Dartford’s early F.A Cup exit means they are in league action this weekend against Hungerford Town at Princes Park.
The Darts moved into the playoff places after yet another 2-1 win against Eastbourne Borough on Tuesday night. After the three consecutive losses in August, Dowson’s men have rallied to win four of their last five National South fixtures. Hungerford Town head into this game having lost five of their last six, sitting third from bottom in the standings.
Dartford have often found games against the Crusaders close and at times frustrating. In the last nine meetings there has been no more than a goal separating the two sides with three of those fixtures ending in a draw. The last to be played at Princes Park was settled by Ade Azeez just past the hour mark. The Darts were made to work hard even though they created plenty of opportunities before going ahead. In this fixture the home side tends to fare better, only once as the away side won in the previous eleven meetings.
In February it was Hungerford Town who claimed victory on their own patch after a goalless first half. Former Dartford boss Steve King expressed his frustrations resulting in his dismissal before the break and things got worse after the interval. Danny Robinson’s side went two goals up through Sol Wanjau-Smith and Max Ram. Then the Darts were reduced to ten men on the field when Junior Tiensia was red carded. Jake Robinson pulled a goal back in the last minute, but Dartford were unable to complete the comeback.
The Darts were in action on Tuesday night looking to make it three league wins on the spin and they succeeded against Eastbourne Borough. After victories over Dover Athletic as well as Hampton and Richmond Borough, Alan Dowson made one change to the side that beat the Beavers. Having scored in his last two appearances, Charlie Sheringham started in place of Davide Rodari up front. Rewarded for his goal on his league debut, Marvin Herschel retained his place. Midfielder, Samir Carruthers featured in his last game before his one game ban this weekend, the midfielder picked up his fifth caution against Hampton and Richmond Borough. Dan Wilks, Sam Odaudu and Luke Coulson were still recovering from injury.
It was Dartford who came from behind to win under the Princes Park floodlights, the first time they have overturned a goal deficit to take all three points this season. Eastbourne Borough took the lead through Leone Gravata, but the Darts were soon level when Sheringham linked up with Carruthers, who netted his fourth of the campaign. Carruthers was involved again in Dartford’s winner by providing the ball to Kristian Campbell who set up Luke Allen to make it 2-1.
Alex Wall was an unused substitute and so far he has had limited time on the field for the Darts this term with just one start, the striker could go up against one of his former teams. Wall spent the 2017/2018 campaign with Hungerford Town scoring one goal in 14 appearances before joining Dartford for his second spell, which was cut short before the season began under Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle.
Since promotion to the National South six years ago, Hungerford Town have seen most of their seasons go right down to the wire. In their first campaign they were the surprise package making the playoffs, then followed that up with two last day survivals at the other end of the table. The Crusaders were bottom of the division in the Covid hit campaign, so last term the Berkshire club’s twelfth place finish provided some respite from the drama. Based on results so far this season, Hungerford Town are back on course for a tense campaign, but at least there is plenty of time to turn their current form around.
Although the Crusaders started steady, despite a single goal opening day defeat to relegated Dover Athletic, they went on to draw with St Albans City before beating Eastbourne Borough, their only win this season. A draw versus bottom of the table Weymouth is all they managed to muster from the five matches leading up to their latest mid-week game as they suffered defeats to Chippenham Town, Taunton Town and front runners Havant and Waterlooville and Ebbsfleet United. During that spell they also exited the F.A Cup with a loss at home to National North side Gloucester City.
Robinson was satisfied with the performance of his team against league leaders Ebbsfleet United and so he named an unchanged side for the visit of Hampton and Richmond Borough on Tuesday night. Robinson will be forced to make a change this weekend though as Callum Willmoth starts his three match ban for the red card he received against the Fleet. After just ten minutes Hungerford Town conceded a penalty, which was converted by Tommy Block to put the Beavers in front. The Crusaders couldn’t find an equaliser falling to their fifth 1-0 defeat of the campaign.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 4 / Hungerford Town wins: 4 / Draws: 3
Current League Form
|Eastbourne Borough||H||2-1||Hampton & Richmond||H||0-1|
|Hampton & Richmond||H||2-1||Ebbsfleet United||H||0-1|
|Dover Athletic||A||3-1||Havant & Waterlooville||A||1-4|
|Chippenham Town||A||1-2||Taunton Town||H||0-1|
|Hemel Hempstead Town||A||2-0||Weymouth||H||1-1|
Last Six Meetings
Hungerford Town 2 – 1 Dartford (22/02/2022 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Hungerford Town (09/10/2021 – National South)
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)
- Dartford are unbeaten in all five home games against Hungerford Town (W3, D2)
- The Darts have scored in each of their last six games against the Crusaders having not scored in the previous four
- Dartford have kept three clean sheets in the five home games against Hungerford Town
- All six of Dartford’s home games this season have ended 2-1 with three wins and three defeats
On This Day
Elliot Bradbrook’s his 100th goal for the Darts and Andy Pugh’s late strike put Dartford into the fourth qualifying round of the F.A Cup on this day in 2016. Drawn against Southern Premier League leaders, Slough Town, the Darts came from behind twice at Arbour Park to win 3-2. Dartford are currently unbeaten in seven (W5, D2) on this day stretching back to 1985 and four of those victories have been in the F.A Cup. In 2011, the Darts romped to a 5-0 cup win over Harrow Borough with goals from James Rogers, Bradbrook, Charlie Sheringham, Tom Bonner and Lee Burns. At home Dartford have lost just once in in their last eleven (W8, D2) on 1 October and that was back in 1974. Whilst 28 years ago, the Darts played their first ever match in the F.A Vase against Steyning Town and won 3-1.