Dartford enter the 150th edition of the F.A Cup this weekend with a home tie against Isthmian South East side Hythe Town in the second qualifying round.
Steve King will be looking to get off the mark in this competition as a Dartford boss having lost to Kingstonian in his first game in charge and Slough Town last season. Hythe Town have history with the Darts having caused a Kent Senior Cup upset in the final of 2012 beating Dartford on their own patch. Since then the Cannons have continued to play at step four, so like almost nine years ago the two sides are two divisions apart.
The level of football each team is currently playing makes no difference to King, he spoke to Dartford FC TV: “It’s going to be a tough game, it doesn’t matter the level, it’s a F.A Cup game and so the levels go out of the window”, he continued: “I’ve been in teams that have knocked Premiership sides out of the competition”. King knows Hythe Town will approach the second qualifying round tie as underdogs and the danger that poses to the Darts, he added: “Hythe Town are under no pressure, they have a decent manager who has put a good side together. It’s going to be a tough game and we need to be on it”.
Dartford were the last team to lose their perfect start to the campaign in the top six divisions, but they still came away with a point in their last outing, a 1-1 draw with Tonbridge Angels. King made two changes to the side that beat Bath City a week earlier including the introduction of Bagasan Graham, his first start for the club. Graham replaced Luke Wanadio, whilst up front Dan Roberts was in for Jake Robinson.
The Angels deservedly went ahead when Tommy Wood’s header beat Dan Wilks at the far post, only the fourth goal the Dartford goalkeeper has conceded this term. Then on the stroke of half-time birthday boy Jack Jebb took advantage of goalkeeper’s Jon Henly’s headed clearance. Jebb hit a well controlled half volley back over the Angels goalkeeper to level in style. The midfielder also hit the post before his first of the season and picked up the Man of the Match award.
Despite remaining unbeaten King was still left frustrated by aspects of Dartford’s performance partly down to how Tonbridge Angels executed their game plan, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “It’s the worst we’ve played this season but sometimes people look into it and think that but the opposition are there to stop you playing – and they did”.
Whilst Dartford have played a game a week, Hythe Town’s fixture list has been more like the schedule non-league teams are used to at the early stages of the season. The Cannons have played seven games, two of which have been in the earlier rounds of the F.A Cup.
Starting from the preliminary round Hythe Town were involved in a dramatic game against Westfield with four goals in second half injury time. The Cannons went two up through Frannie Collin and Kane Phillip and looked in control, but Phillip was then sent off. Then the drama started as Westfield scored three in stoppage time to lead 3-2, but a minute after conceding Eli Benoit rescued the tie for the Cannons to force a replay. Hythe went to Westfields for a second attempt three days later and scored another three, this time they won 3-1 with goals from Tom Walmsley, Noel Leighton and Collin. In the last round Nathan Gordon’s goal was enough to see of Ascot United 1-0.
Hythe Town opened their campaign with a goal from former Dart, Alex Brown, however they lost 2-1 to Corinthian. The midfielder made 89 appearances for the Darts scoring ten times and is one of a few former Dartford players in the Cannons squad. James Rogers was part of the Darts midfield that won promotion to the National League in the 2012 playoffs, he made 102 appearances for the club. Tom Wynter delayed his retirement to return to Hythe Town, the defender made 81 appearances for Dartford. Alex Flisher was only at Princes Park for three months in which he made nine appearances and scored one goal.
Since the opening day, in the league the Cannons beat VCD Athletic, lost to Ramsgate, defeated East Grinstead Town and on Tuesday won 2-1 against Sittingbourne. Liam Smith and Collin put Hythe Town two up before the Brickies pulled a goal back. The Cannons are beginning to hit their stride with four victories in their last five games in all competitions and are now eighth in the Isthmian South East.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 1 / Hythe Town wins: 1 / Draws: 1
|Bath City||A||3-1||East Grinstead Town||A||1-0|
|Eastbourne Borough||H||3-1||Ascot United (FAC)||H||1-0|
|Slough Town||H||3-0||VCD Athletic||A||2-1|
|St Albans City||A||3-1||Westfield||A||3-1|
Dartford 0 – 1 Hythe Town (24/04/2012 – Kent Senior Cup Final)
Dartford 2 – 1 Hythe United (27/04/1996 – Kent League Division One)
Hythe United 0 – 0 Dartford (04/11/1995 – Kent League Division One)
- Dartford have progressed past the second qualifying round in five of the last six seasons
- Hythe Town last went beyond the second qualifying round 11 years ago and are competing in the F.A Cup for the 25th time
- Dartford have lost their last two F.A Cup ties, the last time they lost three in a row was between 1950 and 1952 (Reading in 1950, Guildford City in 1951 and Hendon in 1952)
- The Darts have also lost their last three home F.A Cup ties (Swindon Town in 2017, Kingstonian in 2019 and Slough Town in 2020)
On This Day
Brendon Cass netted a hat-trick in a F.A Cup first qualifying round replay to send Dartford through on this day in 2007. The Darts defeated Sittingbourne 5-1 with Adam Flanagan and Eddie McClements scoring the other two goals. This will be the tenth F.A Cup tie Dartford have played on 18 September and so far the Darts have won six. The very first F.A Cup fixture on this day was in 1897 when Dartford beat Mid Kent 5-2. Away ties at Bromley in 1926 and Callenders Athletic in 1948 both ended up in 2-1 victories. The biggest win came in 1982 as the Darts brushed Haywards Heath aside 6-1 and in 2001 Deal Town were beaten 3-0. Fixtures against Northfleet United in 1909 and Waltham and Hersham in 1971 ended in draws, whilst the only defeat came against Dorking in 2004 when the Darts lost 1-0.