Dartford have made an excellent start to their season and next up they will need to overcome several former players to record a maiden victory at Dulwich Hamlet.
The Darts drew in their last visit to Champion Hill but had lost the previous three in south east London. A perfect start this season will give Steve King’s men confidence as they sit top of the National South table after two games. An opening day victory at St Albans City was followed up with a comfortable and dominating display against Slough Town.
Last weekend, the first competitive game in front of home fans since March 2020 ended with Dartford winning 3-0 over the Rebels. Noor Husin gave a masterclass in midfield and his man of the match performance was rewarded with a goal. Dan Roberts impressed again with a key pass for the opening goal and a couple of assists, Ade Azeez scored his second in two games and George Porter got off the mark too.
Azeez tapped the opening goal into the Slough Town net in the first half after a neat move, Roberts’ precise cut back was nudged on by Danny Leonard and Azeez was there to finish. In the second half, Husin picked up Roberts’ rebound, and his quick feet and composure doubled the lead. Unselfish play by Roberts then led to the third when he squared the ball perfectly for Porter to open his goalscoring account. It could have been more, Jack Jebb hit the woodwork from a free-kick when the game was level and a number of saves from Slough Town’s Jonathan North kept the score down for the visitors.
Dartford FC TV caught up with Noor Husin after victory and he was pleased with his teammates, he said: “I thought we were really good, relentless from the first minute and could have had a lot more. I thought everyone was brilliant”, he continued: “Since I’ve come here it’s been one of the best dressing rooms I’ve been in, everyone’s together and whether you’re playing or not everyone is helping each other”.
Manager, Steve King also spoke to BBC Radio Kent after the win, he said: “I thought the boys were outstanding, limited them to very little and I’ve got to say Jonathan North has kept the scoreline down”. Husin’s quality display did not go unnoticed by King, he commented: “He’s a football league player all day long, he’s miles better than a lot of football league players I’ve seen”. King heaped ‘special praise’ on the Afghan international considering the events happening in Afghanistan, he continued: “to still come out and put in a performance like that and score is a credit to him”.
Looking ahead to the next fixtures King remains cautious but confident he added: “It’s only two wins. I’m level-headed enough to know that it could all fall apart. You could lose the next two and suddenly it’s not so clever”. However, the Dartford boss is pleased with the depth of the squad, the pace, athleticism, and the fact the ‘whole team is comfortable on the ball’. King feels he is now able to rotate players in the starting eleven without losing the level of performance he expects.
Dulwich Hamlet have many familiar faces in their ranks and three of them were handed their debuts on the opening day of the season. Striker, Danny Mills started his third season at Champion Hill and he scored against Chippenham Town in the 1-1 draw. The former Dart, who also enjoyed a spell at Whitehawk under Steve King was assisted by Darren McQueen, who was joint top scorer in the National South during the 2019/2020 campaign when he netted 18 times for Dartford. Chippenham Town equalised with a penalty conceded by another former Dart, Tyrone Sterling. The F.A Trophy finalist with Concord Rangers signed for Hamlet in the summer as did Jazzi Barnum-Bobb who left Princes Park after 19 appearances last term. Dulwich Hamlet also have Sanchez Ming and Giovanni McGregor in their squad.
It’s been a difficult start for the Londoners, who have been without their manager Gavin Rose after he contracted Covid-19 and spent a short time in hospital. So Junior Kadi, another familiar face to Dartford fans has been part of the coaching staff looking after the first team. Kadi was part of Dartford’s Isthmian Division One North title winning team making 28 appearances and scoring six goals.
Due to face each other three times last season, none of the fixtures took place as the campaign was curtailed. The Darts were scheduled to play Dulwich Hamlet twice in the league and in the London Senior Cup. Since the last meeting at Champion Hill in December 2019, Tyrique Hyde played against Dulwich Hamlet, joined them at the end of the season and returned to Dartford this summer. Also representing the Darts in the last visit to Champion Hill was McQueen, but it was his strike partner Elliott Romain who netted a penalty to cancel out Christian Smith’s free kick in a 1-1 draw. In the return fixture McQueen scored the only goal of the game as the Darts won 1-0 a month later.
Dulwich Hamlet have yet to taste a home defeat against the Darts winning 3-1 in a F.A Trophy third qualifying replay in 1996, then winning again in 2006 beating Dartford 3-2 in the Isthmian Division One South. In March 2019, Luke Wanadio was lining up against the Darts and part of the Hamlet side that won 2-0 in the National South, a third consecutive home victory for Dulwich Hamlet in this fixture. The draw six months later was Dartford’s first point gained from their visits to Champion Hill.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 3 / Dulwich Hamlet wins: 3 / Draws: 3
Prevous Meetings (last six)
Dartford 1 – 0 Dulwich Hamlet (25/01/2020 – National South)
Dulwich Hamlet 1 – 1 Dartford (07/12/2019 – National South)
Dulwich Hamlet 2 – 0 Dartford (02/03/2019 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 1 Dulwich Hamlet (20/10/2018 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 1 Dulwich Hamlet (31/03/2007 – Isthmian Division One South)
Dulwich Hamlet 3 – 2 Dartford (19/09/2006 – Isthmian Division One South)
The Darts have never beaten Dulwich Hamlet in consecutive games, a win on the weekend will make it a first after winning the last meeting 1-0 at Princes Park.
Josh Hill made his 50th start for the Darts against Slough Town last weekend
Victory on Saturday will be Dartford’s best start to a campaign since they won their opening three fixtures in 2011/2012. The season the Darts went on to win promotion to the National League.
On This Day
After 18 years apart in the league more than 2700 fans turned up at Princes Park to watch Dartford draw 1-1 with rivals Ebbsfleet United in 2010. Michael West gave Fleet the lead, but Charlie Sheringham’s penalty made sure the points were shared. The last fixture on this day seven years later ended in a 1-0 home loss to East Thurrock United.
The last away day on 28 August was in 2006 when the Darts went to Whyteleafe and won 3-1, Jay May netted a brace and Brendon Cass the other in the Isthmian Division One South. Dartford have only won five of their 21 games on this day, which includes a 2-1 victory over Merthyr Tydfil in the Southern League Challenge Match in 1989.