Dartford have been hit by a lack of form at a crucial part of the season and now they have to pick themselves up for the visit of Chippenham Town this weekend.
The Darts were in a strong position in the race for a playoff place, but in the space of a month they are now battling to remain in the top seven. On a positive note, Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle are still leading a side that are in sixth with just four National South games to go. Two of those remaining fixtures are at Princes Park starting with this weekend’s clash against an out of form Chippenham Town.
In the three previous meetings versus the Wiltshire club, Dartford have won twice and drawn once with the corresponding fixture last term ending in a 3-0 home win. Ryan Hayes had one of his inspiring days and his two assists and goal made sure the winger put in a ‘man of the match’ performance. Hayes put in the crosses to set up Alfie Pavey and Andy Pugh to give the Darts a two goal advantage. Hayes wrapped up the three points with a calm finish curling the ball into the far corner of the Chippenham Town net.
Earlier this season, back in October, the fixture will be remembered for what is normally a rare footballing moment. If Deren Ibrahim, Dartford’s former goalkeeper, had not already had a career goal to his name then his winning goal at Hardenhuish Park would have come as a surprise. The Darts took the lead when Jamie Philpot turned and hooked the ball into the goal at the near post, however the hosts were level just before the break through Nat Jarvis. In the second half, Ibrahim took a free-kick from midway inside his own half which sailed over the Bluebirds goalkeeper Brad House and straight in for the winner.
Last season, the Darts frustratingly came back from Hardenhuish Park with a point. Dartford who were sitting top of the National League were looking to extend their lead, but twice they went ahead only for Chippenham Town to fight back. Alfie Pavey made sure the Darts were in front at the interval only for Dean Evans to equalise early in the second half. Pavey completed a brace to make it 2-1, but once again the Bluebirds levelled, this time through Nick McCootie.
Dartford have taken just two points from their last twelve games drawing their last two matches they have played at Princes Park. Whilst the Darts can be excused for defeat down at league leaders Torquay United on 16th March, performances in their last three outings have been below par. At home Dartford recorded back to back draws against a mediocre Hampton and Richmond Borough team and Truro City who are fighting to stay up.
Last weekend, the Darts travelled to the West Country and lost 3-1 to almost relegated Weston-super-Mare, who are bottom of the National South. Callum Driver returned to the starting eleven as Ronnie Vint was named on the bench, whilst Ben Greenhalgh, Tom Murphy and Darren McQueen all started instead of Billy Crook, Phil Roberts and Charlie Sheringham. Full back Mark Onyemah remains injured and Andy Pugh is still making his recovery from his pre-season leg break. Weston-super-Mare raced into a 3-0 first half lead with goals from George Nurse and a Marlon Jackson brace. Although Hayes scored in the second half, the hosts recorded only their second home league win all season.
It’s unlikely that Roberts will feature again this season claimed joint boss Adam Flanagan, Roberts has netted eight goals in 17 games this season. Sheringham will not be available for all the remaining games whilst a few players are suffering injuries. Vint was named on the bench last weekend despite a knee problem, Onyemah has fluid on his knee and Crook suffered a knock against Truro City leading to his ankle swelling up. Pugh took a positive step towards his recovery from a double leg break, the striker scored in a behind closed doors game against Tonbridge Angels Academy team.
Chippenham Town are currently sitting where they finished last season in thirteenth. Guaranteed National South football for a third consecutive campaign, the Bluebirds have too much to do to reach the top seven. Mark Collier has built a squad who are comfortable in the division although they arrive at Princes Park having taken a solitary point from their last eighteen.
A draw with St Albans City was sandwiched between defeats against Oxford City, Woking, Wealdstone and East Thurrock United before their latest loss last weekend. Dulwich Hamlet became the last team to inflict misery on the Wiltshire club despite almost falling behind to a goal that was ruled out for offside. Hamlet did take the lead in the first half when Nyren Clunis won a penalty and Dipo Akinyemi scored it. Akinyemi stretched the deficit for Chippenham Town by volleying home his second, leaving Nick McCootie’s goal a consolation late on.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 2 / Chippenham Town wins: 0 / Draws: 1
Current League Form
|Dartford (LDDLWW)||Chippenham Town (LLLDLL)|
|Truro City||H||1-1||East Thurrock United||A||1-2|
|Hampton & Richmond Borough||H||2-2||Wealdstone||A||0-1|
|Torquay United||A||0-2||St Albans City||H||0-0|
|Hemel Hempstead Town||A||2-1||Oxford City||H||0-1|
With two home games to go, Dartford have the third best home record picking up 39 points (W11, D6, L2). Only Welling United (43) and Torquay United have recorded more points at home this season.
The Darts also have the fourth best defence at home conceding just 19 times, only Bath City (15), Concord Rangers (17) and Slough Town (18) have let in more home goals.
Over the last six games, Dartford’s next two home opponents Chippenham Town and Billericay Town are the worst two teams in the form table. Both opponents have picked up just one point from their last eighteen available.
On This Day
Nine years ago, Dartford started their aftershow party with a 1-0 away win at Harrow Borough. Having clinched the Isthmian Premier League title just three days before in a scintillating performance at Kingstonian, the Darts celebrated by recording victory over Harrow Borough on this day, Allan Tait scoring the winner. Dartford have won their last three games on 13 April with the most recent victory coming in 2013. Charlie Sheringham’s strike was the decider at Stockport County in a 1-0 win. Sheringham should have put the Darts ahead in the first half when he got onto the end of a James Rogers cross, only to somehow miss from two yards. But the forward redeemed himself when he nodded home Ryan Hayes’s delivery. Ten year ago, Dartford won their last home match played on 13 April beating Canvey Island 4-0. Lee Noble, Adam Flanagan, Rob Haworth and Ryan Hayes chipped in with the goals.
DATE: Saturday 13th April 2019
VENUE: Princes Park, Grassbanks, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1RT
KICK OFF: 15:00 pm
TURNSTILES: Open from 12:30pm
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 12:30pm – Tottenham v Huddersfield being shown in Park Suite.
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: Green Inc
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