Dartford will be hoping to get back to winning ways this weekend when they host Southern Premier League Playoff winners Slough Town in the National South.
It’s not often the Princes Park dugouts are going to be slightly crowded, with both sides being guided by joint managers. Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle will be in the ‘black and white corner’ attempting to record a seventh league win in nine games, whilst the visitors will be led by Neil Baker and Jon Underwood.
The same two managers were in charge of Slough Town when Dartford last played the Rebels in the 2016/2017 season. The Darts drew the Berkshire side in the F.A Cup third qualifying round with the tie played at Arbour Park. On a difficult afternoon, Dartford were made to work for their 3-2 victory with two late goals, against the then leaders of the Southern Premier League. Elliot Bradbrook made amends for his early own goal with an equaliser and his 100th for the Darts. Deren Ibrahim gave a penalty away for James Dobson, scorer of five National South goals this term, to put Slough Town ahead. With seven minutes to go, Bradbrook scored his second of the game and in the final minute Andy Pugh coolly finished a good move to send Dartford through.
On Tuesday night, Flanagan and Coyle handed a debut to new signing Dan Darbyshire, when Dartford hosted Torquay United. The striker signed a professional contract with Queens Park Rangers in March 2017, but left the London club this summer. Tom Bonner returned from illness and a hamstring injury, Andre Coker was back in the starting eleven, Kudus Oyenuga replaced Charlie Sheringham and Elliot Bradbrook was rested.
Despite a 2-0 defeat Dartford could find some positives in their performance as they created chances in the first half. However, second half goals from Ruairi Keating and the National South’s top scorer Jamie Reid fired Torquay United to the top of the league. Coyle spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk after the game and said: “The first half was the best we’ve played all season. I don’t think anyone could grumble if we went in three or four up. They cleared two or three off the line, we’ve hit the outside of the post and we had 14 attempts on target in the first half. To do that against a side of their quality, a full-time team, there’s loads of positives to take out of that but unfortunately it summarises our season”. Coyle described the Darts attacking qualities are ‘lacking punch’, he added: “We still need to look at that area because although the boys have given a real good shift and created some brilliant chances, we need to be more ruthless in front of goal”.
Dartford remain in sixth place and are now six points behind the new leaders Torquay United. Prior Tuesday’s fixture the Darts were on good form with six wins in the seven outings leading up to the 2-0 loss.
Last weekend, the Slough Town exited the F.A Cup in the second round for a second year in a row. Hosting Gillingham at Arbour Park they fell to a Darren Oldaker strike, but made a decent account for themselves against a side sitting three divisions higher. It was the eighth time the Rebels reached the second round of the competition in their history.
It’s been three weeks since Slough Town’s last league game having beat Sutton United on penalties in round one of the F.A Cup, then losing 3-2 against Weston-super-Mare in the F.A Trophy. Focusing on cup competitions means the Berkshire club with up to three games in hand on those above them.
At the moment, the Rebels are in fourteenth and five points from a playoff place, which is their target this season. Neil Baker spoke on the Non League Football Show podcast last week and commented: “We’re always looking to try and progress so you have to put the target of the playoffs in there. When there is six playoff places up for grabs it gives you an opportunity. You really need to be in and around the mid-table mark after the Christmas period and in touching distance to have that opportunity”, the joint manager added: “We’ve got one or two games in hand on pretty much everyone, we win one of those and we’re right back in touch. We’re delighted on where we are at the moment”.
Last season’s Southern Premier League playoff winners started their campaign getting used to their new surrounding picking up two wins and two draws in August from seven games. However, Slough Town excelled in September winning all four league matches beating Chelmsford City, Oxford City, Eastbourne Borough and Hungerford Town. Although they have lost three of their last five in the National South over the last two months, they are still in a healthy position.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 3 / Slough Town wins: 0 / Draws: 0
Current League Form
|Dartford (LWWWLW)||Slough Town (LWDLLW)|
|Hampton & Richmond||A||1-0||Concord Rangers||H||1-0|
|Oxford City||H||3-2||Hemel Hempstead Town||A||1-1|
|Gloucester City||A||2-1||St Albans City||A||2-3|
|Truro City||A||1-3||Welling United||A||1-2|
|Dulwich Hamlet||H||2-1||Hungerford Town||H||2-0|
The Darts have a 100% record against Slough Town winning all three meetings.
Dartford’s failure to score on Tuesday night ended a run of scoring in nine consecutive league games.
Slough Town have lost their last four away games in the National South.
On This Day
Dartford came close to causing a F.A Cup upset in 1984 when they drew 1-1 with AFC Bournemouth in the second round. Guided by John Still, the Darts took the lead through Steve Robinson. The Cherries equalised to force a replay which they won 4-1, and so Harry Redknapp’s side went on to earn a dream tie with Manchester United. Aside from the last match Dartford played on 8 December, the Darts have a good record on this day. Defeat at home to Lincoln City in 2012 ended an unbeaten run stretching back to 1962 over eight games. In 2001, Dartford were involved in a nine goal thriller beating Burnham 5-4 in the Southern League Division One East.
DATE: Saturday 8th December 2018
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
PARKING: Parking is free of charge in the clubs car park but is a first come first served basis and will be very limited Saturday due to community day.
MATCH UPDATES: Full Coverage will on twitter @dartfordfc
MATCH SPONSOR: Howarth Timber
Howarth Timber & Building Supplies offers over 175 years of experience supplying high-quality timber supplies to both trade and DIY. At our Dartford branch, you’ll find both softwood and hardwood timbers, as well as a wide selection of building materials, tools and fixings supported by a strong network of over 30 branches nationwide. Howarth Timber Dartford also hosts a dedicated plumbing & heating department, supplying boilers and heating solutions alongside everyday essentials such as fittings and fixtures.