Dartford are back on the road this weekend when they make the short trip to Tonbridge Angels in their final Kent derby of the season.
The Darts are just one win away from securing a playoff place which they failed to do on Thursday night after a home loss against Taunton Town. A third defeat in five leaves Dartford just short of their target and under pressure to maintain their position in second place. Alan Dowson’s side could end up taking on Tonbridge Angels if their opponents make the top seven, they are currently just three points adrift and unbeaten in their last three home matches.
Kent derbies have yielded an impressive 19 points from a possible 21 for the Darts this season with only Welling United taking anything from the Darts. Earlier in the campaign goals from Samir Carruthers and Pierre Fonkeu earned Dartford a 2-0 home win over the Angels. Carruthers has been pivotal this term with his creativity, but the midfielder’s injury against Eastbourne Borough on Good Friday looks to have put him out for the rest of the campaign. The 30-year-old scored direct from a corner in the reverse fixture back in October at Princes Park and was involved in the second goal as well. Flicking on a header for Charlie Sheringham, who had his shot saved only to see Fonkeu scramble the ball over the line.
Sheringham is another on the treatment table after his rib injury picked up against Chippenham Town in February, Tommy Block is not likely to feature this term and Jernade Meade will be suspended. Alex Wall was rested on Easter Monday after picking up a calf strain, the striker was left out again on Thursday night. Captain, Tom Bonner could make his 450th start for the club this weekend.
Dowson made three changes on Thursday night against Taunton Town to the side that beat Dover Athletic with a late Luke Allen strike on Easter Monday. The midfielder was rewarded by being selected, Bobby Dunn made his first start since joining the Darts and Marvin Herschel made his first league appearance since October. Dropping to the bench, Richard Chin, Jack Smith and Fonkeu were on standby. The visitors started the better and saw Ollie Chamberlain strike the woodwork before Nat Jarvis tapped in the rebound only for the goal to be ruled out for offside. The Darts responded when they hit the post after Allen’s teasing cross and later in the first-half his shot came off the crossbar. Very little happened in the second forty five until Taunton Town’s Cameron Evans netted a winner with three minutes to go.
Home advantage in the playoffs could be crucial for the Darts, especially having failed to win away from home since the beginning of January, a run of six league games. Dartford let a lead slip against Eastbourne Borough and picked up just one point out of the two games versus Hungerford Town and Weymouth, both sides in the relegation zone. The point at Braintree Town in February was creditable considering the Iron were in form at the time and the Darts showed character to comeback twice at Welling United. A poor performance at Worthing started the barren spell on the road, which Dowson and company will be keen to end on Saturday.
Tonbridge Angels have only lost once at home against teams above them in the table, but Dartford’s last visit to Longmead finished in an entertaining 3-2 victory. Danny Leonard set the Darts on their way scoring a brace in the opening twenty minutes. However, Tommy Wood halved the deficit and after the Darts restored a two-goal cushion through Jack Jebb, the Angels added a consolation through Ibrahim Olutade.
Manager, Jay Saunders has turned Tonbridge Angels into a team challenging for the playoffs after the club finished 16th last season. The postponement of the Farnborough game on Easter Monday means the Angels last played on Good Friday when they drew 1-1 with Hemel Hempstead Town. Former Dartford striker, Jordan Greenidge wasn’t allowed to play against his parent club, but he will be available on Saturday.
At this level Greenidge is a goal threat having netted six in eight games for the Darts last season. This term the striker has scored 16 times in 23 appearances for Tonbridge Angels and four in 15 with Hemel Hempstead Town. The Darts could do with Meade’s knowledge of the striker having spent time with the Tudors earlier this term, he will also know all about Craig Braham-Barrett as he linked up with the defender on international duty for Montserrat last month. Braham-Barrett is another former Dart who spent two seasons at Princes Park making 29 appearances.
Since the New Year’s Day defeat at Welling United, the Angels have shown solid form in 2023. They have only lost three of their last 17 league fixtures and two of were away against Chelmsford City and Oxford City, the two sides chasing the Darts for that second place finish. In that time they picked up their fourth point versus champions Ebbsfleet United with a 1-1 draw racked up eight victories. Over the past month if they could have turned a few draws into wins then they would be in that top seven.
On Good Friday, Joe Turner opened the scoring with a decent finish past ex Dartford goalkeeper Craig King in the Hemel Hempstead Town goal. However, the lead lasted less than ten minutes when Josh Castiglione equalised as the spoils were shared. It was Tonbridge Angels’ third draw in five having earned a point at home to Ebbsfleet United and another away at Havant and Waterlooville. Prior their match over Easter, the Angels were involved in plenty of goals clinging on to beat Hungerford Town 4-3 before being on the wrong end of a 4-0 defeat at Oxford City.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 71 / Tonbridge Angels wins: 38 / Draws: 25
Current League Form
|Taunton Town||H||0-1||Hemel Hempstead Town||H||1-1|
|Dover Athletic||H||2-1||Oxford City||A||0-4|
|Eastbourne Borough||A||1-2||Hungerford Town||H||4-3|
|Dulwich Hamlet||H||3-0||Havant & Waterlooville||A||1-1|
|Chelmsford City||H||1-2||Ebbsfleet United||H||1-1|
Dartford 2 – 0 Tonbridge Angels (15/10/2022 – National South)
Tonbridge Angels 2 – 3 Dartford (29/01/2022 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 1 Tonbridge Angels (11/09/2021 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Tonbridge Angels (05/01/2021 – National South)
Dartford 3 – 0 Tonbridge Angels (28/12/2019 – National South)
Tonbridge Angels 3 – 2 Dartford (03/09/2019 – National South)
- Dartford have lost just one of the last 15 games against Tonbridge Angels (W12, D2)
- The Darts have won five of the last six away matches against the Angels (W5, L1)
- Dartford are winless in seven consecutive away matches in all competitions (D3, L4). The last time they went eight games without an away win in a single season was in 2013/2014 (D4, L11)
On This Day
Dartford have won their last three on this day including the 2-0 win at Billericay Town a year ago. Second-half strikes from Jebb and Marcus Dinanga was enough to beat the side who ended up relegated at the end of the season. That was also one of three consecutive away clean sheets on 15 April. In 2010, the Darts romped to a 4-0 victory at Waltham Abbey. Goals by James White, Lee Noble, Carl Rook and Lee Burns helped Dartford add another three points in their Isthmian Division One North title winning campaign. A 0-0 draw at Tunbridge Wells in a 1995 Kent League fixture was the other clean sheet on the road. Dartford last conceded on the road on this day in 1989 against Macclesfield Town and they managed it four times in the F.A Trophy semi-final second leg. The reverse fixture ended 0-0 at Watling Street, but the Silkmen stopped Peter Taylor’s side heading to Wembley winning 4-1 on aggregate. However, Dartford did lift some silverware on 15 April back in 1939 when they beat Northfleet United 4-0 in the Kent Senior Shield final.