Steve King’s reign as Dartford manager begins with this weekend’s F.A Cup fourth qualifying round tie against Isthmian Premier League side Kingstonian.
The new Dartford boss can guide the Darts to their fifth first round appearance in seven years with victory and a chance to play a Football League club. King arrives at Princes Park knowing how to embark on a F.A Cup run, he led Macclesfield Town to the fourth round six years ago losing to eventual winners Wigan Athletic.
Last season, King managed local rivals Welling United to third in the National South and a playoff final. Starting his managerial career at Lewes, he guided the Sussex club to three titles taking them from the Isthmian Division One South to the National League in five years. Whilst at Farnborough, King won the Southern Premier League and lost the National South playoff the next season. Another spell at Lewes before his stint with Macclesfield Town was followed by keeping Whitehawk in the National South and another playoff final defeat. King moved to Dagenham and Redbridge, but soon returned to Whitehawk in an attempt to keep them safe from relegation. King arrives at Princes Park with plenty of experience at this level.
Dartford’s new boss was appointed last week, however Tony Burman remained in charge for Saturday’s 1-0 win at Oxford City. The Darts have now won four consecutive away games in all competitions for the first time in over a year. Burman made three changes to the side that beat Blackfield and Langley in the previous round of the F.A Cup. Cameron Brodie was named on the bench and Rob Howard returned to full back, Darren McQueen replaced the injured Charlie Sheringham and Andy Pugh was recalled from East Thurrock United to take the place of departed striker Adam Cunnington.
Winner of Dartford’s September Player of the Month, Ben Greenhalgh followed up that accolade with the winning goal. Darren McQueen had already tested Oxford City’s goalkeeper Craig King, but just past the half hour mark Greenhalgh curled the ball beyond the shot stopper into the net. The hosts came closest in the second-half when Reece Beckles-Richards hit the post. The Darts defended well and relied on the counter attack eventually holding out for the win.
King will select his first matchday squad this weekend but will be without Sheringham, the striker dislocated his shoulder and Sam Blackman, who is on the mend from a long-term injury. Mark Onyemah will be available, the full back made his first appearance since March coming on as a late substitute against Oxford City.
Dartford will have fond memories of playing Kingstonian in the Isthmian Premier League, but the last meeting between the two sides was in the F.A Trophy almost seven years ago. Marcus Bettinelli saved an early Andre McCollin penalty before the Darts went on to win the first-round tie 4-0. Jacob Erskine opened the scoring at Kingsmeadow and when Simon Huckle was dismissed for the hosts, the Darts took full advantage. Second-half goals from Elliot Bradbrook, Danny Harris and Nathan Collier secured a passage into round two.
However, the two Isthmian Premier League clashes during the 2009/2010 season were even more memorable. The Darts clinched the title at Kingsmeadow in style thrashing a Kingstonian side second in the league at the time. Elliot Bradbrook finished of a fine team goal and Ryan Hayes smashed home from long range. Huckle halved the deficit for the hosts, but Danny Harris headed in Dartford’s third. Bradbrook added his second of the afternoon capitalising on Rob Tolfrey’s mistake, then Bobby Traynor made it 4-2. Dartford stretched their lead further with another strike from Hayes and Lee Burns made it six.
Previously that season, Lee Burns netted a hat-trick in the last meeting between the two sides at Princes Park. Bradbrook started the rout, Burns netted two and Hayes scored one before Burns eventually completed his hat-trick after missing from the spot earlier.
Kingstonian started their F.A Cup campaign last month in the first qualifying round hosting Southern League Premier South side Walton Casuals. Second-half goals from Ollie Cook and Louie Theophanous was enough to see the K’s set up a tie with March Town United. The Surrey side comfortably negotiated their way past the Eastern Counties League club winning 3-0, Dan Bennett notched a brace before his replacement Yousef Bamba added a third in the last minute.
This month, Hayden Bird’s side required a replay to overcome Weston-super-Mare in the third qualifying round. Reece Hall put the K’s ahead and when Jerry Puemo was sent off the K’s had to try and hold on with ten men and Kingstonian almost did it, only to concede a last-minute penalty which Scott Laird scored. The replay was more straightforward, Fabio Saraiva’s goal was cancelled out by Weston-super-Mare’s George Dowling. Puemo made amends for his red card in the first game by putting Kingstonian ahead then Hall and Theophanous wrapped up the 4-1 victory.
Manager Hayden Bird spoke to www.kingstonian.com after the replay victory at Weston and can’t wait for this weekend’s fixture, he said: “I’m quite excited about the draw, it’s what the fourth qualifying round is about. You don’t really get free passes when you get to that level of the competition”, he added: “With respect to Dartford I would say it is very winnable and if we play like we did (at Weston) then we will have a great chance. I want to be playing Dartford in the league, hopefully when we play them we will be looking into our future a little bit”.
In league and F.A Cup, Kingstonian are now unbeaten in four matches. Either side of their F.A Cup exploits against Weston-super-mare, the K’s beat Haringey Borough 1-0 with Puemo netting the decisive goal and drew 2-2 on the weekend at Carshalton Athletic. Kingstonian let a two goal lead slip after Theophanous and Hall put the K’s in command, however the hosts scored twice in seven second-half minutes to secure a draw.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 4 / Kingstonian wins: 1 / Draws: 1
Current Form (* – F.A Cup)
|Oxford City||A||1-0||Carshalton Athletic||A||2-2|
|Blackfield & Langley*||A||4-1||Weston-super-Mare*||A||4-1|
|Dorking Wanderers||H||3-4||March Town United*||H||3-0|
Previous Meetings (* – F.A Cup / ^ – F.A Trophy)
Dartford have played Kingstonian in the F.A Cup once back in 1973. The Darts lost 3-1 in the second qualifying round, the K’s were knocked out of the competition in the next round.
Dartford have scored six and conceded one from their two F.A Cup games this season. The K’s have scored ten in four F.A Cup games conceding just twice.
Kingstonian last reached the fourth qualifying round in 2001 and in that season, they went on to reach the fourth round of the F.A Cup. The K’s beat Devizes Town 5-2 in the fourth qualifying round, then knocked out Brentford (3-1), Southport (2-1), Southend United (1-0) before losing to Bristol City in a replay (1-1, replay 0-1).
On This Day
Matthew Godden netted a Princes Park hat-trick six years ago in an entertaining 4-3 victory over Hyde. The loanee put the Darts two goals up within 15 minutes with a tidy finish and a header from Ryan Hayes’ cross. A penalty and a close range effort from Scott Spencer brought Hyde level before the break and a long-range shot from Louis Almond put them ahead. Substitute George Monger’s 25-yarder levelled things up, but Godden struck late on to seal the points. Dartford are unbeaten in seven on this day stretching back to 1991 recording three wins and four draws. The Darts last played on 19 October in 2015 when they beat Welling United in the first round of the Kent Senior Cup. George Sykes and Callum McNaughton gave the Darts a two goal cushion before Kurtis Cumberbatch netted for the Wings. Dajon Golding secured the cup victory in the final minute to put Dartford in the hat for round two.