mainly on their own patch. Although they are waiting for their first home win in the league this campaign, they have won two out three on the road. Last season’s surprise package relied on the goals of Ryan Seager, this term he has managed two in the National South, both penalties.

The Crusaders made a great start to their campaign with a Simo Mbonkwi inspired win away at Welling United. The midfielder netted an opening day hat-trick as Danny Robinson’s side cruised to a 4-1 victory. Another standout performance also came on their travels when Hungerford United came from behind to beat last season’s league leaders Dorking Wanderers. Callum Willmoth scored then assisted Nana Kyei to claim a 2-1 triumph at Meadowbank. In their last league outing, the Crusaders drew 1-1 at home with Slough Town, George Smith scoring a last-minute equaliser to rescue a point. Both defeats this season have ended at home to Tonbridge Angels and away at Dulwich Hamlet.

Having beaten Truro City by a goal to nil in the third qualifying round of the F.A Cup, Hungerford Town were in action against Cirencester Town last weekend. The Crusaders navigated into the final qualifying round but threw away a two-goal lead and needed another last-minute goal, this time against opponents two divisions below them. Ryan Seager proved his worth scoring the second to put Hungerford Town two up and the late winner. The Crusaders have been drawn at home against National League side Bromley.

Head to Head

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

Current League Form

Dartford
(WDWWWW)
    Hungerford Town
(DLWLW)
   
Welling United A 6-0 Slough Town H 1-1
Tonbridge Angels H 1-1 Dulwich Hamlet A 1-3
Bath City A 3-1 Dorking Wanderers A 2-1
Eastbourne Borough H 3-1 Tonbridge Angels H 1-3
Dulwich Hamlet A 2-0 Welling United A 4-1
Slough Town H 3-0      

Previous Meetings

Dartford 1 – 1 Hungerford Town (16/01/2021 – National South)
Hungerford Town 1 – 2 Dartford (28/11/2020 – National South)
Hungerford Town 2 – 2 Dartford (26/08/2019 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 1 Hungerford Town (22/12/2018 – National South)
Hungerford Town 1 – 0 Dartford (25/08/2018 – National South)
Hungerford Town 1 – 0 Dartford (09/12/2017 – National South)

Stats

  • Dartford are four games unbeaten against Hungerford Town, their best sequence versus the Crusaders since the first meeting back in 2016
  • Hungerford Town have conceded in each of the last four games against the Darts having previously kept four clean sheets in a row
  • Ade Azeez has scored ten goals in nine appearances for the Darts, the most prolific goalscoring start for a new signing since Cody McDonald in the 2007/2008 season
  • Dartford have scored three or more goals in 80% of their matches this term
  • The Darts have made their best start to a league campaign since the 2009/2010 Isthmian Premier League title winning season (W6, D1, L0). In 2009, Dartford managed 23 goals after seven games compared with 21 so far this season. The four goals conceded this time matches that of 12 years ago.

On This Day

Dartford set up a F.A Cup classic on this day when they conceded in the last minute to draw 2-2 with Canvey Island in 2010. Former Dart, Danny Heale gave the Islanders a shock lead but Ryan Hayes and Elliot Bradbrook had the Darts in front. Rob King netted a last minute penalty to take the tie to a dramatic replay three days later. Tony Burman’s side were taken to penalties in the replay as the sides drew 3-3, but the Darts finally went through winning the shoot-out 9-8.

The Darts started the 1977/1978 with Roy Dwight in charge, John Stevens became caretaker manager and by the time the delayed Eastern Floodlit Cup final was played the following season John Boyle was leading the team. On this day in 1978 the Darts drew 1-1 against Chelmsford City in that final, it wasn’t enough to overturn the 3-1 deficit from the first leg. Boyle was dismissed the following month and replaced with Graham Carr.

Dartford’s last outing on this day ended in a 4-1 home defeat to AFC Telford United in 2012, Elliot Bradbrook scored for the Darts.

Maidstone United v Dartford

A potential F.A Cup classic could be served up this weekend as Dartford battle it out with rivals Maidstone United for a place in the final qualifying round.

The ingredients for an enthralling encounter are ready as the two highest ranked teams at this stage of the competition go head to head. The Darts lead the National South table as top scorers and with the tightest defence, the Stones are just two points behind in second place. A Kent derby, players up against former clubs and the fans back in stadiums should make for an exciting afternoon.

If the last major cup meeting is anything to go by then this tie could be a close affair. Maidstone United came out on top in the F.A Trophy after a replay, a 2-2 draw at the Gallagher Stadium was followed up by a 1-0 win at Princes Park. A week before the initial F.A Cup tie they met in the league and that also finished 2-2.

Dartford boss, Steve King highlighted how difficult the draw was to both teams, he told Dartford FC TV: “It’s one we didn’t want and probably one they didn’t want. It’s the two highest rank teams left in this initial stage. Would we have wanted another tie, an easier one? Yes, course we would, but they are probably saying the same”. Yet he remains confident his side can progress in the competition, he added: “We’ve played three away from home and have won all three so our away form is good. It’s a tough, tough game but anything can happen on the day as you have seen in previous rounds, eight sides have been knocked out from our league against lower league opposition. Both sides will go into that game thinking they can win”.

Dartford’s last two trips to the Gallagher Stadium have ended in victories. In January of last year, they met for the fourth time that season, the Darts won by a single goal in the Kent Senior Cup with Ky Marsh-Brown scoring the winner. In last season’s league fixture Dartford won 2-0 but had to wait for two late goals from Tom Bonner and Charlie Sheringham.

Steve King’s side have been scoring for fun over the last three games bagging five in the F.A Cup tie against Hythe Town, six versus local rivals Welling United and on Tuesday notched another five in their London Senior Cup debut. The Darts came from behind twice when they hosted Athletic Newham to finally win 5-2. King selected a mixture of senior players needing some game time and academy players handing debuts to a number of youngsters. After falling behind, George Porter equalised from the spot to level the time going into half-time. Athletic Newham went ahead again in the second half but braces from Emmanual Sonupe and Dan Roberts sealed a passage to the next round against Sporting Bengal or Cockfosters. Dartford have now hit five or more goals in three consecutive games for the first time since 1975.

Maidstone United have dropped just four points in the National South with two draws in their last four league games. Only Hampton and Richmond Borough and most recently Concord Rangers have taken points off the Stones. Hakan Hayrettin’s side began their campaign with three straight victories over Hemel Hempstead Town, Chelmsford City and Billericay Town. Their other wins came against Oxford City and in their most recent game Bath City.

Hakan Hayrettin believed the second half against Bath City made a statement, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “If we can grind out results at places like this – make no mistake, Bath are a very good team – then that shows me where we’re at”, he added: “You’re never going to be perfect every game but I felt that second-half performance was as close to perfect as you’re going to get”. Spaniard, Joan Luque has been in form this term with seven goals from left wing, he scored a double on the weekend earning praise from his boss, Hayrettin commented: “The way I’m playing him here suits him at the moment. It’s amazing to have the goals he’s got by the end of September”.

Luque also found the back of the net in the last round of the F.A Cup as Maidstone United beat Isthmian South East side Chichester City. The Stones had to wait until early in the second half before Luque opened the scoring, but Chichester City’s Tyrone Madhani equalised. Christie Pattison and Roarie Deacon added to the Stones tally to secure a 3-1 triumph.

Both Dartford and Maidstone United have former players in their squad, George Porter scored four goals in twelve games for the Stones last season before switching allegiances. This term for the Darts he has managed three goals in eight appearances. Jordan Wynter and Jake Robinson also had spells at the Gallagher Stadium, Wynter made eight appearances before joining the Darts on loan then making a permanent move. Jake Robinson had a short stay at the Stones between his two spells at Billericay Town. The pair have been struggling with injury recently and may not feature depending on their fitness.

Alfie Pavey had an outstanding time with the Darts under Tony Burman during the 2017/2018 campaign. The striker scored 27 goals as Dartford came close to winning the National South title before he joined the champions of that season Havant and Waterlooville. In the summer he joined Maidstone United, the club where it all began for him. Although his been restricted to mainly substitute appearances he did start in the last F.A Cup round against Chichester City in which he missed a penalty, but he does have two goals this term from three starts and five substitute appearance. Jack Barham is another former Dart who joined the Stones in the summer, but he has yet to feature due to injury, but the striker is back in training. He made 15 appearances last season and scored two goals for the Darts.

Saturday’s clash will be the seventh F.A Cup meeting between the two teams with Dartford leading the head to head record after winning the first five. The most recent victory in the F.A Cup against the Stones was a 2-0 home win in 1962. Maidstone United recorded the same score to progress in 1987, both those ties earned a place in the first round for the victors.

Head to Head

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

Current Form

Dartford
(WWWDWW)
    Maidstone United
(WWDWDW)
   
Athletic Newham (LSC) H 5-2 Bath City A 3-0
Welling United A 6-0 Chichester City (FAC) A 3-1
Hythe Town (FAC) H 5-1 Concord Rangers H 2-2
Tonbridge Angels H 1-1 Oxford City A 3-1
Bath City A 3-1 Hampton & Richmond A 1-1
Eastbourne Borough H 3-1 Billericay Town H 1-0

Previous Six Meetings

Maidstone United 0 – 2 Dartford (14/11/2020 – National South)
Maidstone United 0 – 1 Dartford (21/01/2020- Kent Senior Cup)
Dartford 0 – 1 Maidstone United (26/11/2019 – F.A Trophy)
Maidstone United 2 – 2 Dartford (23/11/2019 – F.A Trophy)
Dartford 2 – 2 Maidstone United (16/11/2019 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 1 Maidstone United (22/01/2019 – Kent Senior Cup)*
*Maidstone United won 8-7 on penalties

Stats

  • Dartford have made it to the fourth qualifying round in four of the last seven seasons. Maidstone United have made it to the last qualifying round in six of their last seven campaigns
  • The Darts have scored five or more in their last three games, they have never scored five or more goals in four consecutive matches
  • Dartford are six away games unbeaten against the Stones in all competitions
  • Maidstone United’s last home win in this fixture was a 4-1 Isthmian Division One South victory on 3 March 2007
  • Across all cup competitions Dartford have won 19, drawn 5 and lost 14

On This Day

Dartford have always progressed to the next round of the F.A Cup when playing on 2 October. In 2007, Camberley Town took the Darts all the way drawing 2-2 to force a replay. Dartford were held to a 0-0 draw after extra time and had to endure penalties. Tony Kessell was the hero with twp penalty saves whilst Jamie Coyle, Steve Norman, Eddie McClements and Adam Flanagan all scored their spot kicks. In 1982, Tonbridge were beaten 3-2, Lloyds Sittingbourne were defeated 2-1 in 1948 and Beckenham lost 3-1 in 1926.

Dartford v Athletic Newham

Dartford make their long-awaited London Senior Cup debut on Tuesday night with a home tie against Essex League club Athletic Newham.

Last season the Darts pulled out of the competition after their season was halted, but the cup did finally conclude in May. It is expected that this year’s edition of the London Senior Cup will provide Dartford with an extra opportunity to rotate their squad, now they have more depth than previous campaigns.

Goalkeeper Craig King has been limited to one game this term, whilst others like Luke Wanadio, George Porter, Luke Allen, Ronnie Vint have started less than half of the league matches so far. Steve King confirmed in an interview with Dartford FC TV last week he will use “players that need minutes”, he also said: “We’re going to get some third years in as well, one’s that are too old for the F.A Youth Cup game the following night”. Jake Robinson has been out with injury and will need more time to recover, Jordan Wynter is likely to be rested after playing with a groin strain over the last few matches and Jake Jebb missed Dartford’s last game after picking up an achilles injury.

The Darts won their last cup match beating Hythe Town 5-1 in the F.A Cup and on the weekend they demolished Welling United in the National South. Ade Azeez made it nine goals in eight games for the club with a hat-trick in the cup and another two against the Wings, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the striker is given a rest. Noor Husin opened the scoring within a minute on Saturday before Azeez and Danny Leonard gave Dartford a three goal lead going into the break. In his first league start of the season, Luke Allen netted a brace within a two minute spell, then Azeez rounded off a memorable afternoon with number six. Dartford have now scored eleven goals in their last two games, something they last did when they went on to win the Isthmian Premier League.

Dartford’s last cup match against Hythe Town in the F.A Cup – highlights available on Dartford FC TV

Dartford’s confidence is at a high and King described his side’s performance in the 6-0 derby demolition of Welling United as “something special”, he commented: “That was the best we’ve ever played across a ninety minutes. The amount of chances we created, that should have been double figures. Some of that football was top level”.

Athletic Newham were only formed six years ago as a youth team and began their quest into senior football a year later by joining the Essex Alliance Football League. The Kings won promotion to the Essex Senior League last term based on results of the last two abandoned seasons.

In 2019/2020, the Kings were in second place in the Eastern Counties Division One South. The London based club were in a strong position, five points behind with three games in hand. Last term they were second again and point behind the leaders, but enough to move up a division. Athletic Newham have started life in the Essex Senior League with six wins, three draws and two defeats and are amongst the league’s top scorers with 28 goals, Richard Kone impressing with 17 goals in his first ten games. The striker sparked interest from Billericay Town in the summer before landing a trial with Colchester United.

In their last league outing, Athletic Newham had to switch the venue to their opponents Redbridge, who they already played earlier in the season, and for a second meeting in a row the pair drew 2-2. That result came off the back of a 3-1 home win over Saffron Walden Town and their only league defeat in eight against league leaders Stansted. There was a period earlier in the campaign where goals flowed, the Kings racked up 16 in four games losing 6-3 to Takeley before beating Southend Manor 4-3, St Margaretsbury 6-1 and Ilford 3-2.

The Kings have already had some cup experience this term having made history in the F.A Cup. Making their debut in the competition they won their preliminary round tie 3-1 versus Virginia Water in a replay. In the next round Athletic Newham went out to Hanwell Town losing 5-0.

Head to Head

No previous meetings

Current Form

Dartford
(WWDWWW)
    Athletic Newham
(DWLDWW)
   
Welling United A 6-0 Redbridge H 2-2
Hythe Town (FAC) H 5-1 Saffron Walden Town H 3-1
Tonbridge Angels H 1-1 Stansted H 1-2
Bath City A 3-1 Little Oakley A 1-1
Eastbourne Borough H 3-1 Clapton H 2-1
Dulwich Hamlet A 2-0 Ilford A 3-2

Stats

  • Dartford’s 6-0 away win over Welling United is their biggest on the road since 1997 against Clevedon Town in the Southern League South.
  • Last time the Darts scored five or more in consecutive games was 2009 (won 5-0 versus Hendon in Isthmian Premier League then 6-1 against Chipstead in the F.A Cup).
  • Dartford have not scored five or more goals in three consecutive games since 1975 (the Darts beat Crawley Town 10-0, drew with Stourbridge 5-5 and defeated Hillingdon Borough 5-0).

On This Day

Dan Roberts scored a brace two years ago, unfortunately it sparked a come back for Slough Town as the Darts threw away a two goal lead to lose 3-2. Charlie Sheringham then Josh Hill scored in a two minute first half spell, but Roberts pulled a goal back almost immediately. Roberts equalised in the second half and Matthew Lench scored the winner. Tuesday night will be the eighth consecutive home game on this day, the Darts winning three and losing four of the last seven. Adam Birchall was the match winner in 2013 as he netted the only goal of the game versus Southport in the National League. Dartford’s last cup match on this day was a 2-1 F.A Cup second qualifying round home defeat against Staines Town in 1997. Dartford did win their last away fixture on 28 September at the same stage of the F.A Cup back in 1991 winning 1-0 over Ford United.

Welling United v Dartford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Head to Head

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

Current League Form

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

Previous Meetings

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

Stats

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

On This Day

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

Dartford v Hythe Town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Head to Head

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

Current Form

Dartford
(DWWWWW)
    Hythe Town
(WWWLWW)
   
Tonbridge Angels H 1-1 Sittingbourne H 2-1
Bath City A 3-1 East Grinstead Town A 1-0
Eastbourne Borough H 3-1 Ascot United (FAC) H 1-0
Dulwich Hamlet A 2-0 Ramsgate H 0-3
Slough Town H 3-0 VCD Athletic A 2-1
St Albans City A 3-1 Westfield A 3-1

Previous Meetings

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

Stats

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

On This Day

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

Dartford v Tonbridge Angels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Head to Head

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

Current Form

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

Previous Meetings (last six)

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

Stats

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

On This Day

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

Bath City v Dartford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Head to Head

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

Current Form

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

Previous Meetings (last six)

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

Stats

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

On This Day

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

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

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

Dartford v Eastbourne Borough

Bank Holiday football returns in front of fans at Princes Park on Monday when Dartford host Eastbourne Borough in the National South.

The Darts made a blistering start to their campaign with a 3-1 opening day victory over St Albans City and a resounding 3-0 win at home to Slough Town. Ade Azeez scored on his debut and followed up his first with a second against Slough Town. New summer signing Dan Roberts also netted a brace in the season’s opener and was pivotal a week later with a couple of assists. Another new player, George Porter opened his account in the victory over the Rebels in which Noor Husin’s tremendous performance was rewarded with a goal for the midfielder.

The start of the Bank Holiday weekend saw the Darts travel to Dulwich Hamlet and claim a 2-0 victory. Josh Hill smashed in the opening goal in the first half and former Hamlet midfielder Tyrique Hyde sealed maximum points in the last minute. Hyde’s close control and calm side foot finish made sure Dartford remain top of the National South. Steve King made just the one change in a settled line up, George Porter coming in for Dan Roberts.

The focus now switches to Eastbourne Borough and the Darts have found their opponents tough in recent years. After a 12-game unbeaten run against Eastbourne Borough, the Sports have won four of the last six including the previous two meetings. Last time at Princes Park the Darts fell to a 1-0 defeat six months ago before the campaign was curtailed. Eastbourne Borough’s top scorer Chris Whelpdale netted the decisive goal to complete a league double over Dartford, the Sussex club had won the reverse fixture 3-1 at home just two months earlier.

In the campaign before Dartford won both league games over their opponents with a 2-0 away win thanks to goals by Norman Wabo and Elliott Romain. The game at Princes Park ended 2-1 to Dartford with Jack Jebb and Darren McQueen scoring either side of Greg Luer’s equaliser. The league double over the Sports was just the tonic after the 6-0 away humbling under Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle in April 2019.

In their opening three games Eastbourne Borough have been involved in plenty of goals at both ends, the most by any team in the division. Manager Danny Bloor puts that down to a less settled defence compared to last season when he stuck with the same back five each week. This time Bloor has been unable to keep the defence as settled with former goalkeeper Franco Ravizzoli now at Milton Keynes Dons, Jack Currie missed the last game through illness and Steve James has served a suspension.

The Sports had a nightmare start conceding five against Hampton and Richmond Borough without reply, not the best of debuts for England under 17 World Cup winning goalkeeper Curtis Anderson, the 20-year-old on loan from Wycombe Wanderers. Hampton and Richmond Borough’s Kadell Daniel scored the first National South goal of the season after three minutes and he added a second eight minutes later. The afternoon got worse for the Sports when Steve James was red carded and goals from Jorome Slew, Charlie Wassmer and a stunner by Kyron Farrell made it 5-0.

Eastbourne Borough bounced straight back the following week hitting five of their own as they beat Billericay Town 5-2 with all seven goals coming in the second half. Manager, Danny Bloor made four changes as they were without the suspended James and injured summer signing Jake Elliott. Ricay went ahead with a Michael Chambers header, but the scores were level when James Hammond slotted his penalty past former Dartford goalkeeper Bailey Vose. The Sports took the lead through Joel Rollinson and another former Dart, Norman Wabo made his mark on the game equalising for Billericay Town. The Sussex club then pulled away in the final ten minutes when Leone Gravata scored before a brace from Josh Onyinsan. On Saturday, before going to press Eastbourne Borough hosted Oxford City.

On Saturday, another two changes were made to the starting line up including new signing Kasim Aidoo from Charlton Athletic’s under 23 team. A further four goals were scored as the Sports drew 2-2 with Oxford City. The Sussex club squandered a two goal first half lead built up by Charlie Walker’s brace. Oxford City hit back in the second half when Harmon netted then Charlie Rowan equalised.

Danny Bloor spoke after the draw on Twitter @EBFCTheSports and said: “It’s not going to be easy because they have won three out of three. But we look forward to going there, we look forward to every game, we’ve got a great team spirit. It’s a game we’re looking forward to, but make no mistake it will be very tough”.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 12 / Eastbourne Borough wins: 8 / Draws: 4

Previous Meetings (last six)

Dartford 0 – 1 Eastbourne Borough (09/02/2021 – National South)
Eastbourne Borough 3 – 1 Dartford (05/12/2020 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 1 Eastbourne Borough (22/02/2020 – National South)
Eastbourne Borough 0 – 2 Dartford (02/11/2019 – National South)
Eastbourne Borough 6 – 0 Dartford (20/04/2019 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 3 Eastbourne Borough (27/11/2018 – F.A Trophy)

Stats

  • The Darts have won just two of the last six meetings against Eastbourne Borough having previously been unbeaten in twelve versus the Sports
  • In the ten seasons Dartford have been in the same league as Eastbourne Borough, the Darts have completed five league doubles over the Sussex club
  • However, last season Eastbourne Borough completed a league double over the Darts for the first time since the 2002/2003 Southern League Division One East campaign
  • A fourth league win in a row will equal Dartford’s best start to a league campaign since the 2009 Isthmian Premier League title season
  • Half of Dartford’s goal tally this term have been scored by substitutes, Dan Roberts (2), George Porter and Tyrique Hyde.

On This Day

Dartford have a good record on this day losing just once in the last 11 outings. The last was a 2-1 home win in 2014 over AFC Telford United in the National League. The Darts hit two second-half goals as they came from behind to earn a first win of the season. Luke Daley levelled with a superb 25-yard strike and then set up Andy Pugh to tap in and secure the three points. Four years earlier, the Darts suffered that solitary defeat in those 11 games to Chelmsford City.

Proceeding the defeat against the Clarets, Dartford had drawn the previous two after a run of seven straight wins, which started with a 5-1 home win over Salisbury in the Southern League South back in 1980. In that run, the Darts racked up back to back 4-2 wins (Horsham YMCA in a 1997 F.A Cup tie and Hastings United in 1999) and knocked Chatham Town out of the Southern League Cup in 1983.

It’s a shame Dartford aren’t playing Trowbridge Town as the Darts beat the Wiltshire club 7-2 on this day in 1958 and went one better with an 8-2 victory exactly eleven years later.

Dulwich Hamlet v Dartford

Dartford have made an excellent start to their season and next up they will need to overcome several former players to record a maiden victory at Dulwich Hamlet.

The Darts drew in their last visit to Champion Hill but had lost the previous three in south east London. A perfect start this season will give Steve King’s men confidence as they sit top of the National South table after two games. An opening day victory at St Albans City was followed up with a comfortable and dominating display against Slough Town.

Last weekend, the first competitive game in front of home fans since March 2020 ended with Dartford winning 3-0 over the Rebels. Noor Husin gave a masterclass in midfield and his man of the match performance was rewarded with a goal. Dan Roberts impressed again with a key pass for the opening goal and a couple of assists, Ade Azeez scored his second in two games and George Porter got off the mark too.

Azeez tapped the opening goal into the Slough Town net in the first half after a neat move, Roberts’ precise cut back was nudged on by Danny Leonard and Azeez was there to finish. In the second half, Husin picked up Roberts’ rebound, and his quick feet and composure doubled the lead. Unselfish play by Roberts then led to the third when he squared the ball perfectly for Porter to open his goalscoring account. It could have been more, Jack Jebb hit the woodwork from a free-kick when the game was level and a number of saves from Slough Town’s Jonathan North kept the score down for the visitors.

Dartford FC TV caught up with Noor Husin after victory and he was pleased with his teammates, he said: “I thought we were really good, relentless from the first minute and could have had a lot more. I thought everyone was brilliant”, he continued: “Since I’ve come here it’s been one of the best dressing rooms I’ve been in, everyone’s together and whether you’re playing or not everyone is helping each other”.

Manager, Steve King also spoke to BBC Radio Kent after the win, he said: “I thought the boys were outstanding, limited them to very little and I’ve got to say Jonathan North has kept the scoreline down”. Husin’s quality display did not go unnoticed by King, he commented: “He’s a football league player all day long, he’s miles better than a lot of football league players I’ve seen”. King heaped ‘special praise’ on the Afghan international considering the events happening in Afghanistan, he continued: “to still come out and put in a performance like that and score is a credit to him”.

Looking ahead to the next fixtures King remains cautious but confident he added: “It’s only two wins. I’m level-headed enough to know that it could all fall apart. You could lose the next two and suddenly it’s not so clever”. However, the Dartford boss is pleased with the depth of the squad, the pace, athleticism, and the fact the ‘whole team is comfortable on the ball’. King feels he is now able to rotate players in the starting eleven without losing the level of performance he expects.

Dulwich Hamlet have many familiar faces in their ranks and three of them were handed their debuts on the opening day of the season. Striker, Danny Mills started his third season at Champion Hill and he scored against Chippenham Town in the 1-1 draw. The former Dart, who also enjoyed a spell at Whitehawk under Steve King was assisted by Darren McQueen, who was joint top scorer in the National South during the 2019/2020 campaign when he netted 18 times for Dartford. Chippenham Town equalised with a penalty conceded by another former Dart, Tyrone Sterling. The F.A Trophy finalist with Concord Rangers signed for Hamlet in the summer as did Jazzi Barnum-Bobb who left Princes Park after 19 appearances last term. Dulwich Hamlet also have Sanchez Ming and Giovanni McGregor in their squad.

It’s been a difficult start for the Londoners, who have been without their manager Gavin Rose after he contracted Covid-19 and spent a short time in hospital. So Junior Kadi, another familiar face to Dartford fans has been part of the coaching staff looking after the first team. Kadi was part of Dartford’s Isthmian Division One North title winning team making 28 appearances and scoring six goals.

Due to face each other three times last season, none of the fixtures took place as the campaign was curtailed. The Darts were scheduled to play Dulwich Hamlet twice in the league and in the London Senior Cup. Since the last meeting at Champion Hill in December 2019, Tyrique Hyde played against Dulwich Hamlet, joined them at the end of the season and returned to Dartford this summer. Also representing the Darts in the last visit to Champion Hill was McQueen, but it was his strike partner Elliott Romain who netted a penalty to cancel out Christian Smith’s free kick in a 1-1 draw. In the return fixture McQueen scored the only goal of the game as the Darts won 1-0 a month later.

Dulwich Hamlet have yet to taste a home defeat against the Darts winning 3-1 in a F.A Trophy third qualifying replay in 1996, then winning again in 2006 beating Dartford 3-2 in the Isthmian Division One South. In March 2019, Luke Wanadio was lining up against the Darts and part of the Hamlet side that won 2-0 in the National South, a third consecutive home victory for Dulwich Hamlet in this fixture. The draw six months later was Dartford’s first point gained from their visits to Champion Hill.

Head to Head

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

Prevous Meetings (last six)

Dartford 1 – 0 Dulwich Hamlet (25/01/2020 – National South)
Dulwich Hamlet 1 – 1 Dartford (07/12/2019 – National South)
Dulwich Hamlet 2 – 0 Dartford (02/03/2019 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 1 Dulwich Hamlet (20/10/2018 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 1 Dulwich Hamlet (31/03/2007 – Isthmian Division One South)
Dulwich Hamlet 3 – 2 Dartford (19/09/2006 – Isthmian Division One South)

Stats

The Darts have never beaten Dulwich Hamlet in consecutive games, a win on the weekend will make it a first after winning the last meeting 1-0 at Princes Park.

Josh Hill made his 50th start for the Darts against Slough Town last weekend

Victory on Saturday will be Dartford’s best start to a campaign since they won their opening three fixtures in 2011/2012. The season the Darts went on to win promotion to the National League.

On This Day

After 18 years apart in the league more than 2700 fans turned up at Princes Park to watch Dartford draw 1-1 with rivals Ebbsfleet United in 2010. Michael West gave Fleet the lead, but Charlie Sheringham’s penalty made sure the points were shared. The last fixture on this day seven years later ended in a 1-0 home loss to East Thurrock United.

The last away day on 28 August was in 2006 when the Darts went to Whyteleafe and won 3-1, Jay May netted a brace and Brendon Cass the other in the Isthmian Division One South. Dartford have only won five of their 21 games on this day, which includes a 2-1 victory over Merthyr Tydfil in the Southern League Challenge Match in 1989.

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