Dartford start their National South campaign off the way they finished the regular season last term with a home fixture against Chelmsford City.
Seven months ago the Darts eased to victory in uncertain circumstances when they hosted the Clarets. Games were beginning to be cancelled across the country due to the outbreak of coronavirus, yet the National South pressed on with its schedule for one more week, and it was to be the last.
The Darts ran out 3-0 winners with Jack Jebb setting up Josh Hill to head home the opening goal. Just before half-time Billy Crook’s shot hit the post, only for Elliott Romain to double the lead with the rebound. A third was added in the second half when Noor Husin excellently finished a one two with Jebb. It turned out to be Crook’s last appearance in a Dartford shirt, the midfielder moved to Chelmsford City in the summer and could make his league debut against his former club.
Dartford kicked off their 2020/21 season with a F.A Cup second qualifying round tie at home to Slough Town. Steve King selected four of his summer signings in the starting eleven. Craig King, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Abdul Osman and Gavin McCallum all made their debuts. Kairo Mitchell also made his first appearance replacing Charlie Sheringham in the second half.
The Darts exited the competition at the first hurdle for the first time in five years, leaving Steve King waiting for his maiden F.A Cup victory for the club. With the tie heading for penalties it was a spot kick that decided the outcome when Kyjoun Marsh-Brown was adjudged to have committed a foul in the box. Slough Town’s Jack McKnight scored the penalty on his debut to hand the Rebels a passage into the next round.
Charlie Sheringham was left to rue a close range miss in the first half and Jack Turner in the Slough Town goal was in inspired form. The Rebels goalkeeper thwarted Romain, Tom Bonner and Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong. Dartford’s new shot stopper, Craig King made one notable save from Ollie Muldoon’s effort. After a promising and unbeaten pre-season the cup defeat came as a disappointment, but now the Darts can focus on the league.
Chelmsford City visited National North side Kettering Town in their F.A Cup tie with former Dartford midfielder, Chez Isaac in the starting line up and Crook on the bench. Isaac made 12 appearances for the Darts, whilst Crook played 21 times scoring once. Another former Dart and summer signing, Phil Roberts was unavailable and will have wait to link up with Crook again, the pair were part of the Braintree Town team that won promotion to the National League in 2018. Roberts had an impressive spell at Princes Park scoring eight goals in 16 games, he returns to the Clarets for a third spell.
Returning trio: Billy Crook, Phil Roberts and Chez Isaac whilst with the Darts
Chelmsford City manager, Robbie Simpson handed debuts to former Tonbridge Angels, Maidstone United and Dover Athletic goalkeeper Lee Worgan, Cadell Fraser-Robinson, ex Heybridge Swifts goalscorer Alex Teniola, Adam Liddle, who was signed from Derry City, Adebola Oluwo and Callum Harrison, he was substituted for Cameron James who rejoined the club in the summer break.
Simpson was disappointed with a 2-0 defeat on a day when his team ‘lost their personal battles’. With an injury list to contend with, the Clarets started with four academy players on the bench. James, Crook and Danny Imray weren’t fit to start, Tom Wraight is out for the long term and Mickey Spillane pulled his hamstring during the game.
The Clarets boss is now looking towards Tuesday night at Princes Park, treating the National South opener as a benchmark for the Essex club, he spoke to Clarets TV and explained: “It’s weird that our last game was away there as well. So that will actually be good to see where we were to where we are now, we can test ourselves”.
The Chelmsford City manager is one of many outsiders to tip Dartford for promotion to the National League, he added: “They are favourites to win the league and rightly so in my opinion. They are a very good side”.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 39 / Chelmsford City wins: 55 / Draws: 22
Previous Six Meetings
Dartford have won the last two home games against Chelmsford City, the last time that happened was between 1999 and 2000. The last time they won three home games in a row against the Clarets was between 1971 and 1973.
The Darts have won two of the last four fixtures against Chelmsford City. Before this run they had won just two of the last 17.
Dartford have failed to score in their last two competitive games. Under Steve King they have never gone three consecutive matches without scoring.
On This Day
Usually Dartford are a couple of months into their league campaign by now, so the 6 October is the latest that a league campaign has started in the club’s history. It comes on the eighth anniversary of the Darts claiming a memorable away victory at Grimsby Town. Tom Bonner and Adam Birchall were on target to cause one of Dartford’s many surprises in the National League that season. That was the last of four straight wins on this day, Ashford Town were beaten 3-1 in the Southern League Division One East at home in 2001, Moor Green lost 2-1 thirty years ago in the Southern Premier and the Darts travelled to Northwich Victoria in 1984 and won 1-0 in the National League. Two years ago, Dartford crashed out of the F.A Cup third qualifying round losing 4-1 at Oxford City as Kabongo Tshimanga scored a hat-trick.
To live stream the game visit https://www.dartfordfc.com/dfctv-live/ The game costs £7.99