Dartford finally have the chance to win their first piece of silverware in five years when they host the delayed Kent Senior Cup final against Whitstable Town.
The Darts have won the competition eleven times and are second in the all-time winners list. Whitstable Town, who kick started the competition just over two years ago are aiming for an upset and their first ever Kent Senior Cup title.
Separated by two divisions, the Darts will be wary of playing opponents from a lower division. It was only last month they went out of the F.A Cup to AFC Sudbury, a team at the same level of Whitstable Town. However, Dartford have played two county cup games against lower league opposition since making this final, beating Athletic Newham 5-2 and Cockfosters 9-0 in the London Senior Cup, both teams three divisions below the Darts.
Five of the current squad played in the semi-final twenty months ago, Tom Bonner, Noor Husin, Jack Jebb and Luke Wanadio as well as Ronnie Vint, who returned from his loan spell at Dulwich Hamlet to start Saturday’s game against Hemel Hempstead Town.
Tyrique Hyde made a substitute appearance in the 5-1 win over Phoenix Sports that got Dartford to the final, since then the midfielder left the Darts, returned to Princes Park, then was sent out on loan this season. Hyde was recalled from Hemel Hempstead Town and made an immediate impact on his return to Vauxhall Road on the weekend. Dartford claimed their first league win since early October beating the Tudors 3-2. It was Hyde who scored twice, opening the scoring before the hosts equalised. Ade Azeez netted a penalty, his 14th goal of the season in 17 appearances, then Hyde gave the Darts a two goal cushion before Hemel Hempstead Town’s late consolation.
Whitstable Town have had a tough start to their campaign and poor form saw Lloyd Blackman step down as manager. Just one cup win and a single league point in their opening ten competitive matches led to a change in the dugout. In stepped Keith McMahon and his first task was to win the Kent Senior Cup semi-final, which was dramatically achieved in the last minute against Gillingham. McMahon went on to win his first league game, but since then he has picked up just four points in the last seven outings, three of those points on Saturday.
McMahon will want his side to make the cup final more competitive than the club’s only other appearance. The Oystermen reached the 2009 Kent Senior Cup final and lost 6-1 to Welling United, former Dartford striker Charlie Sheringham scored for the Wings that day. The new boss approaches Wednesday’s finale after a ending their six game winless run by beating Hythe Town. Recently McMahon has bolstered his attack with new signings Kemo Darboe and Stephen Okoh. Earlier in the month he signed former Hungerford Town and Wealdstone striker Harry Goodger as well as Luke Griffiths, Alex Gaggin, Luke Illsley and Luca Woodhouse. Illsley and Gaggin both scored in the 3-0 win on Saturday, Danny Walder added the third late on.
Dartford have played just as many cup games against Whitstable Town as they have league fixtures in the past. During the Darts three year spell in the Kent League First Division they won three, drew two and lost once to the Oystermen. The last three meetings have all been cup ties with the most recent ten years ago. Dartford thrashed Whitstable Town 6-1 in the Kent Senior Cup quarter-final on the way to lifting the cup. The only other Kent Senior Cup fixture also ended in a Dartford win in 2001 when the score was 2-1.
Twice the Darts have beaten Wednesday’s finalists on the way to picking up silverware, in 1996 another 2-1 victory in round three helped Dartford on their way on route to a Kent Senior Trophy triumph. Whitstable Town’s only cup win in six was back in 1993 when they knocked out the Darts of the Kent League Cup with a 2-1 victory.
It’s been a long road to get the 2019/2020 final played, in fact Dartford secured their spot in the final way back in March last year. The Oystermen had to wait until last month to play their semi-final and book their place.
Route to the Final
Cray Valley Paper Mills 1-2 Whitstable Town
Harry Stannard took advantage of a defensive mistake early on to give the Oystermen the lead. Aaron Millbank was fouled in the penalty box and took the spot kick to put Whitstable two up. Cray Valley Paper Mills pulled a goal back through Josh James.
Maidstone United 0-1 Dartford – highlights
Having played each other three times in November 2019, two months later the two sides met again. Only Josh Hill from the current Dartford squad started this game, but the decisive goal came from winger Ky Marsh-Brown.
Welling United 1-2 Whitstable Town
The Isthmian Division One South East side had to come from a goal down to win this one. Welling United went ahead when Dipo Akinyemi’s shot hit the post and went in off goalkeeper Dan Eason. A brace from Marshall Wratten secured revenge for the 6-1 final defeat in 2009.
Dartford 4-0 Folkestone Invicta – highlights
The last eight tie was a bit easier for the Darts as they cruised into the semi-final. Liam Nash opened the scoring just past the half hour mark. Six minutes later Tyrique Hyde, in his first spell at the club netted a spot kick. Billy Crook and Elliott Romain added to the score in the second half.
Whitstable Town 1-0 Ramsgate
Into the last eight and Whitstable Town edged past Ramsgate to make the last four. A solitary goal by substitute Charles Etumnu was enough to see the Oystermen through to the semi-final. Whitstable Town played the last half hour with ten men after Liam King was shown a straight red.
Dartford 5-1 Phoenix Sports – highlights
Goals continued to flow, and this time Dartford hit five starting with Jordan Wynter’s first half strike. Nash doubled the lead before Kehinde Aileru scored a penalty for Phoenix Sports. The Darts raced away in the final half hour with goals from Romain, Amrit Bansal-McNulty and Nash’s second.
Whitstable Town 1-0 Gillingham
A perfect and dramatic start for new manager Keith McMahon as his side claimed another single goal victory against a young Gillingham side. As the tie headed to a climax, up popped Tom Carlton in the last minute to send the Oystermen into their second ever Kent Senior Cup final.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 8 / Whitstable Town wins: 2 / Draws: 2
|Hemel Hempstead Town||A||3-2||Hythe Town||A||3-0|
|Cockfosters (LSC)||H||9-0||Burgess Hill Town||H||0-1|
|Oxford City||H||0-0||Chichester City||A||1-2|
|Chippenham Town||H||3-3||Hastings United||A||1-4|
|Concord Rangers||A||0-1||Three Bridges||H||1-1|
|Dorking Wanderers||A||0-1||Ashford United||A||0-2|
Previous Meetings (last six)
Dartford 6 – 1 Whitstable Town (08/03/2011 – Kent Senior Cup)
Dartford 3 – 0 Whitstable Town (04/12/2007 – Isthmian League Cup)
Dartford 2– 1 Whitstable Town (27/11/2001 – Kent Senior Cup )
Dartford 2 – 0 Whitstable Town (24/02/1996 – Kent League First Division)
Whitstable Town 1 – 2 Dartford (24/01/1996 – Kent Senior Trophy)
Whitstable Town 2 – 2 Dartford (16/09/1995 – Kent League First Division)
- Dartford have scored five or more in each of their last three county cup games (5-1 versus Phoenix Sports in the Kent Senior Cup, 5-2 against Athletic Newham and 9-0 versus Cockfosters both in the London Senior Cup)
- The Darts have scored 23 and conceded three in their last four county cup games
- Dartford have won 11 of their last 14 county cup ties
- Emmanuel Sonupe has scored five goals in his first two county cup games for the Darts (both London Senior Cup)
- Whitstable Town have won three Kent Senior Trophy titles, but never the Kent Senior Cup
On This Day
Top of the Isthmian Premier League and home to Tooting and Mitcham United, the Darts found themselves 2-0 down on this day in 2009. Dartford showed their championship winning credentials fighting back to win 3-2 with two goals from Ryan Hayes and the other from Rob Howard.
Dartford’s run to the F.A Trophy semi-final started on this day in 2012. In a memorable season when the Darts finished eighth in the National League, Tony Burman’s side beat Kingstonian in round one with goals from Jacob Erskine, Elliot Bradbrook, Danny Harris and Nathan Collier. Six years later in the same competition Kudus Oyenuga forced a replay with a goal four minutes from time in a 1-1 draw with Eastbourne Borough, the Darts went out in the third qualifying round replay.
The only other time the Darts played a Kent Senior Cup tie on this day was in 1923 when they beat Charlton Athletic Reserves 1-0 in the first round.