Steve King takes his Dartford side to Eastbourne Borough on the weekend aiming to stay top of the National League South.
The Darts moved into pole position with an excellent result at Hungerford Town in their last away game to remain at the summit. Their closest challengers then dropped points on Tuesday night meaning Dartford head into Saturday’s fixture with a two point lead, whilst Eastbourne Borough currently occupy seventh place.
Dartford have won eight of their first eleven games in their best start to a season since winning the Isthmian Premier League in 2009. The latest victory came against Hungerford Town in a top of the table clash. Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong had a huge impact from off the bench turning defeat into a triumph. The midfielder had started every game before travelling to Bulpit Lane and was almost ruled out after his harsh dismissal against Slough Town, however his red card was rescinded allowing the former Aldershot Town man to be available.
A soft first-half penalty conceded by former Eastbourne Borough full back, Gavin McCallum led to Hungerford Town’s Ryan Seager goal from the spot. McCallum played almost 150 games for the Sports scoring 25 times. Berkeley-Agyepong and Alfie Pavey were introduced in the second half and the pair combined for the equaliser. Pavey’s header back across to Berkeley-Agyepong was smashed home from inside the box. If the Dartford midfielder needed an assist for his first goal it was a superb solo effort for his second. Receiving the ball from a short throw-in, Berkeley-Agyepong made his way across the pitch and unleashed an unstoppable long range shot to score the winner.
Dartford’s first ever win at Bulpit Lane was their fourth consecutive away win. Steve King described his side’s performance as ‘bitty’ but a half-time chat helped turn the game around, he commented to Dartford FC TV: “We didn’t do enough in the first half with too many long balls”, he added: “We felt we needed to do more in possession, we needed to be braver on the ball”. King also pointed out that the quality of his squad helped earn the three points, he said: “We made subs early to change the shape and it got us back in the game. Jacob had a knock during the week and didn’t train and we thought we have quality players, so we didn’t need to risk him. We went with what we went with, it didn’t quite work then Jacob has come on and scored one good goal and one fantastic goal”.
Dartford have won their last two matched against Eastbourne Borough since a heavy 6-0 defeat at Priory Lane in April 2019. Striker, Elliott Romain will be available after serving his one match ban and could play a part against his old side, who he scored against in last season’s visit to Sussex. Romain was on target as well as Norman Wabo in a 2-0 victory. The return fixture ended 2-1 to the Darts which included Jack Jebb’s stunning free-kick at Princes Park.
The Darts will be without the injured Ricky Modeste, whilst Craig Braham-Barrett and David Ijaha have been nursing injuries. Charlie Sheringham and Ronnie Vint have gone out on loan, Abdul Osman has left the club, but Moussa Bakayoko returned to the bench on the weekend.
Under Danny Bloor, Eastbourne Borough have started their campaign well. The Sports finished their last three season’s in eighteenth place and so far this term they are in the final playoff place. The Sussex club, also made the first round of the F.A Cup where they were beaten 3-0 by Blackpool, but they have only picked up two points in their last three outings.
Former Dartford full back, Nick Arnold is in the Sports squad but has yet to make an appearance. Bloor will have a variety of attacking players to choose from including Charlie Walker, Dean Cox and Chris Whelpdale, all three of them have netted against the Darts in the past. Charley Kendall is also one to watch, his four goals whilst on loan has led to an extended stay and along with Kai Innocent. The duo have been an integral part of the Sports side so far this season.
At home, Eastbourne Borough have an even record of two wins, two draws and two defeats. In their last home fixture, they went down 1-0 versus St Albans City to a Shaun Jeffers goal, which will sound familiar to the Darts after the same combination at Princes Park last month. They did however comfortably beat basement side Braintree Town 4-0 earlier in November before a pair of away draws against Tonbridge Angels and Oxford City.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 12 / Eastbourne Borough wins: 6 / Draws: 4
Current League Form
|Hungerford Town||A||2-1||St Albans City||H||0-1|
|Slough Town||H||2-0||Oxford City||A||1-1|
|St Albans City||H||0-1||Tonbridge Angels||A||2-2|
|Maidstone United||A||2-0||Braintree Town||H||4-0|
|Hemel Hempstead Town||A||3-1||Ebbsfleet United||H||1-1|
|Dorking Wanderers||H||2-3||Welling United||H||2-1|
Last Six League Meetings
Dartford have lost just once in the league against Eastbourne Borough in their last 12 games against the Sports (W9, D2)
The Darts have won four of their last six league visits to Priory Lane (D1, L1)
Josh Hill made his 50th Dartford appearance on Saturday. His fifth substitute appearance at Hungerford Town brought up the defender’s half century.
On This Day
Brian Gregory scored a hat-trick inside eight minutes to help Dartford to a 5-0 victory over Yeovil Town in 1981. The much travelled striker only just signed for the Darts from rivals Dover Athletic and made an instant impact in the Alliance Premier League win. Elliot Bradbrook scored twice as the Darts beat Havant and Waterlooville 4-2 at Princes Park in 2015. The former Darts captain opened the scoring from the spot and Danny Harris doubled the lead in first-half stoppage time. Havant and Waterlooville hit back in the second-half with goals from Dan Strugnell and Matt Paterson. Dartford managed to pull away again when Bradbrook netted once more and Ebou Adams grabbed his first senior goal. Dartford’s last away game on this day was in 1998 when they lost 3-2 at Baldock Town in the Southern League South.