Dartford return to action against Isthmian Premier League champions Worthing this weekend in the National South.
Cold weather has caused a lack of football across the non-league scene meaning both sides have not played for a fortnight. The Darts were on a strong run of form to move to the top before losing in their last outing and slipping into second. Worthing are on a five game unbeaten streak to keep them in the playoff places.
Back in August, Dartford lost 2-1 at home in their last meeting with Worthing, the Rebels first ever away win in their first ever league meeting against the Darts. Connor Essam gave the Darts a half time lead when he headed home, but six minutes into the second half Callum Kealy equalised. In the final minute of injury time Worthing stole maximum points when Joel Colbran netted the winner.
Creating competition for places within the squad, Dowson could get new signings Jamar Loza, Tommy Block and Jernade Meade involved this weekend . Both Loza and Block previously worked with the Dartford boss at Woking. Loza impressed in two loan spells before moving to the Cards permanently. The forward will be with the Darts for at least a month after coming in from National League side Barnet, where he is yet to make an appearance for the Bees. Block arrives from Hampton and Richmond Borough after signing from Woking in the summer. The defender has scored five times this season for the Middlesex club and will provide competition to the Dartford defence. Signing until the end of the season Meade returns to Princes Park. The full back has made 25 appearances for the club and could be in line to make a second debut on Saturday. Midfielder, Luke Allen and defender Sam Odaudu are still recovering from injury.
Last time out Dartford were unable to complete a fifth consecutive victory seeing their nine game unbeaten home run in the National South come to an end. Jack Westbrook scored for Hemel Hempstead Town in the first-half, but it wasn’t long until Luke Coulson helped himself to a seventh assist in four games setting up Essam, the defender’s second goal in as many home matches. Approaching the interval the visitors went back in front with a fine strike from Kyle Ajayi. In second-half stoppage time, the Darts were caught out for a third time when new signing Jeremie Mukendi condemned Dartford to their first home loss in the league since August. Dowson called the defeat a “bad day at the office” when he spoke to Dartford FC TV post match as his side came off second best.
Under Adam Hinshelwood, Worthing have performed excellently in their first campaign in the division. The Rebels opened their season with a ten match unbeaten run leaving them in fourth place after five victories and five draws. Steady results at home have been bettered by the second best away record in the league. Since the 6-0 home defeat to Ebbsfleet United in early December, the Rebels have taken 11 points from their last five outings, winning their previous two league matches.
A win at Eastbourne Borough two weeks ago followed up a Sussex Senior Cup triumph, in which they moved into the semi-finals. Hinshelwood handed a debut to Portsmouth loanee Liam Vincent and he was rewarded with a goal from the ex-Bromley full back. Last season’s top scorer with 35 goals, Ollie Pearce secured the three points as Worthing won 2-0. In all competitions that was a third clean sheet in four for the Rebels after beating Lancing 4-0 in the county cup and drawing 0-0 at Hampton and Richmond Borough. Sandwiched between those games Worthing defeated Welling United 3-2, Pearce and a brace from Lewis White making the difference.
Former Dart, Davide Rodari made his debut in the victory over the Wings and also started two weeks ago against Eastbourne Borough. The forward had a spell with the Darts this season making 21 appearances and scoring three goals whilst on loan from Crawley Town. This is his second time on loan at Worthing where he scored four times in five games just under a year ago. Jake Robinson is another former Dartford player currently with Worthing and his debut in the season’s opener was one of mixed emotions. The striker who scored 17 goals in 32 matches for the Darts, including a county cup final hat-trick, netted in his first game for Worthing. Unfortunately, the striker suffered a serious knee injury and has been out ever since.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 3 / Worthing wins: 2 / Draws: 2
Current League Form
|Hemel Hempstead Town||H||1-3||Eastbourne Borough||A||2-0|
|Ebbsfleet United||H||4-0||Hampton & Richmond||A||0-0|
|Ebbsfleet United||A||4-1||Bath City||A||2-2|
|Havant & Waterlooville||A||3-1||Hampton & Richmond||H||4-3|
Dartford 2 – 1 Worthing (27/08/2022 – National South)
Worthing 1 – 2 Dartford (26/09/2009 – F.A Cup)
Worthing 2 – 1 Dartford (20/11/1982 – F.A Cup)
Dartford 3 – 0 Worthing (12/11/1927 – F.A Cup)
Dartford 1 – 0 Worthing (12/10/1921 – F.A Cup)
Worthing 0 – 0 Dartford (08/10/1921 – F.A Cup)
- Dartford top the form table over the last eight games taking 16 points. Worthing are third on 14 points.
- Dartford have won their last three league games on the road. A fourth will be the best run under Alan Dowson’s stewardship.
- Worthing have drawn ten games this season, the most in the division joint with Oxford City
On This Day
Dartford have scored ten goals without reply on this day which includes the 6-0 mauling of Thurrock 11 years ago. Elliot Bradbrook twice, Danny Harris, James Rogers, Lee Burns and Tony Garrod all scored on the day Ryan Hayes made his 300th Dartford appearance. Five years later, the Darts travelled to Wealdstone and picked up an impressive 4-0 victory with goals from Luke Wanadio, Hayes, Bradbrook and Andy Pugh. Dartford have won their last four on this day, in 2006 they beat Barton Rovers 2-1 in the Southern League Division One East and in 1995 defeated Greenwich Borough 3-0 in the Kent League. In league competition Dartford have won the last five on 28 January as they also won 1-0 at Watling Street against Bath City in 1989. Three years later, the Darts drew 1-1 in a Kent derby with Dover Athletic in the Southern League Cup third round.