Dartford are eyeing up a third consecutive National South victory this weekend when they make the long journey across the country to face Taunton Town.
The Darts climbed the table after a series of draws and a defeat left them winless in the opening four fixtures of their campaign. However, back-to-back victories over the Bank Holiday period has moved Dartford up ten places and into eleventh. Now just a point from the playoff zone, things are looking up for Alan Dowson’s side and victory will take them above Taunton Town. The Peacocks enjoyed a solid debut in the league last term and have begun this season even better. Rob Dray’s side have a perfect home record at Wordsworth Drive and hope to keep that momentum going.
Searching for a winning formula Alan Dowson tweaked the forward line last weekend and finally hit the jackpot. The Dartford boss then stuck with the same side two days later and was rewarded with maximum points over the August Bank Holiday. Opting to play two up front, Lewis Manor was given his first start in the late 1-0 win over Aveley. However, it was his strike partner Harvey Bradbury that made the headlines with an injury time header to snatch Dartford a first victory of the season. A first clean sheet was also welcomed by the defence, especially goalkeeper Mitch Beeney.
In the derby clash at home to Dover Athletic on Monday, James Golding and Manor both opened their accounts for the Darts with their first competitive goals. The hosts controlled the game and went into the lead after the visitors were unable to clear Luke Coulson’s free-kick. Eventually the ball found its way to Golding who stabbed home from close range. Coulson caused more problems in the second-half when his corner found Manor, who powerfully headed the ball beyond Billy Terrell in the Dover Athletic goal. The scoreline could have been more and Coulson could have easily made it three, but the captain blasted his penalty over the crossbar. Another shut out by Beeney in goal means the Darts have kept consecutive clean sheets.
Taunton Town were one of three teams who completed the double over Dartford last season. Just over a year ago, the Darts last visit to Wordsworth Drive ended in a 2-1 defeat. Davide Rodari scored the opener when he chased down Sam Odaudu’s long ball, but a mix up at the back between goalkeeper Jack Bycroft and centre half Dan Ball allowed Rodari to get between the pair, round the keeper and slot into an empty net. Another long ball caused problems with 15 minutes to go, this time for the Darts. Tom Bonner was caught out and substitute Dave Sims-Burgess took advantage to equalise. Then four minutes later another sub won it for the Peacocks, Stearn netting from close range.
In the return fixture the visitors started better, Nat Jarvis having a goal ruled out for offside. The Darts responded when Luke Allen twice struck the woodwork. With very little happening in the second-half Taunton Town’s Cameron Evans scored with three minutes to go to hand the visitors a 1-0 triumph.
Taunton Town boast a perfect home record starting with the opening day victory against Braintree Town. The Peacocks fought back from a goal down to win 2-1 against the Iron. Taunton Town conceded early, which was not an ideal start for debutante goalkeeper Dan Lavercombe, whose clearance rebounded off Nnamdi Nwachuku and into the empty net. The Peacocks recovered well and were level in first half stoppage time through Nick Grimes. In the second-half, manager Dray introduced Ross Stearn and barely a minute later he netted the winner.
The Darts will be the second Kent club to visit Wordsworth Drive this season. After the Peacocks lost their first game on their travels to Aveley and drew at Weymouth they hosted Welling United and bagged all three points. Nick McCootie’s shot from the edge of the box proved decisive in the 1-0 victory.
Taunton Town took four points out of the Bank Holiday weekend fixtures which began with an entertaining 3-2 win over playoff finalists St Albans City. Stearn’s last gasp winner was valuable giving Saints no time to respond like they had done twice in the game. The scoring was opened when Stearn capitalised on Michael Johnson’s fumble, but the Hertfordshire club drew level courtesy of the alert Giorgio Rasulo. Heading towards the break Grimes put the Peacocks back in front, but once again St Albans City found an equaliser, Mitchell Weiss firing beyond Lavercombe. In the closing stages Stearn backheeled a clever effort into the corner of the net to clinch all three points.
On Monday, the Peacocks picked up another point on the road drawing 1-1 with Maidstone United. Grimes scoring the equaliser to move to the top of Taunton Town’s goalscoring charts with three.
|Dartford (DLDDWW)||Taunton Town (WLDWWD)|
|Dover Athletic||H||2-0||Maidstone United||A||1-1|
|Aveley||A||1-0||St Albans City||H||3-2|
|Hampton & Richmond Borough||H||1-1||Weymouth||A||1-1|
|Bath City||H||3-3||Braintree Town||H||2-1|
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 0 / Taunton Town wins: 2 / Draws: 0
Last Six Meetings
Dartford 0 – 1 Taunton Town (13/04/2023 – National South)
Taunton Town 2 – 1 Dartford (20/08/2022 – National South)
- Dartford’s win over Dover Athletic was their 200th victory in the National South (P397, W200, D94, L103)
- The Darts kept a consecutive league clean sheet on Monday for the first time since February 2023. The last time Dartford kept three clean sheets in a row in the league was back in September/October 2021
On This Day
Dartford came from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Alan Dowson’s Hampton and Richmond Borough on this day in 2017. Max Kretzschmar bagged a brace inside half an hour, but Andy Pugh and Elliot Bradbrook made sure the Darts took home a point. Dartford’s last away win on 2 September came in 2006 as they swept aside Tunbridge Wells 5-0 in the F.A Cup preliminary round. On their travels, the Darts are unbeaten in six with three wins and three draws on this day stretching back to 1963.