Dartford return to National South action against Hungerford Town brimming with confidence after a superb F.A Cup win last time out.
Topping the league table two points ahead of rivals Maidstone United, the Darts knocked the Stones out of the cup last weekend and now face Hungerford Town at Princes Park in the league. Steve King’s side are unbeaten this term winning an impressive nine of their opening ten matches in all competitions. Their visitors also progressed in the F.A Cup on the weekend and have seven points in the league from their first five fixtures.
Steve King is expecting “another tough game” and has respect for their manager Danny Robinson who has been in charge of the Crusaders over the last couple of years, the Darts boss told Dartford FC TV: “Hungerford have got a great manager, for me he has done ever so well in the two years he has been in this league, he’s made them really competitive. They are a group who are together and play in a certain way where you have to be proper on it to get anything from the game”.
Yet to taste defeat at home to the Crusaders, Dartford drew 1-1 back in January at Princes Park after falling behind. Craig Fasanmade put Hungerford Town in front, firing a shot in at the near post, but Josh Hill equalised with a header from a Jack Jebb free kick. The Darts pressed for a winner and were denied on several occasions by the excellent goalkeeping of Luke Cairney. It was the second time Dartford drew with the Berkshire side at home, the Darts were victorious in this fixture in August 2016 and December 2018.
The depth of Dartford’s squad has been on display over the last month and the positive results have continued. The Darts scored five or more goals in three consecutive games for the first time in 46 years after beating Hythe Town 5-1, Welling United 6-0 and Athletic Newham 5-2. Last weekend they added another three goals to their tally in their F.A Cup third qualifying round triumph over Maidstone United.
Noor Husin’s free-kick, a third goal of the season by Danny Leonard and yet another strike by Ade Azeez earned the Darts a fourth qualifying round tie away at AFC Sudbury. In an interview with Dartford FC TV, Steve King praised the commitment of his players and was impressed with the counter attacking football his side played, he said: “I thought we were fantastic; our performance was like dogged determination. They didn’t cause us too many problems apart from the end when they were throwing balls into the box. We had the perfect game plan, when we broke, we broke out with a purpose and scored the second and third goals. It was a magnificent performance in the way we were solid”.
Over the last few weeks, Dartford’s squad has been tweaked with the arrival of Emmanuel Sonupe, who made a big impression on his debut in the London Senior Cup scoring twice. However he caught King’s eye sooner in the friendly against Leyton Orient, but due to a shoulder injury Sonupe had to wait to be signed. The former Stevenage and Yeovil Town winger also featured for the Darts as a substitute against Maidstone United and is waiting for a first league start.
Ronnie Vint becomes the second player to go out on loan by returning to Dulwich Hamlet for a few months. The defender has been playing catch up this term after an ankle injury in pre-season. As part of the best defence in the league it has been difficult for Vint to get time on the pitch, he spent a period on loan at Hamlet last season and impressed whilst there. Meanwhile, Tyrique Hyde has been picking up minutes at Hemel Hempstead Town and is due to return at the end of the month.
Hungerford Town have caused problems for Dartford in the past, mainly on their own patch. Although they are waiting for their first home win in the league this campaign, they have won two out three on the road. Last season’s surprise package relied on the goals of Ryan Seager, this term he has managed two in the National South, both penalties.
The Crusaders made a great start to their campaign with a Simo Mbonkwi inspired win away at Welling United. The midfielder netted an opening day hat-trick as Danny Robinson’s side cruised to a 4-1 victory. Another standout performance also came on their travels when Hungerford United came from behind to beat last season’s league leaders Dorking Wanderers. Callum Willmoth scored then assisted Nana Kyei to claim a 2-1 triumph at Meadowbank. In their last league outing, the Crusaders drew 1-1 at home with Slough Town, George Smith scoring a last-minute equaliser to rescue a point. Both defeats this season have ended at home to Tonbridge Angels and away at Dulwich Hamlet.
Having beaten Truro City by a goal to nil in the third qualifying round of the F.A Cup, Hungerford Town were in action against Cirencester Town last weekend. The Crusaders navigated into the final qualifying round but threw away a two-goal lead and needed another last-minute goal, this time against opponents two divisions below them. Ryan Seager proved his worth scoring the second to put Hungerford Town two up and the late winner. The Crusaders have been drawn at home against National League side Bromley.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 3 / Hungerford Town wins: 3 / Draws: 3
Current League Form
|Welling United||A||6-0||Slough Town||H||1-1|
|Tonbridge Angels||H||1-1||Dulwich Hamlet||A||1-3|
|Bath City||A||3-1||Dorking Wanderers||A||2-1|
|Eastbourne Borough||H||3-1||Tonbridge Angels||H||1-3|
|Dulwich Hamlet||A||2-0||Welling United||A||4-1|
Dartford 1 – 1 Hungerford Town (16/01/2021 – National South)
Hungerford Town 1 – 2 Dartford (28/11/2020 – National South)
Hungerford Town 2 – 2 Dartford (26/08/2019 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 1 Hungerford Town (22/12/2018 – National South)
Hungerford Town 1 – 0 Dartford (25/08/2018 – National South)
Hungerford Town 1 – 0 Dartford (09/12/2017 – National South)
- Dartford are four games unbeaten against Hungerford Town, their best sequence versus the Crusaders since the first meeting back in 2016
- Hungerford Town have conceded in each of the last four games against the Darts having previously kept four clean sheets in a row
- Ade Azeez has scored ten goals in nine appearances for the Darts, the most prolific goalscoring start for a new signing since Cody McDonald in the 2007/2008 season
- Dartford have scored three or more goals in 80% of their matches this term
- The Darts have made their best start to a league campaign since the 2009/2010 Isthmian Premier League title winning season (W6, D1, L0). In 2009, Dartford managed 23 goals after seven games compared with 21 so far this season. The four goals conceded this time matches that of 12 years ago.
On This Day
Dartford set up a F.A Cup classic on this day when they conceded in the last minute to draw 2-2 with Canvey Island in 2010. Former Dart, Danny Heale gave the Islanders a shock lead but Ryan Hayes and Elliot Bradbrook had the Darts in front. Rob King netted a last minute penalty to take the tie to a dramatic replay three days later. Tony Burman’s side were taken to penalties in the replay as the sides drew 3-3, but the Darts finally went through winning the shoot-out 9-8.
The Darts started the 1977/1978 with Roy Dwight in charge, John Stevens became caretaker manager and by the time the delayed Eastern Floodlit Cup final was played the following season John Boyle was leading the team. On this day in 1978 the Darts drew 1-1 against Chelmsford City in that final, it wasn’t enough to overturn the 3-1 deficit from the first leg. Boyle was dismissed the following month and replaced with Graham Carr.
Dartford’s last outing on this day ended in a 4-1 home defeat to AFC Telford United in 2012, Elliot Bradbrook scored for the Darts.