Dartford are guaranteed to end the evening in second place on Tuesday night when they travel to second from bottom Hungerford Town.
For a consecutive game the Darts face a team in the relegation zone scraping for survival. Dartford dropped points on the weekend at Weymouth when they were beaten, keeping the Terras above Hungerford Town near the foot of the table. Alan Dowson’s side still have a six point cushion on third spot, but will want to maintain their gap on the chasing pack. The Crusaders played their sixth home match in eight league outings on Saturday drawing a blank in a goalless draw with Welling United.
Earlier this season the Darts beat Hungerford Town 2-0 at Princes Park. Marvin Herschel scored his second in three league starts for the club, charging down a clearance from the goalkeeper and passing the ball into an empty net. Alex Wall netted his first since re-joining the Darts to seal victory with his well struck shot. Dartford’s last trip to Bulpit Lane ended in defeat and two red cards. Sol Wanjau-Smith opened the scoring for the Crusaders and Max Ram fired home an effort from a corner. Junior Tiensia was sent off and so was manager Steve King, who picked up two yellows in the same minute. Jake Robinson scored a consolation goal, but it was too late to stage a dramatic comeback.
On Saturday, Dartford’s abysmal run down in Weymouth continued with a 3-1 loss to the relegation battlers. Fortunately results elsewhere went Dartford’s way and although they lost more ground at the top they remain second. Dowson made one change to the side that drew 0-0 with Oxford City last week. In came Pierre Fonkeu taking the place of Maxwell Statham in the starting eleven. Dartford needed the points to help consolidate their position in the table, but the hosts were determined to add to their tally in their bid to stay in the National South. Weymouth went in front when Akheem Rose was fouled in the box, he stepped up to take the penalty and scored. just before half-time, Dowson was justified in selecting Fonkeu when the striker scored his tenth in all competitions. The second forty five belonged to the Terras and goals from their top scorer Bradley Ash and a free kick by Tom Blair ended the Darts five match unbeaten run in the National South.
Dowson was annoyed by the performance of the team and called for his senior players to step up, he explained to Dartford FC TV: “I’ve got some players, senior ones, who have got to give a lot more for the club”. With the injury to striker Charlie Sheringham, the Dartford boss is looking to bring in a replacement to provide a more attacking threat. One player who will return is creative midfielder Samir Carruthers, who has been suspended for the last two league matches. Luke Allen could come in to the line up, whilst Statham missed the action on the weekend with a calf strain and is likely to be included. Defender, Sam Odaudu is “not too far away” from coming back after injury, which has kept him out since Boxing Day and Tommy Block is yet to make his debut since joining the club.
In a relegation battle, Hungerford Town picked up a useful point when they also faced a Kent side on the weekend. Taking on Welling United, both sides were unable to breach each other’s defence in a 0-0 draw. Manager, Danny Robinson said after the game in an interview on Twitter (@HungerfordTown): “By and large, especially in the second-half we were the better side. First half we defended doggedly, but Welling didn’t really hurt us”, he added: “At the end of the day it’s a point and a clean sheet. Will it be a good point come the end of the season? Only time will tell”. The Crusaders boss looks up to Dowson and is relishing the opportunity to take on the Darts, he commented: “They are going to be hurting after their result. Dowse to me is one of my heroes in non league football. They’re going to be here and they’re a top side who want to get promoted. It is going to be a good one under the lights on Tuesday night at Bulpit Lane”.
The Crusaders have spent all season battling at the bottom and only picked up two wins in their opening 18 games, accruing just nine points and scoring 11 goals up to mid-November. However, Danny Robinson has seen a vast improvement since the turn of the year tasting defeat on just three occasions in the league to move them within four points of safety. One player that has helped the Berkshire club since joining on loan from Dartford in November is Dan Roberts. Since his acquisition Hungerford Town netted 18 in 13 outings before the forward missed the defeat at Worthing and the draw with Welling United on Saturday. Robinson also bolstered his front line with David Bremang who scored in his first four matches. However the pair were injured towards the end of last month.
Therefore, Joe Boachie has been added to the squad from Braintree Town along with Great Nii-Okie Evans from Kingstonian and Fabio Lopes from Brackley Town. Although Hungerford Town have picked up one point in their last two National South outings, they beat Cheshunt in a relegation six pointer, defeated Hemel Hempstead Town and recorded a fine 3-0 triumph over St Albans City, who are challenging for a playoff place in the fixtures leading up to those winless games.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 5 / Hungerford Town wins: 4 / Draws: 3
Current League Form
|Hemel Hempstead Town
|St Albans City
Last Six Meetings
Dartford 2 – 0 Hungerford Town (01/10/2022 – National South)
Hungerford Town 2 – 1 Dartford (22/02/2022 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Hungerford Town (09/10/2021 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 1 Hungerford Town (16/01/2021 – National South)
Hungerford Town 1 – 2 Dartford (28/11/2020 – National South)
Hungerford Town 2 – 2 Dartford (26/08/2019 – National South))
- Dartford have scored in each of their last seven games against Hungerford Town having failed to find the net in the previous four (W4, D2, L1)
- The Darts have won just one in six at Bulpit Lane (D1, L4)
- Connor Essam will make his 100th start for the Darts if selected, the defender will have clocked up 104 appearances in total
On This Day
Darren McQueen’s spot kick proved decisive on this day three years ago in a 2-1 victory at St Albans City. Liam Nash also found the back of the net for Dartford, one of five goals in 11 appearances during his short stay at Princes Park. That was Dartford’s first win on 7 March since 1989 when they beat Atherstone United 3-0 in the Southern League Cup semi-final first leg. Two weeks later the Darts won 3-1 in the second leg to reach the final, where they beat Burton Albion over two more legs to lift the cup. Between those two victories Dartford drew four and lost two. One of those draws was a Kent derby against Margate which ended 2-2 in 2009, Tommy Osborne and Adam Gross the scorers.