Dartford host their second Kent derby at home in three days against Tonbridge Angels on Tuesday night.
Just over a year ago, The Darts claimed a 3-0 victory when they played the Angels with goals from Darren McQueen, Elliott Romain and Charlie Sheringham. King’s side will be hoping to secure their first victory of 2021 after the 0-0 draw with Ebbsfleet United on the weekend.
There was an unusual feeling to the North Kent derby without the normal New Year bumper crowd that would usually be expected. With plenty of games crammed into the next few weeks, King is expecting to make full use of the squad and rotate his starting eleven. Nassim L’Ghoul made his league debut, David Ijaha was in for Jack Jebb, whilst up front Jack Barham and Chris Dickson led the line after a couple of strikers left the club prior the derby. Alfie Pavey was recalled from his loan spell from Barnet and Moussa Bakayoko moved to Havant and Waterlooville. The only other change was Noor Husin coming back into midfield for Luke Allen.
King praised Husin’s performance after the 0-0 draw, he told DFC TV after the game: “Noor was the best player on this pitch by a mile”. Speaking after the stalemate King felt “Ebbsfleet United were a little bit better in the first half. We had a much better second half”, he continued: “We had the clear chances in the whole game, they had a little bit of lady luck, they didn’t have our chances”. The Darts boss also feels there is more to come from recent signing L’Ghoul, he explained: “He hasn’t played for a while, for me he is going to get better and better”.
In some way Dartford have got Tonbridge Angels to thank for a change of direction that took the Darts to the playoffs last season. In the away fixture last term, the Darts were struggling at the wrong end of the table and when they lost 3-2, Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle departed. With a vacant seat, Dartford found the man they were after and since taking charge, Steve King has transformed fortunes on the pitch.
Dartford are only just getting back in the rhythm of league football again after almost a month between their 3-1 defeat at Eastbourne Borough and their home game against rivals Ebbsfleet United. In between those games, the Darts won a penalty shoot out in the F.A Trophy, but suffered a cupset at the hands of Haringey Borough in the next round.
Aside from last season’s away defeat, the Darts have an excellent record against Tonbridge Angels since 2006 coming out on top in an impressive ten of the last 13 meetings, including a winning streak of eight games. Pre Princes Park the story was different with the Angels triumphing six of the eight meetings before Dartford’s stadium opened.
Returning to Dartford is midfielder Ben Greenhalgh who has impressed at Tonbridge Angels since joining them in November. He has chipped in with three goals this term including one in the Angels last league win at the start of last month against Concord Rangers, at the Darts the midfielder managed seven goals in 62 appearances.
The Angels have yet to draw on the road winning and losing three games so far. Up front they have managed just 12 goals, the joint lowest in the division. However with one or two games in hand over teams directly above them Steve McKimm’s side could move closer to the top ten with a couple of victories. Tonbridge Angels have been without a competitive game for three weeks since their F.A Trophy exit to AFC Hornchurch in round two.
McKimm has strengthened the midfield with the loan signing of Adam Lovatt from Sutton United. The 21-year-old has reportedly attracted attention from Stoke City and Sunderland and has trained with Leeds United and Leicester City too.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 68 / Tonbridge Angels wins: 38 / Draws: 24
Current League Form
|Ebbsfleet United||H||0-0||St Albans City||A||1-3|
|Eastbourne Borough||A||1-3||Concord Rangers||H||2-0|
|Hungerford Town||A||2-1||Hemel Hempstead Town||H||1-2|
|Slough Town||H||2-0||Braintree Town||H||0-2|
|St Albans City||H||0-1||Ebbsfleet United||A||0-1|
|Maidstone United||A||2-0||Eastbourne Borough||H||2-2|
Last Six League Meetings
The Darts have won their last five home games against Tonbridge Angels in all competitions.
Dartford have kept four clean sheets in their last five home fixtures versus the Angels.
The Darts have scored two or more goals in their last seven home meetings with Tonbridge Angels.
Dartford have won nine of the last ten competitive matches against the Angels, the only defeat was last season in September last year.
On This Day
Two years ago Dartford were denied victory in injury time at Wealdstone. Elliot Bradbrook opened the scoring with twenty minutes to go, but in the 92nd minute Eion McKeown equalised. The Darts lost to Alfreton Town in the National League eight years ago. Ryan Hayes and Nathan Collier scored for Dartford, Alfreton Town won it though in the last minute. There was no late drama in Dartford’s last win on this day, a 4-0 triumph against Witham Town during the Isthmian Division One North title winning season. Jamie Coyle, Eddie McClements, Ryan Hayes, Brendon Cass all found the back of the net completing a double over their opponents, the Darts won 7-2 just over a month before.