Dartford need an away win against Billericay Town to guarantee top spot in the National South this weekend.
The Darts are looking for their first away win in the league since the end of November, having lost their last two on their travels. Currently a point clear at the summit, Steve King’s side has hit an inconsistent patch of form winning just twice in the last eight National South outings.
On Tuesday, Dartford lost to an in form Eastbourne Borough taking their winless run to three since beating this weekend’s opponents a month ago. King made three changes to the starting eleven that drew with Welling United including the return of Ricky Modeste. The winger whose Dartford career has been hindered by injury, made his first start since the league opener in October. Craig King missed the reverse fixture against Billericay Town through suspension, the goalkeeper was back between the sticks. Influential in rescuing a point against Welling United, Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong returned to the starting eleven after a minor injury.
Another blank in front of goal in the first half made life particularly difficult for the Darts when they fell behind just before half-time. Prior conceding, Charlie Sheringham missed a one on one chance and Luke Allen came close. Nassim L’Ghoul’s overhead kick was also blocked by a raised arm but no spot kick was awarded.
The Darts continued to spurn opportunities in the second-half, speaking to DFC TV after the game Steve King commented: “We dominated the whole game but missed chance after chance especially in the second half”. Connor Essam had a header tipped over the bar, Sheringham had an effort cleared off the line leading to a second penalty shout and Tom Bonner hit the woodwork. Earlier, Dartford failed to take their chances and for the first time under Steve King the Darts have gone three league games without victory.
Billericay Town manager, Kevin Watson first took charge of the Essex club in the previous meeting with Dartford last month. A goalless first-half turned into a comfortable 3-0 win for the Darts. Sheringham scored a hat-trick on his return from his loan spell with Chelmsford City to record Dartford’s last win.
Dartford have won their last three against Saturday’s opponents, all at Princes Park. On the road the story is different and results have been evened out with a win, draw and defeat since the first meeting between the two sides in 2008. The Darts last visit to the New Lodge ended in a 1-1 draw in September 2018, Jamie Philpot’s last minute equaliser salvaging a point.
Billericay Town, under their new boss are unbeaten since defeat at Princes Park last month. A 2-0 home win over Dulwich Hamlet and an entertaining 3-3 in the Essex derby versus Chelmsford City came before the suspension of the league. Since then the landscape has changed with the club taking a stance which has affected team selection. To remain financially viable contracted players have been furloughed leaving non-contracted and under 23 players available to select.
If the task wasn’t daunting enough, in their last game Watson guided his side out against St Albans City, a team with the best points per game ratio and just one defeat to their name this season. As a contracted player, former Dartford winger Luke Wanadio was missing and one of eight changes to the team picked before the league suspension. One former Dart available was Rowan Liburd. The striker had a short loan spell under Steve King making three appearances in that time, his Dartford debut was against Billericay Town.
The performance against St Albans City took the division by surprise as understrength Ricay managed to earn a 2-2 draw. Liburd opened the scoring taking his tally to three goals in two games for the club he left in 2015 to pursue a Football League career. St Albans City went ahead in the second half, but Gabriel Ipanga Mbambo scored late on. Watson described the achievement as his proudest moment as a manager.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 5 / Billericay Town wins: 2 / Draws: 1
Current League Form
|Eastbourne Borough||H||0-1||St Albans City||H||2-2|
|Welling United||H||1-1||Chelmsford City||H||3-3|
|Hungerford Town||H||1-1||Dulwich Hamlet||H||2-0|
|Braintree Town||A||1-2||Oxford City||H||1-3|
|Tonbridge Angels||H||1-0||Concord Rangers||H||0-1|
Previous League Meetings
Charlie Sheringham will make his 100th start for the club if selected. The striker has scored 54 goals in 99 starts and 20 substitute appearances.
Dartford are unbeaten in their last four games against Billericay Town (W3, D1) last losing in March 2010.
The Darts have scored three in their last two matches against the Essex side.
Dartford’s last clean sheet was in the reverse fixture a month ago.
On This Day
A second half comeback gave Dartford a resounding 4-1 Kent derby win against Tonbridge Angels eleven years ago. The Darts showed why they ended the season as Isthmian Premier League champions with an improved display after the interval. The Angels led at half-time when Paul Booth gave the visitors an advantage. The Darts levelled through Ryan Johnson, went in front when Danny Harris scored and pulled away with goals from Elliot Bradbrook and Rob Haworth. Fans of the Kent League days may remember the Darts winning 19 and drawing one in a twenty game spell. One of those matches was the 1-0 win against Crockenhill on 13 February 1996. That incredible run was still not enough to snatch the Kent League title away from Furness.