Dartford will attempt to beat Torquay United for the first time when they meet at Princes Park this weekend.
Saturday will be the fifth time the Darts have taken on the Gulls and they have yet to pick up maximum points. In fact, Jordan Chiedozie’s goal in April 2015 is the only time Dartford have scored against their opponents.
The first meeting between the two sides came in August 2014 at Princes Park. Elliot Bradbrook skimmed the top of the crossbar from a penalty in a 0-0 draw. Eight months later at Plainmoor, James McQuilkin broke the deadlock from 20 yards. With eight minutes to go, Chiedozie equalised from close range.
After both sides were relegated to the National South, in different seasons, their paths crossed again during the 2018/2019 campaign. Torquay United came out on top on both occasions winning 2-0 home and away. At Princes Park, the Gulls went top of the league thanks to two goals in the final quarter of the match. Ruairi Keating crashed a volley into the roof of the net to give the visitors the lead. One became two when Jamie Reid sealed maximum points for the Devonshire club.
By the time the reverse fixture came around, Torquay United were battling for the title with Dowson’s Woking. Gary Johnson’s side were reduced to ten men as early as the 13th minute when Jean-Yves Koue Niate was sent off. Despite having a man advantage Dartford couldn’t make it count. Instead, Reid scored another two goals against the Darts to complete a double over their opponents.
Dartford hosted Braintree Town on Tuesday night off the back of two straight home defeats. The Darts were beaten by late goals against Chelmsford City in the league over a fortnight ago. Then last week Maidstone United scored with almost the final kick of the game to knock Dartford out of the F.A Trophy. However, splitting up those losses, Dowson’s side went to Worthing and won 4-3.
The Dartford boss made three changes to the team that exited the trophy. Lewis Manor was back up front partnering Alex Wall for the first time. Sam Odaudu made his first start in almost a month and Paul Rooney returned to the lineup. The midfielder could be up against one of his former sides this weekend. Rooney had his first taste of non-league football with Torquay United on loan in December 2016. The 26-year-old made six national League appearances with the Devonshire side scoring once.
Rooney picked up his second red card as a Dartford player. Previously sent off in pre-season, the former Gull was dismissed just before half-time against Braintree Town. The Darts have now had five sending offs since the beginning of their National South campaign. Two second half goals by Aaron Blair condemned Dartford to a third consecutive home loss.
Harvey Bradbury and Jordan Wynter were both suspended mid-week, but will be available this weekend. Brandon Barzey will be back from international duty with Montserrat. Tyrell Miller-Rodney was rested on Tuesday after a slight injury. Tommy Block is still in recovery having missed almost two months of action.
Dartford have scored 30 times in the league this term and hope to add to that tally after consecutive blanks. Loan signing George Alexander will be hoping to get off the mark after joining this week. The striker scored against the Darts last season with Welling United and back in September whilst at Slough Town. The 22-year-old moved to Bromley after a youth career with Millwall. In the National South he has scored 15 in 33 appearances during his loan spells with Welling United and Slough Town. Dowson has also brought back Richard Chin from Charlton Athletic on a loan deal. The defender made eight appearances for the Darts last season during his temporary spell at Princes Park.
Torquay United have been here before in the National South. Last time they managed to bounce back to the National League straight away. One of three former Football League sides in the division, they were among the favourites at the start of the campaign. That tag was justifiable nine games into the season when the Gulls were a point behind the leaders in third. Johnson led his team to six wins from seven at one stage, the only blemish a surprise defeat at Aveley.
Since that run Torquay United have slipped down the standings with losses against Hemel Hempstead Town, Maidstone United, Weston-super-Mare and Hampton and Richmond Borough. A convincing 5-1 home victory over Welling United in the middle of those defeats being the bright spark. In November, the Gulls have defeated Bath City, lost against league leaders Yeovil Town and won at basement boys Havant and Waterlooville. In the F.A Trophy they gained revenge over the Glovers with a 2-1 victory.
Current League Form
|Dartford (DLWLWL)||Torquay United (WLLWLW)|
|Braintree Town||H||0-2||Havant & Waterlooville||A||2-0|
|Chelmsford City||H||1-2||Bath City||H||1-0|
|Weston-super-Mare||H||4-2||Hampton & Richmond||A||1-3|
|Eastbourne Borough||A||1-1||Welling United||H||5-1|
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 0 / Torquay United wins: 2 / Draws: 2
Torquay United 2 – 0 Dartford (16/03/2019 – National South)
Dartford 0 – 2 Torquay United (04/12/2018 – National South)
Torquay United 1 – 1 Dartford (04/04/2015 – National League)
Dartford 0 – 0 Torquay United (23/08/2014 – National League)
- Dartford have never beaten Torquay United, but have only played four times against the Gulls
- The Darts have yet to score at Princes Park against Torquay United
- Dartford’s only goal against the Gulls was scored at Plainmoor by Jordan Chiedozie in April 2015
- The Darts have lost three in a row at Princes Park for the first time since August/September 2022. Under Dowson they have not been beaten in four consecutive home matches.
On This Day
Lee Noble scored the winner against his former club on this day in 2017. Dartford came from behind to win at Brentwood Town six years ago. The Isthmian Division One North side took the lead and a F.A Trophy upset looked on. Elliot Bradbrook equalised with a looping header with 15 minutes left. Noble sent the Darts into the next round with a long range shot two minutes from time.
At home Dartford are winless in five on this day. Their last victory came in a friendly when they beat Finnish side Grankulla IFC 4-1 in 1977, Geoff Bray scoring a hat-trick. In the seventies it was not unusual for the Darts to take on a foreign side in a friendly. Six years earlier they beat German Division Three side FC Gelsenkirchen 07 by the same score.
One of the few times Dartford have taken on Football League opposition also came on 25 November 1961. The Darts had beaten Exeter City of Division Four in a replay and were handed a tie with Bristol City. Unfortunately, the second round F.A Cup tie finished in an 8-2 defeat to the Division Three club in front of just over 13000 supporters.