Dartford have three consecutive Kent derbies coming up starting with the visit to Tonbridge Angels this weekend.
The Angels were the first team to take points off the Darts this season after Steve King’s side made a blistering start to their campaign. Dartford won their opening five National South games before drawing 1-1 at Princes Park against this weekend’s opponents. In that game the visitors went ahead when Tommy Wood scored a header, but on his birthday, Jack Jebb equalised putting in a Player of the Match performance. King’s side went on to win two more in the league before a dip of form has left them in fifth place.
Dartford have turned into draw specialists of late continuing to struggle to win their first league game since the start of December. Defeats to rivals Maidstone United and Ebbsfleet United sandwiched a stalemate with Braintree Town and since then three consecutive draws with Dulwich Hamlet, Hampton and Richmond Borough then Concord Rangers on Tuesday night. Dropped points has seen the Darts lose ground at the top of the National South and looking over their shoulder to maintain a playoff position.
In an attempt to halt his longest winless streak since becoming Dartford boss, King made five changes in Dartford’s last outing, a 0-0 home draw with lowly Concord Rangers. D’Sean Theobalds made his first appearance since the Kent Senior Cup final at the end of November, Ronnie Vint added an extra man in defence which included Jordan Wynter. It turned out to be Vint’s last game for the club after 202 appearances and 11 goals since coming through the academy system. George Porter and Ade Azeez also returned to the starting eleven. Goalkeeper, Dan Wilks and striker Jake Robinson, who hit the crossbar late on, once again stood out on a night where the Darts were unable to break the deadlock.
As a replacement for the departing Vint, the Darts have signed defender Kory Roberts from National League side Bromley. Roberts came through Walsall’s academy and made 26 appearances over a four year period for the senior team. The 24 year-old joined Bromley in September 2020 and has had loan spells with AFC Telford United and Rushall Olympic.
Speaking to www.kentonline.co.uk, captain Tom Bonner still has the belief that his side can start picking up wins again, he commented: “We just need to relax and get a bit of swagger back. We’re the same players, the same club, the same fans, that went on an unbelievable run and I believe we can do it again. We just need that win to push us on”, he continued: “There’s about 20 games left – a lot of points to play for. Until it’s mathematically impossible, I’ll keep believing”.
Dartford have a decent record against Tonbridge Angels in recent years, although their last visit to Longmead ended in defeat and a managerial departure. In Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle’s last fixture as joint Dartford managers, the Darts went down 3-2 as Tom Derry scored the winner late in the derby. Joe Turner put the Angels ahead from the spot, but Josh Hill pounced on a clearance to make it all square. However, almost straight from the restart the hosts regained their advantage through Turner once more. Charlie Sheringham came on and scored a header to level again until Tom Derry came up with the decisive goal. Victory for Steve McKimm’s side was the first in ten meetings in which Dartford had won eight on the spin.
Tonbridge Angels are on their way to joining Dartford as draw specialists as they approach Saturday’s fixture on the back of consecutive 1-1 draws. The Angels fitted in a mid-week match on Wednesday down at Havant and Waterlooville. An injury time equaliser from former Welling United striker Adam Coombes earned the Angels a precious point to move the above his old club on goal difference. On the weekend Joe Turner early goal was cancelled out as Tonbridge Angels picked up a home point against Hemel Hempstead Town.
McKimm can be pleased that his side are going through their best spell of the season, unbeaten since the festive defeats against Maidstone United on Boxing Day and in the New Year. In that spell the Angels progressed to the last 16 of the F.A Trophy for the first time in their history when they knocked out National League side King’s Lynn Town on penalties. The Tonbridge Angels boss can be thankful for the services of Joe Turner and Tommy Wood up front. The pair have netted ten of the last 12 goals scored by the Kent side going back to the end of October when former Dartford winger Ricky Modeste scored. Although Modeste has not had much game time another former Dart, Craig Braham-Barrett has, the defender has racked up 18 appearances since moving to Longmead in the summer.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 69 / Tonbridge Angels wins: 38 / Draws: 25
Current League Form
|Concord Rangers||H||0-0||Havant & Waterlooville||A||1-1|
|Hampton & Richmond||H||2-2||Hemel Hempstead Town||H||1-1|
|Dulwich Hamlet||H||1-1||Chippenham Town||A||1-0|
|Ebbsfleet United||A||0-1||Hungerford Town||H||2-1|
|Braintree Town||A||2-2||Maidstone United||A||0-2|
|Maidstone United||A||0-4||Maidstone United||H||0-1|
Previous Meetings (last six)
Dartford 1 – 1 Tonbridge Angels (11/09/2021 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Tonbridge Angels (05/01/2021 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Tonbridge Angels (28/12/2019 – National South)
Tonbridge Angels 3 – 2 Dartford (03/09/2019 – National South)
Tonbridge Angels 0 – 3 Dartford (15/10/2016 – F.A Cup)
Dartford 3 – 0 Tonbridge Angels (15/12/2012 – F.A Trophy)
- Dartford have kept five clean sheets in their last seven matches against Tonbridge Angels
- Since moving to Princes Park, The Darts have won five and lost two of their last seven visits to Longmead, before that they had won just twice and lost eight in the late nineties to early 2000’s.
- Dartford have drawn three league games in a row for the first time since August 2017, the start of the 2017/2018 campaign. They last drew four consecutive league matches in April 1992.
On This Day
It has been eleven years since Dartford played on 29 January and that was in a 1-0 away victory against Bishop’s Stortford. Current captain, Tom Bonner started the National South fixture which was decided by Charlie Sheringham. In league competition Dartford have won their last three on this day. As well as victory at Bishop’s Stortford, the Darts won 2-1 in the Southern League Division One East against Chatham Town in 2002 and then Wivenhoe Town in 2005. Dartford’s only defeat in their last four outings on this day was a 4-1 reverse against Ebbsfleet United, a Kent Senior Cup second round tie back in 2008.