Unbeaten in the National South, Dartford will be determined to keep their current run going this weekend when they host promotion hopefuls Bath City.
The Darts opened their league campaign with a 1-0 victory over Chelmsford City followed by a goalless draw at Hampton and Richmond Borough. Bath City tasted an opening day defeat at Oxford City but recorded their first league win last weekend against Billericay Town. Both teams reached the playoffs last term with the Darts falling short in the final and the Romans getting knocked out in the eliminator round.
Defensively, Dartford have been perfect in the league with two clean sheets and if it wasn’t for a controversial penalty in the F.A Cup then their defence wouldn’t have been breached at all this season. However, it hasn’t quite clicked in attack yet with Ky Marsh-Brown the only goalscorer for Steve King’s side, his header on the opening day was enough to earn all three points against Chelmsford City. That has been Dartford’s only goal in their last four competitive games stretching back to the Playoff Final defeat. At the other end only Slough Town and Havant and Waterlooville have netted against the Darts in the last seven competitive matches.
Defensive duo: Tom Bonner and Ronnie Vint kept the Beavers at bay
Dartford’s first away game of the campaign last weekend ended 0-0 at Hampton and Richmond Borough in a game that saw the defences on top. Tom Bonner and Ronnie Vint remaining solid in the centre as they continue to strike up a reliable partnership at the back. Making his debut, Jack Barham replaced Ricky Modeste in the only change to the starting eleven. After the game the striker spoke to DFCTV and said: “We didn’t play to our maximum but coming away with a point is never bad. If we know that really is the minimum of what we can offer, then we have a good chance this year”. Having joined in the summer and after nursing an injury, Barham is confident good times are on their way, he explained: “It’s going to take me a couple of weeks to get my fitness back. I felt like jelly in the second half especially after about 60 minutes, but I can see myself scoring lots of goals. I’m excited now to show everyone what I can do”.
This fixture was supposed to be the next home game in the 2019/2020 league schedule. However, the campaign was halted and so the last time the Darts hosted Bath City was in February 2019. Dartford ended the Romans’ unbeaten run of nine games that day with some stunning goals. Lee Noble curled his shot from outside the box into the top corner, Charlie Sheringham nodded home Ryan Hayes’ pinpoint cross and Phil Roberts cut inside to unleash another curling strike, from outside the box, into the bottom corner.
Last season the score was reversed putting an end to Dartford’s seven consecutive victories against Bath City. Three first half goals, one from Tom Smith and a brace from Andy Watkins handed the Romans three points at Twerton Park inside the first 35 minutes. To sum up Dartford’s day, Elliott Romain missed a penalty in one of very few defeats manager Steve King has suffered since his appointment in October last year.
This season, in the National South, Bath City were beaten 2-0 on the first day of the season against Oxford City. Defeat came just days after leaving it late in the F.A Cup to overcome Winchester City. The Romans were given a scare by the Southern Division One South side needing to come from behind. Tommy Conway scored a brace, his first coming just two minutes into his debut before Winchester City took a 2-1 half-time lead. The on-loan striker from Bristol City equalised and a late deflected Tom Richards strike earned Bath City a third qualifying round tie against Dartford’s conquerors Slough Town. After the reverse at Oxford City, Conway was scoring again, grabbing another Twerton Park brace in their 2-0 victory over Billericay Town, both goals assisted by Freddie Hinds on his second debut for the Romans, also joining on loan from Bristol City.
Linking Up: Bristol City pair Tommy Conway and Freddie Hinds in action for Bath City
Hinds turned from provider into a goalscorer on Tuesday night scoring the winning goal to knock Slough Town out of the F.A Cup. An evenly contested tie saw the Romans defence stand strong with several decent saves from goalkeeper Ryan Clarke. Hinds early second half goal was enough to see Bath City into the fourth qualifying round.
Bath City’s ties with Bristol continued this week with the signing of Lucas Tomlinson on loan from Bristol Rovers. Manager, Jerry Gill already has City players Conway and James Taylor in his squad. Over the summer keeping top scorer Tom Smith was imperative, he has featured in every game so far. Out of the new signings Freddie Grant, Ryan Harley and Callum Evans have earned first team places.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 32 / Bath City wins: 39 / Draws: 19
Previous Six Meetings
Dartford have won their last four homes games against Bath City going back to 2016
The Darts last lost to Bath City at home in April 1990, which was the only defeat in the last six home games against the Romans (W5 L1)
Dartford have kept three consecutive clean sheets against Bath City at Princes Park. The Romans last scoring in 2016 when the Darts won 4-1.
On This Day
Allan Tait scored the winning goal eleven years ago against Isthmian Division One North side Sittingbourne. The 1-0 victory in the F.A Trophy first qualifying round was a stern test for the Darts who went on to claim the Isthmian Premier League crown that season. Almost eleven years on, the two sides met in a friendly (on Monday night) with Dartford winning 5-2. Five years ago, at Princes Park, Ryan Hayes netted a superb last-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Hemel Hempstead Town. The Darts were two down at half-time until Danny Harris then Hayes helped the home side earn a point. It is also the 50th anniversary of Dartford’s 7-0 F.A Cup win against Harrow Borough, but the biggest win on this day was 18-0 in 1891 against Old Wilkinson.