Dartford hope to at least maintain their cushion at the top of the National South when they host Hemel Hempstead Town this weekend.
The Darts know a fifth consecutive league victory will make sure they are guaranteed a five-point lead over the chasing pack. Alan Dowson’s side have already beaten the Tudors this term and could make it a double on Saturday. Hemel Hempstead Town ended 2022 by letting former boss Mark Jones go. The Hertfordshire club will be hoping new manager Bradley Quinton provides the bounce needed to see the club improve their current league position and win at Princes Park for the first time.
Samir Carruthers returned to Vauxhall Road in August and haunted his former team scoring both goals to stretch Dartford’s unbeaten run to 12 against Hemel Hempstead Town. Former Dartford goalkeeper, Craig King couldn’t stop the midfielder’s second-half double, the first a delicately curled ball into the top corner and the second direct from a free-kick. Carruthers has made vital contributions this term, not only as the 29-year-old provided creatively in the middle of the park, but he has also chipped in with nine goals and ten assists.
Dartford’s win at Hemel Hempstead Town in August came during an early spell of poor results. This time the shoe is on the other foot as the Darts head into Saturday’s fixture in confident mood. Particularly, Alex Wall who has netted four in his last four league appearances. The striker scored a brace against his former club Havant and Waterlooville to help the Darts to a 3-1 win. Over the festive period he grabbed a goal in both North Kent derbies against rivals Ebbsfleet United, in which Dartford won 4-1 at Stonebridge Road then 4-0 at Princes Park.
The Darts had to deal with a different type of pressure on their trip to Theobalds Lane in their previous league outing. Determined to make the excellent performances against their title rivals count, Dartford were facing an in form Cheshunt side trying to escape the relegation zone. Dowson’s men dealt with that pressure extremely well and despite an uneventful first half, an own goal by former Dart, Rowan Liburd gave the Darts a half-time lead. Coulson provided the cross for the opener, found the back of the net then set up Tom Bonner in the second-half to put Dartford in control. Coulson is showing excellent form at the moment and his creativity has led to two goals and six assists in his last three appearances. Although the hosts pulled a goal back late on, the afternoon was comfortable for the league leaders who took home another three points.
Carruthers was unavailable in the corresponding fixture last season when he was on loan at the Darts. The Tudors almost ended Dartford’s long unbeaten home run in the league taking the lead through Gus Scott-Moriss. In the final minutes an in-form Marcus Dinanga equalised to extend Dartford’s record to 17 without a home league defeat. The reverse fixture earlier in the campaign was an entertaining 3-2 win for the Darts in which Tyrique Hyde scored twice on his return to Vauxhall Road, after the midfielder was recalled just days before the match. Ade Azeez scored Dartford’s other goal, whilst Alfie Cerulli recorded a brace for the Tudors.
Hemel Hempstead Town’s inconsistencies this season has resulted in a managerial change. On the same day Mark Jones’ departure by mutual consent was announced the club broke the news that Bradley Quinton will be taking over the hotseat. Quinton’s experience in the National South including getting Braintree Town promoted, knocking Dartford out of the playoffs in the process. The new Tudor’s boss has also had a spell with Welling United.
Under new stewardship Hemel Hempstead Town lost their first match with Quinton at the helm. The Tudors had lost at home to St Albans City 3-1 on Boxing Day spelling the end of Jones, this time they were defeated again 2-1 on New Year’s Day. Hemel Hempstead Town took the lead when Jack Westbrook scored, but the Saints came back with goals from Mamadou Jobe and the league’s top scorer Shaun Jeffers.
Identifying what is needed to improve the side, Quinton added former Dartford defender Josh Hill on loan from Dulwich Hamlet. Hill made 66 appearances for the Darts scoring seven times bringing experience to the backline. His debut went perfectly alongside two other former Dartford players, goalkeeper Craig King and full back Jernade Meade. King played 18 times for the Darts whilst Meade started 25 games. The trio contributed to a clean sheet in a 2-0 victory over Hampton and Richmond Borough, Luke Holness and Charlie Hughes scoring the decisive goals.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 7 / Hemel Hempstead Town wins: 1 / Draws: 5
|Hemel Hempstead Town
|Cheshunt||A||3-1||Hampton & Richmond||H||2-0|
|Ebbsfleet United||H||4-0||St Albans City||A||1-2|
|Ebbsfleet United||A||4-1||St Albans City||H||1-3|
|Havant & Waterlooville||A||3-1||Bath City||H||1-0|
|Bath City||H||0-0||Concord Rangers||A||1-2|
|Chelmsford City||A||0-1||Taunton Town||H||1-1|
Last Six Meetings
Hemel Hempstead Town 0 – 2 Dartford (29/08/2022 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 1 Hemel Hempstead Town (09/04/2022 – National South)
Hemel Hempstead Town 2 – 3 Dartford (20/11/2021 – National South)
Hemel Hempstead Town 1 – 3 Dartford (10/11/2020 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 1 Hemel Hempstead Town (31/08/2019 – National South)
Hemel Hempstead Town 1 – 2 Dartford (05/03/2019 – National South
- The Darts are unbeaten in 12 games against Hemel Hempstead Town (W7, D5)
- Dartford have never lost to the Tudors at Princes Park (W2, D4)
- The last three matches at Princes Park in this fixture have ended in a draw
On This Day
Jacob Erskine’s F.A Trophy second round hat-trick inspired the Darts to a 4-2 victory over Boston United in 2012. The central defence looked familiar with Tom Bonner and Connor Essam pairing up. Lee Noble scored Dartford’s other goal as they progressed into round three. The last seven fixtures on this day have all been at home with four of those in the F.A Trophy. On their way to the semi-final in 1989 the Darts brushed aside Dorchester Town 4-0 in the first round. Three years later the Darts were beaten 2-1 by Merthyr Tydfil in a replay and most recently were knocked out by Chelmsford City six years ago. Dartford won their last league match on this day in the Southern League Division One East, the Darts defeated Wivenhoe Town in 2006.