Dartford begin their F.A Cup campaign with a mouth-watering Kent derby against local rivals Welling United this weekend.
Both sides have started slowly in the National South and a second qualifying round win could provide a much-needed boost. The Darts have lost the last three league games which has put Alan Dowson under pressure. Dartford’s boss is looking to record his first F.A Cup victory for the club after last season’s shock exit to Beckenham Town. Meanwhile, the Wings are third from bottom, two points and three places behind the Darts, not the start new manager Danny Bloor was hoping for.
In Kent derbies, Dowson has excelled winning eight out of nine in league matches. Welling United are the only team to stop the Darts when they drew at Park View Road back in February. This fixture has seen Dartford dominate over the last decade recording 14 wins and nine draws (includes one penalty shoot-out win and loss), leaving the Wings with just two victories in normal time. However, the Darts will want to avoid repeating a loss at this stage of the competition to a fellow county side.
Dartford last hosted Welling United back in November when the Darts were on a crest of a wave during Dowson’s best spell since his appointment. Racing into a three-goal lead before the break Pierre Fonkeu, Davide Rodari and former Wing, Maxwell Statham scored the goals to put Dartford well in command. Former Dart, Ade Azeez pulled a goal back for the visitors, but the advantage was later stretched when Jack Smith and Luke Coulson wrapped up a fine display.
The reverse fixture saw the Darts twice go a goal down to come away with a point. George Alexander, who netted against Dartford for Slough Town this month opened the scoring. It took a while for Dowson’s side to get going and they were level through Charlie Sheringham. The Wings went back ahead after Azeez smashed a shot in off the underside of the crossbar, but Malachi Napa confidently finished to level the match at 2-2.
The same scoreline was recorded in the last two cup ties between the teams. In the Kent Senior Cup second round seven years ago, Welling United won 4-1 on penalties. Harry Crawford scored against his former club, but Dartford went ahead through Ryan Hayes and Keaton Wood. With four minutes on the clock, Matt Fish levelled to send the match to spot-kicks.
In April last year, Dartford survived a scare and came back from two goals down to reach the Kent Senior Cup final. Henry Burnett netted twice to put the hosts in control, but goals by Jordan Greenidge and Jake Robinson saw the semi-final decided from 12 yards. The Darts ran out 5-3 winners and went on to lift the county cup three weeks later.
Hoping a cup run will kick start Dartford’s season, the Darts approach this tie in poor form. Last weekend they fell to a single goal defeat against St Albans City, which followed a loss at home to Slough Town and before that a reverse at Taunton Town.
Last weekend, Dowson opted to drop captain Coulson to the bench giving the armband to the ever-present Joash Nembhard. After almost four weeks out injured Sam Odaudu returned to the starting lineup, Archie Woods made his first start after impressive displays and Moussa Diarra came back into the side. Statham’s injury against Taunton Town ruled him out for a second match, so he could miss playing against his former club. Paul Rooney wasn’t included in the matchday squad, whilst Luke Allen, Tommy Block and Alex Wall were also side-lined. Brandon Barzey will be available after completing his three match ban prior his call up to his national side Montserrat, which also saw the winger unavailable for the last two league games.
Welling United are struggling to find the back of the net and are searching for their first goal this month. Although the Wings claimed a 0-0 home draw with St Albans City, they have lost their last two fixtures against early pacesetters Worthing then Bath City. Danny Bloor has managed two victories whilst in charge of the Kent club and they came back-to-back over the Bank Holiday weekend. The Wings defeated Havant and Waterlooville 3-2 before taking the honours in their only Kent derby so far this season against Tonbridge Angels.
|Dartford (DWWLLL)||Welling United (LWWDLL)|
|St Albans City||A||0-1||Bath City||H||0-1|
|Taunton Town||A||0-1||St Albans City||H||0-0|
|Dover Athletic||H||2-0||Tonbridge Angels||A||1-0|
|Aveley||A||1-0||Havant & Waterlooville||H||3-2|
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 25 / Welling United wins: 10 / Draws: 12
Last Six Meetings
Welling United 2 – 2 Dartford (04/02/2023 – National South)
Dartford 5 – 1 Welling United (01/11/2022 – National South)
Welling United 2 – 2 Dartford (26/04/2022 – Kent Senior Cup)*
Dartford 4 – 2 Welling United (05/02/2022 – National South)
Welling United 0 – 6 Dartford (25/09/2021 – National South)
Dartford 2 – 2 Welling United (06/02/2021 – National South)
* – Welling United won 5-3 on penalties
- Dartford have won half of their cup ties against Welling United (W10, D5, L5), but have never drawn the Wings in the F.A Cup
- The Darts have played 20 F.A Cup ties against Kent sides since reforming in 1993 (W11, D3, L6)
- Dartford are nine games unbeaten in all competitions at home against Welling United (W8, D1)
On This Day
Elliot Bradbrook took home the match ball on this day in 2017 when his hat-trick sent Dartford into the F.A Cup third qualifying round. The Darts beat Barking 3-1 with two of Bradbrook’s goals coming from the penalty spot. Other F.A Cup victories on 16 September included a 4-0 Kent derby triumph over rivals Gravesend and Northfleet in 1967 and a 4-2 win against Redbridge Forest in 1989. However, the Darts recorded their biggest ever F.A Cup victory when they beat Hemel Hempstead 9-2 in 1972.