Dartford can secure a playoff place with a win in their penultimate home game of the regular season against Taunton Town on Thursday night.
With a top seven spot all but guaranteed, the Darts are aiming to finish second to earn them home advantage in the playoffs and a bye into the semi-final. A third home win in four on Easter Monday in the Kent derby against Dover Athletic edged Alan Dowson’s side closer to their target. Taunton Town have hit good form winning three on the bounce to virtually make sure they will be playing National South football next season.
Dartford are two points ahead of closest rivals Oxford City with two games in hand and five to play. Three more wins will make sure the Darts claim second and keep the rest of the playoff contenders at bay. So Dowson’s men will be eager to avoid double defeat against Taunton Town who won the reverse fixture back in August.
Eight months ago, Davide Rodari scored the opener at Wordsworth Drive even though he looked second best when he chasing down Sam Odaudu’s long ball, but a mix up at the back between goalkeeper Jack Bycroft and centre half Dan Ball allowed Rodari to get between the pair, round the keeper and slot into an empty net. Another long ball caused problems with 15 minutes to go, this time for the Darts. Tom Bonner was caught out and substitute Dave Sims-Burgess took advantage to equalise. Then four minutes later another sub won it for the Peacocks, Ross Stearn poked home from close range.
On Monday, Dowson made one change following the 2-1 Good Friday defeat at Eastbourne Borough. Striker, Alex Wall picked up a calf strain during the loss in Sussex meaning Pierre Fonkeu was selected in the Kent derby against Dover Athletic. Wall joined an injury list which already included Charlie Sheringham, Samir Carruthers and Tommy Block. Despite Jernade Meade’s red card at Eastbourne, the full back will not start his suspension until Saturday against Tonbridge Angels.
Harvey Bradbury helped Dartford on their way to a sixth Kent derby win in the National League after just five minutes. The striker capitalised on a defensive mix up to score for the second game in a row, his fourth in five appearances since joining the club. Bradbury had the ball in the back of the net again, but his effort was ruled out for offiside. From that moment Dover Athletic gained control and before the first-half was out Jordan Higgs equalised. The Darts got to grips with proceedings in the second-half and with seven minutes to go substitute Luke Allen finished superbly to win it for the hosts.
Taunton Town have been playing catch up after a series of postponements throughout the season. The Peacocks now have a heavy fixture list and their trip to Princes Park will be their fifth game in April out of ten scheduled. At the beginning of the month a modest points total had the Somerset side looking like they would be involved in a relegation battle, however realistically having played fewer matches they were really in a false league position. Five wins in seven has seen Rob Dray’s team on the verge of securing National South football for only their second ever season. Taunton Town need just four points from their remaining six fixtures.
Over Easter, one of the tightest defences in the division kept a consecutive clean sheet on Good Friday. Following a 1-0 win against bottom side Concord Rangers in which Lee Lucas netted the winner, the Peacocks kept out Bath City in a 2-0 victory. It took the Somerset club 76 minutes to break the deadlock when Cameron Evans scored from close range. Victory was secured with eight minutes on the clock, Dylan Morgan finishing from just inside the penalty box.
Dray was forced to make two changes for the Easter Monday clash with Slough Town. Suspensions to Lucas and Nat Jarvis meant Nick McCootie and Morgan were handed starts. Jarvis will be available to return against the Darts, but Lucas still has two games to serve. A last minute winner was enough for the Peacocks to claim a 2-1 victory. The hosts took the lead from a corner headed in by Jake Wannell. Slough Town hit back on the stroke of half-time when Matt Lench levelled. Then during second-half injury Morgan grabbed a winner for Taunton Town.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 0 / Taunton Town wins: 1 / Draws: 0
Current League Form
|Dover Athletic||H||2-1||Slough Town||H||2-1|
|Eastbourne Borough||A||1-2||Bath City||A||2-0|
|Dulwich Hamlet||H||3-0||Concord Rangers||H||1-0|
|Chelmsford City||H||1-2||Ebbsfleet United||H||0-1|
|Farnborough||H||3-1||Hampton & Richmond||A||1-3|
|Hungerford Town||A||1-1||Braintree Town||A||2-0|
Taunton Town 2 – 1 Dartford (20/08/2022 – National South)
- The Darts have won all ten home games against sides currently 14th and below in the league, Taunton Town are 15th.
- Dartford have conceded one fewer than the best defence in the league. Taunton Town have conceded the fewest goals (44) in the division, joint with champions Ebbsfleet United.
- The Darts have not gone three unbeaten at home in the league since their eight game winning streak from 24 September 2022 to 26 November 2022
On This Day
Paul Sawyer lifted the Kent Senior Trophy on this day in 1996 after the Darts beat Chatham Town 3-0 in the final. Dean Bowey, Ricky Bennett and Sean Bristow all scored at Park View Road to give Tony Burman’s black and white army some deserved silverware. Dartford’s last outing on 13 April was four years ago and ended in defeat at Princes Park. Nat Jarvis and Nick McCootie, now of Taunton Town were in the Chippenham Town side that won 1-0. Defeat in 2019 ended a three game winning streak on this day without conceding a goal. In 2009, Lee Noble, Adam Flanagan, Rob Haworth and Ryan Hayes all scored in a 4-0 win over Canvey Island in the Isthmian Premier League. A year later in the same division Allan Tait scored the only goal of the game against Harrow Borough and in 2013, Charlie Sheringham netted the winner as the Darts beat Stockport County 1-0 in the National League.