Dartford travel full of confidence when they visit Havant and Waterlooville in the National South on Wednesday.
The Darts have had a fantastic week with three consecutive Kent derby victories to move them fourth in the table, seven points behind the league leaders with a game in hand. Meanwhile, Havant and Waterlooville are going through a tougher spell and are without a win in seven sitting in mid-table.
To add to the recent good form, Dartford are unbeaten in their last nine matches against the Hawks, winning seven and drawing two. The last of those victories was in the previous meeting back in October 2020 at Princes Park. Behind closed doors due to Covid restrictions, Jack Barham scored twice on Halloween as Dartford recorded a 2-1 win. The striker netted a penalty then headed a Jack Jebb cross home. Josh Taylor pulled a goal back before Billy Clifford was sent off in this niggly affair.
It was Dartford’s second 2-1 triumph against the Hampshire side in a row, the previous came at Westleigh Park in the delayed 2019/2020 playoff semi-final, also behind closed doors. The parallels last season’s meeting being Darren McQueen netting a brace, one of which was a penalty and Havant and Waterlooville being reduced to ten men when Josh Taylor was red carded. This time Dartford came from behind to win after Jonah Ayunga had put the hosts ahead.
Despite the contrasting form between the two sides and Dartford’s recent record over Paul Doswell’s side, manager Steve King isn’t being complacent, he spoke to Dartford FC TV after the Welling United triumph and commented: “Havant are not having a great time, but they are good side and they have got some very good players, so if you are not on it they will beat you. They are a capable side, some of their players I would take, they are fantastic players so it’s just not working for them at the moment, but sometimes it takes just one result for you to kick on”.
Dartford took maximum points last week starting with the 3-2 victory over Tonbridge Angels they followed that up with a terrific team effort to beat rivals Ebbsfleet United 1-0. On Saturday they completed a Kent derby hat-trick running out 4-2 winners against Welling United, but it was far from easy. Led by former Dartford player manager Peter Taylor, the Wings took the lead twice making the Darts work hard for their three points. King made just the one change to the side that beat Ebbsfleet United bringing in Connor Essam for the injured Tom Bonner.
Conceding within the opening minutes through Afolabi Akinyemi’s strike, Dartford were on level terms when new signing Marcus Dinanga lobbed Jack Sims in the Welling United goal. However, moments after equalising the visitors won a penalty which Akinyemi scored. It was all level again before the interval when Danny Leonard scored his eighth of the season in an entertaining half. In the second half, the Darts showed their quality and when Luke Allen fired from outside of the box and Dinanga grabbed hos second with a superb finish the points were safe.
King pointed out after the game that the quality of finishing and the ‘game changers’ from the substitutes bench made the difference. He also praised his two goal hero Dinanga and is confident the striker can bring more to the side, he said: “Marcus will score goals for us, give him the right service he will score goals for us. He has got a little bit of everything, wins headers, he’s strong boy, he’s got a good left foot and he took his goals well”.
The trio of competitive derbies have taken its toll on the squad and leading up to the Havant and Waterlooville game Steve King has freshened the squad up. With Tom Bonner and Josh Hill injured on the weekend, the Darts have already brought in Korey Roberts and was forced to field Essam ahead of schedule after his shoulder injury. Jernade Meade remains out, the impressive Leonard was hauled off with a leg issue on Saturday and Josh Clarke hasn’t featured since the home draw with Hampton and Richmond Borough.
Winless in seven league games, Havant and Waterlooville were expected to be higher in the league standings this term. The Hawks won back to back titles to reach the National League before relegation after their first season back in that division. The Hampshire side were declared runners up two years ago in the National South, losing their playoff against the Darts. Last term their record was that of a mid-table side when the season was cut short after just 14 games.
Confidence took a massive blow on Boxing Day when Havant and Waterlooville were trounced 8-0 by Dorking Wanderers, the Hawks had Paul Rooney sent off after just four minutes. Since then Paul Doswell’s team have picked up three points and their winless run at Westleigh Park is now at nine in the league, stretching back to the 5-2 win against Concord Rangers on 9 October. On Saturday they fell to their second defeat in a row losing at home to St Albans City, that result followed the 3-1 loss at Oxford City. Prior those losses, the Hawks managed to draw two on the spin versus bottom side Billericay Town and lowly Tonbridge Angels. Whilst the New Year started with a return fixture against Dorking Wanderers which ended 3-1 to the Surrey side.
One player who could make a return to Princes Park is Alex Wall. The striker was a used substitute on the weekend and made 11 appearances on loan at Dartford in 2014 scoring six times. Wall returned to Princes Park in the summer of 2018, but left before a ball was kicked. Since then, Wall has had a successful spell with Concord Rangers reaching the F.A Trophy final as well as spells at Hemel Hempstead Town and Woking, before joining Havant and Waterlooville in the summer.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 7 / Havant and Waterlooville wins: 3 / Draws: 4
Current League Form
|Havant & Waterlooville
|Welling United||H||4-2||St Albans City||H||0-1|
|Ebbsfleet United||H||1-0||Oxford City||A||1-3|
|Tonbridge Angels||A||3-2||Tonbridge Angels||H||1-1|
|Concord Rangers||H||0-0||Billericay Town||A||1-1|
|Hampton and Richmond||H||2-2||Dorking Wanderers||H||1-3|
|Dulwich Hamlet||H||1-1||Hemel Hempstead Town||H||0-0|
Previous Meetings (last six)
Dartford 2 – 1 Havant & Waterlooville (31/10/2020 – National South)
Havant & Waterlooville 1 – 2 Dartford (25/07/2020 – National South Playoff)
Dartford 1 – 1 Havant & Waterlooville (10/08/2019 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Havant & Waterlooville (13/01/2018 – National South)
Havant & Waterlooville 0 – 0 Dartford (12/08/2017 – National South)
Havant & Waterlooville 0 – 2 Dartford (19/03/2016 – National South)
- Dartford are unbeaten in their last four away games against Havant and Waterlooville winning three and drawing the other
- The Darts have only lost once at Westleigh Park, the 1-0 defeat in April 2011 is the last time the Hawks beat Dartford.
- Havant and Waterlooville won the first five meetings between the two sides from 1999 to 2011, since then Dartford have been unbeaten in the last nine
On This Day
A ‘ghost goal’ earned Dartford a crucial point at AFC Sudbury on this day in a 2-2 draw. John Guest headed the Darts in front, but James Rowe’s brace put the hosts a goal up. Then came the controversy, Brendon Cass tried forcing the ball over the goal line but came up short, but the referee thought otherwise and gave the goal. Only two of the current squad were involved in Dartford’s last win on 9 February. Jordan Wynter and Tom Bonner were part of the defence three years ago as the Darts beat Bath City 3-0 at Princes Park. Goals from Lee Noble, Charlie Sheringham and Phil Roberts cemented a convincing win. Dartford’s last outing on this day was a 1-0 home loss versus Eastbourne Borough twelve months ago. On the road to Wembley in 1974, the Darts negotiated their way into round three of the F.A Trophy with a 2-1 replay victory at Minehead, despite having top scorer John Mitchell sent off.