Dartford could equal a 34-year-old record and go top of the table when they play their rearranged fixture against Chippenham Town on Tuesday night.
The Darts have yet to concede a goal during their unbeaten start to the National South campaign. A fourth consecutive clean sheet will match the post-war record they set in 1986, when they kept four clean sheets in a row at the start of a league season. As an extra incentive, victory will put the Darts top of the National South.
However, manager Steve King expects a tough time at Hardenhuish Park where they take on Chippenham Town. In his interview with Dartford F.C on Twitter, he explained: “They are one of those sides who are very organised, they are very good a set pieces and they are a good side. They have started well, they recently beat Ebbsfleet in the F.A Cup, they beat Dulwich away as well, they have got the capabilities. It’s known in the non-league circle that it’s a tough place to go to get something, you must earn your points there whatever you get”.
Defender Ronnie Vint added: “It’s a tough place to go, you’ve got to play the conditions and the pitch there is on a bit of a hill. We go there confident, in great form and we’re looking forward to it”.
In front of goal Dartford have only managed to score twice in their last five competitive outings stretching back to the playoff final defeat. A pair of 1-0 victories over Chelmsford City and Bath City sandwiching a 0-0 draw with Hampton and Richmond Borough sees the Darts in seventh place before Tuesday night’s kick off.
Steve King’s side will be hoping to find their goalscoring form they had when they last visited the Bluebirds in February. The Darts hit the hosts with five first half goals to win 5-1. Darren McQueen sent Will Puddy the wrong way from the penalty spot, then set up Liam Nash to roll the ball home for a second. Callum Gunner got the hosts back in the game, but the Darts stretched their lead as Amrit Bansal-McNulty finished from an audacious angle. Tom Bonner scored from close range before McQueen netted another penalty. The reverse fixture a year ago, was Steve King’s first league match in charge at the Darts and a 1-1 draw was secured with a late Josh Hill strike.
In Dartford’s last league game, they had to handle an unusual situation at home to Bath City. An injury to the assistant referee delayed the second half for 35 minutes. The Darts coped fine and a Noor Husin strike after the restart was enough to secure a second win of the season. Steve King summed up the match, he commented: “I felt we were a lot better, especially the first half. The game was split into two sections in the second half, we came out very good for twenty minutes then they had a twenty-minute spell right at the end. They were a dangerous side and played decent football, we could have taken our chances earlier to make it more comfortable”.
The only change to the starting eleven saw Jack Jebb rewarded with his first start of the season. The midfielder managed most of the game as he continues to recover from injury. Steve King reported no major injury concerns ahead of the Chippenham Town match, but did announce the departure of Kairo Mitchell.
It’s been over a week since Dartford’s last competitive game. Having been knocked out of the F.A Cup they were left without a league fixture on the weekend. Instead they hosted Lewes in a friendly to keep King’s healthy squad involved and match fit. King gave opportunities to players that haven’t racked up many minutes so far this season, including Luke Allen who scored the only game of the game. Two academy players Sam Oduado and Brandon Davey also made an appearance from off the bench.
Chippenham Town missed out on making the F.A Cup first round with a last minute defeat to F.A Trophy finalists Concord Rangers. The Bluebirds had won their previous two rounds on penalties beating Poole Town and Ebbsfleet United. This time the cup tie didn’t make it to spot kicks as a winning goal eight minutes into injury time knocked the Bluebirds out. Concord Rangers took the lead through Temi Babalola before Ross Stearn equalised, but Danny Green grabbed a winner for the Beachboys.
In the National South, Mike Cook’s side have taken six points from nine. After losing their first game 3-0 at revitalised Hungerford Town they bounced back with a 1-0 win against Braintree Town and a 2-0 victory at Dulwich Hamlet. In the summer, the Bluebirds added some quality with the likes of Bradley Ash from Hereford and recently former Bath City forward Ryan Brunt, who will link up with other former Romans, Stearn and Adam Mann if fit from a thigh strain. Other summer signings, Danny Greenslade is recovering from injury, but Marlon Jackson will be out for about a month.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 32 / Bath City wins: 39 / Draws: 19
Current League Form
|Dartford (WDW)||Chippenham Town (WWL)|
|Bath City||H||1-0||Dulwich Hamlet||A||2-0|
|Hampton & Richmond||A||0-0||Braintree Town||H||1-0|
|Chelmsford City||H||1-0||Hungerford Town||A||0-3|
Previous Six Meetings
Dartford’s club record of five consecutive clean sheets at the start of a league season was set in 1909.
There has been no goals scored in normal time in Dartford’s last two away games (Weymouth in the playoff final and Hampton and Richmond Borough). The last time that happened was in April 2009, when the Darts drew 0-0 with Wealdstone then Boreham Wood.
A third consecutive goalless draw away from home will make it a club record.
On This Day
Dartford won the Isthmian Division One North in 2007/2008 and then the Isthmian Premier two years later, in both season’s they won on 27 October. The Darts beat Potters Bar Town 13 years ago with Jay May, Brendon Cass, Junior Kadi and Tom Bradbrook scoring in a 4-0 win. Two years later four different scorers found the net again this time in a 4-1 triumph over Ashford Town (Middlesex) goals from Lee Noble, Ryan Hayes, Danny Harris and Jay May. The Darts last game on this day ended in defeat, Kudus Oyenuga scoring a consolation in a 3-1 loss at Truro City. Back in 1984, Dartford booked a place in the F.A Cup first round with a 3-1 victory against Grays Athletic, avenging a cup defeat to the Essex club four years earlier.