Month: August 2021

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.

Dartford v Slough Town

Fans return to Princes Park this weekend for the first competitive game since March last year to watch Dartford host Slough Town in the National South.

The two sides were due to meet last term, but just before the Darts were due to visit the Rebels the season was curtailed. So despite coming up against each other five times in the previous calendar year, this time will be the first in 2021.

In form Dartford striker Dan Roberts will know the opposition well having played for the Berkshire club last season. He spoke to Dartford FC TV after the season’s opener and said: “Having been there for just over two years they are hard side to breakdown, they defend well and they will make it difficult for us to create chances”.

In total Roberts played 58 games for Slough Town scoring 13 times including a hat-trick against Dorking Wanderers. In pre-season the 23-year-old scored five goals and on the opening day of the season he became the match winner on his debut with a brace. The striker commented after the game: “It starts the group on a positive light. Winning the first game of the season sets the tone for the next four or five games. We’ve now got to put our thoughts on to the weekend, it’s another tough game and we’ve got to get another three points.”

Dartford manager, Steve King handed first starts to four players against one of the expected promotion candidates St Albans City last weekend. Keiran Murtagh and Jake Robinson were amongst the new starters, whilst debutants Danny Leonard and Ade Azeez made an immediate impact. Roberts and George Porter made their first competitive appearances for the club coming on as substitutes.

The Darts scored at the end of either half to take a satisfying opening day victory. The first half closed with Danny Leonard’s cross being headed home by Ade Azeez. In the second half, St Albans City were level when former Dart, Tom Bender scored an equaliser. After coming on as a substitute Roberts scored twice in the final minutes, getting on the end of a Josh Hill flick on then finishing a one on one opportunity. The match winner was delighted even though he didn’t make the starting eleven, he added: “As a player you’ve just got to say look when I get the opportunity to come on I’m going to make an impact. For me it’s all about just coming on and doing as well as I can for the team, working hard and when chances come up putting the ball in the back of the net”.

Dartford have now recorded back to back opening day victories for the first time since 2005 and 2006. Steve King felt the Darts were ‘exceptional’ against St Albans City and his team will need to be on their game come Saturday, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “It’s always a tough game against Slough and they had a good win last weekend against Chelmsford”.

Former Tonbridge Angels striker Tom Derry was one of five debutants in the Slough Town lineup and he managed to net the crucial goal against Chelmsford City. Joint manager, Neil Baker felt his side ‘rode their luck’ at times, but also controlled the game territorial wise, he spoke to www.sloughtownfc.net after the game and said: “It was a really hard working performance, everyone put in a shift”. After claiming all three points, Baker feels he can now “look forward to what is going to be a tough game against Dartford, one of the favourites for the league. Having won (on the opening day) it takes a little bit of pressure off that game”.

Over the previous two reduced campaigns the Darts have faced the Rebels six times. At Princes Park, Dartford lost two in a row before winning 2-0 in the last home meeting. Chris Dickson netted a brace on his debut to claim a first home victory over Slough Town since 1981.

Either side of the league victory, Slough Town knocked the Darts out of the F.A Cup with a last minute penalty, but Dartford won on penalties in the F.A Trophy tie. In the previous season, Dan Roberts scored for Slough Town in both games as the Rebels completed a league double. However when the two sides met in the playoffs, Dartford came out on top with a 3-0 away win.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 5 / Slough Town wins: 3 / Draws: 3

Previous Meetings (last six)

Slough Town 2 – 2 Dartford (15/12/2020 – F.A Trophy)
Dartford 2 – 0 Slough Town (21/11/2020 – National South)
Dartford 0 – 1 Slough Town (03/10/2020 – F.A Cup)
Slough Town 0 – 3 Dartford (19/07/2020 – National South Playoff)
Slough Town 1 – 0 Dartford (18/01/2020 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 3 Slough Town (28/09/2019 – National South)

Stats

  • The Darts have won just one league game against Slough Town drawing two and losing two.
  • In all competitions, out of the eleven meetings between the two sides the home team has only won three times.
  • Both teams scored in each of the first six meetings, which has only happened once in the last five, when they last met in December.
  • Since reforming Dartford have won 12, drawn 9, lost 7 of their opening home league games.
  • If selected in the starting eleven, Josh Hill will make his 50th start for the club. The defender has also made six substitute appearances and has scored six times for the Darts.

On This Day

Dartford claimed their first victory of the Isthmian Division One North title season on this day in 2007. After drawing 2-2 in the opening game, the Darts travelled to Wivenhoe Town. Adam Flanagan, Steve Norman and Jay May found the back of the net in a 3-0 win, goalkeeper Tony Kessell also saved a penalty.

At home, the Darts have only ever lost once on this day back in 1948 against Exeter Reserves in the Southern League. Since then they have won six and drawn four, including a 3-0 victory versus St Leonards in 2000 and a 2-1 derby triumph over Tonbridge Angels in 1996. The Darts also beat rivals Gravesend and Northfleet 3-0 in the first leg of the Southern League Cup in 1973. Dartford hung on in the return leg losing 2-0 to knock the Fleet out of the competiton 3-2 on aggregate. It’s been eleven years since the Darts played on the 21st August when they lost 2-1 at Farnborough in the National South, Lee Noble heading a late consolation.

St Albans City v Dartford

Dartford get their National South campaign underway this weekend with an away trip to St Albans City.

Both sides were in strong positions to mount a title challenge when last season was curtailed and expect to be pushing for promotion this time around.

St Albans City will be a perfect test on the opening day for the Darts. Although Dartford were two points better off last term, the Saints lost just once in the fifteen league matches they completed, four games fewer than the Darts.

Yet there is a parallel between this weekend’s opponents. When Steve King took charge of the Darts he turned them into promotion contenders after joining during a relegation battle. Saints manager, Ian Allinson has done the same over the last two years taking his club from a struggle at the bottom to a push for promotion.

Dartford’s last visit to Clarence Park in the 2019/2020 season coincided with St Albans City’s relegation battle and saw the Darts end a four game losing hoodoo. In those previous visits to Hertfordshire, the Darts ended with nothing to show in front of goal firing blanks and picking up no points. However in March 2020, King’s men stopped the rot and came home with all three points in a 2-1 victory. An early penalty scored by Joe Iaciofano meant Dartford had to come from behind and they obliged with goals from Liam Nash and a Darren McQueen spot kick.

Last season there was only enough time to meet the once at Princes Park, a stunning goal from Shaun Jeffers was enough to earn the Saints a single goal victory.

Pre-Season
The Darts have warmed up for this season with some decent results against Football League sides. One goal defeats at the hands of Ipswich Town and Charlton Athletic, victories over AFC Wimbledon and Sutton United and a draw with Southend United, who are looking to return to the Football League at the first attempt. New signing, Dan Roberts top scored in the friendlies with five goals since joining from Slough Town.

St Albans City began their pre-season with a resounding 8-1 victory over Arlesey Town, which included a Mitchell Weiss hat-trick. Romeo Akinola has netted six times in the friendlies including a braces against Kings Langley and Hanworth Villa. The Saints also beat a Watford XI, played two games in one day using different squads, losing to Bedford Town but beating AFC Dunstable and closed with a 1-1 draw versus Cheshunt.

Dartford St Albans City
Ipswich Town (home) – lost 0-1Arlesey Town (away) – won 8-1
Sittingbourne (home) – won 5-0Stevenage (home) – lost 0-1
Charlton Athletic (home) – lost 1-2Kings Langley (away) – won 2-1
Carshalton Athletic (away) – won 3-1Wealdstone (home) – drew 1-1
AFC Wimbledon (home) – won 1-0Hanworth Villa (away) – won 2-1
Sutton United (home) – won 3-1Watford XI (home) – won 2-1
Southend United (home) – drew 2-2Bedford Town (away) – lost 1-4
Sittingbourne (away) – won 2-0AFC Dunstable (away) – won 3-1
Lewes (away) – lost 1-2Hendon (home) – won 2-0
Cheshunt (away) – drew 1-1

Summer Signings
Over the summer, Dartford manager Steve King focused on improving his team’s attacking capabilities and with Jake Robinson joining from Billericay Town he is hoping for a good return in front of goal. Robinson will team up again with Luke Wanadio who returns for a third spell with the Darts and can supply creativity on the wing. George Porter netted in the friendlies against Carshalton Athletic and AFC Wimbledon and joins from Maidstone United. Ade Azeez will also be part of the squad after signing from Dover Athletic, but the former AFC Wimbledon and Partick Thistle striker picked up a hamstring injury over pre-season.

In midfield, Tyrique Hyde is another returnee arriving from Dulwich Hamlet, Danny Leonard comes in from Sheppey United and Kieran Murtagh has impressed and brings experience from Boreham Wood. The Darts haven’t made many changes in defence as last term that was an area in which the excelled, Bagasan Graham has joined to strengthen the back line though.

St Albans City manager Ian Allinson has has a quieter summer trusting most of the squad that performed so well last season. Former Dartford defender Tom Bender signed a new contract and will begin his seventh campaign with the Hertfordshire club. In the week leading up to kick off, the Saints have captured the services of Alkeo Bani, an Albanian under 19’s defender and John Goddard. Other new recruits include Callum Adebiyi from Southern Premier League side Kings Langley, Luke Brown from Hitchin Town. and Michael Oluwadara Dada from Chelmsford City.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 9 / St Albans City wins: 6 / Draws: 5

Previous Meetings (last six)

Dartford 0 – 1 St Albans City (17/11/2020 – National South)
St Albans City 1 – 2 Dartford (07/03/2020 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 1 St Albans City (06/08/2019 – National South)
Dartford 3 – 2 St Albans City (12/01/2019 – National South)
St Albans City 2 – 0 Dartford (01/09/2018 – National South)
St Albans City 4 – 0 Dartford (03/02/2018 – National South)

Stats

  • Dartford won last season’s opener 1-0 against Chelmsford City. Victory this weekend will be the first time the Darts recorded consecutive opening day wins since 2006 (1-0 v Arlesey Town in 2005 and 4-0 v Weston-super-Mare in 2006).
  • The Darts last kept a clean sheet against the Saints in a 2-0 win on 6 February 2006, eleven games ago. It remains the only time St Albans City failed to score versus Dartford.
  • St Albans City have won four of their last five home matches in this fixture

On This Day

Dartford celebrated coming back from the brink in 1993 with a historic opening day Kent League win over Deal Town. It took just ten minutes for the party to begin when Micky Collins scored the winning goal in what was a momentous occasion for the club.

In the five fixtures that followed on this day, the Darts have taken just one point, a 2-2 draw with Havant and Waterlooville. The draw with the Hawks in 2010 signified the return to the second tier of non-league football having risen up from the Kent League.

The other four games since beating Deal Town were all away defeats without scoring. In 1999 the Darts lost 4-0 against Fisher Athletic (Southern League South), were beaten 3-0 by Boreham Wood in 2004 (Southern League Division One East), in 2012 Dartford were beaten 1-0 by Woking (National League) and three years ago lost 2-0 at Concord Rangers (National South).