Dartford lead the National South table and head into Saturday’s fixture against rivals Maidstone United hoping to maintain their position.
In a very competitive campaign, the Darts have a one point advantage at the summit. The Stones are just six points behind down in fifth place. A Kent derby that has already been played out earlier in the season, former players facing their old club, a top of the table clash and a healthy rivalry should make for an atmospheric afternoon.
Dartford came out on top in the F.A Cup tie back in October winning 3-0. Noor Husin’s free-kick, a Danny Leonard strike and a third from Ade Azeez made sure Steve King’s side moved into the next round. On that day King was impressed with Dartford’s commitment and ‘dogged determination’ as his players executed the ‘perfect gameplan’.
Since the F.A Cup victory, sandwiched between beating Hungerford Town and Hemel Hempstead Town, the Darts went on a five match winless streak picking up just three points. The gap at the top closed, but others in the league have been unable to take advantage from their games in hand leaving Dartford in a strong position. On Saturday they secured top spot with a 1-0 win over bottom of the table Billericay Town. The Essex side were reduced to ten men late on when their goalkeeper was sent off and an outfield player was forced to go in goal.
King named an unchanged side to the one that knocked Bath City out of the F.A Trophy, but the performance was less than impressive, he spoke to Dartford FC TV after the game and commented: “I thought we was poor today. Told the boys that and the team talk at the end lasted ten seconds. I was disappointed”. Now seven games unbeaten in all competitions, King is just happy to bag another three points despite the performance, he explained: “You can’t play well every week, but I just know the players have got a standard in there that they have set. There have been games in the last seven where we have been back playing some fantastic football, but today we were awful”.
Jake Robinson scored the winning goal against his former side and he will be one of a few players who have played for Maidstone United in the past. The striker had a short stay at the Gallagher Stadium scoring just once before re-joining Billericay Town. For Dartford he now has five league goals in as many starts. George Porter scored four goals in twelve games for the Stones last season before switching allegiances and Jordan Wynter also had a spell there but has been recently out injured for the Darts.
Since Maidstone United’s F.A Cup exit to the Darts, their seven game unbeaten league run from the start of the campaign ended. The Stones picked up just two points in the next six games dropping off the pace at the top but have managed to keep in touch with victories over Chippenham Town and Ebbsfleet United. Like the Darts they also progressed in the F.A Trophy with a penalty shoot-out triumph over Billericay Town.
After a weekend break, Maidstone United have had time to recharge after their 3-2 Kent derby win over Ebbsfleet United, denying the Fleet a chance to move above Dartford. The Stones twice came from behind helped by goals from Joan Luque and a brace by Sam Corne. Out of the former Darts at the club only Elliott Romain made an appearance from off the bench. Jack Barham was last involved as a substitute in the F.A Trophy tie and although Alfie Pavey is part of the squad, he is out on loan at Dover Athletic.
In last season’s league fixture Dartford won 2-0 but had to wait for two late goals from Tom Bonner and Charlie Sheringham. The Darts also won a Kent Senior Cup tie 1-0 in January with Ky Marsh-Brown netting the decisive goal. Dartford went on to belatedly lift the cup beating Whitstable Town 6-1 just last month.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 46 / Maidstone United wins: 45 / Draws: 19
Current League Form
|Billericay Town||H||1-0||Ebbsfleet United||A||3-2|
|Hemel Hempstead Town||A||3-2||Chippenham Town||H||1-0|
|Oxford City||H||0-0||Havant & Waterlooville||A||0-0|
|Chippenham Town||H||3-3||Slough Town||H||0-1|
|Concord Rangers||A||0-1||Hungerford Town||A||2-3|
|Dorking Wanderers||A||0-1||Dulwich Hamlet||A||0-0|
Previous Meetings (last six)
Maidstone United 0 – 3 Dartford (02/10/2021 – F.A Cup)
Maidstone United 0 – 2 Dartford (14/11/2020 – National South)
Maidstone United 0 – 1 Dartford (21/01/2020- Kent Senior Cup)
Dartford 0 – 1 Maidstone United (26/11/2019 – F.A Trophy)
Maidstone United 2 – 2 Dartford (23/11/2019 – F.A Trophy)
Dartford 2 – 2 Maidstone United (16/11/2019 – National South)
- Dartford have won their last three visits to the Gallagher Stadium without conceding a goal
- The Darts are eight league games unbeaten against Maidstone United (W6, D2)
- Maidstone United’s last league victory over Dartford was 4-1 on 3 March 2007 in the Isthmian Division One South
- Since both sides have reformed, the Darts have won seven, drawn two and lost one in the league against the Stones
On This Day
Dartford took on big spending Crawley Town in the F.A Trophy in a memorable encounter that ended 3-3. The Red Devils were topping the National League table and won promotion to the Football League that season with a staggering 105 points, but the Darts earned a replay eventually going through. A stoppage time equaliser delayed Crawley Town’s blushes after Dartford led by two, twice in the game. Charlie Sheringham and Ryan Hayes scored, then Richard Brodie halved the deficit. Sheringham restored the two goal advantage, but the Sussex club came back with late goals from Craig McAllister and Dean Howells. In the replay three days later, Tom Champion scored the winner in a famous victory.
One game away from a prestigious F.A Cup tie with Manchester United in the F.A Cup third round, Dartford hosted a second round replay with AFC Bournemouth after a 1-1 draw. The return fixture ended 4-1 to the Cherries and the Darts were left to reflect on what could have been.