League leaders Dartford face a tough away day in Saturday’s early kick off when they face fourth place Chelmsford City in the National South.
The Darts returned to the top of the table in their last outing with a victory over Concord Rangers. Although Alan Dowson’s side have played more games than their closest rivals, they have a one point advantage of Havant and Waterlooville and are three ahead of Ebbsfleet United. Chasing the leading pack, Chelmsford City make up the top four in the division after winning last weekend at Worthing.
December and into the New Year will be a huge test to Dartford’s promotion credentials. After taking on Chelmsford City they will be up against Bath City before visiting second place Havant and Waterlooville, then the festive double header against league favourites and local rivals Ebbsfleet United. However, Robbie Simpson’s side stand in the way first and the Darts will be focused on this weekend’s game at the Melbourne Stadium where they picked up a point last season in a 0-0 draw. Dartford rarely return home with a victory and on previous trips to CM1 they have taken maximum points just once in their last eleven league outings there, back in 2015. Winless in their last five at Chelmsford City, the Darts have failed to score in four of those matches.
Dartford put the disappointment of losing at Farnborough and Swindon Supermarine behind them by picking up four points from their last two matches. After conceding seven goals in those two away days, the trip to Oxford City tested the character of the side. Tom Bonner headed the Darts in front and Dowson’s men almost held on to all three points until Oxford City’s Canice Carroll equalised four minutes from time. Last weekend they hosted Concord Rangers with Dowson naming an unchanged side for the first time since August. The influential Samir Carruthers stood out again and opened the scoring in the first half to claim his ninth of the campaign. Prior the interval the visitors were level from the spot when Mo Bettamer made it 1-1. The Darts ran out winners in the second half with goals from Pierre Fonkeu and an own goal by Aron Pollock. The win also saw the return of midfielder, Luke Allen from off the bench who has been carrying an injury this season. Scorer of the second goal Fonkeu spoke to Dartford FC TV after the victory and said: “It was a really good performance from the team, we worked hard. After the last three games where we’ve struggled to get a win, it feels good to get back to winning ways”.
Assistant manager, Christian Jolley was also pleased with the performance and character the Dartford players showed, he added: “It was a great win, it was a good test. Concord Rangers came to Princes Park and made it difficult for us and had a lot of bodies behind the ball, so we had to be patient. The boys showed great character and good energy, especially off the back of Tuesday where we could have been a bit deflated after conceding after the 85th minute, but we came into this game with good energy and the boys recovered well”. Looking towards this weekend’s clash with Chelmsford City, Jolley added: “They’re all big games, at the moment it’s so tight, especially the top end of the table. The league is not going to be dictated by one weekend, but it’s a big test. They are a good outfit and they are having a good spell at the moment. We’re going to have just focus and do our due diligence to make sure we know exactly what they are going to be doing and how we can set up and find a way to win at their place.
Only Ebbsfleet United and Havant and Waterlooville have lost fewer games in the National South than Chelmsford City making the Clarets difficult to beat. Robbie Simpson has steadily improved the Essex club’s fortunes since taking over in March last year. In the summer he signed former Dart, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb who will return to Princes Park after a spell with Dulwich Hamlet. Barnum-Bobb played 18 times for the Darts under Steve King. Another signing pre-season, Harry Lodovica scored the winner against Dartford last season for Braintree Town.
The Clarets began their campaign unbeaten in their opening six games providing a platform to build. They went another six without defeat following an entertaining 4-3 defeat at home to Havant and Waterlooville in September. On their own patch the Clarets won six out of eight before recently being held 0-0 by Dover Athletic and losing 2-0 to Hampton and Richmond Borough. However, they bounced back from defeat in their last game with an away victory over Worthing last weekend. Kai Yearn and Cameron James put Simpson’s side in command, but the deficit was halved before the break. The three points were wrapped up in the second half when Tom Blackwell tapped home a third.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 41 / Chelmsford City wins: 55 / Draws: 23
Current League Form
|Oxford City||A||1-1||Hampton and Richmond||H||0-2|
|Braintree Town||H||4-1||Bath City||A||1-0|
|Welling United||H||5-1||Eastbourne Borough||H||5-0|
Last Six Meetings
Dartford 2 – 1 Chelmsford City (15/03/2022 – National South)
Chelmsford City 0 – 0 Dartford (25/10/2021 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Chelmsford City (06/10/2020 – National South)
Dartford 3 – 0 Chelmsford City (14/03/2020 – National South)
Chelmsford City 4 – 0 Dartford (12/08/2019 – National South)
Chelmsford City 2 – 1 Dartford (09/01/2019 – National South)
- Dartford are on their best unbeaten run home and away (W3, D1) against Chelmsford City since a six game unbeaten spell between 2011 and 2016
- The Darts are winless in their last five trips to Chelmsford (D2, L3) and have only won twice in their last 13 away games against the Clarets (D4, L7)
- Keiran Murtagh made his 50th start for the Darts last weekend against Concord Rangers
On This Day
Dartford beat rivals Dover Athletic at Princes Park on this day in 2011. Adam Green’s first-half penalty was cancelled out by Augustin Battipiedi before Ryan Hayes and Elliot Bradbrook’s second-half goals earned the Darts bragging rights. Six years ago, two goals in four first-half minutes by Duane Ofori-Acheampong and Luke Wanadio helped the Darts to a 2-1 home win over Poole Town. On the road Dartford lost their last fixture on this day getting knocked out by Forest Green Rovers in a F.A Trophy replay in 2013. The last victory away from home came in 2002 when Dartford defeated Chatham Town 1-0 in the Southern League Division One East.