Dartford’s first Kent derby of the season could see them set a Post-war record of consecutive wins from the start of a league campaign.
The Darts host Tonbridge Angels having taken maximum points this term to lead the National South table by two points. Dartford last won their opening five league games in 1989/90 and have not won the first six for 125 years.
In 1896 the Darts recorded seven straight wins from the opening day of the Southern League Second Division championship winning season. Although they did manage six in a row in the London Professional Midweek League in 1933 and the Dartford and District Premier League in 1906, but these were additional competitions alongside the main league Dartford entered.
Last weekend, Steve King’s side recorded their third 3-1 victory of the campaign when they beat Bath City in their last outing. Dartford have now scored three in four of their five games so far with the goals shared evenly between the recognised strikers signed over the summer.
Ade Azeez returned to the starting line-up and opened the scoring against Bath City, the third time he has scored the opener since joining the Darts. The striker headed in his fourth of the season, which came after the hosts had an effort cleared off the line by Tom Bonner. Josh Hill and Kieran Murtagh came back into the side, but Jake Robinson retained his place and doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time heading from close range, adding to his brace against Eastbourne Borough.
Just like the victory over the Sports, the opposition improved in the second half and halved the deficit Alex Fletcher scoring for Bath City. Once again, the Darts saw off their opponents, this time with the help of goalkeeper Dan Wilks and a third goal scored by George Porter, who came off the bench to calmly score his second Dartford goal since arriving in the summer.
Steve King spoke to Dartford FC TV after the game and commented: “That was the old cliché of a game of two halves. We controlled the game first half; we could have gone in at half-time two or three to the good. We were dominant without excelling, a bit like last week”, he continued: “Second half Bath came out and gave it a right good go, they should have easily scored one, two, maybe three goals. That was the toughest second-half against us we’ve had”. King also praised his squad and was pleased with timing of the substitutes who came on to make an impact. For a fifth match in a row a substitute came on to score a goal.
Dartford have won the last six home games against Tonbridge Angels, the last a 1-0 victory in January when Nassim L’Ghoul’s late strike was enough to separate the sides. The previous two matches against the Angels at Princes Park have ended 3-0 meaning the Darts have kept three consecutive home clean sheets in this fixture. Dartford’s have form against their fellow Kent side with ten wins in the last eleven, the only dropped points came in Adam Flanagan’s and Jamie Coyle’s last match in charge when the Darts lost 3-2 at Longmead in September 2019.
Tonbridge Angels made a slow start to their campaign losing a Kent derby in their season’s opener. Steve McKimm’s made the short journey to Stonebridge Road and were humbled 5-1 by Ebbsfleet United. A successive loss followed at home to Bath City, but the Angels got off the mark versus Hungerford Town in a 3-1 victory, Joe Turner netted his 50th goal for the club in his 160th appearance. Unfortunately, their fourth fixture was abandoned late on when St Albans City’s Devante Stanley suffered a double leg break. On the weekend Ibrahim Olutade came off the bench to snatch a point for the Angels in the eighth minute of injury time to earn a 1-1 draw with Hampton and Richmond Borough.
Two former Darts started in their last outing, Ricky Modeste’s performance earned him a place in the National South’s team of the week. The winger made only three appearances in his only season with Dartford last term. Full back Craig Braham-Barrett is also on Tonbridge Angels’ book and he made 13 appearances last season taking his total for the Darts to 29 over two campaigns.
Assistant manager, Barry Moore told Angels TV after the 1-1 draw: “It felt like a win because we should have won, it’s not often that we say that. Hungerford set the ball rolling for a few of the lads, we played a bit more like the Tonbridge sides that we’ve had in the past in terms of getting teams on the back foot, pressing, working hard for each other and not giving up and against Hampton we proved that”.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 69 / Tonbridge Angels wins: 38 / Draws: 24
|Bath City||A||3-1||Hampton & Richmond||H||1-1|
|Eastbourne Borough||H||3-1||Hungerford Town||A||3-1|
|Dulwich Hamlet||A||2-0||Bath City||H||0-1|
|Slough Town||H||3-0||Ebbsfleet United||A||1-5|
|St Albans City||A||3-1|
Previous Meetings (last six)
Dartford 1 – 0 Tonbridge Angels (05/01/2021 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Tonbridge Angels (28/12/2019 – National South)
Tonbridge Angels 3 – 2 Dartford (03/09/2019 – National South)
Tonbridge Angels 0 – 3 Dartford (15/10/2016 – F.A Cup)
Dartford 3 – 0 Tonbridge Angels (15/12/2012 – F.A Trophy)
Tonbridge Angels 0 – 1 Dartford (03/03/2012 – National South)
- Dartford have kept five clean sheets in their last six matches against Tonbridge Angels
- In seven of the last ten meetings the winning side has scored three or more goals in the game
- Substitutes have accounted for six of the 14 Dartford goals this season with a sub scoring in each game so far
On This Day
Dartford are looking for their first win on this day for 36 years after taking just one point in their last six outings on 11 September. Way back in 1985, the Darts beat Wycombe Wanderers in the Alliance Premier League, now the National League. It was only one of eight league victories that season as Dartford were relegated back to the Southern Premier League ending a two year stay at the top of non-league. In their last game on this day, Dartford drew 1-1 with Thurrock in 2010 with Elliot Bradbrook rescuing a point in the National South. In 2004, the Darts lost a seven-goal thriller 4-3 to Berkhamsted Town in the Southern League Division One Eastern. Eastbourne Borough (1-2 in 2001), Witney Town (0-1 in 1999), Thamesmead Town (0-4 in 1993) and Rushden Town (2-4 in 1990) were the others who inflicted defeat on Dartford since the Wycombe Wanderers triumph.