Upcoming MatchHendon vs Dartford/April 23, 2024/Silver Jubilee Park

MATCH PREVIEW – Dartford v Maidstone United

Dartford slipped into the relegation zone this week and will be desperate to pick up points against Kent rivals Maidstone United.

The Darts are searching for a first home win in the league since November and will be up against a Stones side looking to move into a playoff place. Ady Pennock has lost both games since taking charge at Princes Park and has a big challenge on his hands to guide Dartford to safety. Maidstone United have enjoyed a tremendous F.A Cup run to the fifth round this season and are now concentrating on finishing in the top seven. Three days later the Darts will be hosting the Stones again in the Kent Senior Cup semi-final.

Pennock made his second signing just ahead of Tuesday night’s fixture at Braintree Town. Ronny Nelson was part of Torquay United’s squad last weekend and was an unused substitute against the Darts. Now the central defender will be wearing a Dartford shirt after signing for a month from League Two side Colchester United. The 20-year-old joined the Essex club from Leicester City’s academy.

Dartford’s boss made one change to the side that tasted defeat in Devon. Nelson was put straight into the lineup to replace Joash Nembhard, who was on the bench. Midfielder, Jack Smith made his 50th appearance for the club. Jordan Wynter served the last of his two-match suspension and could face his former side this weekend. Sam Odaudu is still recovering from injury and Elliott Romain’s loan spell has come to an end.

Dartford slipped into the bottom four with a 2-0 defeat in Essex, an eighth loss in their last ten league games. Early bouts of pressure from Braintree Town and a series of corners were too much to handle for the Darts, the hosts finally took advantage through Shaq Coulthirst twenty minutes in. In the second-half Dartford stayed in the game, but a late red card to Jordan Greenidge dashed hopes for an equaliser. That hope was extinguished in stoppage time when Tom Blackwell clinched a second for Braintree Town.

Since Dartford’s last home victory in the National South, at Princes Park they have drawn three and lost four and are currently on a three-game losing streak in the league on their own patch. Four points from the last 33 available home and away has seen the Darts slide into a relegation battle. The situation was worsened on Tuesday night with Taunton Town winning against Torquay United to put Pennock’s side beneath the relegation line.

Highlights courtesy of Dartford FC TV

Next up is the tricky prospect of Maidstone United who Dartford lost to in January at the Gallagher Stadium. Goalkeeper, Billy Terrell made his debut between the sticks in Alan Dowson’s final game as boss, but the loanee from AFC Bournemouth was unable to stop the Darts falling to defeat despite taking the lead. Luke Coulson gave Dartford the lead from the penalty spot. However, the Kent derby turned in the space of five second-half minutes. Harry Kyprianou and Matt Rush scored for the Stones to hand the hosts the three points. Terrell is still waiting for his first clean sheet after making ten appearances so far.

Saturday’s clash will be the third time the Darts have taken on their Kent rivals this season. The pair were drawn together in the F.A Trophy second round back in November Dartford fell to a last gasp goal to Kent rivals Maidstone United in the second round. Another goalkeeper made his debut in this game when Ryan Sandford lined up against his former club. Moussa Diarra came the closest for Dartford in the first half by hitting the woodwork. The hosts had opportunities in the second-half often missing the target. Both goalkeepers were not really troubled until a stoppage time winner from Maidstone United striker Levi Amantchi, who has since made a move to Bromley.

The Stones have got the better of Dartford in recent times winning the previous four meetings. Another triumph will secure a league double over the Darts, which they also achieved last time the two sides were in the same division in 2021/2022. Maidstone United went up as champions in that campaign but made a swift return to the National South after relegation last term. In that title winning season, the Stones came to Princes Park and won 1-0. The main protagonist that day was former Dart, Jack Barham who netted the only goal of the game to end Dartford’s unbeaten home run of 17 games. The striker also claimed the match ball in the reverse fixture with a hat-trick in a 4-0 Maidstone United victory.

Highlights courtesy of Dartford FC TV

George Elokobi’s side hit the headlines this season in the F.A Cup. The Stones went on an historic run to the fifth round to record their best performance in the competition and the best by a tier six team since Blyth Spartans in 1978. In total Maidstone United played eight ties beating Steyning Town, Winchester City and Torquay United to qualify for the first round proper. They went on to knock out Chesham United before defeating three Football League sides Barrow, Stevenage, Ipswich Town. Eventually their run came to an end with a 5-0 loss at Championship club Coventry City.

Since the last meeting between Dartford and Maidstone United, the Stones have been inconsistent in the National South, perhaps down to the distraction of their cup run. After winning at Princes Park two months ago they occupied third spot, but four wins and defeats plus three draws have seen Elokobi’s side fall out of a top seven place.

Maidstone United aim to get back on track and on Tuesday night they picked up an eleventh home win of the season by beating second place Chelmsford City. Two goals in the final ten minutes from Sam Corne and Matt Rush made the difference. Corne scored from the spot, whilst Rush added his 14th National South goal of the campaign, for Aveley and the Stones. Victory has put the Maidstone United level on points with Bath City, who are in seventh place and was just the tonic after suffering only their third home league defeat of the season on the weekend against St Albans City.

Current Standings

Team Played Points GD
Taunton Town 33 40 -11
Welling United 37 40 -16
Truro City 32 38 -7
DARTFORD 37 38 -11
Eastbourne Borough 37 34 -26
Havant and Waterlooville 37 29 -28
Dover Athletic 37 22 -31

Current League Form

Dartford (WLDLLL) Maidstone United (DLWDLW)
Braintree Town A 1-2 Chelmsford City H 2-0
Torquay United A 1-4 St Albans City H 1-2
Aveley H 1-2 Bath City H 2-2
Taunton Town H 1-1 Dover Athletic A 1-0
Slough Town A 2-3 Aveley A 0-2
Dover Athletic A 2-1 Hemel Hempstead H 1-1

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 46 / Maidstone United wins: 49 / Draws: 19

Last Six Meetings

Maidstone United 2 – 1 Dartford (09/01/2024 – National South)
Dartford 0 – 1 Maidstone United (18/11/2023 – F.A Trophy)
Dartford 0 – 1 Maidstone United (18/04/2022 – National South)
Maidstone United 4 – 0 Dartford (11/12/2021 – National South)
Maidstone United 0 – 3 Dartford (02/10/2021 – F.A Cup)
Maidstone United 0 – 2 Dartford (14/11/2020 – National South)

Statistics

  • Dartford are on their longest winless home run in all competitions against Maidstone United, three draws followed by three defeats. One of those draws ended in a penalty shoot-out loss.
  • In the league, Dartford’s current streak of three without a home victory against the Stones (D2, L1) is their longest since 1922 to 1923 (D2, L1)
  • The Darts set an unbeaten record by either side of eight league games in this fixture between 2008 and 2020 (W6, D2). Since then, Dartford have lost three in a row, a fourth would equal a losing league streak set 122 years ago.

On This Day

Dartford have been beaten on this day on the last three occasions with the most recent against Torquay United in 2019, Jamie Reid scored both goals. In the National League six years earlier, the Darts lost 1-0 at Hyde. The last home match on this day was back in 2010 when Boreham Wood won 2-1, Lee Burns the Dartford goalscorer. Prior those three losses, the Darts had lost just one in ten on 16 March. In 1972 they reached the Kent Senior Cup final with a 2-0 victory against Sheppey United.