The first home game of the season couldn’t be any tougher for the Darts when they face Chelmsford City at Princes Park.
Recent results against the Clarets will give the Essex club the psychological edge. Under Tony Burman, Dartford lost four of the last five and picked up a goalless draw in a playoff tie. Now with new managers Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle at the helm, the Darts will be hoping for a change of fortune.
Already with a win under their belt, Dartford will approach their first home game of the 2018/19 campaign with optimism and confidence. On Saturday they had to come from behind to defeat Bath City in a close contest. Coyle and Flanagan handed debuts to Chez Isaac, Ben Greenhalgh, Kudus Oyenuga and Jamie Philpot. Other debutantes, Manny Ighorae and especially Delano Sam-Yorke made their mark from off the bench.
However, it was a Bath City debutant who made the first impact, Adam Mann but the hosts ahead with a 20 yard drive on just nine minutes. The Darts got themselves back into the game and on the stroke of half time Elliot Bradbrook headed his 134th Dartford goal. The former captain had the chance to win the match with six minutes remaining from the spot, but blazed his effort over. Moments afterwards, substitute Sam-Yorke was brought down in the box and a second penalty was awarded, this time Sam-Yorke stepped up to score the winner.
One player determined to put one over the Clarets will be Oyenuga. The former Chelmsford City winger will face his old side for the first time since joining Dartford this summer. Oyenuga appeared 33 times for the Essex club last term scoring ten helping them to a third-place finish.
Oyenuga spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk during an enjoyable pre-season for the pacey winger, he said: “I’m very direct. When I get the ball, I’m going to run with it and try to score goals and excite. That’s my game, really”. He will bring with him experience gained from playing in Finland, Qatar and spells in the Scottish Premiership and Championship, he commented: “It’s been good to travel and see different styles of football and meet different people”.
In fact, it was Oyenuga’s goal in his last competitive outing at Princes Park that helped Chelmsford City to victory. The Darts had led in their 2-1 defeat back in February when Ryan Hayes scored a sublime solo effort ending with his trademark curling finish. It looked as though Dartford finally ended their poor run against their opponents until a soft penalty was awarded. Oyenuga stepped up to level the match with minutes remaining, then in stoppage time Taylor Miles scored straight from a corner.
Oyenuga had made up for his sending off against Dartford earlier in the campaign at the Melbourne Stadium. Despite the early red card, the Clarets still came out on top winning 1-0. Former Ebbsfleet United midfielder, Michael West capitalised on a defensive mix up to score the only goal of the game.
Now it will be Ibrahim’s turn to make amends, the last gasp defeat at Princes Park proved to be crucial for goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim, as it turned out to be his final competitive game of last season. He will be keen to show his attributes and repay managers Flanagan and Coyle who back their number one in the summer.
Joint-manager Flanagan told www.kentonline.co.uk: “Deren is someone we rate quite highly. I think he’d hold his hands up and say his levels of performance weren’t where he’s shown to be and he probably did need to come out of the team. But he’s very passionate about the club, he’s very eager to get back to the levels he’s set and we’re hopeful we’ll get the very best out of him”.
Despite the lack of form against Tuesday night’s opponents, Dartford have finished one place above the Clarets in the previous two seasons. Both sides went out in their playoff semi-finals back in May, after ending in second and third place.
Chelmsford City were handed a tricky start to their campaign when they were given Torquay United to host. Their opponents were relegated from the National League last term and are amongst the teams expecting to be challenging for promotion. The Clarets created many half chances but it was Torquay United’s Kyle Cameron that came closest to breaking the deadlock.
Rod Stringer has also made plenty of changes to his squad naming many in the starting eleven. Ross Warner, Joe Anderson, Tom Wraight, Rhys Murphy, Amos Nasha and Jai Reason all made their debuts.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 36 / Chelmsford City wins: 55 / Draws: 91
Last season, Rod Stringer guided Chelmsford City to a perfect record against Adam Flanagan’s and Jamie Coyle’s former clubs as well as Dartford, winning all six National South matches.
The Darts last beat Chelmsford City at home on 1 May 2000, the Southern League Southern Division fixture ended 3-0 to Dartford.
Since then the Clarets have won seven of the last nine when visiting the Darts, including the last four trips to Princes Park.
Dartford have finished above Chelmsford City in the football pyramid in their last seven seasons. The Clarets last finished ahead of the Darts in the 2010/2011 campaign.
DATE: Tuesday 7th August 2018
VENUE: Princes Park, Grassbanks, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1RT
KICK OFF: 19:45 pm
TURNSTILES: Open from 18:00pm
Youth (13-17) : £5
Children ( u12) £2
SEATING: Seating is available on a first come first served basis in certain areas of the stadium.
FACILITIES: Bar and food open from 18:00pm
PARKING: Parking is free of charge in the clubs car park but is a first come first served basis.
MATCH UPDATES: Full Coverage will on twitter @dartfordfc
MATCH SPONSOR: WJ King
MATCH BALL SPONSOR: Dartford Living