Dartford are on the road this Good Friday when they take on an Eastbourne Borough side aiming for the playoffs.
The Darts remain front runners to finish second with seven games remaining and a two point cushion on third. Bouncing back from defeat at home to Chelmsford City, Alan Dowson’s men put in a fine performance against relegation threatened Dulwich Hamlet last time out. However, Dartford have failed to win their last five away games in the National South. Unbeaten in four, Eastbourne Borough have pulled themselves into the playoff mix sitting in tenth and within a victory of moving above the dotted line.
Alex Wall was the star of the show on Saturday becoming the 15th player to net a Princes Park hat-trick in a Dartford shirt. Each goal reached a milestone and the first settled any early nerves against the leakiest defence in the division. After just seven minutes Wall scored his tenth in all competitions to give the hosts a 1-0 half-time lead over Dulwich Hamlet. Within a three minute second-half spell, the 32-year-old reached double figures in the league then claimed his 100th career goal and first ever league treble. Harvey Bradbury had time to score his second for the club in three appearances to round off a resounding 4-0 win, the striker showing why he was chosen in the starting lineup for the first time since joining the Darts.
Dowson handed Richard Chin his debut, whilst goalkeeper Ben Dudzinski and Jordan Wynter made their first starts since the loss at Weymouth just over a month ago, the latter had been out through injury. Meanwhile, Jernade Meade was back in the lineup after returning from international duty with Montserrat. The Dartford boss opted for more bite in midfield with Sam Odaudu and Wynter replacing the creative Samir Carruthers and Jack Smith. With the game secure there was even time to see the first glimpse of new signing Bobby Dunn.
Dartford could complete a double over Eastbourne Borough this season after winning the reverse fixture 2-1 at Princes Park. The Darts came from behind to triumph under the floodlights after conceding a goal scored by Leone Gravata. The hosts were soon level when Charlie Sheringham assisted Samir Carruthers for the equaliser. Carruthers was involved again for the winner, providing the ball to the now departed Kristian Campbell who set up Luke Allen.
At Priory Lane in recent campaigns both sides have recorded big victories. On the final day of last season, the Darts warmed up for the playoffs with an outstanding 7-2 win. Dan Roberts, who is currently out on loan with Hungerford Town opened the scoring after just four minutes only for Charley Kendall to level. With half an hour played, Marcus Dinanga got on the end of a long ball to give the Darts a lead and Kory Roberts extended the advantage six minutes later. In the second-half Dartford netted three goals in a five-minute spell, Dinanga scored his second and Kalvin Kalala grabbed a quickfire brace. A seventh was added by Jordan Greenidge before Chris Whelpdale managed a consolation goal for the Sports. The convincing win for the Darts put the 6-0 humbling at the same venue three years earlier well behind them. In between those huge results the spoils have been almost shared with Dartford winning three and Eastbourne Borough claiming two victories.
Yet to make an appearance, Dartford’s deadline day signing Emmanuel Adebowale had a loan spell at Priory Lane back in 2018 and joined permanently the following season. In total the defender made 38 appearances for Eastbourne Borough before moving to Crawley Town and spending more time out on loan at Havant and Waterlooville. The Sports have two former Darts in their squad, forward Norman Wabo played 19 times in the 2019/2020 campaign scoring four goals. Kai Innocent made eight appearances last season for Dartford and has recently been out injured since coming off in the St Albans City game almost four weeks ago. The full back returned on the weekend in the 1-0 win at Weymouth, the winning goal coming from Ryan Bartley.
Under Danny Bloor, Eastbourne Borough have gone from surviving in the National South to challenging for promotion. When he took over in November 2019 his aim was to keep the Sports in the division, which he achieved. The following campaign saw the Sussex club finish 18th for a third consecutive season. Last term, Eastbourne Borough made the playoffs losing at the same stage as the Darts in the elimination round. Now the Sports are one of a number of teams chasing the top seven. A fantastic November and December saw Bloor’s side lose just once in ten outings picking up 23 points to lift the club into sixth by Boxing Day.
Since the New Year inconsistent results have seen Eastbourne Borough slip out of the playoff places. However, the Sports are showing signs of recovery and a late push for the top seven cannot be ruled out after closing the gap on Saturday.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 15 / Eastbourne Borough wins: 8 / Draws: 4
Current League Form
|Chelmsford City||H||1-2||Chippenham Town||A||1-1|
|Hungerford Town||A||1-1||St Albans City||A||3-2|
|Oxford City||H||0-0||Chelmsford City||H||2-2|
Last Six Meetings
Dartford 2 –1 Eastbourne Borough (27/09/2022 – National South)
Eastbourne Borough 2 – 7 Dartford (07/05/2022 – National South)
Dartford 3 –1 Eastbourne Borough (30/08/2021 – National South)
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)
- Dartford are five without an away win in the league for the first time since 2019 (D3, L2)
- A league double has been claimed by either side in the past three seasons. Dartford beat the Sports twice in 2019/2020 and 2021/2022 and Eastbourne Borough defeated the Darts in both games during the 2020/2021 campaign
- Out of eleven seasons in which the two sides have been in the same division there has been nine doubles (Dartford 6 v Eastbourne Borough 3)
On This Day
Alan Dowson’s Kingstonian side hosted the Darts on this day in 2007. The Isthmian Division One South fixture ended in a 1-1 draw with Eddie McClements scoring for Dartford. Five years later no goals were scored in the draw at home to Chelmsford City. Most recently in 2018, Dartford stayed hot on the heels of Havant and Waterlooville in a closely contested title race. The Darts hosted Weston-super-Mare and won 3-1 with goals from Alex Brown, captain Elliot Bradbrook and leading scorer Alfie Pavey. The win moved the Darts within three points of the top with a game in hand. Dartford lost out on the National South title on goal difference four weeks later.