Dartford will test themselves against fellow playoff hopefuls Chelmsford City on Non-League Day when the pair meet at Princes Park in the National South this weekend.
The Darts had their fixture against bottom club Concord Rangers postponed last weekend which allowed teams behind them to apply some pressure. One of those clubs is Chelmsford City who took full advantage to move within five points of Alan Dowson’s side. Dartford will go into this weekend’s clash rested from their confidence boosting win last time out at Princes Park a fortnight ago. The Clarets on the other hand are eyeing up a double having won the reverse fixture back in December.
Dartford had scored in each of their first 21 league games before visiting the Melbourne Stadium just over three months ago. The Clarets were the first team in the National South this season to keep a clean sheet against the Darts attack and came away with a 1-0 victory. A late goal by Louis Dunne separated the two sides when his cross bypassed everyone to end up in Archie Mair’s net. With a minute to play plus stoppage time the Darts were unable to respond.
Unbeaten in their last four home matches in the league, Dartford will be hoping to keep that run going and record a fifth straight home victory over Chelmsford City. Just over a year ago, Jack Jebb’s set pieces made a difference putting the Darts two up. First, the midfielder scored directly from a free-kick with 16 minutes on the clock. Then approaching the half hour mark Jebb’s delivery was met by Danny Leonard. Chelmsford City did breach the hosts defence with a Tom Blackwell consolation, the Clarets’ first goal at Princes Park after three previous blanks.
Over the years Chelmsford City has been seen as one of Dartford’s bogey teams, at one stage the Darts recorded just one win in 15 attempts between 2001 and 2018. Now the tide has turned, at least at home, and having won 11 and drawn two of their last 14 league fixtures this term on their own patch, Dowson’s side can be hopeful of a positive result. Farnborough were the latest victims at Princes Park a fortnight ago with winger, Luke Coulson running the show and Harvey Bradbury scoring on debut.
The Darts made a bright start and on six minutes Statham poked the ball over the line from a Carruthers corner, the defender’s first goal since the derby day win at Ebbsfleet United. Corners caused problems for the visitors with Murtagh hitting the bar on twenty minutes and later Statham had what would have been his second ruled out for a foul. Coulson came out in the second half confidently and doubled the lead within five minutes of the restart by rounding Jack Turner and slotting into an empty net. With the Darts two up Dowson introduced Bradbury for his debut and it wasn’t long before the striker got off the mark. Harry Parsons who squandered several chances in first half scored a consolation for the visitors to deny Dartford another home clean sheet.
Sam Odaudu returned after a long-term injury that had kept the defender out since Boxing Day. However, Jordan Wynter has been out injured after missing the draw at Hungerford Town as well. Tommy Block is yet to feature since joining the club due to injury and Charlie Sheringham is also recovering. Defender, Isaac Ogundere has been recalled by League Two side AFC Wimbledon after making five appearances for the Darts. Jernade Meade has been called up to the Montserrat international squad.
Dowson has strengthened the squad for the final stretch the campaign signing three players ahead of this weekend’s fixture. Former Sheffield Wednesday under 21, Bobby Dunn will bolster the midfield and came through Charlton Athletic’s academy. The youngster has also gained experience with Ramsgate and Sevenoaks Town in the Isthmian League. Emmanuel Adebowale and Richard Chin will provide extra options in defence for the Darts. Adebowale signs from League Two side Crawley Town and has already played in the National South on loan at Havant and Waterlooville and with Eastbourne Borough. Chin also came through Charlton Athletic’s ranks and has made five appearances for the Addicks before arriving at Princes Park on loan.
At the beginning of the month Chelmsford City were clinging onto the last playoff place, but three wins in their last four has moved them up to fourth and six points clear of eighth. The Clarets won their last game on the road, an Essex derby against Concord Rangers in which they came from behind to win 2-1. The Beachboys took an early lead through Mo Bettamer’s header, but two former Darts helped Chelmsford City earn all three points. Ody Alfa set up Michael Folivi for a first-half equaliser and Giovanni McGregor scored a rebound from Folivi’s saved penalty. Both players had short spells with the Darts with Alfa scoring once in 15 appearances last season and McGregor making just two appearances in the 2019/2020 campaign. A third former Dart was involved in defence, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb signed for the Clarets from Dulwich Hamlet after playing 19 times in a Dartford shirt during the 2020/2021 season.
New signing James Blanchfield could have lined up against Dartford last weekend for Concord Rangers, but on the eve of the postponed match switched allegiances and joined rivals Chelmsford City. The midfielder was on the bench in the Clarets 4-2 victory over Worthing in the vital playoff six pointer. Meanwhile Robbie Simpson’s side were without Dave Winfield through suspension, he will finish his ban by missing out on Saturday as well. Once more Chelmsford City had to come from behind, but this time they did it twice. Ollie Pearce gave the Rebels the lead in the 11th minute and again in first-half stoppage time. However, the Clarets pegged the visitors back on both occasions when Liam Trotter and then Folivi netted for the hosts. With seven to play Chelmsford City went in front for the first time as Arjanit Krasniqi scored a penalty. In the final minute Freddie Hockey sealed the deal to clinch all three points.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 41 / Chelmsford City wins: 56 / Draws: 23
Current League Form
|Hungerford Town||A||1-1||Concord Rangers||A||2-1|
|Weymouth||A||1-3||Hampton & Richmond||A||1-2|
|Oxford City||H||0-0||Dulwich Hamlet||H||5-1|
|Slough Town||H||1-0||Eastbourne Borough||A||2-2|
|Braintree Town||A||1-1||Ebbsfleet United||H||0-1|
Last Six Meetings
Chelmsford City 1 – 0 Dartford (03/12/2022 – National South)
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)
- Dartford are looking for a record fifth home win against Chelmsford City in a row having drawn two and lost seven of the previous nine home meetings
- The Darts have kept three clean sheets in their last four home matches versus the Clarets
- Dartford have kept five cleans sheets in their last seven league games at Princes Park
On This Day
Dartford are unbeaten in seven home games on this day winning their last outing at Princes Park against Bishop’s Stortford in 2016. Danny Harris, Keaton Wood and Tom Bradbrook all scored on Good Friday to wrap up a deserved victory. Dartford have won six, drawn four and lost one on their own patch on this day. Only Tunbridge Wells Rangers have visited the Darts and come away with a win and that was way back in 1939. The last time Dartford played on 25 March it ended in defeat at Clarence Park where St Albans City won 1-0 in 2017.