Dartford’s relegation battle continues on Non League Day when they host a Hemel Hempstead Town side managed by former boss Alan Dowson.

Adrian Pennock is searching for his first points as Darts manager in his fourth league game in charge. After exiting Princes Park, Dowson returns to the ground where he spent just over a year and a half in charge. The 53-year-old is also yet to get off the mark in his three games as Tudors boss.

A six pointer at the bottom end of the table could see Dartford move within three points of their opponents and drag them into the mix. At least one manager will break their duck and with both sides in poor form any points picked up will be crucial in their bid to remain in the National South.

When the two sides met in October they ended the day in 12th and 13th respectively, closer to the playoffs in terms of points. Now the Darts have won just once in 14 league games with the last home victory coming in November under Dowson, who departed in January. Hemel Hempstead Town have lost their last six and have one point to show in their last nine outings, resulting in Bradley Quinton leaving and being replaced by Dartford’s ex manager at the start of this month.

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Highlights courtesy of Dartford FC TV

Dartford approach Saturday’s game after a double header against Kent rivals Maidstone United. In the National South last weekend the Darts put in plenty of effort and after a promising first half they still went in at half-time a goal down once Liam Sole put the Stones in front. Goalkeeper, Billy Terrell was sent off ten minutes into the second-half and Maidstone United’s Matt Rush added a late second.

Brandon Barzey put in a good performance on the Dartford wing, but he will miss this weekend’s game after being called up to the Montserrat international squad for a World Cup qualifier. The winger spent some of this campaign on loan at Hemel Hempstead Town. His not the only current Dart who has turned out for the Hertfordshire club. Luke Allen, Joash Nembhard, Alex Wall and Charlie Sheringham also had spells at Vauxhall Road.

This week Pennock made a triple signing by bringing in players on loan. After Terrell’s red card and Tom Clifford returning to his parent club, the Dartford boss has brought in goalkeeper Rhys Byrne and defender Harrison Sodje from Leyton Orient. Ibby Akanbi and Elliott Romain have also finished their spells with the Darts leading to Oliver Bray arriving at Princes Park until the end of the season. The 20-year-old striker from Aldershot Town was at Willand Rovers in the Southern League Division One South before joining the Shots and spent time on loan at Truro City this season.

Pennock named eight homegrown players in the squad to face Maidstone United in Tuesday night’s Kent Senior Cup semi-final. Tom Wray started in goal, George Whitefield and Oliver Box were also selected, whilst the bench consisted of five youngsters from the academy. Ibby Akanbi returned after illness and Jordan Greenidge was rested despite his upcoming suspension.

Box has impressed since breaking into the senior side, scoring five goals in five starts and six substitute appearances. Featuring for the first time under Pennock, the academy graduate set up Alex Wall for only his fifth goal of the season to give the Darts a one goal advantage at the break. Senior debuts were also handed to Finley Sillince and Jeremiah Pinder in the second-half who came on as substitutes. Maidstone United levelled with 12 minutes remaining when they were awarded a penalty which Sam Corne dispatched. A 1-1 draw after normal time meant the tie was decided from the spot, the Stones won 4-3 on penalties.

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Highlights courtesy of Dartford FC TV

Five months ago, a frustrating afternoon saw Dowson sent off from the away dugout at Vauxhall Road. Dartford let a one goal lead slip to come home with nothing to show in a 2-1 defeat against Hemel Hempstead Town. Winger, Luke Coulson scored his first goal since the opening day from the penalty spot. Yet his first-half strike was cancelled out moments later when Reece Grant finished a one-on-one chance. The Tudors were awarded a penalty of their own in the second-half, which Joe Iaciofano scored.

Last season the away side won both games with Dartford taking the honours in Hertfordshire. Former Tudor, Samir Carruthers delicately curled the opener into the top corner from just inside the box. The 29-year-old added another scoring directly from a free-kick. The reverse fixture finished 3-1 to Hemel Hempstead Town at Princes Park. Jack Westbrook gave the away team the lead before Connor Essam’s equaliser. Approaching the interval, Kyle Ajayi scored a stunner and late in the match Jeremie Mukendi grabbed a third.

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Highlights courtesy of Dartford FC TV

Former Dart, Pierre Fonkeu scored in Hemel Hempstead Town’s last outing. The forward made 50 appearances, 20 as a substitute scoring 11 goals for Dartford last term. The 26-year-old equalised five minutes before the break, but Hampton and Richmond Borough scored again to claim a 2-1 win. Josh Hill was also in the starting eleven for the Tudors, the defender played 66 times for the Darts scoring seven. Craig King also had a spell at Princes Park featuring in 18 games. The shot stopper hasn’t played for the Tudors since late February. Dowson has made a few signings since arriving bringing in goalkeeper Jonathan McAuley and Junior Gyamfi on loan from Watford and Jamie Sendles-White from Yeovil Town.

Prior defeat at home to Hampton and Richmond Borough, the Tudors went three without scoring, away at Bath City and Eastbourne Borough as well as at home versus Havant and Waterlooville. With two of their last four defeats coming against teams in the drop zone, Hemel Hempstead Town are edging closer to the bottom four.

Current League Form

Dartford (LDLLLL) Hemel Hempstead Town (LLLLLL)
Maidstone United H 0-2 Hampton & Richmond H 1-2
Braintree Town A 1-2 Bath City A 0-2
Torquay United A 1-4 Eastbourne Borough A 0-1
Aveley H 1-2 Havant & Waterlooville H 0-2
Taunton Town H 1-1 Chelmsford City H 1-4
Slough Town A 2-3 Weston-super-Mare H 1-2

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 8 / Hemel Hempstead Town wins: 3 / Draws: 5

Last Six Meetings

Hemel Hempstead Town 2 – 1 Dartford (28/10/2023 – National South
Dartford 1 – 3 Hemel Hempstead Town (14/01/2023 – National South)
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 are winless in their last four at home against Hemel Hempstead Town (D3, L1)
  • The Darts went 12 games unbeaten against the Tudors (W7, D5) before losing the last two meetings
  • Dartford are without a home win in six (D8, L8), their worst run since 2014/2015 (D3, L3)

On This Day

Dartford have lost just one of their last 14 games on 23 March and that was 14 years ago at home to Margate in the Isthmian Premier League. The most recent outing on this day saw Tyrell Miller-Rodney lining up against the Darts for Hampton and Richmond Borough. Dartford equalised twice in a 2-2 draw, Sheringham scored a penalty and Darren McQueen rescued a point in the last minute. In 2013 a Ryan Hayes masterclass helped the Darts to a rare win over Gateshead in the National League. The winger scored a brace and Sheringham added a third in a 3-0 victory. Dartford have won 11 of their last 14 matches on 23 March.