Dartford host their first Kent derby of the season when Dover Athletic visit Princes Park this weekend.
An outstanding record in Kent derbies last term earned the Darts an impressive 22 points. Alan Dowson led his side to seven league victories against local rivals, only dropping points in the draw at Welling United. Meanwhile Dover Athletic failed to notch a single derby day win last term, two of those defeats against the Darts.
Unbeaten in the league at Princes Park against Dover Athletic for 15 years, Dartford have enjoyed the upper hand in this fixture. The most recent was back in April when the Darts secured the double over the Whites. Harvey Bradbury helped Dartford on their way after just five minutes. The striker capitalised on a defensive mix up to score and had the ball in the back of the net again moments later, but his effort was ruled out for offside. Dover Athletic gained control and before the first-half was out Jordan Higgs equalised. The Darts got to grips with proceedings in the second-half and with seven minutes remaining substitute Luke Allen finished superbly to win it for the hosts.
In the previous meeting at the Crabble, the Darts won 3-1 with all the goals coming in the first-half. Midfielder, Samir Carruthers scored the first of three goals in an 18-minute spell to put the Darts in command. Coulson assisted Carruthers for the first goal and scored the second. Maxwell Statham made it three before a lapse of concentration just before half-time let Dover Athletic back in the game. A controlled second half from Dartford saw the score unchanged and three points secured.
The Darts are looking for a first home win of the campaign after drawing their opening three from winning positions. Bath City pegged Dartford back twice in a 3-3 draw, whilst Hampton and Richmond Borough and Farnborough equalised to leave the Darts sharing the points. Dowson had to contend with the absence of Paul Rooney for the opening three games. The summer signing returned to make his debut at Farnborough. Brandon Barzey began his Dartford career brightly, but he was sent off against Hampton and Richmond Borough and gave away the penalty in the last home match. The winger missed the weekend trip to Aveley through suspension.
Dowson tweaked the forward line on the weekend preferring to play two up front. Therefore Lewis Manor was given his first start and teamed up with Harvey Bradbury. The only other change saw Baris Altintop in for Maxwell Statham. Meanwhile, winger Brandon Barzey sat out through suspension. Sam Odaudu (hamstring) and Luke Allen were other noticeable absentees, Charlie Sheringham came on to make his 150th Dartford appearance.
New loan signing from Barnet, Moussa Diarra was named on bench and took no part in Saturday’s victory. The defender will have to wait a bit longer to make his debut. The 33-year-old joins from the National League side until January and has previously played under Dowson at Woking as well as Hampton and Richmond Borough. If selected on Bank Holiday Monday he will face one of his former clubs having spent time at Dover Athletic during the 2018/19 season where he made 20 appearances.
Dartford had enough chances in the first-half, but Aveley came closest when they hit the crossbar from a free kick. In the second-half the Darts persisted and when a penalty decision was overturned and a goalmouth scramble wasn’t converted, it felt like it was going to be another one of those days for the Darts.
Late goals had become a thorn in Dartford’s side, but it was their turn to profit. In the fifth minute of added time Bradbury headed the winner to grab a first win of the season for the Darts and a first clean sheet for goalkeeper, Mitch Beeney. Victory doubled Dartford’s points tally for the season, a point ahead of Dover Athletic.
On the weekend, the Whites went down to league leaders Worthing. Manager, Mitch Brundle made two changes to the side that drew with Braintree Town a week earlier. New signing Dontai Stewart went straight into the starting lineup to make his debut. Whilst Iffy Allen returned from injury, the pair replacing Nick Dembele and Luke Baptiste. Dover Athletic fell behind on eight minutes when Nicky Wheeler hit a long range shot beyond Billy Terrell. The Whites were still in the game, but with eight minutes remaining Reece Meekums found space inside the box and slotted in to double the Rebels lead.
The Whites had a difficult summer which saw players make u-turns and an assistant manager change his mind. Dover Athletic avoided relegation last season on goal difference adding to the challenge presented to Brundle ahead of his first full campaign in charge.
On the opening day, Dover Athletic fought back from two down inside 20 minutes to draw 2-2 against league favourites Torquay United. An injury time winner by Baptiste earned the Whites their first win on their travels when they beat Slough Town 2-1. However, the Kent derby trend continued in the following match when Brundle’s side lost 1-0 at Tonbridge Angels. Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, Dover Athletic picked up another point in the 1-1 draw against Braintree Town before defeat at home to Worthing.
|Dover Athletic (DWLDL)
|Hampton & Richmond Borough
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 16 / Dover Athletic wins: 11 / Draws: 12
Last Six Meetings
Dartford 2 – 1 Dover Athletic (10/04/2023 – National League)
Dover Athletic 1 – 3 Dartford (13/09/2022 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 1 Dover Athletic (08/03/2022 – Kent Senior Cup)
Dover Athletic 1 – 2 Dartford (13/12/2016 – F.A Trophy)
Dartford 1 – 1 Dover Athletic (10/12/2016 – F.A Trophy)
Dover Athletic 6 – 1 Dartford (17/01/2015 – National League)
- Dartford have won six of the last eight league games against Dover Athletic (D1, L1). They have also won the last four matches in all competitions, a record run against the Whites.
- The Darts have won the last four league meetings against Dover Athletic at Princes Park with an aggregate score of 11-3
- Dartford’s three consecutive home draws from the start of a season is a record
- The Darts last drew four home games in a row back in 2016. Dartford drew their final two matches at Princes Park during the 2015/16 season, then their opening two of the next campaign
On This Day
A last minute Tyrique Hyde goal secured a 2-0 away win against Dulwich Hamlet on this day two years ago. Josh Hill had opened the scoring as early as the seventh minute. Hyde rounded off the match with a fine individual effort to double the lead. Dartford’s last home match on 28 August ended in a 1-0 defeat to East Thurrock United in 2017. After 18 years of waiting for a North West Kent league derby, the Darts drew 1-1 with Ebbsfleet United in 2010. Michael West headed the fleet in front, but Charlie Sheringham’s successful spot kick made sure the spoils were shared.