Dartford recorded their first win of the season on the weekend to give them confidence ahead of their Bank Holiday Monday trip to Hungerford Town.
Under pressure from results in the first five games of the campaign, joint manager Adam Flanagan highlighted the importance of getting positive results over the Bank Holiday weekend, he spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and said: “We’ve got two big games coming up over the Bank Holiday and I think we need two wins”.
On Saturday, Dartford completed half of the mission with a 2-1 home win against Braintree Town. Norman Wabo opened his goalscoring account in the 3-1 reverse at Weymouth and despite defeat he admitted his first goal will help him find the net more regularly, he commented: “I feel like the weight on my shoulders has lifted and I can play freely and get a lot more goals for the club”. At a time when the Darts have been feeling the pressure, Wabo relishes the opportunity, he continued: “It’s better to go out when there’s a bit of pressure on you and the fans are watching. It tends to bring out the best in me”. The former Southend United man proved his claim with another strike in the home win on Saturday.
The Darts had to come from behind when a former player, Femi Akinwande gave the Iron an early lead. Dartford won a penalty with half hour played but the chance was squandered by Luke Wanadio, his shot saved by Michael Johnson. But the Darts fought back when former Braintree Town midfielder Luke Allen equalised and with three minutes remaining substitute, Wabo scored the winner. Victory over the Iron will provide the Darts with a much needed boost as they ended a run of eight without a win against the Essex club.
The return of Darren McQueen from his dislocated shoulder meant only Sam Blackman on the injury list before the Braintree Town game. Jordan Wynter was suspended and will serve the second of his three match ban against Hungerford Town. Wynter’s absence made way for Ronnie Vint’s first appearance of the season on Saturday, whilst Allen and Wanadio were back from injuries, Alex Flisher earned a starting place and Rob Howard made his debut, meaning Ryan Hayes and Ben Greenhalgh were dropped to the bench and Luke Warner-Eley missed out. Howard was signed prior the weekend from Southend United, the 19 year-old will spend a month on loan with the Darts.
In recent seasons Dartford have struggled when visiting Bulpit Lane, losing all three without scoring. A second victory in three days, against two teams they have previously found difficult to beat, will ease the pressure on joint managers Flanagan and Jamie Coyle. Last season the Darts lost 1-0 on their visit to the Crusaders, Conor Lynch scoring the winner.
Hungerford Town expected a tough season based on previous performances, aside from a sixth place finish in their first campaign at this level the Crusaders have staved off relegation going to the final day on each occasion. Ian Herring guided the Berkshire club to safety both times and this season his side have gained four points in the opening six fixtures.
Like Dartford, the Crusaders have picked up all their points from the three home games so far, beating Slough Town in their first match at Bulpit Lane this season. The experienced James Constable, who netted against Dartford for Eastleigh in the National League, has plenty of know how from his time in the Football League with various clubs. The 34-year-old got off the mark to find the winner against the Rebels and scored in the following 3-1 reverse against Maidstone United. In a local derby, Hungerford Town drew their third home games against Chippenham Town 1-1.
On the road, the Crusaders are still waiting to pick up a point and on Saturday they lost 3-1 to league leaders Wealdstone. Herring went for a more defensive approach playing five at the back, however with home advantage on Monday that formation could change to a more attacking approach. Hungerford Town have the second worst goal difference in the division behind Dartford and are just a point behind in the league standings, the Crusaders are second from bottom.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 2 / Hungerford Town wins: 3 / Draws: 1
Current League Form
|Dartford (WLLDDL)||Hungerford Town (LDLLWL)|
|Chelmsford City||A||1-4||Bath City||A||1-2|
|Havant and Waterlooville||H||1-1||Maidstone United||H||1-3|
|St Albans City||H||1-1||Slough Town||H||1-0|
|Wealdstone||A||0-4||Hemel Hempstead Town||A||1-4|
Last Six Meetings
Dartford have yet to claim victory at Bulpit Lane, losing in all three trips there without scoring.
The Darts won in the last meeting to end Hungerford Town’s four game unbeaten run in this fixture. It was also the first time that the away team scored in this fixture.
The Darts last lost their opening three away league games in 2010. The last time they lost their first four was in 1990, when they were racked up nine consecutive away loses in the Southern Premier League.
On This Day
Dartford have won their last three games on 26 August without conceding a goal. The last outing two years ago against Hemel Hempstead Town ended in a 3-0 victory at Hemel Hempstead Town. It took until the second half to register a goal when Elliot Bradbrook netted a penalty, Alfie Pavey doubled the advantage before Bradbrook completed a brace. An away National League fixture at Tamworth finished with the Darts winning 2-0 in 2013, Danny Harris opened the scoring on three minutes and Kenny Clark recorded his only goal in a Dartford shirt. Jay May helped the Darts triumph at home against Kingstonian in the Isthmian Division One South back in 2006, the striker scored the only goal of the game.