Alan Dowson aims to secure a first major cup victory as Dartford boss against Kent rivals Maidstone United this weekend.
The Darts have yet to clear the first hurdle in the F.A Trophy or F.A Cup since Dowson took charge. Although victories have arrived in county competition, Dartford will relish the opportunity to progress in a Kent derby. Maidstone United will be keen to improve on last season’s run to the last eight. The Stones will also hope to repeat their trophy win over the Darts four years ago.
During the Covid hit season, Dartford visited the Gallagher Stadium and fought back twice to force a replay. Former Maidstone United striker Elliott Romain scored both goals after Dan Wishart and Justin Amaluzor put the hosts in front. Back at Princes Park, the Darts were narrowly beaten by an Iffy Allen strike.
In cup competition Dartford have claimed the last two victories. During the same campaign as the F.A Trophy exit, Ky Marsh-Brown scored the winner in the Kent Senior Cup. The Darts went on to lift the county cup for that season almost two years later. In the F.A Cup, Dartford enjoyed a 3-0 away win in October 2021. Noor Husin fired in from long range, Danny Leonard added a second and Ade Azeez put the icing on the cake.
The Stones and former Dart, Jack Barham hit back in the league two months later with a convincing 4-0 win. Barham claimed the match ball with a hat-trick and Michael Phillips added the fourth. Maidstone United’s last visit to Princes Park also ended in triumph, Barham netting the decisive goal.
Dartford have never knocked their rivals out of the F.A Trophy. The previous three attempts ended in defeat. In 1972, the Stones won 1-0 and 15 years later they beat the Darts 5-1. Then there was the replay loss four years ago. This time Dowson’s side have home advantage and with no replay or extra time the result will be settled on the day.
After last weekend’s postponement, Dartford had a week to rest before their trip to Worthing on Tuesday night. Dowson was forced to make two changes with Harvey Bradbury and Joash Nembhard serving a one match ban. The Dartford boss also decided to leave out Lewis Manor. Coming in to the starting eleven were Archie Woods, Luke Allen and Alex Wall. Winger, Brandon Barzey was away on international duty and Tommy Block out injured.
In a topsy-turvy game the Darts came from behind, let a lead slip, but ended up winning 4-3. Worthing went in front when Danny Cashman scored. Then in the space of 15 minutes at the end of the first-half Dartford were 3-1 to the good. Wall capitalised on some poor defending to score his third in four appearances. Captain, Luke Coulson netted from the edge of the box. Jordan Wynter then grabbed a rare goal, his third in his 165th appearance. The hosts fought back with a superb strike from Ricky Aguiar before Ollie Pearce levelled the score. There was one more twist with six minutes to go, Tyrell Miller-Rodney put away the winner.
Wynter could face his former club on the weekend. The versatile defender and midfielder played eight times for the Stones during the 2018/2019. The only other connections between the two sides are both goalkeepers. Mitchell Beeney’s father played in goal for Maidstone United in the late eighties and into the early nineties. New signing Ryan Sandford had a loan spell with the Stones. He could become the fourth keeper used by Dowson this term. The shot stopper arrives after his short term deal ended with AFC Wimbledon.
The Stones are bidding to return to the National League at the first attempt. Relegated last term, the Stones have managed to put unbeaten runs together putting them in playoff contention. A five-game sequence of two wins and three draws followed the opening day triumph over Slough Town and defeat at Bath City. George Elokobi’s side suffered a surprise loss at home to Aveley before picking up another four victories and three draws.
In that time the Stones also progressed to the second round of the F.A Cup. Two months ago, they won 4-1 at Steyning Town of the Southern Combination Premier League. Then three consecutive 2-0 wins have seen the Stones into round two. They faced Southern League Premier South side Winchester City at the end of September, went to Plainmoor and beat Torquay United and a fortnight ago defeated Chesham United. Next up for Maidstone United will be League Two side Barrow.
On Tuesday, Elokobi’s side bounced back from their heavy 5-2 loss against Hampton and Richmond Borough. The Stones won a Kent derby against Dover Athletic. Levi Amantchi netted the decisive goal, his 16th of the season.
|Dartford (WDLWLW)||Maidstone United (DDWWLW)|
|Chelmsford City||H||1-2||Hampton & Richmond||A||2-5|
|Hemel Hempstead||A||1-2||Chesham United (FAC)||A||2-0|
|Havant & Waterlooville||H||2-0||Welling United||H||0-0|
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 46 / Maidstone United wins: 47 / Draws: 19
Last Six Meetings
Dartford 0 – 1 Maidstone United (18/04/2022 – National South)
Maidstone United 4 – 0 Dartford (11/12/2021 – National South)
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)
- Dartford have lost their last two against Maidstone United. In their previous 13 they had just lost once (W8, D4)
- The Darts have failed to win their last five against the Stones at home (D3*, L2)
- This will be the 39th cup meeting between the two sides with Dartford leading the head to head (W19, D5*, L14)
* – lost one on penalties
- Wall could make his 50th Dartford appearance (29 starts, 20 substitute, 21 goals)
On This Day
Lyle Della-Verde scored twice in a 4-1 win over Gloucester City six years ago. The midfielder netted either side of half-time. Warren Mfula opened the scoring and Alfie Pavey added a fourth. The visitors grabbed a consolation late on.
Dartford’s only home defeat on this day was the first time they played on 18 November in 1899. The Darts were beaten 5-0 by Woolwich Arsenal Reserves in the Kent League. Since then, Dartford have gone ten unbeaten on their own patch with six wins and four draws.
One of those draws came in the F.A Cup first round at Watling Street in 1989. The Darts earned a replay against Football League opposition Exeter City. Andy Hessenthaler’s goal in front of over 3000 fans secured a 1-1 draw. Unfortunately, the Darts couldn’t cause an upset in the return fixture.