Dartford will reach the Kent Senior Cup final for a second time in a row if they can overcome Welling United in the semi-final on Tuesday night.
Unbeaten in the county cup for over three years, the Darts are aiming to earn their 13th Kent Senior title. The current holders have already secured a playoff place in the National South and will be seen as favourites to claim some silverware. Welling United are in a relegation battle hoping to avoid the drop into the Isthmian Premier League, the Wings have three titles to their name last making the final five years ago.
It’s possible both sides will make plenty of changes to their starting eleven with Dartford still trying to achieve a higher finish in the league before the playoffs. Understandably, National South survival will be paramount for Welling United who have three games to keep in front of bottom side Billericay Town.
Dartford boss, Steve King has an excellent record against his former club. Since joining the Darts in October 2019 he has guided them to four wins and a draw, scoring 19 and conceding just four. Welling United have to go back to just over three years for their only triumph in the last ten versus Dartford. However, it was the Wings who came out on top the last time these two sides met in the Kent Senior Cup.
Like this season, the Darts went into that tie in 2016 as cup holders. After a 2-2 draw they went out on penalties. Under the guidance of former Dartford midfielder Jamie Day, the Wings took the lead through another former Darts player, Harry Crawford. Winger, Ryan Hayes scored from the spot to level and Keaton Wood put the Darts in front, but a late equaliser from Matt Fish took the tie to penalties, which Welling United won 4-1.
The result will be familiar to Welling United fans this term, they have drawn both their Kent Senior Cup matches this season 2-2, also with late goals and ended up progressing on penalties. Dartford on the other hand have had a smoother passage to the semi-final with a 2-1 win over relegated National League side Dover Athletic and a 4-2 victory against Isthmian Premier League team Margate.
Dartford have dominated this fixture in the 2021/2022 campaign winning 6-0 at Park View Road in September. Ade Azeez and Luke Allen both netted a brace, but it was Noor Husin who opened the scoring, whilst Danny Leonard grabbed the other. At Princes Park the Darts weren’t as commanding, Welling United went ahead twice before falling to defeat. Afolabi Akinyemi twice put the Wings in front, but Dartford hit back, firstly when Marcus Dinanga scored his first for the club and secondly, when Danny Leonard equalised. Goals from Allen and a second from Dinanga made sure the Darts won 4-2 to complete a league double over Welling United.
The Darts warmed up to the semi-final tie with another 3-1 victory over St Albans City in the National South on the weekend. A repeat of the score on the opening day of the season saw Keiran Murtagh score his first goals for the Darts on his 39th appearance. The midfielder netted a brace before Dinanga scored his ninth in just 12 appearances. Dartford also passed 100 goals in all competitions since the beginning of the season.
Welling United were also in action and earned an important point to give them a slender cushion at the bottom. Yet it could have been so much better as the Wings led 2-1 going into injury time at the end of the match. James Roberts gave Havant and Waterlooville the lead, but Warren Feeney’s side turned the game around after Akinyemi and Ade Shokunbi scored. In the final stages, Jake Andrews equalised for the Hawks in the 95th minute. Feeney will be Welling United’s third manager to take on the Darts this season after Mark Goldberg took temporary charge following Steve Lovell’s sacking in September, and former Dartford boss Peter Taylor was in the dugout back in February.
The winner of this semi-final tie will face either Folkestone Invicta or Hythe Town in the final.
Story so far
Dartford 2-1 Dover Athletic
Jordan Greenidge scored twice on debut to start the defence of the Kent Senior Cup. The striker opened his account after eighteen minutes and added a second with fifteen minutes to go. Dover Athletic pulled a goal back, but the Darts went through to the last eight of the competition.
Herne Bay 2-2 Welling United (Welling United won 5-4 on penalties)
A stoppage time equaliser from Bradley Pearce took this tie to penalties, which Welling United won. The Wings took the lead in the first-half when Kristan Campbell set up Matty Hew. Herne Bay’s Dan Johnson scored twice to set up an upset, but up popped Pearce to save the tie for the Wings. The visitors prevailed in spot-kicks with D’Sean Theobalds scoring one of the five for Welling United.
Margate 2-4 Dartford
Luke Allen opened the scoring after just six minutes to get Dartford on the way, but Margate equalised six minutes later through James Bessey-Saldanha. The Darts pulled away in the second half with goals from Kalvin Kalala, Ade Azeez and Ody Alfa before Vance Bola pulled one back for the hosts.
Welling United 2-2 Tonbridge Angels (Welling United won 4-3 on penalties)
Another late goal and another game of penalties sent Welling United into the last four. The Angels went ahead as early as the ninth minute when Jake Embury scored for the visitors, but Mason Saunders-Henry levelled before the interval. The Wings missed a penalty and Tonbridge Angels took advantage with a goal from Ibrahim Olutade. With time running out Welling United were awarded another spot kick which scored, then the hosts went on to win the shoot-out.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 24 / Welling United wins: 10 / Draws: 10
Current Form (all competitions)
|St Albans City||H||3-1||Havant & Waterlooville||H||2-2|
|Maidstone United||A||0-1||Dorking Wanderers||H||0-4|
|Billericay Town||A||2-0||Eastbourne Borough||A||3-3|
|Hemel Hempstead Town||H||1-1||Tonbridge Angels (KSC)||H||2-2*|
|Margate (KSC)||A||4-2||Ebbsfleet United||H||2-4|
|Oxford City||A||1-1||Tonbridge Angels||A||0-1|
*Welling United won 4-3 on penalties
Previous Meetings (last six)
Dartford 4 – 2 Welling United (05/02/2022 – National South)
Welling United 0 – 6 Dartford (25/09/2021 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 2 Welling United (06/02/2021 – National South)
Dartford 4 – 0 Welling United (01/01/2020 – National South)
Welling United 0 – 3 Dartford (26/12/2019 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Welling United (01/01/2019 – National South)
- Dartford have played 13 times against Welling United in the Kent Senior Cup (W8, D2*, L3) * – lost one on penalties
- The Darts have only drawn the Wings once in the Kent Senior Cup semi-final winning 2-0 in 1988. Dartford went on to lift the county cup.
- Dartford have lost just once in normal time in their last 16 matches against Welling United (W10, D5, L1). The Darts have won five of the last six, drawing the other.
- The Darts have won by an aggregate score of 10-2 against Welling United this season eclipsing the previous best of 7-0 in the 2019/2020 campaign.
On This Day
Dartford lifted the Kent Senior Cup in 2016 beating Charlton Athletic in the final at Princes Park. Having beaten Welling United, Gillingham, Herne Bay and Greenwich Borough on the way, the Darts took on the Addicks and won 3-1. Elliot Bradbrook opened the scoring before Charlton Athletic levelled nine minutes later. Ronnie Vint then Ben Francis scored in the second-half to claim the cup. In 1988, Dartford staged a superb second leg comeback to win the Southern League Cup. Finding themselves 3-1 down from the first leg, the Darts won 3-0 at Watling Street to win the cup 4-3 on aggregate thanks to goals from Gary Britnell,, Kurt Davidson and Colin Johnson. in 2008, Brendon Cass scored the winner against Wingate and Finchley on the final day of the season to help continue the Isthmian Division One North title celebrations. The Darts wrapped up the title early and lifted the trophy at Princes Park on this day.