Dartford are up against a recent bogey side when they host relegation threatened Chippenham Town in the National South this weekend.
The Darts have failed to beat the Bluebirds in their previous four attempts and have only won two of the last eight meetings. Dowson’s side ended a two-game losing streak in the league in their last National South outing by drawing in the Kent derby with Welling United. Chippenham Town are in the bottom four but have seen improved results since Boxing Day until defeat at home to Braintree Town last weekend.
When the two sides played earlier in the season, the Bluebirds recorded their second victory of the campaign at Hardenhuish Park. Three defenders combined for Dartford’s opener with Connor Essam sending in a cross to Tom Bonner who headed across goal for Maxwell Statham to nod in his first for the club. Just before the interval Alefe Santos won a penalty, then just about scored it. Goalkeeper, Joe Young spilt the ball before scrambling back to make a save, the match official decided the ball had crossed the line despite protests from the Dartford players. With the points looking like they will be shared the hosts won a free-kick in the final minute, Jordan Young scored to hand Chippenham Town all three points.
The Wiltshire club visited Princes Park on two occasions last term claiming a 3-3 draw in November 2021 before knocking the Darts out of the playoffs on penalties. Dartford came from behind to lead at the break, then twice gave up their advantage fifteen months ago. Dan Griffiths had the visitors in front until Ade Azeez equalised and Noor Husin put Dartford ahead. Ricky Aguiar hit back for the Bluebirds, but Azeez added his second. In the final minute Luke Russe levelled once more in an entertaining fixture. After a 4-2 away defeat four months later, the Darts faced Chippenham Town for a third time during the 2021/2022 campaign. The deadlock could not be broken in the playoff eliminator with neither side finding the back of the net. The tie went to penalties, which the Bluebirds won 3-2.
Azeez was heavily involved during Dartford’s last league match albeit for the opposition. The former striker hit the post in the first half before Welling United went in front through George Alexander. It took a while for the Darts to get going in the local derby and they were level when Charlie Sheringham scored. Azeez putt the hosts in front when his shot crashed down from the underside of the crossbar, the referee deciding the ball crossed the line. Dartford showed character to fight back again, this time Malachi Napa confidently finishing from a Samir Carruthers through ball. The draw ended a run of two consecutive league defeats for Dartford.
Dartford’s defence of the Kent Senior Cup ended on Tuesday night with a 2-1 defeat to Ebbsfleet United. The Darts were unable to make it three victories over their local rivals this season losing their first Kent Senior Cup match for four years, a run of eight games. Former Dart, Darren McQueen set up Shaq Coulthirst for the first and scored Fleet’s second before Jack Smith finished a well worked Dartford move. Dowson made many changes to give opportunities to academy players and those on the fringes of the first eleven.
Only Smith and Jamar Loza were retained in the starting lineup from the draw with Welling United. Luke Allen and Pierre Fonkeu both made appearances from the bench on Saturday and along with Keiran Murtagh started in the London Senior Cup a week earlier. Youngsters Tom Wray, Jude Russell and George Whitefield were also involved against Metropolitan Police and they were chosen by Dowson again. Obi Onyeagwara made his Dartford debut, the teenager has had previous experience with Stevenage and Biggleswade Town. Kristian Campbell and Alex Wall returned to starting eleven, the latter will miss the game against Chippenham Town as he serves the second of his three-match ban.
Dartford have used four goalkeepers in all competitions this term and welcome new signing Ben Dudzinski. The former Oxford City keeper was released by the club after making 80 appearances over three campaigns. Selected in the National South Team of the Year last season, the 27-year-old has also represented Hartlepool United, Havant and Waterlooville ad Sutton United. Dan Wilks has held down the number one jersey, but a spell out with injury saw Dowson use the loan market and bring in first, Joe Young then Archie Mair. Whilst Tom Wray has been preferred to start in the county cups as well as the F.A Trophy. Wilks has featured in the last six league games, but Dudzinski, who kept 13 clean sheets last season will provide competition.
Chippenham Town have lost just one of their last six, although half of those have been draws. Prior their current run they only picked up two points from a possible 30 and in that time they slipped from tenth to 22nd in the standings. Despite defeat to Braintree Town in their last outing, the Bluebirds have seen results improve. Former Dart, Alfie Pavey was involved in both of Jo Boachie’s goals as Braintree Town went in at half-time two up. The Bluebirds pulled a goal back when on his debut Owen Windsor scored two minutes from time.
Scoring goals has been an issue for Chippenham Town with just 23 in 25 games. Despite their lowly league position they have only conceded two more than the Darts. So it’s no wonder manager, Gary Horgan has recently signed two strikers. Windsor signed from West Bromwich Albion having had spells with Carlisle United, Newport County and Grimsby Town. The 21-year-old has also been loaned out to Taunton Town and Cirencester Town. Matt McClure won the National North golden boot two years ago, the former Maidstone United, Aldershot Town and Wycombe Wanderers striker joined from Gloucester City and made his home debut last weekend.
Leading up to the loss against the Iron, Chippenham Town earned away wins at Chelmsford City, a month ago and at Bath City on Boxing Day. They drew two more on their travels against Braintree Town and bottom of the table Hungerford Town. Saturday’s game was Chippenham Town’s first home match since New Year’s Day, in which they drew 0-0 with Bath City to begin the year. Home postponements during January means the Bluebirds have games in hand to try and gain enough points to get out of the relegation zone.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 4 / Chippenham Town wins: 3 / Draws: 4
Current League Form
|Welling United||A||2-2||Braintree Town||H||1-2|
|Hemel Hempstead Town||H||1-3||Chelmsford City||A||1-0|
|Ebbsfleet United||H||4-0||Braintree Town||A||1-1|
|Ebbsfleet United||A||4-1||Bath City||A||3-1|
Last Six Meetings
Chippenham Town 2 – 1 Dartford (03/09/2022 – National South)
Dartford 0 – 0 Chippenham Town (12/05/2022 – National South Playoff)*
Chippenham Town 4 – 2 Dartford (12/03/2022 – National South)
Dartford 3 – 3 Chippenham Town (06/11/2021 – National South)
Chippenham Town 1 – 2 Dartford (27/10/2020 – National South)
Chippenham Town 1 – 5 Dartford (01/02/2020 – National South)
* Chippenham Town won 3-2 on penalties
- Dartford have drawn their last three home games with Chippenham Town in regular time and are winless in four.
- The Darts have only one once at Princes Park in this fixture, which was in the first ever meeting between the two sides.
On This Day
Dartford scored four times without reply down at Gosport Borough six years ago. Andy Pugh, Luke Wanadio, Keaton Wood and Kaka Dembele all scored in the National South fixture. The Darts have only won once on this day at home back in 1933 when they beat Aldershot Reserves 1-0 in the Southern League Eastern Section. Since then, Dartford have drawn one and lost three on their own patch with the last defeat coming in 2006 to Rothwell Town in the Southern League Division One East.