Clinging on to top spot after a dip in form, the Darts have another tough fixture this weekend when they host fourth place Oxford City.
Dartford led the National South table by five points a month ago and were unbeaten, but four winless games later they have seen their advantage cut to just two points having played two games more than their closest challengers. Oxford City visit Princes Park having never won there, however the Hoops are unbeaten in their last six league outings and victory will move them to within a point of the Darts.
Steve King’s side could have had a greater cushion at the summit were they able to hold on to victory on the weekend against Chippenham Town. Dartford came from behind to lead at the break, then twice gave up their advantage in a 3-3 draw. In the build-up the Darts followed up a goalless draw with Chelmsford City with a pair of 1-0 defeats at Dorking Wanderers and Concord Rangers. So, it was a relief to end the goal drought just before half-time when Ade Azeez equalised netting his first in five games to level the match, the striker’s thirteenth of the campaign in fifteen appearances. Chippenham Town’s Dan Griffiths had earlier put the Bluebirds ahead. Then two minutes after Azeez’s header, later Noor Husin put Dartford in front before the interval. In the second-half, Ricky Aguiar equalised again for the visitors, Azeez looked like he’d won the match for the Darts with thirteen to go, but in the final minute Luke Russe rescued a point for the Wiltshire club.
After the loss at Concord Rangers, King made four changes to the starting eleven with winger Luke Wanadio playing at full back, instead of Jordan Wynter who picked up an injury in training. The Dartford boss praised Wanadio for his ‘sterling’ job considering he was playing out of position. The winger himself picked up a slight injury in the draw against Chippenham Town resulting in him being replaced late on in the game. Connor Essam returned at centre half in place of Josh Hill, George Porter and Jack Jebb came in for Luke Allen and Danny Leonard. The Darts are still waiting for the return of striker Jake Robinson who has been out with injury.
King may have been disappointed at dropping two points after back to back losses, but he praised his side’s character, he told Dartford FC TV: “Where we felt a little bit of confidence had gone from a number of players, to show character after 1-0 down to go back 2-1 up I felt was brilliant”.
Dartford have won the last two meetings without conceding, but didn’t play Oxford City last season. In January 2020, the Darts strolled to a 3-0 win with Luke Wanadio closing the scoring just before the hour mark. Darren McQueen and Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong both scored in first-half stoppage time. The victory completed a double over the Hoops as three months earlier Dartford won at Marsh Lane, Ben Greenhalgh scoring the decisive goal.
At home the Darts have beaten Oxford City five times out of seven, drawing the other two. One of those victories came three years to the day when the Darts won 3-2 in the National South. Craig King was in the opposition goal then and was helpless to stop Andre Coker, Jordan Wynter then Charlie Sheringham all scoring inside the opening half an hour. Joe Oastler scored for the Hoops at two down and in the second half, Zac McEachran netted to set up a nervy finish.
Manager, David Oldfield has so far led Oxford City into a strong league position and have the second best form over the last eight fixtures. Helping the side to rack up the points, striker Joe Iaciofano has scored six goals in the last six league games. The 23-year-old scored against Dartford in August 2019, when he joint top scored in the division with Darren McQueen that season whilst playing for St Albans City. The Hoops have won their last three National South fixtures on the road keeping clean sheets in their last two.
Second in the goalscoring charts this term, level with Dartford, only Eastbourne Borough have netted more. In this fixture, statistics point towards plenty of goal action with an average of just under four goals a game in the fourteen meetings between the two clubs.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 8 / Oxford City wins: 3 / Draws: 3
Current League Form
|Chippenham Town||H||3-3||Tonbridge Angels||A||2-0|
|Concord Rangers||A||0-1||Chelmsford City||H||1-1|
|Dorking Wanderers||A||0-1||Hemel Hempstead Town||A||4-0|
|Chelmsford City||A||0-0||Welling United||H||3-0|
|Hungerford Town||H||1-0||Hampton & Richmond Borough||H||1-1|
|Welling United||A||6-0||Havant & Waterlooville||A||2-1|
Dartford 3 – 0 Oxford City (11/01/2020 – National South)
Oxford City 0 – 1 Dartford (12/10/2019 – National South)
Oxford City 2 – 1 Dartford (27/04/2019 – National South)
Dartford 3 – 2 Oxford City (13/11/2018 – National South)
Oxford City 4 – 1 Dartford (06/10/2018 – F.A Cup)
Oxford City 0 – 2 Dartford (24/03/2018 – National South)
- Dartford have won the last four league games at home against Oxford City including a 7-1 victory in 2017
- The Darts are unbeaten in all seven home games versus the Hoops winning five and drawing two
- There have been three or more goals in 6 of the 7 games in which Dartford have been at home against Oxford City
On This Day
Premier League striker Danny Ings was part of the Dorchester Town side that brushed Dartford aside in 2010. On loan from AFC Bournemouth, Ings scored one of the goals that handed the Magpies a 4-0 victory at Princes Park. A Tom Bradbrook double and John Guest goal against Aveley put Dartford into the next round of the Isthmian League Cup in 2007. A nine goal thriller was played out in 1993 when the Darts beat Ramsgate 5-4 in the Kent League. Dartford managed to let a 3-1 lead slip to go 4-3 down, then two late goals swung the game Dartford’s way. That wasn’t even the highest aggregate score on this day, back in 1897 the Darts beat former F.A Cup winners and three times runners up, Royal Engineers 8-3 in the Southern League Second Division. In that same competition, twice Dartford progressed to the first round on this day with triumphs over Leyton in 1937 (3-0) and Wimbledon in 1948 (2-1).