Almost sixteen months on from the final day of the season heartbreak, Dartford host their conquerors Havant and Waterlooville this weekend.
The Darts went toe to toe with the Hawks during the 2017/2018 season agonisingly losing the National South title in the final minute on goal difference. With Dartford leading at Bognor Regis Town they topped the division, whilst Havant and Waterlooville threw away a two goal lead against Adam Flanagan’s Concord Rangers. With the title heading to Princes Park, former Dartford striker Jason Prior scored a last gasp winner for the Hawks to claim the Hampshire club back to back league titles.
Times have changed in that short space of time with both clubs changing managers. The Darts are still recovering from their near miss and under Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle they finished tenth last term and have taken one point from the opening two matches this season. Last weekend, the Darts began 2019/2020 with their heaviest opening day defeat in twenty years. A twelve minute second half collapse helped Wealdstone on to win 4-1, after Josh Hill scored on his debut just before half time to level the tie.
On Tuesday night, Dartford were back at Princes Park in their first home game of the campaign. Norman Wabo made his first start for the Darts replacing Ryan Hayes, who was named on the bench. St Albans City went ahead on twelve minutes when summer signing Joe Iaciofano scored his first goal for the Saints. Luke Wanadio equalised just past the hour following up Adam Cunnington’s effort, the winger’s first goal since rejoining the Darts.
Havant and Waterlooville have been in the thick of the action over the last four years at both ends of the tables. Under former manager Lee Bradbury, the Hawks were surprisingly relegated from the National South, bounced back by becoming Isthmian Premier League champions followed by the National South title, then relegation from the National League four months ago. Bradbury left Westleigh Park and so the Hawks snapped up the experienced Paul Doswell to lead the Hampshire club.
With Doswell’s previous successes at Sutton United and Eastleigh, the Hawks have rebuilt with familiar faces back working with the boss. Dean Beckwith, Roarie Deacon, Ross Worner, Josh Taylor and the former Championship midfielder Nicky Bailey all signed in the summer. Doswell also took advantage of the issues at Ebbsfleet United with players not being paid on time, he managed to bag Andy Drury, Danny Kedwell and Sam Magri, plus numerous other additions. With Simon Walton coming in as player coach, the Hawks have opted for a blend of trust and experience.
Despite all the changes and a strong squad assembled, Havant and Waterlooville started their campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to last season’s playoff finalists Welling United. Deacon scored on his debut after twelve minutes, but the lead was cancelled out before half-time through Adam Coombes. On Tuesday night, the Hawks made the trip to the Beveree to take on Hampton and Richmond Borough and produced an excellent comeback. The Hawks took the lead within two minutes courtesy of Deacon’s second in as many games. Tyrone Lewthwaite levelled for the hosts and five minutes later Danilo Orsi-Dadomo put Hampton and Richmond Borough in front. The former Hungerford Town striker scored another in the second half to leave the Hawks on the racks. Wes Fogden pulled one back for the visitors then a couple of Josh Ayunga goals completed the comeback.
Dartford managed to keep two clean sheets against Havant and Waterlooville the last time they were in the National South. At Princes Park, Tom Murphy netted the only goal of the game after just two minutes. Havant and Waterlooville enjoyed plenty of possession without threatening the Dartford defence as the Darts won 1-0. The home victory was Dartford’s third in a row against the Hampshire side at Princes Park, following on from a 4-2 triumph four years ago and 3-1 win in 2012.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 5 / Havant and Waterlooville wins: 3 / Draws: 3
Last Six Meetings
|13.01.2018||Dartford||1||Havant and Waterlooville||0|
|12.08.2017||Havant and Waterlooville||0||Dartford||0|
|19.03.2016||Havant and Waterlooville||2||Dartford||0|
|05.12.2015||Dartford||4||Havant and Waterlooville||2|
|17.03.2012||Dartford||3||Havant and Waterlooville||1|
|07.01.2012||Havant and Waterlooville||1||Dartford||4|
Dartford are unbeaten in their last six games against Havant and Waterlooville, winning five of the last six.
The Darts have kept cleans sheets in each of their last three matches versus the Hawks.
Havant and Waterlooville last beat the Darts away from home in a F.A Cup tie back in 2000, their last league win on the road versus Dartford was twenty years ago. Since the cup tie, the Hampshire side have defeated Dartford just once in 2011.
On This Day
Debutant Adam Birchall’s goal ensured Dartford opened the 2013/2014 National League season with a win. Birchall scored the only goal of the game as the Darts beat Alfreton Town 1-0. Three years later, Keaton Wood was sent off as Dartford lost 1-0 at Whitehawk.