The New Year starts with Dartford hosting local rivals Ebbsfleet United at Princes Park on Saturday.
A much anticipated fixture in what is normally a hectic festive schedule will certainly be different this time behind closed doors. The Darts and their opponents managed just three competitive matches in December at a time when football is usually non-stop. The two sides were due to meet on Boxing Day, but with a Dartford player testing positive for Covid-19 the whole squad has been in isolation.
In league competition the home side has dominated results in this fixture, the Darts winning six out of the last eight on their own patch, drawing one and suffering their only defeat in that spell five years ago.
Tom Bonner will lead the Darts into battle four years on from when he scored in the Kent derby. After rejoining Dartford, Bonner netted against his former club at Princes Park, Duane Ofori-Acheampong added a second before Anthony Cook pulled a goal back for the Fleet. At the end of the Boxing Day meeting between the two sides Dartford goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim celebrated in front of the away fans.
In the New Years Day meeting that followed the Fleet got revenge winning 1-0 at Stonebridge Road with a goal from Bradley Bubb. Bonner is the only Dartford survivor from those two clashes and knows exactly what the derby means between both sets of supporters.
Dartford sit in a healthy league position occupying second place, have won eight of their twelve National South matches and are two points behind leaders St Albans City. However, they will be looking to bounce back from a league defeat against Eastbourne Borough and the cupset versus Haringey Borough.
Nasim L’Ghoul could make his league debut for the Darts after featuring in the F.A Trophy exit last weekend. The winger played five times for Bromley this term and has played for King at Welling United. The 23-year-old Frenchman moved from the Wings to join Dover Athletic and King feels his a good fit for the Darts.
Ebbsfleet United have only managed ten league games this term, but they have a balanced record of four wins, three draws and three defeats. The Fleet have failed to score in their last three league outings picking up a point against local rivals Maidstone United and losing to Tonbridge Angels and Havant and Waterlooville.
Dennis Kutrieb took charge in the summer after the Fleet were relegated from the National League last season on points per game. The squad has been transformed and now includes former Dundee United striker Rakish Bingham, who is their top scorer this season. Michael West is back with the club for a third spell and like Bonner he knows how much this game means to the fans. The midfielder played in his first North Kent derby in 2010 scoring in the 1-1 draw at Princes Park.
Head to Head (since 1946)
Dartford wins: 69 / Ebbsfleet United wins: 55 / Draws: 32
Current League Form
|Eastbourne Borough||A||1-3||Havant and Waterlooville||H||0-3|
|Hungerford Town||A||2-1||Tonbridge Angels||H||0-1|
|Slough Town||H||2-0||Maidstone United||H||0-0|
|St Albans City||H||0-1||Chippenham Town||A||2-1|
|Maidstone United||A||2-0||Eastbourne Borough||A||1-1|
|Hemel Hempstead Town||A||3-1||Billericay Town||A||2-1|
Last Six League Meetings
Dartford have won 14 of the last 19 home league matches against Ebbsfleet United / Gravesend and Northfleet (D2, L3)
The Darts last hosted their rivals in the New Years fixture in 1989 when Dartford thrashed Gravesend and Northfleet 5-0.
The away side has won just 15 out of the 69 league meetings between the two sides since 1946.
On This Day
Dartford are 13 games unbeaten on this day stretching back to 1954. The most recent fixture was in 2016 which ended in a 1-1 draw with Chelmsford City, Tom Bradbrook’s last minute equaliser cancelled out Billy Bricknell’s strike. Danny Harris scored the winner in 2012 against local rivals Welling United, it wasn’t the only 1-0 victory against the Wings that season as the Darts claimed a more important victory five months later to win promotion. A decade ago, Lee Burns and James White were on the scoresheet as Dartford beat Cray Wanderers 2-1. The last defeat on this day, 54 years ago was in the Southern League against Llanelly, the Darts were hammered 9-2.