Plenty of focus will be on Dartford’s next game when they host bottom of the table Havant and Waterlooville and face a few familiar faces.
The Darts thought they had kickstarted their campaign with consecutive league victories until last weekend’s defeat. However, where goals were in short supply, they have managed to find the back of the net more regularly in their last two outings and have lost just once at home this season. Havant and Waterlooville have struggled all season and after Jamie Collins picked up just four points in the opening eight games, the Hawks decided it was time for a managerial change.
So much of the narrative will be surrounding the return of Hawks boss Steve King and the former Dartford players he has taken to Westleigh Park since being appointed. The most surprising on that list of ex-Darts is Tom Bonner who announced his retirement just four months ago despite Alan Dowson’s pleas for the defender to remain at Dartford. Ten years at Princes Park and six years as skipper, Bonner played 456 times to put him sixth in the club’s all-time appearances list. He captained the Darts to back-to-back Kent Senior Cup triumphs whilst King was at the helm. Work commitments may keep the defender out of this weekend’s match, but he has faced Dartford before whilst at Kent rivals Dover Athletic and Ebbsfleet United.
When King was appointed Dartford boss in October 2019, they were in a relegation battle. In the same season he took the Darts to a playoff final where they fell short on penalties, his fourth playoff final defeat as manager. Now at Havant and Waterlooville he will be hoping he can steer the Hawks to safety.
Since his arrival King has signed five former Darts including Bonner. Having joined on loan from Dorking Wanderers, Jack Jebb will be threat from set pieces. Adding to the midfield Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong teams up with King for a third time after arriving from Gloucester City. Goalkeeper, Reice Charles-Cook departed Bromley for the Hawks and Michael Kedman from Danish side Aalborg Boldspilklub. In the summer, former boss Jamie Collins signed ex-Dart, Kai Innocent.
Appearances for Dartford
|Tom Bonner||456 appearances||19 goals|
|Jack Jebb||67 appearances||9 goals|
|Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong||26 appearances||8 goals|
|Reice Charles-Cook||9 appearances||0 goals|
|Michael Kedman||8 appearances||0 goals|
Dartford have their fair share of former Havant and Waterlooville players too with Joash Nembhard, Tyrell Miller-Rodney and Paul Rooney all joining the Darts this summer. Nembhard has been ever present at the back and captained the side in the loss to St Albans last month. Miller-Rodney scored on his debut and has missed one National South fixture through suspension. Paul Rooney took some time to settle after serving a three-match ban at the start of the campaign but scored the winner against Tonbridge Angels in Dartford’s last home game in the division.
Moussa Diarra was with the Hawks during the 2020/2021 season and has formed a good partnership with Nembhard in central defence. Alex Wall is yet to make a start this term but is the current golden boot holder for the Darts and played for Havant and Waterlooville in 2020/2021. Tommy Block may not have made a first team appearance at Westleigh Park, however he was once part of the Hawks’ academy.
Appearances for Havant and Waterlooville
|Paul Rooney||58 appearances||4 goals|
|Joash Nembhard||28 appearances||0 goals|
|Alex Wall||25 appearances||5 goals|
|Tyrell Miller-Rodney||20 appearances||0 goals|
|Moussa Diarra||15 appearances||1 goal|
Dartford had scored on average a goal a game in the league during their opening ten fixtures. A fortnight ago the added four to their goals column and another three last time out. Yet the Darts came away with just one maximum in that time beating Chippenham Town 4-1 on the road. The rescheduled trip to Hampton and Richmond Borough last weekend finished a run of three straight wins in all competitions leaving Dartford down in fourteenth place.
A comeback, two penalties, seven goals and a last-minute winner provided plenty of entertainment, but Dartford came away with nothing from the Beveree. Dowson made three changes to the side that beat Chippenham Town due to the injuries to loanee Joshua Johnson and Jordan Wynter and the suspension of Maxwell Statham. In came academy graduate Jayden Boulton for his first ever league start, the experienced Paul Rooney and Tyrell Miller-Rodney returned from his one game ban.
Despite dominating possession in the first-half, the Darts found themselves two goals down before half-time. Hampton and Richmond Borough went in front through Dean Inman and increased their lead when Isaac Pitblado beat Mitch Beeney at the near post. During the interval Boulton and Rooney were replaced by Archie Woods and Lewis Manor.
Two quickfire goals had the Darts level, first Harvey Bradbury scored Dartford’s opener for a second game running, then Joash Nembhard headed his first for the club. The Beavers went back ahead after Ben Seymour dispatched his penalty, but once again Dartford found a leveller when Manor outrageously flicked the ball home.
Bradbury had no problems from twelve yards a week earlier by scoring two penalties against Chippenham Town. The striker had the chance to score another from the spot, but his effort went straight down the middle giving Beavers goalkeeper, Adam Desbois an easy save to make. That miss proved costly because in stoppage time Jake Gray scored a dramatic late winner for Hampton and Richmond Borough.
Less than a year ago, Dartford and Havant and Waterlooville were challenging Ebbsfleet United for a potential title race. The Hawks saw former boss, Paul Doswell step down before the season was out and a slide down the table and out of the playoff places. The trend has continued this term with Collins departing leaving the Hampshire side at the foot of the standings. Since taking charge King has had little time to gel his squad and from his opening two league games the Hawks have taken a point.
The goalless draw at Taunton Town was a solid enough start for a side that had lost three in a row. Despite the fact there were no goals in this game there were plenty of chances including a missed penalty by Taunton Town’s Nick McCootie. With the game heading for full-time, the Hawks had Ansu Janneh sent off after he picked up a second caution.
Like Dartford, Havant and Waterlooville’s last game was also against Hampton and Richmond Borough and finished in a late defeat. King’s side gave away a lead to lose 2-1 at Westleigh Park. James Roberts netted the opener from a spot-kick. Ruaridh Donaldson put Hampton and Richmond Borough back on level terms before Kurran-Browne’s winner ten minutes from time.
Last season’s fixture at Princes Park over a year ago ended in defeat for Dartford and it was a former Dart, Jason Prior who got his inevitable goal before Davide Rodari equalised. At the time the Darts succumbed to their first defeat of the campaign when Oscar Gobern netted the winner.
Dowson’s side avenged that loss in the reverse game at Westleigh Park, which came at the beginning of a fruitful festive period for the Darts. A top of the table clash saw Wall return to haunt his former club with a brace either side of Josh Passley’s unfortunate own goal. Jake McCarthy halved the deficit for the Hawks, but Wall’s second put the result beyond doubt in a 3-1 win for the Darts. Dowson’s side then went on to beat rivals Ebbsfleet United over Christmas and New Year to temporarily enter the title race.
Current League Form
|Dartford (LLLWWL)||Havant & Waterlooville (WLLLDL)|
|Hampton & Richmond||A||3-4||Hampton & Richmond||H||1-2|
|Chippenham Town||A||4-1||Taunton Town||A||0-0|
|Tonbridge Angels||H||1-0||Truro City||H||1-3|
|St Albans City||A||0-1||Eastbourne Borough||H||1-2|
|Slough Town||H||1-2||Bath City||A||0-2|
|Taunton Town||A||0-1||Yeovil Town||H||4-3|
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 8 / Havant and Waterlooville wins: 5 / Draws: 5
Last Six Meetings
Havant and Waterlooville 1 – 3 Dartford (14/12/2022 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 2 Havant and Waterlooville (16/08/2022 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 1 Havant and Waterlooville (19/03/2022 – National South)
Havant and Waterlooville 0 – 1 Dartford (09/02/2022 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 1 Havant and Waterlooville (31/10/2020 – National South)
Havant and Waterlooville 1 – 2 Dartford (25/07/2020 – National South Playoff)
- Dartford have lost just once against Havant and Waterlooville in the last nine games (W5, D3)
- The home defeat to the Hawks last season was the first loss at Princes Park against the Hampshire side in eight matches (W4, L3)
- The Darts have won one of their last four at home against the Havant and Waterlooville (D2, L1)
- Luke Allen is now on 99 appearances for the club (71 starts, 28 substitute appearances and 14 goals)
- If fit, Jordan Wynter could make his 150th start for the club
On This Day
Dartford’s only victory in their last five on this day was at home against Burgess Hill Town in 2003. The Darts beat the Sussex side 2-1 in the Southern League Division One East. Six years ago, Chelmsford City won by a solitary Michael West goal. The Clarets then had Kudus Oyenuga red carded after just 19 minutes, but the Darts couldn’t break down the ten men. Prior the run of one win in five, Dartford had won nine and drawn one of the previous ten on 21 October. In 1961 they qualified for the F.A Cup first round with a 4-1 victory over Hastings United. Nine years later the Darts won the first leg of the Kent Senior Shield final 2-1 against Bexley United. Dartford drew the second leg 2-2 to triumph in the county competition.