A lot has changed since Dartford last played Concord Rangers at Thames Road just over two years ago. On Tuesday night Steve King’s side are back across the bridge to take on the Beachboys.
With last season unfinished and declared null and void, the two sides were unable to fulfill this fixture which was due to take place in March and May respectively. Since their previous meeting Steve King has turned Dartford’s fortunes around, whilst Danny Scopes led Concord Rangers to a F.A Trophy final before leaving the club. Now the Beachboys have Chris Search in charge of chasing a playoff place.
The Darts will be looking to recover after seeing their unbeaten league record come to an end on the weekend. Dartford were beaten by Dorking Wanderers which saw the advantage at the top reduced to just one point. After scoring 21 goals in the opening seven league games, Dartford have mustered just one in their last three, failing to score in their last two. It’s the first time in King’s era that the Darts have failed to score in consecutive league games.
A major talking point in the loss was whether Stuart Nelson should have stayed on the pitch, the Wanderers goalkeeper went wandering, handling the ball outside of his penalty area. Denying a goal scoring opportunity Nelson was fortunate to continue, which left King bemused, he spoke to Dartford FC TV after the game and said: “When there is not a lot in it you need the big decisions to go your way. Their keeper should have been sent off midway through the first half. He comes out, handballs it, Michael (Kedman) is going to put it into an empty net”. As well as that decision, Ade Azeez had the best chance of the game, the Dartford striker hitting the post. Instead, as the game looked to be heading for a goalless draw, Keiran Murtagh’s attempted clearance hit the unlucky Jordan Wynter to hand the home team victory.
Over the last three games a number of calls have gone against the Darts, Tom Bonner’s red card at AFC Sudbury and their free-kick that didn’t cross the line, Azeez’s disallowed goal at Chelmsford City and the incident at Dorking Wanderers. Despite the decisions, the Darts have found it difficult to breakdown these teams in recent weeks, but they are still top of the table with the fourth best average goals per game and have the tightest defence in the division. King commented: “It’s still a great start, but we have to pick ourselves back up”.
Concord Rangers started their campaign brightly with three victories in their first five games and King expects Tuesday night’s match to be challenging, he explained: “It’s a good opportunity, but we have to mindful as they are a good side. They beat Dorking already, they’ve beaten some good sides. They are top half of the table this year, so we’re in for another tough game”.
Since then the Beachboys form has dipped with just one league win in six. The goals against column has also been racking up with heavy defeats against Hungerford Town and Havant and Waterlooville, but on the weekend the Beachboys managed to stop the rot with a 1-1 draw versus Slough Town. A last minute equaliser from Danny Green rescued a point for the Essex club after they fell behind to a first-half goal. Manager, Chris Search was pleased with the character shown by his players and felt his side dominated the second-half to deserve at least a point.
Less than half of the current squad made an appearance in Dartford’s last trip to Concord Rangers. Jordan Wynter, Josh Hill, Luke Allen all started as well as Ronnie Vint, who is currently out on loan at Dulwich Hamlet and Luke Wanadio came off the bench in the 2-0 victory. Last week, Charlie Sheringham was lining up against the Darts for Chelmsford City, the striker opened the scoring against Concord Rangers in that win and Alex Flisher added a second. The away triumph in November 2019 was the first at Thames Road since 2015, when the Darts came from two goals down to win 3-2. Andy Pugh pulled a goal back in the second half and went on to equalise with five minutes to go, then Tom Bradbrook scored a last-minute winner on a dramatic night. In the three trips to Concord Rangers between the pair of wins, the Darts drew 1-1 twice and lost 2-0.
The Essex club did claim victory the last time the two met back in December 2019, coming away from Princes Park with a 1-0 win. The National South fixture was defined by two penalties, first Elliott Romain missed for the Darts and in second half, Joel Nouble scored from the spot for Concord Rangers. The Beachboys claiming only their third triumph over the Darts in eleven attempts.
Over recent years various personnel have represented both the Darts and Concord Rangers and at the start of the 2018/2019 campaign two current players were donning the oppositions shirt. Dartford defender, Connor Essam spent a loan spell with the Beachboys whilst at Dover Athletic and made 24 appearances for the Essex club. In that same campaign Billy Roast started with Dartford and made just four starts and three substitute appearances before leaving in September 2019, the defender re-joined Concord Rangers in June 2019.
A win for Dartford will extend their lead to four points ahead of the home fixture against Chippenham Town on Saturday.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 5 / Concord Rangers wins: 3 / Draws: 3
Current League Form
|Dorking Wanderers||A||0-1||Slough Town||A||1-1|
|Chelmsford City||A||0-0||Hungerford Town||H||1-4|
|Hungerford Town||H||1-0||Havant and Waterlooville||A||2-5|
|Welling United||A||6-0||Tonbridge Angels||A||3-2|
|Tonbridge Angels||H||1-1||Chippenham Town||H||0-3|
|Bath City||A||3-1||Maidstone United||A||2-2|
Dartford 0 – 1 Concord Rangers (21/12/2019 – National South)
Concord Rangers 0 – 2 Dartford (14/09/2019 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 1 Concord Rangers (26/01/2019 – National South)
Concord Rangers 2 – 0 Dartford (14/08/2018 – National South)
Concord Rangers 1 – 1 Dartford (06/01/2018 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 0 Concord Rangers (15/08/2017 – National South)
- Dartford have won just one of the last five against Concord Rangers, drawing two and losing the other two
- In the last four matches that resulted in a win, the victorious team has kept a clean sheet
- The Darts won the first two meetings versus the Beachboys, since then the honours have been shared with three wins each and three draws
- Dartford last failed to score in three consecutive league games in August 2018 when they didn’t score for four matches.
On This Day
Steve King recorded his first victory as Dartford boss two years ago. After a F.A Cup loss to Kingstonian and a draw with Chippenham Town, King got off the mark with a 2-0 away win at Eastbourne Borough. Goals from Norman Wabo and Elliott Romain made sure of King’s maiden victory in the National South fixture. Eight of Dartford’s last ten games on this day have been away from home with the most recent a 1-0 defeat against Forest Green Rovers in the National League back in 2013. On two occasions, the Darts progressed to the first round of the F.A Cup by beating Boreham Wood at home 2-1 in a replay in 1982 and defeating Guildford 1-0 in 1968. In 1996, the Darts recorded their second biggest win on this day when they won 4-0 against Fleet Town in a Southern League Southern Division fixture. The Darts’ biggest victory on 2 November was a 6-1 triumph over Northampton Town Reserves during the 1929 Southern League East campaign.