Dartford have eight games remaining to secure a playoff place and they can edge closer to their target when they host relegation threatened Dulwich Hamlet this weekend.
Although the Darts are looking for more consistency they are still in a strong position. Occupying second place in the National South with games in hand over the chasing pack, Dartford have recorded just three victories in their last eleven league outings. Under their third manager of the season, Dulwich Hamlet slipped into the drop zone on the weekend even though they picked up a vital point.
In March the Darts dropped points against teams battling for survival, losing at Weymouth and drawing against Hungerford Town. This time they will want to get back to winning ways after defeat a week ago. Dartford will be hoping for a repeat of the reverse fixture at Champion Hill in October when they came from behind to win 2-1. Samir Carruthers returned to the team after serving a one match ban that day and made an impact. After Nana Owusu opened the scoring, Dartford managed to find themselves level by the break. Marvin Herschel won a penalty and up stepped Carruthers to equalise. A draw was looming until Charlie Sheringham was introduced, the striker netted a header six minutes from time to win it for the Darts.
Last time Dartford hosted Hamlet it ended in a 1-1 draw, and it was a returning player that put the London side in front. The Darts failed to defend a corner that was headed towards Tyrone Sterling, who shot past Dan Wilks. The instinctive Jake Robinson rescued a point when he found himself unmarked at the far post, the striker’s initial shot was saved but he headed home the rebound.
Alan Dowson’s side have had a two week break after beating Farnborough at Princes Park, but they were unable to replicate that result against fellow playoff contenders Chelmsford City on Non-League Day. The Clarets left it late to gain ground on the Darts and move level with Oxford City, who drew at Dulwich Hamlet last weekend.
Connor Essam returned to the lineup in place of Keiran Murtagh and Sam Odaudu made his first start since Boxing Day, taking Jernade Meade’s place. Meade will be available again this weekend after his call up to the Montserrat national team. The new signings didn’t feature with Richard Chin being named on the substitute’s bench, whilst Bobby Dunn and Emmanuel Adebowale were not included in the matchday squad. However, Dowson told Dartford FC TV after the 2-1 loss that Chin and Dunn are likely to be involved against Dulwich Hamlet and Adebowale considered. Dartford were still without Jordan Wynter and Charlie Sheringham, whilst Essam was taken off in the second-half with cramp so should recover in time. Dowson also revealed this week that Tommy Block is not likely to feature this season after suffering a groin injury.
Dartford were undone by two former players and let a lead slip in the final seven minutes. Dowson felt his side created enough chances to win, but acknowledged the midfield needed to do better in possession. Two of those chances fell to Alex Wall in the first half, but the striker was unable to open the scoring. Likewise, Michael Folivi should have had the visitors in front afterwards. Moments later neat play by Carruthers and Jack Smith set up Luke Coulson who scored for a consecutive game. Chelmsford City applied plenty of pressure in the second-half and although Coulson hit the post, the Clarets made that pressure count late on. Ody Alfa hit an unstoppable strike to level and in injury time Giovanni McGregor curled in the winner.
The Darts will be hoping former players stay out of the headlines on Saturday. Six of Hamlet’s squad have played for Dartford in the past. Kristian Campbell, Sanchez Ming, Danny Mills and George Porter all started in the 2-2 draw against Oxford City, Ronnie Vint was a substitute, whilst Kalvin Kalala has a long-term injury after damaging his cruciate ligament earlier in the season.
|DFC Appearances||DFC Goals|
Dulwich Hamlet sold out their home fixture on Non-League Day and rewarded their fans with a point against Oxford City. Manager, Hakan Hayrettin made five changes to the side that lost to champions elect Ebbsfleet United in the previous game. Debuts were handed to loanee David Stephens, who was signed from Boreham Wood and Deon Woodman who has joined on loan from Queens Park Rangers. Goalkeeper Aaron Jones, Andre Blackman and Michael Phillips also returned to the lineup. The first half may have ended goalless, but four goals arrived in an entertaining second-half. Oxford City took the lead through Olly Sanderson with a low shot into the corner. Former Dartford striker, Mills headed in the equaliser before Giovanni Crichlow’s long-range effort deceived the Oxford City goalkeeper. A clever turn and shot from Klaidi Lolos made sure the match ended all square with three minutes remaining.
The first draw under Hayrettin ended a losing streak of two matches. The latest Dulwich Hamlet boss won the National South title with Maidstone United last term, this time he’s attempting to keep Hamlet in the division. It’s been a difficult campaign for Dartford’s opponents with plenty of change in the dugout. In September, Gavin Rose left the club after 14 years in charge, the longest serving manager in Hamlets’ history. One win in the opening seven fixtures and four straight defeats later brought his tenure to an end. In stepped Paul Barnes and despite losing four of his first six league fixtures, Dulwich Hamlet’s improved form towards the tail end of 2022 put them in a better position. However, one point over a ten-game spell left Hamlet looking for another replacement. Hayrettin took charge a month ago and has picked up two wins and a draw in his first six league games in charge.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 5 / Dulwich Hamlet wins: 3 / Draws: 4
Current League Form
|Chelmsford City||H||1-2||Oxford City||H||2-2|
|Hungerford Town||A||1-1||Bath City||A||1-2|
|Weymouth||A||1-3||Havant & Waterlooville||H||2-1|
|Oxford City||H||0-0||Chelmsford City||A||1-5|
|Slough Town||H||1-0||St Albans City||H||1-0|
Last Six Meetings
Dulwich Hamlet 1 – 2 Dartford (08/10/2022 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 1 Dulwich Hamlet (08/01/2022 – National South)
Dulwich Hamlet 0 – 2 Dartford (28/08/2021 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Dulwich Hamlet (25/01/2020 – National South)
Dulwich Hamlet 1 – 1 Dartford (07/12/2019 – National South)
Dulwich Hamlet 2 – 0 Dartford (02/03/2019 – National South)
- Dartford are unbeaten at home against Dulwich Hamlet (W3, D3)
- The Darts have lost just one of the last eight meetings versus the Hamlet (W4, D3)
- Dartford have won all eight homes games against sides currently in the bottom eleven
On This Day
Lee Noble scored twice as Dartford thrashed Woking 4-1 at Princes Park on this day in 2013. Nathan Collier broke the deadlock from 12 yards but Woking levelled as Jayden Stockley headed in. On the stroke of half-time Noble had the Darts in front and Sheringham added a third in the second-half. Noble completed the rout with an excellent long range free-kick. Famously that season the Darts beat Luton Town at Kenilworth Road. However, Dartford were unable to replicate that result against the Hatters at home just over 12 months later. On April Fools Day in 2014, Mikel Suarez opened the scoring for the Darts and after Kenny Clark was red carded, Luton Town scored twice in the final seven minutes through Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and Andre Gray. Dartford’s last outing on this day was six years ago against Hemel Hempstead Town. Despite having a man advantage for the majority of the game the Darts let a lead slip twice in a 2-2 draw, Elliot Bradbrook and Luke Wanadio the goalscorers.