League leaders Wealdstone are next to visit Princes Park as the Darts search for a first home win against the Stones since the early nineties.
Dartford have won just two of their previous 15 meetings against Wealdstone since their last home victory against them in 1991, in that time they have drawn five of their last seven when hosting this weekend’s opponents.
A difficult task awaits Steve King’s side when they take on a side who convincingly defeated the Darts on the opening day. Ross Lafayette’s brace book ended Josh Hill’s equaliser, a Dennon Lewis deflection and a goal by Connor Stevens. However, plenty has changed at Princes Park since the 4-1 reverse at Grosvenor Vale, a new manager and playing style as well as wholesale changes to the squad has seen the Darts climb the National South ladder. Meanwhile, Wealdstone have looked down at the rest of the league occupying top spot for the majority of the season.
The Darts were in Kent Senior Cup action on Tuesday night which gave King a look at the rest of his squad. Josh Hill and Liam Nash were the only survivors from the starting eleven that beat Eastbourne Borough, whilst Billy Crook, Jordan Wynter and Amrit Bansal-McNulty turned substitute appearances into starting appearances. Mark Smith, Sanchez Ming, Miloud Djouahaer, Ronnie Vint, Tyrique Hyde and Giovanni McGregor were all called upon as the Darts progressed to the semi-final.
Nash scored the opener before Hyde netted a penalty as Dartford led Folkestone Invicta by two at the break. Crook added the Darts third, his first goal for the club and Elliott Romain, who returns from suspension came off the bench to score his 13th goal for the Darts.
In the league Dartford are in seventh place, three points clear of Hampton and Richmond Borough who beat the Darts three weeks ago. However, King’s side bounced back with a 2-1 victory over Eastbourne Borough. Two new signings made their debuts, Noor Husin from Stevenage and Jake Jebb, who played nine times for Wealdstone this season. Jebb started his Dartford career off by scoring a sublime free-kick and although Alhaji Sesay’s goalkeeping error was costly when the Sports levelled, Darren McQueen scored from the spot yet again to clinch all three points.
King explained that changes in midfield were necessary as he started with a different three against the Sports. The Dartford manager pointed out a lack of goals from the middle of the park and in recent weeks standards had dipped. On Tuesday night in the Kent Senior Cup, Crook and Hyde responded with a couple of goals.
In the same evening Wealdstone were in action when they hosted Chelmsford City. The Stones missed the chance to extend their lead at the summit losing 1-0, the first time they failed to score on their own patch. Former Dartford loanee, Tom Knowles netted the only goal of the game. Defeat ended a streak of five consecutive league wins and an unbeaten run of seven games in all competitions.
During their recent good form, the Stones hit seven goals in back to back games beating title challengers Bath City 7-0, a week after beating another challenger Havant and Waterlooville 4-2. In the match that followed the Bath City triumph, Wealdstone beat Staines Town 7-1 in the Middlesex Senior Cup. Moses Emmanuel and Dennon Lewis also found form in front of goal in that spell scoring four each.
Dartford may be aiming for a return to the National League via the playoffs after a five year absence, Wealdstone are hoping to reach the same destination as champions, returning to the top flight of non-league for the first time in 32 years.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 13 / Wealdstone wins: 15 / Draws: 14
Current League Form
|Dartford (WLWWLW)||Wealdstone (WWWWWL)|
|Eastbourne Borough||H||2-1||Chelmsford City||H||0-1|
|Hampton & Richmond||H||1-2||Dorking Wanderers||H||3-1|
|Chippenham Town||A||5-1||Billericay Town||H||3-0|
|Dulwich Hamlet||H||1-0||Bath City||H||7-0|
|Slough Town||A||0-1||Havant and Waterlooville||A||4-2|
|Oxford City||H||3-0||Welling United||H||1-0|
Last Six Meetings
Dartford are top of the form guide in the last 8 games. Wealdstone have lost three of their last eight.
Wealdstone top the scoring charts with 66 goals and have the best goal difference of +33.
The Darts have gained just four points from 24 against clubs currently in the top six.
Mark Smith, Josh Hill, Tom Bonner and Luke Wanadio are the only four players to have started in the opening day defeat and have made over 20 appearances this season.
On This Day
In the season of Dartford’s greatest ever F.A Cup run, when they went out to top flight Derby County in the third round, Dartford also recorded their last victory on the 29 February. In 1936 the Darts beat Bath City 4-2 in the Southern League Central Section. In their only other win on this day, the Darts beat Cray Wanderers by the same score in the Dartford and District League in 1908. Since then they have been beaten 1-0 in 1952 against Weymouth in the Southern League and in the same league drew with Margate 1-1 in 1964. The last fixture Dartford played on this day was in 1992 when they lost 1-0 to Halesowen Town, also in the Southern Premier League. Whilst the first game the Darts played on 29 February was in 1896 and ended in a dismal 7-3 Kent League defeat to local rivals Northfleet.