Last season’s top two battle it out this weekend as Dartford go back on the road and visit Dorking Wanderers in the National South.

When last season was declared null and void in February, Dorking Wanderers led the National South after eighteen games and were five points clear of the Darts who had played a game more. This time, it’s the Darts in pole position and guaranteed to remain the league leaders regardless of other results on Saturday. The Wanderers are down in sixth place, six points behind having played an extra match.

Leading up to this weekend’s fixture, Dartford dropped points for only the second time on Monday night as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Chelmsford City. The Darts had a man advantage for the majority of the match and dominated possession, creating enough chances to win, but an outstanding defensive display by their hosts denied King’s men victory. It’s been a theme over the last three games with Hungerford Town frustrating Dartford, AFC Sudbury defending in numbers and Chelmsford City being forced into defensive tactics. A new challenge the Darts need to face partly because of their superb early season form.

Check out highlights of Dartford’s last game – courtesy of Dartford FC TV

However, it’s yet to be dull when the Darts play Dorking Wanderers and on past meetings we could see some attacking football from both sides. Goals, sending offs and late winners have all added to the exciting encounters with Wanderers, who marginally lead the head-to-head record.

In the first ever meeting between the two sides, just over two years ago, Tony Burman returned to the dugout as interim boss before Steve King joined the Darts. Dorking’s Niall McManus hit a brilliant long-range effort beyond Mark Smith to start the scoring spree, but a quick-fire Ben Greenhalgh brace had the Darts in front. Former Dartford man Jason Prior scored from the spot, this season his long-term injury rules him out of this weekend’s clash. Charlie Sheringham gave Dartford their one goal lead back, but the final six minutes saw Giuseppe Sole equalise for the Surrey club, Lee Noble sent off for Dartford and James McShane score Dorking’s winner with two minutes remaining.

The return fixture was equally as enthralling with a further five goals netted in a 3-2 Dartford victory. By now King was in charge and his side’s domination had them two up through Darren McQueen and Elliott Romain. However, Dorking Wanderers hit back when Jimmy Muitt and then Luke Moore restored parity. After eight minutes of injury time, McQueen won a penalty, dusted himself off and scored again to win it at the end for the Darts.

Last season the 3-2 score line was reversed with Wes Fogden opening the scoring for the Wanderers. Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong equalised only for Prior to add another goal to his career tally against Dartford. Jack Jebb levelled with one of his free-kick’s and with fifteen minutes to go Matthew Briggs won it for Dorking. For a third consecutive match between the two sides the away side went home with three points.

Steve King’s thoughts after the Chelmsford City draw – courtesy of Dartford FC TV

Dorking Wanderers have more than settled in since promotion finishing in the playoffs in their maiden National South season losing out to Weymouth, who beat the Darts in the final. Last term, Wanderers lost just twice at home and this season they have won four out five at Meadowbank.

On Tuesday night, Dorking Wanderers were close to dropping home points in a thrilling game with Eastbourne Borough. Coming from two goals down, Marc White’s side won 4-3 after their opponents scored twice in the opening half an hour. Returning from suspension Ed Harris halved the deficit just before the interval, but Eastbourne Borough restored the two-goal advantage in the second half. Three unanswered goals by Alfie Rutherford, James McShane and Dan Gallagher turned the game around to earn another Dorking Wanderers victory.

After a slow start for last season’s form team, in which they won just two of their opening seven National South fixtures, the Wanderers are building momentum with three straight league victories over Bath City, Maidstone United then Eastbourne Borough. The Surrey club have had plenty of cup action too, reaching the fourth qualifying round of the F.A Cup before losing on penalties to Hayes and Yeading United. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Dorking Wanderers wins: 2 / Draws: 0

Current League Form

Dartford
(DWWDWW)
    Dorking Wanderers
(WWWLWD)
   
Chelmsford City A 0-0 Eastbourne Borough H 4-3
Hungerford Town H 1-0 Maidstone United A 2-0
Welling United A 6-0 Bath City H 4-1
Tonbridge Angels H 1-1 Tonbridge Angels A 1-3
Bath City A 3-1 Billericay Town H 2-1
Eastbourne Borough H 3-1 Chelmsford City A 2-2

Previous Meetings

Dartford 2 – 3 Dorking Wanderers (07/11/2020 – National South)
Dorking Wanderers 2 – 3 Dartford (04/01/2020 – National South)
Dartford 3 – 4 Dorking Wanderers (07/09/2019 – National South)

Stats

  • Dartford have kept three consecutive clean sheets in the league for the first time since October last year
  • The home side has never won this fixture since the first meeting in September 2019
  • This fixture has averaged over 5.66 goals a game in the three meetings so far
  • The away side has scored three or more goals in each meeting

On This Day

Steve King lost his first league match as Dartford boss on this day two years ago. After four unbeaten National South matches which yielded two wins and two draws, the Darts were beaten 3-0 at Twerton Park by a playoff chasing Bath City side. Dartford’s last away win on 30 November came in 1957 when they defeated Yeovil Town 1-0 in the Southern League. Since then the Darts drew 1-1 in the Southern League First Division with Gloucester City in 1968 and 0-0 with King’s Lynn in the Southern League Premier Division back in 1983 before the loss at Bath City in 2019. Notable victories on this day both came at home, a 4-0 Southern League Division One East win over Corby Town in 2002 and a 6-0 victory over Crawley Town in 1974. Eight years ago, Danny Harris scored in a 1-1 F.A Trophy draw against Forest Green Rovers, the Darts lost the replay 1-0.