Pressure is off for Dartford for one weekend only as they take on Hampton and Richmond Borough in the final league game of the season.
The Darts secured the runners up spot crowning their final home game of the regular season with a win. Victory earned Alan Dowson’s side home advantage in the playoffs and a bye into the semi-finals which starts next weekend. The Dartford boss used to manage Hampton and Richmond Borough and his success there will see him welcomed back to the Beveree. The Middlesex club can finish as high as sixteenth in the division with all three points.
Marvin Herschel scored on his debut in the reverse fixture back in September and it turned out to be the match winner. However, it was Charlie Sheringham that made an impact by scoring and assisting after coming on as a substitute. After Carruthers and Luke Allen combined, Sheringham was sent through and slotted home the opener. The striker then set up Herschel nine minutes later to see Dartford go two up with 18 minutes to play. Searching for a first home clean sheet of the season, the Darts were unable to hold out when Jake Gray fired past Joe Young. Last time at the Beveree, Carruthers made his Dartford debut last season and found himself on the winning the side. Marcus Dinanga scored the only goal of the game just over a year ago.
Dowson will need to decide on whether to rest players or maintain the side that beat St Albans City at Princes Park last Saturday. The Darts suffered a disappointing defeat on the road just two days earlier against relegation threatened Concord Rangers but bounced back with a hard fought 2-1 win against the Saints. Four changes were made to the side with Jordan Wynter, Richard Chin, Luke Allen and Samir Carruthers returning to the starting eleven, the latter returning from injury and making an early impact against St Albans City. Striker Alex Wall who returned from injury against Concord Rangers as a substitute only to be substituted in the same game was out on the weekend as well as former Hampton and Richmond Borough defender Tommy Block.
Saturday’s win was a good test for what is to come in a weeks’ time as the Darts could be facing last weekends opponents again. Chin had an excellent afternoon and the loanee set up Carruthers for his tenth goal of the season. The Darts had an advantage after just three minutes and had to hold firm as the first-half progressed. It took until the 72nd minute for St Albans City to equalise with one of the best goals scored at Princes Park from an opposing side. Shaun Jeffers acrobatically struck the ball beyond Ben Dudzinski for yet another goal against the Darts. Luke Coulson and Pierre Fonkeu started from the substitute’s bench and the pair made an impact five minutes after St Albans City equalised. Coulson’s free-kick was saved by Dylan Berry and Fonkeu pounced to net the winner, his tenth league goal of the campaign.
Dartford’s form has been sketchy to say the least as they approach the playoffs, they have alternated between wins and losses for the last nine games. Whilst they have suffered late defeats to Chelmsford City, Taunton Town and Concord Rangers as well as the reverse at Eastbourne Borough, the Darts also beat Farnborough, Dulwich Hamlet, recorded their sixth and seventh Kent derby wins of the season against Dover Athletic and Tonbridge Angels respectively and overcame St Albans City.
Hampton and Richmond Borough were heading for a relegation battle in February compounded by a heavy defeat to Ebbsfleet United. A month earlier Gary McCann departed and Mel Gwinnett was appointed as boss. The new man couldn’t buy a win in his first six games in charge, but the Beavers rallied and swam to safety showing excellent form throughout March in particular. After the 6-2 reverse against the Fleet, Hampton and Richmond Borough won eight of their next eleven fixtures beating the sides down at the bottom such as Dulwich Hamlet, Cheshunt, Dover Athletic and Hungerford Town. Keeping their cool during those six pointers lifted the Middlesex club away from the battle at the wrong end of the table with plenty of time to spare.
On Tuesday night, with the shackles off they were beaten for a third away game in a row having been beaten by Chippenham Town and Concord Rangers, although they did win their last home match in between versus Weymouth. A 3-0 reverse at Welling United means the Beavers have now lost three in four, but all the hard work has already been done.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 9 / Hampton and Richmond Borough wins: 5 / Draws: 4
Current League Form
|Hampton & Richmond
|St Albans City||H||2-1||Welling United||A||0-3|
|Concord Rangers||A||2-3||Concord Rangers||A||0-2|
|Taunton Town||H||0-1||Chippenham Town||A||1-2|
|Dover Athletic||H||2-1||Hungerford Town||H||2-0|
|Eastbourne Borough||A||1-2||Taunton Town||H||3-1|
Last Six Meetings
Dartford 2 – 1 Hampton & Richmond Borough (24/09/2022 – National South)
Hampton & Richmond Borough 0 – 1 Dartford (26/03/2022 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 2 Hampton & Richmond Borough (22/01/2022 – National South)
Hampton & Richmond Borough 0 – 0 Dartford (10/10/2020 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 2 Hampton & Richmond Borough (08/02/2020 – National South)
Hampton & Richmond Borough 1 – 2 Dartford (05/11/2019 – National South)
- Dartford have lost just one of the last 11 against Hampton and Richmond Borough (W6, D4)
- The Darts are unbeaten in their last five visits to the Beveree (W3, D2)
- Dartford have kept three clean sheets in their last four visits to Hampton and Richmond Borough
On This Day
A dramatic late win down in Poole helped Dartford secure a third-place finish and a bye in the playoffs. Needing to beat Chelmsford City’s result at Hungerford Town, the Darts came from behind to leapfrog the Clarets on the final day. Andy Pugh gave Dartford a lead which was extinguished when Poole Town scored twice through Marvin Brooks and Steve Devlin. Two minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game Tom Murphy equalised and with virtually the last kick Lee Noble completed the comeback. The Darts have won their last two on this day and both games were on the road, Tonbridge Angels were beaten 4-2 in the Southern League South back in 2000. Ricky Bennett scored four in a 6-0 win over Faversham Town in 1995. Dartford’s opponents were forced to field a young side after several players had walked out of the club. In a subsequent match, Faversham Town lost 13-0 against Folkestone Invicta.