Dartford are in action on Tuesday night hoping to start a new unbeaten run when they travel to Hemel Hempstead Town.
The Darts tasted their first defeat of the season on the weekend and their first in the league since February. Hosting a strong Dorking Wanderers side, Dartford were haunted by their former striker Jason Prior once again. The Darts fell to a 3-2 loss in which they pegged the visitors back twice.
Two former Havant and Waterlooville players netted for Dorking Wanderers with Wes Fogden opening the scoring. Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong equalised only for Prior to add another goal to his career tally against Dartford. Jack Jebb levelled for the hosts with a free-kick and with 15 minutes to go Matthew Briggs won it for Wanderers. It had been almost a year since the Darts last conceded three under Steve King.
King felt the Darts “were the better side”, but lacked the finishing touch, he spoke to Dartford FC TV and said: “If there is only one criticism on us, for all the good approach play we didn’t work the goalkeeper enough. We had the majority of the game, we penned them back in their own half and they couldn’t get out”.
Despite defeat it has still been a decent start to the season for Dartford, their best for 11 years when they went on to claim the Isthmian Premier League crown. King’s side will be determined to “bounce back” and begin another unbeaten run to extend their good record over Hemel Hempstead Town.
However, the Dartford boss doesn’t expect life to be easy on Tuesday night, he commented: “It will be a different test and a tough test as well now because they went away to Bath and won 2-1. I know Bath are not having the greatest of times right now, but it’s very hard to go away and win at Bath”, he added: “They’ve obviously got capabilities within their group and I’ve seen that when I went to watch them at Billericay Town, even though they lost it wasn’t a 4-1 game. So we need to get back on it and I’m sure we will”.
Craig Braham-Barrett has started every game this season for the Darts and another start will see the full-back face his former club. The defender was at Vauxhall Road last season with Connor Essam, making 20 appearances for the Tudors, whilst Essam made 33 appearances. Striker, Charlie Sheringham has also represented Hemel Hempstead Town in his past, playing a total of 31 games and scoring 15 goals in 2017 and 2018.
Dartford made just one change in their defeat against Dorking Wanderers due to Moussa Bakayoko’s injury. Whilst Luke Allen returned to action after almost a year without competitive action for the club. Jordan Wynter and Ky Marsh-Brown were also named on the bench after recovering from injury. King hinted some changes to the team will be needed considering the Darts also have their first Kent derby of the campaign coming up, on Saturday against second place Maidstone United.
Hemel Hempstead Town appointed Lee Bircham as manager in July after an impressive season with Berkhamsted, in the Southern League Division One Central. Guiding the Comrades to the top of the table, they held a one-point lead with ten games remaining before the campaign was halted.
The new boss is still searching for the right formula having made nineteen changes in his team selection over the six league games so far. The campaign started with a narrow 1-0 loss to Slough Town, but since then Hemel Hempstead Town have been fragile in defence. Three 4-1 defeats to Eastbourne Borough, Maidstone United and Billericay Town and their first win of the season, which was 4-3 over Braintree Town, has seen the Hertfordshire side leak goals.
After the Tudors third straight reverse, Bircham delved into the loan market to bring in Queens Park Rangers pair, Stephen Duke-McKenna and Nathan Carlyle, who spent some time out on loan at Concord Rangers recently. Former, Queens Park Rangers midfielder Chris Paul was also added to the squad from Havant and Waterlooville. The trio made their league debuts in Hemel Hempstead Town’s National South win at Braintree Town.
On Saturday, they travelled to Bath City and were much tighter at the back conceding just once and went on to record their second victory. The Tudors beat the Romans 2-1 to climb up to twelfth with Reggie Young winning a penalty and scoring the decisive goal. Matt Bateman equalised from the spot after Bath City’s Donovan Wilson gave the hosts the lead, then Young claimed the winner with ten minutes to go.
Last season, Dartford only played Hemel Hempstead Town once which ended in a 1-1 draw at Princes Park. Norman Wabo cancelled out Sam Ashford’s goal and Adam Cunnington missed a penalty. The Darts last visit to Vauxhall Road was in March 2019 and the game only came to life in the closing ten minutes. Phil Roberts scored a brace either side of Jordan Parkes’ penalty in a 2-1 victory.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 5 / Hemel Hempstead Town wins: 1 / Draws: 4
Current League Form
|Hemel Hempstead Town|
|Dorking Wanderers||H||2-3||Bath City||A||2-1|
|Havant &Waterloovile||H||2-1||Billericay Town||H||1-4|
|Chippenham Town||A||2-1||Braintree Town||A||4-3|
|Bath City||H||1-0||Maidstone United||A||1-4|
|Hampton & Richmond||A||0-0||Eastbourne Borough||H||1-4|
|Chelmsford City||H||1-0||Slough Town||A||0-1|
Last six Meetings
|31.08.2019||Dartford||1||Hemel Hempstead Town||1|
|05.03.2019||Hemel Hempstead Town||1||Dartford||2|
|11.08.2018||Dartford||0||Hemel Hempstead Town||0|
|17.03.2018||Dartford||3||Hemel Hempstead Town||2|
|26.08.2017||Hemel Hempstead Town||0||Dartford||3|
|01.04.2017||Hemel Hempstead Town||2||Dartford||2|
Dartford are unbeaten in eight matches against Hemel Hempstead Town (W4, D4).
The Darts have won in their last two visits at Vauxhall Road.
Hemel Hempstead Town’s only win over the Darts came on the first day of the 2015/2016 season.
On This Day
Tom Bonner scored the second goal on a famous day for the Darts eight years ago. Dartford went to Kenilworth Road and beat Luton Town 2-0, Lee Noble netted the opener. In ten of the last 12 games on this day Dartford have scored two goals, but their last victory before 2012 was 39 years earlier. A third consecutive 2-0 win on 10 November was completed in a 1981 Kent Senior Cup tie against Welling United, in 1979 the Darts defeated Bognor Regis Town and in 1973 they beat Barnet. Between the Welling United and Luton Town triumphs, Dartford lost three and drew two.