Dartford can go one step further than last season in the F.A Cup with victory at Blackfield and Langley this weekend.
The Darts travel to the New Forest to take on the Southern Premier South side, who have won back to back league titles. Under Tony Burman’s leadership, the Darts reached the first round in his last two campaigns before defeat at this stage last term under Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle.
In the previous round an away victory at Horsham saw the Darts progress to the third qualifying stage for the tenth time in the last eleven seasons. In both halves the Darts had to leave it late to find the back of the Horsham net and with the excellent goalkeeping performance of Mark Smith avoided a cup upset. Darren McQueen acrobatically opened the scoring three minutes before the interval, whilst Luke Allen secured victory towards the end of the cup tie in a 2-0 win.
Burman, who guided Dartford to five first round appearances can draw experience on playing lower league opposition. Four years ago, his side were knocked out by Uxbridge despite sitting two divisions below the Darts. Since then Dartford have won their last seven against lower league teams, but none of them carried the momentum gained by Blackfield and Langley in recent years.
Since the second qualifying round win a fortnight ago, Dartford were back in National South action at home to Slough Town. Jordan Wynter was ruled out with an injury, so Rob Howard returned to the starting eleven, the only other change was Luke Wanadio coming in for Luke Allen. A first half spell saw three goals in four minutes, but the Darts will be disappointed in the fact they threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2. Darren McQueen guided Charlie Sheringham’s header into the net to score his third goal of the season and a minute later Josh Hill headed home a free-kick. Slough Town hit back through Dan Roberts and in the second half they completed a comeback with goals from Matthew Lench and Ben Harris.
Howard was not permitted to play in the last round being on loan from Southend United, Lee Noble returns from suspension, Mark Onyemah and Sam Blackman are still recovering from long term injuries, a return is getting closer. Stand in full back, Alex Flisher has left the club to join Steve Watt’s Hythe Town, the striker was forced to play at full back this term after recovering from a dislocated shoulder in pre-season. Flisher made nine appearances for the Darts scoring his only goal in the 2-0 win at Concord Rangers three weeks ago.
Blackfield and Langley will equal their best performance in the competition if they cause a cup upset and will be one game away from a debut appearance in the first round. The Watersiders have already negotiated three rounds starting in August.
In the preliminary round Blackfield and Langley were drawn against the 2007 F.A Vase runners up AFC Totton. A second half brace from top scorer Lerone Plummer made sure the Watersiders advanced. The striker opened the scoring before Fatah Makhloufi missed a penalty to double the lead. AFC Totton levelled the tie through Craig Feeney, but Plummer scored the winner with four minutes to play.
The New Forest side made light work in the first qualifying round breezing past Mangotsfield United securing a 5-0 victory. Shaquille Gwengwe scored either side of Charlie Gunson’s effort and Hisham Kasimu netted from the spot to give Blackfield and Langley a 4-0 half-time lead. Devane Bongou added a fifth late in the second half to earn the Watersiders a second qualifying round tie against Dorchester Town.
It took Gunson’s spectacular long-range shot was enough to see Blackfield and Langley see off the Magpies. With the game heading to a replay, Gunson unleashed a shot eleven minutes from time which ended in the top corner. The Hampshire club had the chance to make victory certain from a spot kick, but Plummer’s shot was saved then he blasted his rebound over.
Since their last F.A Cup game, the Watersiders have lost consecutive Southern Premier South fixtures including a 3-1 loss at Harrow Borough in which former Dart, Luke Warner-Eley grabbed a goal for Borough. A 2-0 reverse at Beaconsfield Town was followed by a League Cup triumph over AFC Totton once again.
Current Form (all competitions * – F.A Cup / ^ – League Cup)
|DARTFORD||BLACKFIELD & LANGLEY|
|Slough Town||H||2-3||AFC Totton^||H||2-1|
|Concord Rangers||A||2-0||Harrow Borough||A||1-3|
|Dorking Wanderers||H||3-4||Dorchester Town*||H||1-0|
|Hemel Hempstead Town||H||1-1||Mangotsfield United*||A||5-0|
On This Day
Andy Pugh and Duane Ofori-Acheampong helped Dartford come from behind in their last cup tie on 5 October. The Kent Senior Cup first round fixture with Cray Wanderers ended 2-1 three years ago. In 2002, the Darts went out of the F.A Trophy at the preliminary stage losing at Salisbury city 2-0. The defeat in Wiltshire was sandwiched between two league losses on this day, in 1996 Dartford were beaten 5-3 versus Weymouth in the Southern League South and six years ago 2-0 at Gateshead in the National League. One notable victory was Dartford’s 5-0 triumph in National League over Kidderminster Harriers back in 1985, whilst the last F.A Cup tie the Darts played on the 5 October was the 2-1 second qualifying round win at Dagenham in 1968.