Dartford end the year with a short journey across the river to take on National South strugglers Braintree Town on Tuesday.
The Darts had their Boxing Day clash with rivals Ebbsfleet United called off, so after ten days without a game the squad have had the chance to recuperate from their last outing, a 3-1 F.A Trophy win over Cray Wanderers. Braintree Town have had less time to prepare after their loss at rivals Chelmsford City on Sunday.
Dartford’s last trip to Cressing Road at the start of the year didn’t go to plan as they stumbled to a 2-1 defeat. Struggling to find goals, King brought in former Dartford academy striker Femi Akinwande who lined up against his former side. Since then, the striker returned to Braintree Town in the summer before leaving them for Billericay Town just a few weeks ago. The Iron took the lead after half an hour when Percy Kiangebeni’s shot beat Ethan Wady in the Dartford goal. The Iron were two up on the hour as Wady was beaten again, this time by Taofiqol Omowewe. Dartford introduced Chris Dickson before Jazzi Barnum-Bobb was sent off, but despite having ten men the Darts pulled a goal back when Dickson scored a penalty.
The Darts haven’t enjoyed this fixture over the years winning just once at Cressing Road and only beating the Iron on three previous occasions home and away. Dartford’s only victory on the road against the Essex side was back in 2012 when the Darts enjoyed a successful season in the National League. Captain, Tom Bonner is the only member of the current squad who played in that 2-0 victory and he opened the scoring by getting on the end of a Ryan Hayes free-kick. Dartford added a second when Danny Harris started the move that led to Jacob Erskine heading home. Since then the Darts have taken just one point from their last four trips to Cressing Road.
King’s side have had a break from league action and plenty of time to reflect on their previous National South fixture which ended in a 4-0 Kent derby defeat against Maidstone United over two weeks ago. However, the Darts bounced back by moving into the fourth round of the F.A Trophy with the triumph over Cray Wanderers. The Wands had knocked Ebbsfleet United out in the previous round and with seven players missing from the Dartford squad it could have been a difficult afternoon.
Jordan Wynter returned to action after a spell out injured and King was impressed with the defender’s flexibility. Normally played at full back, Wynter was used as a centre back. Jack Jebb started for the first time since mid November and Jake Robinson was back and added more goals to his tally, the striker now has ten goals in as many appearances. Michael Kedman, Ronnie Vint and Emmanuel Sonupe all got a start and Tyrique Hyde was back in the line up.
Hyde set up Robinson’s first, won the penalty for the second and King praised his midfielder’s performance after the game. The Darts scored three goals in five first half minutes with Danny Leonard adding the last, his fifth of the campaign. King is confident five of the seven players who were unavailable will be back for selection, only Luke Allen and Josh Hill have long term injuries.
Braintree Town are locked in a battle to stay up against fellow Essex rivals Billericay Town and Chelmsford City, who they faced on Boxing Day. The Iron suffered another set back going three down before half-time as the Clarets took all three points to move clearer from the drop zone. The experienced Simeon Jackson netted a brace and Tom Blackwell scored the other as Braintree Town lost 3-0. The Iron will meet the Clarets again for the return fixture in the New Year and are now four points adrift from their local rivals.
Ryan Maxwell has now had just over a year in charge of Braintree Town and started off the National South campaign four games undefeated, although three of those ended in draws. The Iron found themselves in trouble with seven straight loses including a 6-0 hammering at Eastbourne Borough, which started a run of one goal in six league matches. Since the end of October results have picked up for the Essex club as they earned three precious points in a 1-0 win over Tonbridge Angels, who have been dragged into the relegation battle.
The Iron drew against Chippenham Town and Concord Rangers before their Boxing Day defeat, but they can take some confidence in the fact that they were leading against Hampton and Richmond Borough for the game that was abandoned last month and recorded victories against Potters Bar Town in the F.A Trophy and Witham Town in the Essex Senior Cup. Even when Braintree Town were knocked out of the trophy in the next round, they took promotion contenders St Albans City to penalties after holding on with ten men for 75 minutes of the match.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 3 / Braintree Town wins: 7 / Draws: 4
Current League Form
|Maidstone United||A||0-4||Chelmsford City||A||0-3|
|Billericay Town||H||1-0||Concord Rangers||A||2-2|
|Hemel Hempstead Town||A||3-2||Havant and Waterlooville||H||0-2|
|Oxford City||H||0-0||Tonbridge Angels||H||1-0|
|Chippenham Town||H||3-3||Chippenham Town||A||1-1|
|Concord Rangers||A||0-1||Ebbsfleet United||A||0-2|
Previous League Meetings (last six)
Braintree Town 2 – 1 Dartford (09/01/2021 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 1 Braintree Town (24/08/2019 – National South)
Dartford 0 – 1 Braintree Town (06/05/2018 – National South Playoff)
Dartford 1 – 1 Braintree Town (23/12/2017 – National South)
Braintree Town 2 – 2 Dartford (08/08/2017 – National South)
Braintree Town 3 – 0 Dartford (01/01/2015 – National League)
- Dartford have won just one of their last ten matches against Braintree Town, drawing three and losing six
- The Darts have scored in four of the last five meetings, but failed to score at all in the previous five
- Braintree Town have scored in their last nine games against the Darts
- Ronnie Vint could make his 200th appearance for the club. The defender has started 188 games, made 11 substitute appearances and has scored 11 goals for the Darts.
On This Day
In a Kent derby two years ago Darren McQueen, Elliott Romain and Charlie Sheringham all scored in a 3-0 home win against Tonbridge Angels. Josh Hill was sent off late in the game, but his red card was later rescinded. Six years ago, Elliot Bradbrook rescued a point at home to Margate in a 1-1 draw, the Gate took the lead through Freddie Ladapo, now of League One side Rotherham United. Dartford’s last away game on this day ended in a North Kent derby defeat at Ebbsfleet United and the Darts finishing with nine men. Derek Duncan and Callum Willock scored for the Fleet and Bradbrook netted for the Darts, but after Joe Bruce and James White were red carded it was too difficult to rescue a point for Tony Burman’s side back in 2010. Dartford’s away record on 28 December does not make good reading with one victory back in 1907 against Crayford in the Kent Amateur Cup, the Darts went through with a 2-1 win. Dartford have drawn three and lost seven out of the eleven away games on this day.