Dartford hope to continue their excellent form and maintain the pressure at the top of the National South when they host Braintree Town this weekend.
The Darts have put themselves in contention at the summit of the National South by winning nine of their last ten league games. Next to arrive at Princes Park is Braintree Town, who have often been a thorn in Dartford’s side and this season the Iron are currently in the playoff places arriving on the back of four straight victories.
In all competitions Dartford have only beaten their opponents twice at home in nine attempts. Including trips to Cressing Road, then the Darts record over the Iron makes for grimmer reading. In 16 matches between the two sides Dartford have just three wins to their name.
Under Alan Dowson, the Darts have grown in confidence and prior the last week were not quite the finished article. Time will tell whether their potential will be reached, but six points and eight goals over the last week shows promising signs. On Saturday the Darts overcame bottom club Weymouth 3-0 with Josh Johnson scoring his first for the club on his home debut and Alex Wall netting a brace from off the bench. Influential midfielder, Samir Carruthers was replaced for the second-half and missed Tuesday night’s 5-1 win against Welling United, his replacement on the weekend Luke Coulson was given the nod to start the Kent derby. The only other change involved Davide Rodari making his first start in almost a month in place of Charlie Sheringham.
The Darts were three up by half-time with Pierre Fonkeu and Rodari recreating the goalscoring exploits from earlier in the season. The pair shared Dartford’s first six goals this term and on Tuesday they scored the opening two. Fonkeu now has two in his last three games, whilst Rodari scored for the first time since August. Before the interval there was time for Maxwell Statham to draw level with Rodari in Dartford’s scoring charts with his third of the campaign. Early in the second-half former Dart, Ade Azeez kept the Dowson’s side on their toes by pulling a goal back. Jack Smith celebrated extending his loan spell from Stevenage until January with a delightful finish as the Darts hit four for the first time under Dowson. It got even better with three minutes to go when Coulson added a fifth to send Dartford top of the National South by the end of the evening.
The Darts only took a point from Braintree Town last season losing the corresponding fixture 1-0 in May, ten days before the playoff campaign. Whether the Darts were resting players or not, the performance was under par resulting in the defeat. Braintree Town’s Harry Lodovika scored late on just minutes after coming off the bench. The Iron also made things difficult earlier in the campaign at Cressing Road. Dartford were forced to come back from two goals down with a last gasp equaliser. A stunning stoppage time free kick from Jack Jebb earned a point after a Jake Robinson penalty halved the deficit. The visitors went two goals up through Gabriel Piorkowski and Gio Crichlow.
The Iron are having a fantastic season compared to their seventeenth-place finish last term, for long periods they were in a scrap to beat the drop and ended up the lowest scorers in the division. The man partly responsible for the upturn in performances is manager Angelo Harrop, who masterminded AFC Sudbury’s run to the F.A Cup first round giant killing Dartford on the way. The Essex club are one of three unbeaten teams at home and sit in fifth place with the fourth highest goal tally. Although the Iron will be without home advantage, they have picked up four league victories on the road, winning their last two away fixtures 3-0 against Hampton and Richmond Borough and 2-1 at Eastbourne Borough. Those triumphs on their travels have helped Harrop’s side claim four straight wins home and away for the first time in the league since April 2018, when they were promoted to the National League via the playoffs.
Braintree Town’s last away outing saw them negotiate their way past Hampton and Richmond Borough despite several injuries and suspensions to first teamers. The reshuffled side took the lead through Jon Benton and waited until two minutes from time to add a second. Levi Amantchi scored his sixth of the season since joining in the summer from Potters Bar Town. To wrap up a good afternoon for Harrop’s team the Beavers netted an own goal to make it 3-0. Former Concord Rangers forward Lemar Reynolds has notched four league goals this term and so has ex-Welling United midfielder Alfie Matthews, who will serve a one match ban this weekend.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 3 / Braintree Town wins: 8 / Draws: 5
Current League Form
|Welling United||H||5-1||Hampton and Richmond||A||3-0|
|Slough Town||A||2-1||Eastbourne Borough||A||2-1|
|St Albans City||A||1-1||Worthing||H||2-1|
|Tonbridge Angels||H||2-0||Dover Athletic||A||1-3|
|Dulwich Hamlet||A||2-1||St Albans City||H||1-0|
Last Six Meetings
Dartford 0 – 1 Braintree Town (02/05/2022 – National South)
Braintree Town 2 – 2 Dartford (28/12/2021 – National South)
Braintree Town 2 – 1 Dartford (09/01/2021 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 1 Braintree Town (24/08/2019 – National South)
Dartford 0 – 1 Braintree Town (06/05/2018 – National South Playoff)
Dartford 1 – 1 Braintree Town (23/12/2017 – National South)
- Dartford have won just once in their last 12 games against Braintree Town (D4, L7)
- The Darts have gone 13 games without a clean sheet against the Iron
- The Iron have kept eight clean sheets versus Dartford, in half of the games they have played the Darts.
On This Day
Dartford led twice to win against Hampton and Richmond Borough three years ago. Ky Marsh-Brown opened the scoring, but minutes later Tyrone Lewthwaite levelled for the Beavers. Elliott Romain won a penalty, picked himself up and netted from the spot to grab the winner. The Darts suffered heavy F.A Cup first round defeats in consecutive seasons on this day, both at Princes Park. In 2016, Dartford pegged National League side Sutton United back three times with two goals from Elliot Bradbrook and one from Duane Ofori-Acheampong. However, the Darts ran out of steam as the U’s rattled in three without reply in the final half an hour to win 6-3. A year later, Dartford were outclassed by League Two side Swindon Town losing 5-1, Richard Sho-Silva scoring the consolation goal. Other big scores on 5 November include Dartford’s 5-1 win over Aveley in 2005 at Stonebridge Road and a 6-2 Kent League Cup triumph against Greenwich Borough in 1994. The Darts were also on the end of an 8-0 reverse at Cambridge City in 1960.