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)
- 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.