Dartford have the opportunity to close the gap at the top in their rescheduled trip to Hungerford Town on Tuesday night.
The Darts can claim a league double over the Crusaders, something they have never managed to do in the previous five seasons since their opponents were promoted from the Southern Premier League. Victory will move Steve King’s side within four points of league leaders Dorking Wanderers after the Surrey club won on the weekend.
In October, Ade Azeez was the match winner the last time Dartford faced Hungerford Town. After a frustrating first-half for the Darts, Azeez well into his purple patch broke the deadlock after the interval netting his eleventh goal in just ten games, helping him win Player of the Month. Since then, the striker has added three more to his total with his last goal three months ago against Hemel Hempstead Town.
In the last two trips to Bulpit Lane the Darts have picked up four points, a vast improvement on the their first three visits in which they came home with nothing and not even a goal. Last season, Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong was the star of the show helping Dartford come from a goal down to win 2-1. The hosts went in front through their main goalscorer Ryan Seager, but the introduction of substitute, Berkeley-Agyepong turned the tables. An excellent finish and a wonderful second goal from the midfielder secured the three points for King’s men.
Fifteen months earlier, Dartford’s previous visit ended 2-2 with the Crusaders denying the Darts maximum points with two minutes to go. Hungerford Town led courtesy of Zidan Akers then Darren McQueen’s overhead shot levelled the game. Luke Wanadio put Dartford in front until the Crusaders equalised when Conor Lynch followed up a rebound.
Just as Dartford were getting into their groove, unbeaten in eight, they were knocked out of the F.A Trophy against Southern League Premier Central side Needham Market. A second cup upset suffered by the Darts this term and now they are left concentrating on the league, although they do remain in both county cups. When they unexpectedly went out in the F.A Cup, the Darts found it tough to regain their early season form. This time King’s side have shown they can bounce back.
Hosting Bath City on the weekend, the Darts won 2-0 claiming their fifth consecutive league victory in what King described as a ‘workmanlike performance’. Coming in to the starting line up, Kalvin Kalala netted his first goal for the club and towards the end, Danny Leonard won a penalty which Marcus Dinanga scored. King made five changes to the side who lost at Needham Market and gave youngster Junior Tiensia his debut at full back. Che Krabbendam also made his first appearance coming on as a substitute. Tom Bonner made his first start since the Ebbsfleet United win at the beginning of the month, Ody Alfa was preferred up front to Azeez and Hyde replaced the suspended Jack Jebb, who will finish his ban by missing Tuesday night’s fixture.
Continuing to keep the pressure on rivals Maidstone United in second and Dorking Wanderers in top spot, the Darts will want to make this game in hand over the league leaders count before hosting them at the beginning of March. It will not be easy to take full advantage, King commented to Dartford FC TV after the Bath City game: “Hungerford, it doesn’t matter where they are or what they are doing it’s a tough game and they are tough at home to beat. We go there with confidence, five out of five we’ve won in the league, so we’re going to go there and have a right go and see what happens”.
Hungerford Town have ambitions of their own and are just four points away from a playoff spot. Early season form had the Crusaders in the top seven, after the defeat at Princes Park they went on a five game unbeaten run to move them into fifth place. Since that spell came to an end, the Berkshire club have lost just over half their league fixtures winning five, drawing one and losing eight.
The Crusaders have won their last three home games though winning 3-0 against Hampton and Richmond, 2-1 versus Chelmsford City and 3-1 over Dulwich Hamlet. Although their home and away records are almost matching, Hungerford Town’s away form lately has taken a dip, losing three consecutive matches on the road before a draw at Slough Town. On Saturday the Crusaders lost again on the road this time to struggling Braintree Town. Danny Robinson was ‘proud in defeat’ after his side had to play the majority of the match with ten men. Former Dartford striker, Duane Ofori-Achemapong was sent off for two cautions eight minutes apart early in the first half, and despite the disadvantage manager, Robinson felt his side deserved a point.
Ofori-Acheampong scored his first Hungerford Town goals in the 2-2 draw with Slough Town. He made 61 appearances for the Darts scoring 11 goals and was part of the squad that came runner up in the National League in 2017/2018. The striker also had a month loan at Sittingbourne this season scoring five times including a hat-trick against East Grinstead Town.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 4 / Hungerford Town wins: 3 / Draws: 3
Current League Form
|Bath City||H||2-0||Braintree Town||A||0-1|
|Havant and Waterlooville||A||1-0||Slough Town||A||2-2|
|Welling United||H||4-2||Dulwich Hamlet||H||3-1|
|Ebbsfleet United||H||1-0||Hemel Hempstead Town||A||0-1|
|Tonbridge Angels||A||3-2||Chelmsford City||H||2-1|
|Concord Rangers||H||0-0||Eastbourne Borough||A||2-5|
Previous Meetings (last six)
Dartford 1 – 0 Hungerford Town (09/10/2021 – National South)
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)
- Dartford are five games unbeaten against Hungerford Town, their best sequence versus the Crusaders since the first meeting back in 2016
- The Darts are unbeaten in all four matches at Princes Park in this fixture, winning two and drawing two
- Hungerford Town have conceded in each of the last five games against the Darts having previously kept four clean sheets in a row
On This Day
Jack Jebb scored a trademark free-kick on his debut two years ago as the Darts beat Eastbourne Borough. Noor Husin was another debutant, but it was Jebb who opened the scoring. Greg Luer levelled for the Sports, but Darren McQueen’s second-half penalty decided the match. The Darts also won the previous two outings on this day as well, beating Hereford United in the National League back in 2014, Alex Wall and Lee Noble on target. Three years earlier Noble found the net again, scoring the second in a 2-0 victory over Dorchester Town, Danny Harris scoring the other. In the five games prior the three match winning streak on 22 February, Dartford picked up just one point from five matches without scoring a single goal from 1966 to 1997. The biggest score on this day came in 1913 when the Darts racked up eight goals without reply against Rochester in the Kent League.