Steve King once again comes face to face with his former club as Dartford open the New Year against local rivals Welling United.
Dartford’s boss came so close to guiding the Wings back to the National League last term reaching the Playoff final. Now King will be up against his old team for the second time over the festive season after the Boxing Day clash at Park View Road. It will be the third consecutive year that the Darts have hosted Welling United on New Year’s Day and the previous two meetings ended victorious.
Bragging rights were shared last season when the home side won on each occasion. King was in the opposite dugout and at Park View Road guided the Wings to a 2-0 victory. The former Welling United boss wasn’t the only person up against his future club, Josh Hill was selected in the starting eleven and scored the opening goal. Hill had a previous spell with the Darts in 2013 and when Danny Mills netted the Wings second the Darts were sunk by two former players.
After the Boxing Day defeat, Dartford were looking for revenge at Princes Park on New Year’s Day. Ronnie Vint’s late winner with four minutes remaining was enough to earn the Darts three points. An excellent delivery by Ben Greenhalgh wasn’t cleared by the Welling United defence and Vint forced the ball home for the winner.
The previous campaign also saw the two sides meet on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day with Dartford completing a festive double. Out of the two clashes the away fixture at Park View Road will be remembered for Alfie Pavey’s superb last-minute strike. After the Darts threw away a two-goal lead given to them by an Andy Pugh brace, the home side pulled one back through former Dart, Callum Driver and with three minutes to go Jeffrey Monakana equalised. It looked like a draw was on the cards until in the last-minute Alfie Pavey produced a stunning scissor kick from outside the box to clinch victory.
The return fixture ended with a convincing Dartford win, their biggest against Welling United since New Year’s Eve in 1983. This time Pavey came off the bench to grab a brace against his old club to secure a 4-1 triumph. Ryan Hayes opened the scoring with a low drive and Elliot Romain headed the equaliser against his future side. Pugh sent the Darts into the break with a 2-1 lead before Pavey’s second-half goals.
Welling United finished third last term and despite a place in the Playoff final they made a managerial change in the summer. Mark Goldberg decided to take on the role as Manager to help reduce the budget, his second spell in charge of the Wings after stepping down in 2016. Welling United have been inconsistent this campaign with a stronger home record than away. Although they have a fairly low scoring tally they have a defence worthy of a playoff chasing side.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 20 / Welling United wins: 10 / Draws: 9
Last Six Meetings
The Darts have won the last five games against Welling United at Princes Park in all competitions.
Dartford have tasted defeat just once in their last 11 games against the Wings after ninety minutes, on Boxing Day last year. The Darts also lost on penalties in the Kent Senior Cup three years ago.
The Darts have scored in each of their last 17 home games against Welling United, last failing to score on 28 February 1980 in the Kent Floodlit Cup. Dartford have scored in every home league game versus the Wings.
Both teams have scored in this fixture in 10 of the last 13 meetings.
On This Day
Dartford’s last two New Year’s Day wins have been against Welling United. Before those triumphs the Darts had gone six without a win on the first day of the year. In 2001, Dartford brushed aside Sittingbourne 5-2 in the Southern League Division One East, the start of seven consecutive away games on 1 January, in which Dartford lost five a drew two. The Darts lost to Fisher Athletic (2004), Maldon Town (2005) and Welling United (2011) before drawing with Ebbsfleet United in 2013. Defeats against Braintree Town (2015) and Ebbsfleet United (2017) followed before the run was stopped in 2018 against Welling United. That win ended a 28 year wait for a home New Year’s Day win, which came against Gravesend and Northfleet, the final score 5-0 after a goalless first-half.