Dartford could claim a sixth straight league win for the first time in four and a half years on the weekend when they host Tonbridge Angels in the National South.
The Darts have found some form winning five league games in a row for the first time since the beginning of the year. The Darts can move back into third if they pick up at least a point this weekend and are guaranteed to finish fourth by the end of the afternoon. Tonbridge Angels could break into the playoff places if results go their way and potentially be the fourth Kent side in the top seven.
Six wins in their last seven league outings has seen Dartford move up the National South standings with the help of Samir Carruthers. The midfielder returned to the line-up on the weekend as the Darts recorded another 2-1 win, this time at Dulwich Hamlet. Returning from his one game ban, Carruthers scored from the spot to record his fifth goal in as many appearances. Keiran Murtagh was also back in the starting eleven, whilst Luke Allen was named as a substitute alongside Charlie Sheringham, who missed the home match against Hungerford Town. Luke Coulson picked up an injury in that 2-0 victory over the Crusaders, so he missed out on the Dulwich Hamlet fixture with Dan Wilks (ankle) and Sam Odaudu, who was close to making his return. Coulson returned to training this week and manager Alan Dowson is hopeful the winger will be available for this weekend’s Kent derby.
The Darts were made to work hard for their win at Champion Hill after falling behind early on through Nana Owusu. Academy graduate, Marvin Herschel continued his impressive form in the senior team by winning a penalty on the stroke of half-time, which Carruthers successfully converted. Sheringham was introduced late in the second half and with six minutes remaining headed home the winner. A goal and assist from Carruthers takes the 29-year-old’s tally to eight goal involvements since the start of the season.
Martin Tyler spoke to Dartford FC TV after the Dulwich Hamlet game and said the performance “got better”, he added: “the scoreline reflects that. We were probably sloppy enough to be one down but getting a break just before half-time changed the mood of the half-time team talk”. Tyler praised Herschel for creating another influential moment in the game by winning the penalty, Dowson’s substitutions and Sheringham for his winner from off the bench.
Dowson is pleased with the uplift in form and recording back to back away wins for the first time since becoming manager has put his side in a positive frame of mind, he spoke to Dartford FC TV this week and exclaimed: “It’s been a good place morale wise because we’re winning games”, he continued: “It was a good result on Saturday and at times we played some really good stuff, but other times we haven’t, it’s just about getting the balance right. We’re in a good position and the beauty about it is being in this position and wanting to add to it a little bit, I think we’ll be fine. It’s been a good couple of weeks”. Citing the Beckenham Town cup exit as a wake-up call, Dowson has made some alterations on the field which has been rewarded with the third best form in the division over the last eight league games. The Dartford boss now turns the attention towards Tonbridge Angels and is expecting a challenging afternoon this weekend against a “tough side”.
Last season, Tonbridge Angels were the first side to take points off Dartford in a 1-1 draw at Princes Park. The Darts had won their opening five matches and fell behind to a Tommy Wood header. Dartford equalised when Jack Jebb took advantage of the headed clearance by goalkeeper Jonathan Henly to fire a half volley over the goalkeeper and into the Angels net. Jebb also scored what turned out to be the winner in the reverse fixture in a 3-2 victory, the start of another five-match winning streak this year. Winger, Danny Leonard set Dartford on their way scoring a brace in the opening twenty minutes. However, Wood halved the deficit and after the Darts restored a two-goal cushion through Jebb, the Angels added a consolation through Ibrahim Olutade.
Like Dartford, the summer was a period of change for Tonbridge Angels with Steve McKimm leaving and being replaced by former Margate boss Saunders. Moving with Saunders from Hartsdown Park to Longmead came Louis Collins, Ben Swift and Fyn Rutherford, the trio would have played alongside Dartford’s Sam Odaudu last term when the midfielder was on loan at Margate. Former Dartford defender, Craig Braham-Barrett was retained by Tonbridge Angels over the summer having featured in the majority of games last season, the 34-year-old Montserrat international made 29 appearances for the Darts.
Tonbridge Angels showed plenty of character last weekend after they found themselves two down at home to Oxford City. Josh Ashby and Josh Parker had the visitors in control at the break, but a spirited second-half fightback thanks to goals from Ruben Soares-Junior and Jeremey Santos rescued a point in a 2-2 draw. The draw came after a loss to Hemel Hempstead Town in the league, which had ended a three-game winning run against Dulwich Hamlet, then promoted teams Farnborough and Cheshunt. Saturday’s clash with Dartford will be a good test for the Angels as they have yet to play any of the current top seven.
Saunders is hopeful his Angels side can come away with some points when they visit Princes Park despite an injury list building up. Tommie Fagg picked up a groin strain against Oxford City, Joe Tyrie a head injury, James Taylor (ankle) and Santos will be assessed after limping off as well. Swift is out of action with potentially a longer-term injury. The Angels boss is looking forward to the trip to Princes Park, he told www.tonbridgeangels.co.uk: “I’ve been quite lucky in the past there so hopefully that carries on. It is a tough place; Dowse is a very experienced manager. I know a lot of their players and they have picked up some good results over the last few weeks. We have to prepare; we’ve got a week now to nurse the ones that need it and I’ll probably have to look at getting a couple of players in”.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 70 / Tonbridge Angels wins: 38 / Draws: 25
Current League Form
|Dulwich Hamlet||A||2-1||Oxford City||H||2-2|
|Hungerford Town||H||2-0||Hemel Hempstead Town||A||0-1|
|Hampton & Richmond||H||2-1||Farnborough||H||2-1|
|Dover Athletic||A||3-1||Dulwich Hamlet||H||3-1|
|Chippenham Town||A||1-2||St Albans City||H||1-2|
Last Six Meetings
Tonbridge Angels 2 – 3 Dartford (29/01/2022 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 1 Tonbridge Angels (11/09/2021 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Tonbridge Angels (05/01/2021 – National South)
Dartford 3 – 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 have lost just one of the last 14 games against Tonbridge Angels (W11, D2)
- The Darts have won six of the last eight at home against the Angels (D2, L0)
- Two thirds of Dartford’s league games this season have ended 2-1 (W4, L4)
- Dartford have not drawn a league game since April, a run of 18 games (12 this season).
- Another match without a draw will equal the run of 19 without a draw in the 2016/2017 campaign
On This Day
Dartford beat Tonbridge Angels on this day six years ago to earn a place in the F.A Cup first round. Goals from Alex Brown, Andy Pugh and Elliot Bradbrook sealed a 3-0 victory at Longmead which featured Tom Bonner as the only current Dartford player in the line-up that day. The last three games on this day have been Kent derbies as five years prior, the Darts claimed a 2-1 away victory over Cray Wanderers in the F.A Cup, Ryan Hayes and Danny Harris scoring in the third qualifying round. In 2005, Dartford drew 1-1 with Dover Athletic in a F.A Trophy first qualifying tie, whilst the last home game on 15th October ended in a 4-0 F.A Cup defeat to Havant and Waterlooville 22 years ago. The last time Dartford were in league action on this day was back in 1997 when they beat Margate 1-0 in the Southern League South Division. The Darts have won all five league games at home played on this day since originally forming in 1888.