Fans return to Princes Park this weekend for the first competitive game since March last year to watch Dartford host Slough Town in the National South.
The two sides were due to meet last term, but just before the Darts were due to visit the Rebels the season was curtailed. So despite coming up against each other five times in the previous calendar year, this time will be the first in 2021.
In form Dartford striker Dan Roberts will know the opposition well having played for the Berkshire club last season. He spoke to Dartford FC TV after the season’s opener and said: “Having been there for just over two years they are hard side to breakdown, they defend well and they will make it difficult for us to create chances”.
In total Roberts played 58 games for Slough Town scoring 13 times including a hat-trick against Dorking Wanderers. In pre-season the 23-year-old scored five goals and on the opening day of the season he became the match winner on his debut with a brace. The striker commented after the game: “It starts the group on a positive light. Winning the first game of the season sets the tone for the next four or five games. We’ve now got to put our thoughts on to the weekend, it’s another tough game and we’ve got to get another three points.”
Dartford manager, Steve King handed first starts to four players against one of the expected promotion candidates St Albans City last weekend. Keiran Murtagh and Jake Robinson were amongst the new starters, whilst debutants Danny Leonard and Ade Azeez made an immediate impact. Roberts and George Porter made their first competitive appearances for the club coming on as substitutes.
The Darts scored at the end of either half to take a satisfying opening day victory. The first half closed with Danny Leonard’s cross being headed home by Ade Azeez. In the second half, St Albans City were level when former Dart, Tom Bender scored an equaliser. After coming on as a substitute Roberts scored twice in the final minutes, getting on the end of a Josh Hill flick on then finishing a one on one opportunity. The match winner was delighted even though he didn’t make the starting eleven, he added: “As a player you’ve just got to say look when I get the opportunity to come on I’m going to make an impact. For me it’s all about just coming on and doing as well as I can for the team, working hard and when chances come up putting the ball in the back of the net”.
Dartford have now recorded back to back opening day victories for the first time since 2005 and 2006. Steve King felt the Darts were ‘exceptional’ against St Albans City and his team will need to be on their game come Saturday, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “It’s always a tough game against Slough and they had a good win last weekend against Chelmsford”.
Former Tonbridge Angels striker Tom Derry was one of five debutants in the Slough Town lineup and he managed to net the crucial goal against Chelmsford City. Joint manager, Neil Baker felt his side ‘rode their luck’ at times, but also controlled the game territorial wise, he spoke to www.sloughtownfc.net after the game and said: “It was a really hard working performance, everyone put in a shift”. After claiming all three points, Baker feels he can now “look forward to what is going to be a tough game against Dartford, one of the favourites for the league. Having won (on the opening day) it takes a little bit of pressure off that game”.
Over the previous two reduced campaigns the Darts have faced the Rebels six times. At Princes Park, Dartford lost two in a row before winning 2-0 in the last home meeting. Chris Dickson netted a brace on his debut to claim a first home victory over Slough Town since 1981.
Either side of the league victory, Slough Town knocked the Darts out of the F.A Cup with a last minute penalty, but Dartford won on penalties in the F.A Trophy tie. In the previous season, Dan Roberts scored for Slough Town in both games as the Rebels completed a league double. However when the two sides met in the playoffs, Dartford came out on top with a 3-0 away win.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 5 / Slough Town wins: 3 / Draws: 3
Previous Meetings (last six)
Slough Town 2 – 2 Dartford (15/12/2020 – F.A Trophy)
Dartford 2 – 0 Slough Town (21/11/2020 – National South)
Dartford 0 – 1 Slough Town (03/10/2020 – F.A Cup)
Slough Town 0 – 3 Dartford (19/07/2020 – National South Playoff)
Slough Town 1 – 0 Dartford (18/01/2020 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 3 Slough Town (28/09/2019 – National South)
- The Darts have won just one league game against Slough Town drawing two and losing two.
- In all competitions, out of the eleven meetings between the two sides the home team has only won three times.
- Both teams scored in each of the first six meetings, which has only happened once in the last five, when they last met in December.
- Since reforming Dartford have won 12, drawn 9, lost 7 of their opening home league games.
- If selected in the starting eleven, Josh Hill will make his 50th start for the club. The defender has also made six substitute appearances and has scored six times for the Darts.
On This Day
Dartford claimed their first victory of the Isthmian Division One North title season on this day in 2007. After drawing 2-2 in the opening game, the Darts travelled to Wivenhoe Town. Adam Flanagan, Steve Norman and Jay May found the back of the net in a 3-0 win, goalkeeper Tony Kessell also saved a penalty.
At home, the Darts have only ever lost once on this day back in 1948 against Exeter Reserves in the Southern League. Since then they have won six and drawn four, including a 3-0 victory versus St Leonards in 2000 and a 2-1 derby triumph over Tonbridge Angels in 1996. The Darts also beat rivals Gravesend and Northfleet 3-0 in the first leg of the Southern League Cup in 1973. Dartford hung on in the return leg losing 2-0 to knock the Fleet out of the competiton 3-2 on aggregate. It’s been eleven years since the Darts played on the 21st August when they lost 2-1 at Farnborough in the National South, Lee Noble heading a late consolation.