Dartford will be determined to change their fortunes against Chelmsford City this weekend at Princes Park.
Although the Darts won the corresponding fixture last season, it was a rare victory against the Clarets. Elliot Bradbrook settled the match to claim Dartford’s only triumph in this fixture in nine previous attempts. The last two meetings have been at Melbourne Stadium with the Essex club securing a 4-0 win in August and a 2-1 victory just over a year ago.
Dartford followed up progression to the Kent Senior Cup final with a win at St Albans City last weekend, a ground where the Darts had lost in all the previous four visits there without even scoring. When Joe Iaciofano put the National South strugglers ahead from the spot, the Darts could have easily felt that the inevitable defeat was about to happen. However, Steve King’s side had other ideas and within seven minutes the Darts were level when Liam Nash scored his second league goal of the campaign. Five minutes into the second-half Dartford went ahead when they were awarded the second penalty of the afternoon, up stepped Darren McQueen to move his season’s tally to 18 in all competitions.
Steve King described Dartford’s performance as ‘gritty’ and was pleased with the two tactical sides his team needed to show. Whilst the first half was full of attacking intent, the second half was opposite, he explained to DFCTV: ‘’We dug deep, St Albans had a right go at us in the second half with long throws coming into our box, which we had to defend properly and I think we got it spot on’’. He added ‘’We showed another side where we didn’t want to get beaten and people were putting their body on the line’’. The Dartford boss was also delighted with Nash’s goal, work ethic and link up play. The striker told DFCTV after the 2-1 victory: ‘’I’m happy to contribute, my main objective in every game is to score, but I don’t put too much pressure on myself and I try to give an all-round game’’.
Chelmsford City are still hopeful they can reach the top seven and a playoff spot. Results this term had been inconsistent under Rod Stringer and after a 6-2 home defeat to Oxford City in November the former boss was under pressure. Although results improved over the next eight games where the Clarets won four and drew three, the 1-0 reverse at bottom side Hungerford Town was the final straw. At one point it looked as though the new manager was going to be the experienced Garry Hill, however the parties couldn’t agree terms.
Instead Robbie Simpson has been in charge on a temporary basis, he only signed for the club in August after he was released by Milton Keynes Dons. The striker has plenty of playing experience notably representing Cambridge United, Coventry City, Oldham Athletic and Exeter City. Celebrating his birthday this weekend, Simpson initially got off to a difficult start when his conceded five in his first match losing 5-3 at Dulwich Hamlet, the following match was a 2-0 loss at Dorking Wanderers.
However, the Clarets went three games unbeaten with a 3-1 home win over Tonbridge Angels and a creditable 1-1 draw with Slough Town. Struggling on the road this season with just two away wins in the National South, Simpson took his side to league leaders Wealdstone and came home with all three points. Former Dart, Tom Knowles netted the winning goal, but he has since returned to his parent club Cambridge United after 24 appearances and five goals for the Clarets.
On the weekend, Chelmsford City hosted F.A Trophy semi-finalists Concord Rangers in an Essex derby and drew 1-1. The Clarets earned a point despite playing 70 minutes a man down after Troy Brown was sent off. Brown pulled back Concord Rangers striker Decarrey Sherriff to give away a penalty, Sherriff took the spot kick and scored. The equaliser came four minutes prior half-time, Shaun Jeffers set up Tom Wraight who shot past Chris Haigh in the Concord goal.
Speaking to www.chelmsfordcityfc.com manager Simpson said: “I was disappointed until the sending off, games are running out and we can’t afford to not do the right things. It took us until the sending off to get going and do the basics properly. But after that I’m was so proud of my players, they ran their socks off and stuck to the task”.
Simpson can all upon the experience of former Premier League striker Leroy Lita, who came out of retirement to play for Salisbury before penning a short-term deal with the Clarets. Lita made his name at Bristol City prior to his time in the top flight with Reading and Swansea City. Chez Isaac will return to Princes Park after he short spell with the Darts lasted three months, the midfielder made a dozen appearances under the management of Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle. Shaun Jeffers scored in this fixture in August 2016 in a 1-1 draw, the striker is Chelmsford City’s top scorer this term with 13 league goals.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 37 / Chelmsford City wins: 57 / Draws: 21
Current League Form
|Dartford (WDWLWW)||Chelmsford City (DWDWLL)|
|St Albans City||A||2-1||Concord Rangers||H||1-1|
|Eastbourne Borough||H||2-1||Slough Town||H||1-1|
|Hampton & Richmond||H||1-2||Tonbridge Angels||H||3-1|
|Chippenham Town||A||5-1||Dorking Wanderers||A||0-2|
|Dulwich Hamlet||H||1-0||Dulwich Hamlet||A||3-5|
Last Six League Meetings
|21.10.2017||Chelmsford City||1||Chelmsford City||0|
Dartford have won just five games in their last 25 competitive matches against Chelmsford City (D5, L15).
The Darts win against the Clarets last term was the first in ten attempts at home.
On This Day
Dartford have played their last four games on 14 March at home with mixed fortunes. The Darts last victory on this day was in 1998 when they claimed a 4-0 win over Waterlooville, who would later merge with Havant Town to form next weekend’s opponents Havant and Waterlooville. Six years earlier, Dartford won by the same score against Poole Town, both matches were in the Southern Premier League. The last two fixtures also ended in the same score, this time a pair of 1-0 defeats. First, Harrow Borough came to Princes Park and won in the Isthmian Premier League back in 2009 and most recently in 2015, Alfreton Town beat the Darts in the National League.