Dartford host one of the form teams of the National South on the weekend as they take on playoff contenders Oxford City.
The Darts are concentrating on second place in the division at the moment and are in a tussle with a few teams for that spot. After a creditable away draw in Essex last Saturday, Dartford added three points to their total on Tuesday night. Oxford City also took to the field in mid-week and came close to a sixth consecutive victory in their last outing.
Manager, Alan Dowson sensed tiredness among some of the players last weekend and decided to make four changes to the starting eleven against Slough Town. Keiran Murtagh and Malachi Napa were introduced to the midfield replacing Luke Allen and Samir Carruthers. Full back, Maxwell Statham was given a break allowing Isaac Ogundere to make his debut since joining on loan from AFC Wimbledon. Alex Wall returned for his three game ban leading the line instead of Pierre Fonkeu. Goalkeeper, Ben Dudzinski retained his place despite his error at Braintree Town, the shot stopper was signed from Oxford City this month and could face his former club.
Murtagh justified his selection with an early goal, his second in his last three starts in all competitions. Once again Luke Coulson’s delivery earned the winger yet another assist as Murtagh headed home. The returning Alex Wall had an effort in the back of the Slough Town net, but it was ruled out for offside in the first-half. The 1-0 win secured a third victory and third clean sheet in a row at Princes Park after beating Metropolitan Police in the London Senior Cup and Chippenham Town in the league, the Darts are now four unbeaten in the National South since the double defeat to Hemel Hempstead Town and Worthing last month.
Earlier in the season, the Darts drew 1-1 with Oxford City. Tom Bonner returned from suspension to head the Darts in front at Marsh Lane. However, on Archie Mair’s goalkeeping debut, the Darts were unable to hold out when Canice Carroll equalised three minutes from time. At the same venue last term, it was Reice Charles-Cook making his debut in goal for the Darts. On this occasion Joe Iaciofano equalised for Oxford City after an early Marcus Dinanga penalty gave Dartford the lead.
The last meeting at Princes Park finished 0-0 in November 2021 and coincidentally Bonner had also finished a suspension back then coming back into the side. This time it will be Carruthers turn to sit out the fixture against Oxford City for reaching ten yellow cards, he will start a two match ban. Charlie Sheringham will be out as the striker recovers from his rib injury, Sam Odaudu and Tommy Block have also been unavailable. Cameron Brodie, who was recalled to the squad from his loan spell at Margate didn’t feature in the squad on Tuesday night.
Unbeaten in the National South in 2023, Oxford City won six consecutive matches prior their fixture on Tuesday night. Manager, Ross Jenkins made one change to their lineup when the Hoops travelled down to Taunton Town, Alfie Potter replaced Klaidi Lolos. January’s National South Player of the Month, Josh Parker also started, but failed to finish the full ninety after being sent off for two cautions. The striker has scored eight in his last 11 league appearances and netted 17 in all competitions this term. Like Murtagh, Potter repaid his boss with a goal, taking advantage of Josh Ashby’s shot which rebounded off the post. Taunton Town denied the Hoops maximum points with a late leveller courtesy of David Sims-Burgess.
Oxford City’s away record hints at inconsistency on the road, but in truth three of their five league defeats on their travels came in consecutive games back in September. At the end of that spell the Hoops won four and lost four leaving them in eleventh place level on points with Dartford. Whilst the Darts found consistency in picking up wins, Oxford City became difficult to beat by earning draws. The Hoops went on to finish level in half of their next 20 matches. Now, manager Ross Jenkins has helped his team turn those stalemates into victories and are now six points behind the Darts.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 8 / Oxford City wins: 3 / Draws: 6
Current League Form
|Hemel Hempstead Town
Last Six Meetings
Oxford City 1 – 1 Dartford (22/11/2022 – National South)
Oxford City 1 – 1 Dartford (02/04/2022 – National South)
Dartford 0 – 0 Oxford City (13/11/2021 – National South)
Dartford 3 – 0 Oxford City (11/01/2020 – National South)
Oxford City 0 – 1 Dartford (12/10/2019 – National South)
Oxford City 2 – 1 Dartford (27/04/2019 – National South)
- Dartford are five games unbeaten against Oxford City (W2, D3) and have kept three clean sheets in those matches
- The Darts have never lost to Oxford City at Princes Park (W5, D3)
On This Day
Ryan Hayes scored his 99th goal for the Darts five years ago and it came against Oxford City. The winger netted in the 70th minute at Marsh Lane to put Dartford in front, but a stoppage time equaliser by debutant Ezra Forde made sure the points were shared. Dartford have not lost on this day since defeat against rivals Maidstone United in 1978. The unbeaten run on 25 February was stretched to eight in 2020 when the Darts beat Folkestone Invicta 4-0 to reach the Kent Senior Cup semi-final. Liam Nash, Tyrique Hyde, Billy Crook and Elliott Romain scored that evening in a competition Dartford went on to win belatedly. One of the four victories in the current sequence was against Bishop Auckland in the F.A Trophy last eight. Colin Johnson and David Myers netted the goals in a 2-0 win. Bishop Auckland had both substitutes sent off within a minute of each other as the game drew to a close.