Dartford face rivals Maidstone United for a third time in a row on Tuesday night, this time at Princes Park in the F.A Trophy third qualifying round replay.
In just over a week the two sides have been inseparable, but this time there will be winner. On the weekend a depleted Dartford side came away from the Gallagher Stadium with a creditable 2-2 draw to take the tie to a replay. The Darts had to twice come from behind to deny the home side a place in the next round.
Former Maidstone United striker, Elliott Romain scored a brace to keep Dartford in the F.A Trophy draw, equalising twice after Dan Wishart then Justin Amaluzor gave the Stones an advantage. Steve King named a squad without Jordan Gibbons, Liam Gordon, Billy Crook, Norman Wabo and Cameron Brodie and was already missing Charlie Sheringham, Jordan Wynter, Lee Noble and Sam Blackman. The Darts needed to reshuffle the starting eleven with Darren McQueen, Ronnie Vint and Ryan Hayes coming in. On the bench a number of academy players were selected and replacing Hayes after an hour Laurent Mendy made his debut. Maidstone United made a few changes with one eye on their F.A Cup second round fixture approaching this weekend.
Manager, Steve King explained why the changes were needed and was pleased with the outcome, he said: “I’m very proud of the players who put another unbelievable shift in considering we had seven players missing, no full backs, played a shape we’ve never played and have never worked on that shape”. A number of squad members were unable to take part through illness with two players needing to pull out on the day of the game.
Looking forward to the replay King commented: “It’s going to take another tough performance, they are a full time outfit, they probably have 22 to 24 players in the squad, we haven’t got that. We couldn’t even fill the bench (on the weekend), four of them were youth team players and another was a goalkeeper we signed on Thursday, another one (Laurent Mendy) signed from two levels below us and he did well when he came on. We’ve got to patch up and see who is available because it’s going to be another tough battle again”.
It was the second 2-2 draw in a row against Maidstone United following the National South stalemate. On that occasion, the Darts fought back from two goals down with only four minutes remaining. Wishart was on the scoresheet again for the Stones and his side went two up through Ibby Akanbi, then goals from Tom Bonner and McQueen made sure the points were shared. This time if the scores are level after ninety minutes there will be extra time then penalties if required.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 44 / Maidstone United wins: 44 / Draws: 19
Current Form (FAC – F.A Cup / FAT – F.A Trophy)
|Maidstone United (FAT)||A||2-2||Dartford (FAT)||H||2-2|
|Hampton & Richmond||A||2-1||Torquay United (FAC)||H||1-0|
|Eastbourne Borough||A||2-0||Hampton & Richmond||A||1-2|
|Chippenham Town||H||1-1||Braintree Town||A||1-1|
|Kingstonian (FAC)||H||2-3||Billericay Town||H||2-1|
Last Six Meetings
* – Kent Senior Cup, Maidstone United won 8-7 on penalties / ^ – F.A Trophy
Elliott Romain has scored four goals in his first five Dartford appearances.
Dartford play the same opponent three times in a row for the first time since 1957 when they played Gravesend and Northfleet in Southern League Cup, FA Cup and F.A Cup replay
Dartford avoided an F.A Trophy defeat for the first time against Maidstone United on the weekend. The previous two meetings in 1972 and 1987 were won by the Stones.
The Darts have won just two of the last nine cup ties against Maidstone United, a Kent Senior Cup Final in 1988 and a Kent Senior Cup first round match in 1991.
Dartford have won seven of the last 11 games against the Stones stretching back to the Kent Senior Cup win in 1991.
The Darts best F.A Trophy performance came in 1974 when they lost the final 2-1 at Wembley to Morecambe. Since then Dartford have been semi-finalists on four occasions with the last time in 2013.
Maidstone United’s run to the Quarter-Final last season equalled their best performance in the competition, they had previously reached the last eight in 1985 and 1987.
On This Day
Elliot Bradbrook’s hat-trick at Weston-super-Mare three years ago sent the Darts into the next round of the F.A Trophy. Andy Pugh scored Dartford’s opener and at 2-2 Tom Bonner was sent off, but it was Bradbrook’s performance that made the headlines. In fact three of the last four Dartford games on 26 November have been F.A Trophy third qualifying round ties. The other two Trophy ties ended without a goal, in 2011 the Darts drew with Eastbourne Borough before winning the replay, and in 2005 they took AFC Wimbledon to another game before exiting the competition.