Dartford will want to keep up their winning start in their first home game of the season against newly promoted Cheshunt.
The Darts made Princes Park a fortress last season going 17 league games unbeaten, their best home run from the start of a campaign since the 1925/26. However, home form towards the end tailed off as they lost two of their final three fixtures and also fell short in the playoffs on home turf. Dowson and his team will want to get back to the excellent home form that served Dartford so well last term and make it consecutive victories to begin 2022/2023.
Last weekend, new Dartford signing Pierre Fonkeu had a debut to remember in Bath. Likewise, the Cheshunt made a statement in their first ever National South fixture helped by two former Darts.
Alan Dowson gave first league starts to Davide Rodari, Sam Odaudu, and Fonkeu and was rewarded with a 2-0 victory in the opener against Bath City. It took Fonkeu 65 minutes to open his account and he was involved again forcing an own goal five minutes later. Goalkeeper Dan Wilks provided the assist for the first goal when he played a long pass into plenty of space from a free kick on the edge of his box. Fonkeu used his pace and strength to get through on goal and side footed a confident first time shot into the roof of the net. The second goal came from the striker setting Carruthers on a charge through the centre and after the ball found its way out wide, the midfielder continued his run, received the ball and squared it across to Fonkeu who applied enough pressure on Bath City defender Zac Bell.
Assistant manager, Christian Jolly was delighted with the way Dartford handled a tough Bath City side, he spoke to Dartford FC TV and said: “It was a professional performance, we were really pleased. We traveled overnight, we tried to do things as properly as possible, the boys were on board and they took on the information we gave them and they delivered”.
Jolly praised Fonkeu on his debut, commenting: “He had closest to the complete performance for ninety minutes. First half he did all of the dogged stuff and the ugly stuff. Second half, he then had the opportunity to show his quality and score some real individually quality goals”. The assistant boss also singled out the adaptability of Odaudu and Luke Allen in midfield. Allen had to replace Kristian Campbell at half-time who picked up a shoulder injury. Whilst Odaudu started out in midfield then filled in for Campbell at full back, whose injury will be assessed ahead of this weekend’s fixture. Striker, Alex Wall continued his return from injury with a substitute appearance, whilst Charlie Sheringham was not ready to make the squad.
Cheshunt arrive in the National South with momentum knowing they have already created history. The Ambers are guaranteed their highest ever league position and on the opening day were not deterred by the step up. Manager, Craig Edwards can be delighted with his team’s attitude last weekend after they went two down versus one of Dowson’s former clubs Hampton and Richmond Borough. It turned out to be one of the results of the day with Cheshunt staging a comeback in the final fifteen minutes.
Dajon Golding, once of Dartford’s academy set the Ambers on their way on his debut after signing from Worthing in the summer. The striker made two substitute appearances for the Darts and scored in the Kent Senior Cup almost seven years ago. The equaliser came from last season’s joint top scorer Rowan Liburd, another ex-Dart who made three appearances during a loan spell in 2019/2020. In the final minute, the other top scorer from last season, Reece Beckles-Richards netted a dramatic winner to get the Hertfordshire off the mark. There was one more Dartford connection in goal, Preston Edwards who was signed by the Darts as back up in July 2020.
Craig Edwards summed up the day when he spoke to www.cheshuntfc.com, he said he had: “Mixed emotions really. I was really disappointed with our first half performance. I thought we were timid, I thought we were off the pace. It looked like for the first time ever for this group, the occasion had got to us a little bit”. The Ambers boss was pleased with the change of attitude after the break, leaving him excited about the challenges ahead. Coming into this fixture on Saturday, Edwards said: “I expect 100% from the boys and 100% from me and the staff, giving it everything we’ve got. If we do that then we’ve got a chance with anyone”.
The Ambers came fifth in Isthmian Premier League South last term and won the Isthmian Promotion Final against Hornchurch to cap off a brilliant campaign. The Hertfordshire club won the county senior cup for the first time and reached the last sixteen of the F.A Trophy. It was only three years ago when they won the playoff final to get into the Isthmian Premier making it back to back promotions in their last two fully finished seasons.
- Dartford are unbeaten in their last seven home openers of the season winning their last two (W4, D3)
- Charlie Sheringham could make his 100th start for the club if selected in the starting eleven
On This Day
Charlie Sheringham was on target twice in a convincing 4-0 opening day victory over Weston-super-Mare in 2011. Elliot Bradbrook scored the first of the afternoon and another current player, Tom Bonner also found the back of the net. That win made it four out of four on 13 August after a 2-1 win against Guildford City in 1969, a 3-1 triumph over Whitstable Town in 1994 and a 1-0 victory over Arlesey Town in 2005. The run came to an end in 2013 when the Darts lost 4-0 to Aldershot Town in the National League. Dartford drew their last game on this day six years ago against Chelmsford City. Luke Wanadio put the Darts ahead in Essex only for Shaun Jeffers to equalise.