Dartford can extend their unbeaten league run at Princes Park on Saturday when they host league leaders Dorking Wanderers in the National South.
The Darts have yet to taste defeat at home in the league all season and if they avoid a loss on the weekend that run will stretch to fourteen. However, Dorking Wanderers have a ten point cushion over Steve King’s side and lead the National South by six points after a big victory last weekend.
Over a week ago, Dartford failed to take their chance to move closer to Dorking Wanderers when they lost 2-1 at Hungerford Town. A win would have closed the gap to four points before the Wanderers faced fellow title chasers Maidstone United. Instead, the deficit remained at seven and when Marc White’s side beat their closest league rivals last weekend, the Surrey side increased their advantage.
Despite Dartford creating excellent chances in the first half against Hungerford Town they couldn’t break the deadlock. In the second half the Darts found themselves two down and a man down when Junior Tiensia was sent off. Jake Robinson scored a consolation goal, but it was too late to stage a dramatic comeback. Defeat ended a run of five straight league wins in the National South after victories against Kent sides Tonbridge Angels, Ebbsfleet United and Welling United followed by Havant and Waterlooville and Bath City.
On Tuesday night, the Darts were in London Senior Cup action against a young Brentford B side, unfortunately Dartford were knocked out losing 2-0 to the Bees ending an 18 match unbeaten home run in all competitions. King welcomed back Jack Jebb from suspension, Tom Bonner returned to the line up, Ody Alfa, George Porter, Tyrique Hyde and Jake Robinson were also selected. Junior Tiensia started after his red card against Hungerford Town, the youngster will serve a match suspension this weekend. Jernade Meade and Josh Hill remain sidelined through injury.
Games against Dorking Wanderers are rarely dull and although just one goal separated the sides back in October, Jordan Wynter scoring an unlucky late own goal at Meadowbank, the previous three meetings have yielded an average of over five goals per game. Apart from Dorking Wanderers claiming all three points on their own turf four months ago, the away side has won the other three fixtures.
In the first ever meeting between the two sides, Tony Burman returned to the dugout as interim boss before Steve King joined the Darts. Dorking Wanderers’ Niall McManus hit a brilliant long-range effort to start the scoring spree, but a quick-fire Ben Greenhalgh brace had the Darts in front. Former Dartford man Jason Prior scored from the spot before Charlie Sheringham gave Dartford their one goal lead back. The final six minutes saw Giuseppe Sole equalise for the Surrey club, Lee Noble sent off for the Darts and James McShane scoring the winner for the Wanderers with two minutes remaining.
The return fixture was equally as enthralling with a further five goals netted in a 3-2 Dartford victory. Darren McQueen and Elliott Romain gave the Darts a two-goal lead. However, Dorking Wanderers hit back when Jimmy Muitt and then Luke Moore restored parity. After eight minutes of injury time, McQueen won a penalty and scored it to win it at the end for the Darts.
Last season the 3-2 score line was reversed with Wes Fogden opening the scoring for the Wanderers. Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong equalised only for Prior to add another goal to his career tally against Dartford. Jack Jebb levelled with one of his free-kick’s and with fifteen minutes to go Matthew Briggs won it for Dorking Wanderers.
Dorking Wanderers arrive at Princes Park in red hot form winning 13 of their last 14 league outings. Only Tonbridge Angels have stopped the Surrey side winning 3-1 early last month. After a steady start to their campaign, Wanderers were in 13th on 4 December and trailing Dartford by ten points, the Darts were top of the division after their 1-0 victory over Billericay Town. Since then, White guided them to ten consecutive victories including the 8-0 mauling of Havant and Waterlooville on Boxing Day, a 5-1 triumph in the top of the table clash with Ebbsfleet United in January and a week later a 5-0 victory against Billericay Town.
After the defeat at home to Tonbridge Angels, the Wanderers have dusted themselves down and recorded three wins on the bounce, the most recent a crucial 1-0 win over Maidstone United. A record crowd turned out for the match with the Stones and it was Josh Taylor’s first goal for the club that made the difference.
Former Dartford striker Prior has often done well when facing the Darts, he has scored against Dartford for Dorking Wanderers, beat the Darts to the National South title at Havant and Waterlooville scoring a last-minute winner on the final day and netted a hat-trick whilst at Bognor Regis Town. Unfortunately for Prior he remains a long-term absentee along with Giuseppe Sole, whilst Matthew Briggs was stretchered off against Maidstone United. Returning to the side last weekend, Wes Fogden has recovered from injury and Barry Fuller served his final game of his suspension in the victory over Maidstone United.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 1 / Dorking Wanderers wins: 3 / Draws: 0
Current League Form
|Hungerford Town||A||1-2||Maidstone United||H||1-0|
|Bath City||H||2-0||Chelmsford City||H||2-0|
|Havant and Waterlooville||A||1-0||Bath City||A||2-0|
|Welling United||H||4-2||Tonbridge Angels||H||1-3|
|Ebbsfleet United||H||1-0||Oxford City||H||1-0|
|Tonbridge Angels||A||3-2||Billericay Town||A||5-0|
Previous Meetings (last six)
Dorking Wanderers 1 – 0 Dartford (30/10/2021 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 3 Dorking Wanderers (07/11/2020 – National South)
Dorking Wanderers 2 – 3 Dartford (04/01/2020 – National South)
Dartford 3 – 4 Dorking Wanderers (07/09/2019 – National South)
- Dartford can set their best unbeaten home run in the league for 13 years. The Darts went 13 unbeaten from 24 March 2009 to 24 November 2009
- If Dartford stretch the run to 14, it will be their best unbeaten home run in a single league campaign and best from the start of a season since 2005/2006.
- Dorking Wanderers have kept five clean sheets in their last six league games and last failed to score on the opening day of the season.
On This Day
Dartford have won five out of seven recorded home games on this day, but their last Princes Park outing in 2013 ended 1-1 against Stockport County in the National League. Danny Harris rescued a point for the Darts after Mark Cullen put the Hatters ahead. The previous four home matches involved victories without conceding, Dartford racked up 19 goals in the process. Maidenhead United were beaten 3-0 in the National South fixture in 2011, Charlie Sheringham opened the scoring and Elliot Bradbrook grabbed a brace. Back in 1969, Dartford trounced local rivals Gravesend and Northfleet 5-0 in the Kent Floodlight League, thrashed Guildford City 6-0 in 1938 in the Southern League Midweek Section and eased to a 5-0 victory over Norwich City Reserves in 1927’s Southern League East Section. On the road, Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle’s side beat Hemel Hempstead Town 2-1 thanks to Phil Roberts’ late goals three years ago.