Dartford’s difficult start to the season continues on Monday night with a tough fixture away to Chelmsford City.
The Darts are looking for their first win of the campaign and visit the Melbourne Stadium where they have won just twice in the last eleven visits. Dartford have picked up two points from their opening three league games, drawing twice at Princes Park after the opening day defeat at Wealdstone.
It’s fair to say that the fixture and injury list has been unkind to Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle in their second season in charge. The management duo have been unable to select new signings Sam Blackman, Darren McQueen and Alex Flisher and have also been without Charlie Sheringham and the influential Lee Noble, last season’s Player of the Year. At least Sheringham was on the bench on the weekend and played a small part by replacing Adam Cunnington.
Cunnington opened his Dartford account with a powerful back post header on the weekend against one of the title favourites Havant and Waterlooville. Unchanged from the midweek 1-1 draw with St Albans City, the Darts looked the better side in the first half but the weather made conditions tricky for both sides. Dartford went into the break a goal up, however the second half they were left hanging on. Jonah Ayunga scored his third of the campaign for the Hawks to leave Dartford recording a second consecutive 1-1 draw.
Chelmsford City made a blistering start to their campaign scoring the first goal of the National South season after just two minutes, with the help of Hampton and Richmond Borough defender Tom Jelly. Summer signing Sam Higgins sent in a cross only for Jelly to deflect the ball past his own goalkeeper. Tom Wraight doubled the advantage eight minutes later and in the second half Wraight notched another. Hampton and Richmond Borough’s, Tyrone Lewthwaite pulled a goal back before a last minute Andy Fennell strike sealed a 4-1 win. The Clarets lost their second game against Essex rivals Concord Rangers. Goals either side of half-time by Decarry Sheriff put the Beachboys in control until former Maidstone United man Ollie Muldoon gave Rod Stringer’s side hope with ten minutes to play.
On Saturday, Chelmsford City travelled to the Jurassic Coast to take on Southern Premier League South champions Weymouth. The Terras had picked up four points in their first fixtures back in the National South for a decade, whilst the Clarets were a point behind. It all looked good for the visitors when Shaun Jeffers scored a penalty with thirteen minutes gone. However, Chelmsford City’s afternoon unravelled when Josh McQuoid’s hat-trick put Weymouth on course for their first home win. McQuoid scored a couple of penalties before one from open play, Ben Thompson added the fourth as the Clarets lost 4-1.
In January, Dartford thought they were on course for a rare league double over Chelmsford City when former Claret Phil Roberts scored his first for the Darts. The game was turned around with five minutes remaining, Jonny Giles curling in the equaliser then Rhys Murphy finding a winner for the hosts in the final minute. The two meetings last term were feisty in places, in the previous meeting at Princes Park both Adam Flanagan and Rod Stringer were dismissed from the dugout in a game that saw Elliot Bradbrook score the winner.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 37 / Chelmsford City wins: 56 / Draws: 21
Last Six Meetings
Dartford have won one of their last eight matches against Chelmsford City. Elliot Bradbrook scored the winner at Princes Park last season.
Chelmsford City have lost just three of their last nineteen games versus Dartford in all competitions.
On This Day
Dartford were held at home to a 0-0 draw two years ago against Saturday’s opponents Havant and Waterlooville, the third draw in a row on this day. In 2014, the Darts were close to victory when they visited Woking and Rory McAuley diverted Peter Sweeney’s cross to take the lead. However, a last minute Giuseppe Sole header denied Dartford a win in the National League. Another away draw was recorded back in 1995 against Herne Bay in the Kent League with both sides failing to find the net.