Dartford begin February with a trip to relegation threatened Chippenham Town this weekend in the National South.
When the sides met back in October it was Steve King’s first league game at the helm and a late goal rescued a draw for the Darts. Elliott Romain was signed the day before the match and made his debut, and since then he has scored twelve times in his seventeen appearances. The striker has struck up an excellent partnership with Darren McQueen, but it was defender Josh Hill who came off the bench that day to calmly curl the equaliser into the Chippenham Town net with three minutes to go.
A fortnight ago, the Darts suffered a setback against fellow playoff contenders Slough Town in a 1-0 defeat. Last weekend, it was Dartford’s turn to secure a single goal win when McQueen smashed home a first-half winner at home to Dulwich Hamlet.
With competition for places all over the pitch, Steve King recently praised goalkeeper Alhaji Sesay for keeping his place ahead of Mark Smith, the Dartford boss told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We’re on a great run and he’s kept five clean sheets. He is part of that back five which has kept those clean sheets so at the moment he deserves the shirt”.
One player Dartford will be missing is Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong who has been recalled by his parent club Aldershot Town after a successful loan spell, the midfielder scored twice in six appearances. His return to Hampshire may lead to a search for a replacement, King commented: “We haven’t got anything like him. We’ve got other midfield players in the club, but we need to find another Jacob”, he continued: “We haven’t got another Jacob in the building, so we’ll be actively looking for another central midfield player that is like that”.
Dartford have won nine times in fourteen National South outings since they last played Chippenham Town propelling themselves from eighteenth to seventh in the league. What looked like a battle to avoid relegation has now become a promotion push via the playoffs.
Chippenham Town have travelled in the opposite direction since the last meeting in October. The Bluebirds were sitting in twelfth after the 1-1 draw with the Darts and now they are second from bottom. However, they do have a respectable home record of four wins and five draws from thirteen played and the seventh best defensive record in the division, the problem is in front of goal where the Wiltshire club are the lowest scorers.
A solitary win in twelve outings contributed to the departure of former manager Mark Collier in early January. Since then the Bluebirds have drawn away at Dulwich Hamlet and at home to title chasers Havant and Waterlooville making it three consecutive draws for Chippenham Town. Leading the team will be temporary manager, Michael Cook who has been given the task of staving off relegation. The former Gloucester City manager will be in charge until the end of the season.
The Bluebirds rode their luck in their 0-0 draw with Havant and Waterlooville last weekend when the Hawks hit the woodwork four times. However, it was Chippenham Town’s Luke Hopper who missed the best opportunity failing to score a one on one with goalkeeper Ross Worner. In Cook’s first game though, the Bluebirds were denied victory in the last minute, Callum Gunner put Chippenham Town ahead, but his goal was cancelled out by Dulwich Hamlet’s Shamir Mullings.
Last time the Darts visited Hardenhuish Park the winning goal came from an unlikely source. Jamie Philpot netted the opener in the first half and Nat Jarvis equalised on the stroke of half-time. The winner came from goalkeeper, Derren Ibrahim who scored from a free-kick inside his own half.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 2 / Chippenham Town wins: 1 / Draws: 2
Current League Form
|Dulwich Hamlet||H||1-0||Havant & Waterlooville||H||0-0|
|Slough Town||A||0-1||Dulwich Hamlet||A||1-1|
|Oxford City||H||3-0||Hemel Hempstead Town||H||2-2|
|Dorking Wanderers||A||3-2||Tonbridge Angels||A||2-3|
|Welling United||H||4-0||Bath City||H||1-3|
|Tonbridge Angels||H||3-0||Dorking Wanderers||H||0-2|
Last Five Meetings
Romain and McQueen have scored 19 of the 28 league goals scored under Steve King. Romain has gone three league goals without a goal, his longest barren spell in the league since joining the Darts. McQueen has scored nine goals in his last ten starts.
Dartford have won 10, drawn 5 and lost 2 against sides currently in the lower half of the table. The Darts have drawn all three games against those in the bottom three.
Chippenham Town have picked up 5 points out of a possible 30 against sides currently in the top seven.
On This Day
Dartford have won their last three matches played on 1 February and all three home games were won 1-0. Nine years ago, Elliot Bradbrook scored the only goal at Princes Park to record a rare victory over Braintree Town in the National South. In 1999, the Darts beat Chelmsford City and two years earlier Cinderford Town both in the Southern League Southern Division. Dartford’s last away day on this day was a 2-0 defeat in the Southern Premier League versus Worcester City. The last time both teams scored on 1 February was in 1986 when the Darts beat Altrincham at Watling Street in what is now the National League.