Dartford start their defence of the Kent Senior Cup with the rearranged meeting against local rivals Ebbsfleet United on Tuesday night.
The Darts could complete a treble over their rivals having beaten the Fleet on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day in the National South. With both sides aiming for promotion to the National League there could be a few changes to each side in the first Kent Senior Cup North Kent derby for 15 years.
Alan Dowson inherited a side that has won the last two editions of the competition. A third consecutive county cup triumph will make Dartford the first side to win three in a row since Ebbsfleet United, in their former guise as Gravesend and Northfleet between 2000 and 2002. The Fleet last took home the regional silverware nine years ago. With 21 Kent Senior Cup titles between them, the Darts are hoping for a 14th this season.
In Dartford’s last visit to Stonebridge Road it took just 45 seconds for Luke Allen to score on Boxing Day. Former Fleet winger, Luke Coulson made it two on five minutes and six minutes later Maxwell Statham added a third. Dartford were pinching themselves when Alex Wall scored before the break, his eighth in all competitions and there was still time for the hosts to pull a goal back through Craig Tanner.
The return fixture at Princes Park on New Year’s day was even better and yet again Wall netted. After a spell of Ebbsfleet United pressure, Malachi Napa scored his first goal for the Darts. Charlie Sheringham was introduced against one of his former teams and grabbed his 60th career goal for the Darts and to cap off it all off Essam headed a fourth.
In the Kent Senior Cup, the Darts have lost their last three against their rivals of which two of those were away, Fleet’s only home victories against Dartford in the competition. The last meeting came in 2008 when Phil Williams scored the only goal for the Darts in a 4-1 defeat. Dartford last beat Fleet in the county cup back in 1989 winning 2-0.
The winner of this second round tie will face Welling United in the quarter-final, who Dartford faced on Saturday at Park View Road. Dowson made three changes to the side that started the last league match in which the Darts lost 3-0 to Worthing. Charlie Sheringham led the line in place of the suspended Alex Wall and his fine display was rewarded with a goal. Jamar Loza and Jernade Meade were also given the nod ahead of Malachi Napa and Kristian Campbell.
Welling United had the better of the first half with former Dart, Ade Azeez hitting the post. Just before the break new signing George Alexander scored on debut capitalising on Dartford’s defensive uncertainty when trying to clear a corner. A better second half showing saw Sheringham equalise against is former club, helped by the creativity of Samir Carruthers. However, the hosts were back in front when Azeez smashed a shot in off the underside of the crossbar. Dowson’s side showed character and when Carruthers slid a ball through to Napa, the super sub curled a confident finish into the Welling United net. The 2-2 draw was a fair reflection of the game, but dropped points leaves Dartford eight points behind Ebbsfleet United having played an extra game.
If Dartford’s last county cup fixture is anything to go by then Dowson is likely to make many changes to the starting eleven. The Dartford boss altered the entire lineup for the London Senior Cup win over Metropolitan Police a week ago. Whilst Meade and Loza have now both made appearances since joining, Tommy Block is yet to start and if back from injury could make his debut. Sam Odaudu has been the only other absentee on the injury list, whilst Wall served his first of a three match ban on the weekend for his red card at Worthing.
Ebbsfleet United have regained control of the National South and are ever increasing favourites to return to the National League. It’s possible that Dennis Kutrieb could also make a number of changes after the Fleet’s 2-0 victory on the weekend over one of their closest title rivals. Dominic Poleon scored mid-way through the first half and a late goal from Franklin Domi sealed the deal. After the festive double defeat to the Darts which closed a run of four straight losses, the Fleet have now won six on the bounce returning to their early season form.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 69 / Ebbsfleet United wins: 56 / Draws: 32
Current Form (all competitions)
|Welling United||A||2-2||Havant & Waterlooville||H||2-0|
|Metropolitan Police (LSC)||H||2-0||Concord Rangers||H||4-1|
|Hemel Hempstead Town||H||1-3||Chelmsford City||H||2-0|
Last Six Meetings
Dartford 4 – 0 Ebbsfleet United (01/01/2023 – National South)
Ebbsfleet United 1 – 4 Dartford (26/12/2022 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Ebbsfleet United (01/02/2022 – National South)
Ebbsfleet United 1 – 0 Dartford (02/01/2022 – National South)
Dartford 0 – 0 Ebbsfleet United (02/01/2021 – National South)
Ebbsfleet United 1 – 0 Dartford (01/01/2017 – National South)
- Dartford have won 8, drawn 4 and lost 6 against Ebbsfleet United in the Kent Senior Cup
- Away from home in this competition the Darts have won 4, drawn 1 and lost 2 versus Fleet
- Dartford last beat Ebbsfleet United three times in a single campaign back in 1978/79 a feat they have done on six previous occasions. In 1962/63, the Darts beat the Fleet four times.
- The Darts have won their last eight Kent Senior Cup matches (includes penalties) matching the run from 1986 to 1989 and 1931 to 1933. Another win will set a club record.
- Only four teams have previously won the Kent Senior Cup three times in a row (Northfleet United 1924-1928 (five titles), Dartford 1931-1933, Royal Artillery Depot Woolwich 1943-1945 and Gravesend and Northfleet 2000-2002).
On This Day
Dartford crashed out of the F.A Trophy third round on this day in 2015 after a replay with FC Halifax Town. A late Rory McAuley goal a fortnight earlier gave the Darts a second opportunity after coming back from two down, but they couldn’t take it at the Shay. FC Halifax Town raced into a two goal lead again before Andy Pugh halved the deficit. A third goal was added for the hosts to send Dartford out of the competition. The last victory on 7 February came in 2004 when the Darts won 2-0 at home to Newport Isle of Wight in the Southern League Division One East. That was the last of a six match winning streak on this day which included a 2-1 Kent Senior Cup quarter final triumph against Ashford Town in 2000. In 1989, the Darts defeated rivals Dover Athletic 2-0 in a F.A Trophy second round replay on the way to reaching the last four.