Dartford aim to create some breathing space in the playoff race, when they host Bath City in the National South this weekend.
Earlier in the season Dartford left it late to beat the Romans in a match with plenty of opportunities for both sides. However, it was Luke Wanadio who made the most of his chance by bending in the winner with six minutes remaining.
The corresponding fixture last term also ended in a Dartford win, this time it was more comfortable. The Darts on an unbeaten run of ten at the time climbed into the playoffs with a 4-1 triumph. Andy Pugh scored two excellent first half goals, Ryan Hayes made it three by half time and Callum McNaughton netted his first for the club.
Over the last three games Dartford have slipped off the pace at the top of the National South. Starting a point behind leaders Ebbsfleet United and Maidenhead United, the Darts were beaten 1-0 at home to Chelmsford City before conceding a last minute equaliser at Oxford City. Ryan Hayes opened the scoring on Saturday netting his 99th goal for the club in the 1-1 draw with the Nomads. After those two matches, the Darts dropped seven points behind the front runners, the pack now hunting Dartford down for a playoff spot now includes Poole Town, Chelmsford City and Hungerford Town.
On Tuesday night, Tony Burman’s side made the short trip to local rivals Welling United. In a first half of few clear cut chances neither team could break the deadlock. Hayes was replaced in the second half by the returning Lee Noble and Ben Francis, recalled to the squad was on the bench for the second consecutive game and was brought on. Still neither side could find the back of the net in a 0-0 draw, leaving Dartford trailing by six points from the top two with eleven games remaining.
Opponents, Bath City lost 1-0 to league leaders Ebbsfleet United last weekend, which halted a run of 14 consecutive games in which the Romans had scored in the National South. The sequence stretched back to October, when the Fleet kept a clean sheet on that day too. A unbeaten run spanning nine matches finished when a solitary mistake was enough for Ebbsfleet United to punish the hosts, condemning them to their first league defeat in 2017, Bradley Bubb headed the winner just after the interval.
Currently in the top ten, Bath City have an outside chance of reaching the playoffs, if they can return to the form which served them well before Saturday’s loss. Up front, Bath City have a trio of attacking players available in Nick McCootie, Marvin Morgan and Andy Watkins. Between them they have scored 25 league goals, just over half of the Romans total.
Bath City have a steady away record, but where they lack goals on their travels they have been tight at the back. Twenty goals scored on the road, the Romans have conceded just eighteen times, only five sides have a better away defence. Yet to beat a team from the National South’s top seven, Bath City have also picked up no points against those in the current top four, but each defeat has only been by a single goal.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 28 / Bath City wins: 40 / Draws: 19
Current League Form
Drew 0-0 v Welling United (A)
Drew 1-1 v Oxford City (A)
Lost 0-1 v Chelmsford City (H)
Won 4-0 v Gosport Borough (A)
Won 3-1 v Whitehawk (H)
Won 4-0 v Wealdstone (A)
Bath City (DWLWWW)
Lost 0-1 v Ebbsfleet United (H)
Won 4-1 v St Albans City (A)
Drew 1-1 v Oxford City (A)
Won 4-0 v Truro City (H)
Won 2-0 v Margate (H)
Won 2-0 v Bishop’s Stortford (H)
Last Six Meetings
Bath City 0 Dartford 1 (22/10/2016 – National South)
Dartford 4 Bath City 1 (16/01/2016 – National South)
Bath City 0 Dartford 0 (05/09/2015 – National South)
Dartford 0 Bath City 1 (07/04/1990 – Southern Premier League)
Bath City 0 Dartford 0 (09/09/1989 – Southern Premier League)
Dartford 1 Bath City 0 (28/01/1989 – Southern Premier League)
Dartford’s 1-0 win in October against Bath City was the first time the Darts recorded back to back victories against the Romans since 1971/72.
The Darts have lost just once in their last six meetings with Bath City. Prior this current run, Bath City went 15 matches unbeaten against Dartford between 1977 and 1989.
In the previous six meetings between the two sides Dartford have kept four clean sheets.
On This Day
Dartford last tasted victory on 4 March in 1989 when they travelled to Gosport Borough in the Southern Premier League and won 2-1. The last home win came 37 years ago, Graham Carr’s Darts beat Waterlooville 2-1 at Watling Street. The long wait for another triumph has seen Dartford draw 1-1 with Chelmsford City in 1991 and Tunbridge Wells in 1995 (Kent League Cup semi-final first leg). The Darts are now on a run of three straight defeats by Eastbourne Borough in 2003 and Enfield Town in 2006, both 1-0 losses and three years ago a 3-0 Kent Senior Cup exit to Dover Athletic.