Dartford managed a last gasp draw against Maidstone United last weekend in the National South, now they will meet at the Gallagher Stadium in this weekend’s F.A Trophy third qualifying round.
Trailing the Stones at Princes Park on Saturday with only four minutes remaining, the Darts came from two goals down to draw 2-2. After a goalless first half, two quickfire goals from Dan Wishart, just before the hour mark and three minutes later by Ibby Akanbi had the visitors in control. However, Dartford hit back late on when Tom Bonner headed a goal back from close range, then Darren McQueen followed up his own effort with the equaliser.
Dartford boss, Steve King opted to play Luke Wanadio instead of Cameron Brodie and Andy Pugh replaced Norman Wabo. Meanwhile, Charlie Sheringham, Jordan Wynter, Sam Blackman and Lee Noble were all unavailable through injury. The Stones named an unchanged side to the team that knocked out Torquay United in the F.A Cup first round.
Since defeat in his only cup game as Dartford manager, against Kingstonian, King has recorded two victories and two draws. As his squad begins to take shape his man management skills came to fruition on the weekend calling on substitute McQueen to rescue a point, King spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk after the game and commented: “I said to Darren McQueen before the game, you’re not starting but you can come on and make a difference”, he added: “Subs play an important role. If you’re out of it, you can still be in it and be the hero”.
Even at two goals down, King felt his team deserved something from the game, he said: “If we hadn’t got anything from that game I’d have been devastated because we more than deserved to win that, in my opinion”, he continued: “People can say we were 2-0 down but we had chance after chance and we’ve got to get on the end of those crosses”.
King has completed his first month at the helm and so far, and is pleased with the attitude of his players, he commented: “For us, it’s all new and we’re trying to put together a group that can get that consistency of win, win, win. I don’t expect us to be there yet but what I am seeing is fight, willingness to do what they’re asked and a group that are coming together”.
Head of Football and former Dartford manager, John Still believed that individual errors cost Maidstone United victory at Princes Park, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We defended poorly. I think their first goal, the goalie’s got to save that because it’s a cross, it’s routine. Second goal, we’ve got to win the header and we’ve got to get the cover”.
Maidstone United have won their last six home games in all competitions and are unbeaten at the Gallagher Stadium since the opening day defeat against Weymouth. In cup competitions manager, Hakan Hayrettin has led the Stones to four F.A Cup victories but his side are just outside the National South playoff places.
Dartford will be the visiting the Gallagher Stadium in their first competitive match there for three and half years. In April 2016, Lee Burns ended up in goal during the closing stages of the game after Deren Ibrahim suffered an arm injury. Nathan Ferguson’s second-half winner was enough to earn Dartford a 2-1 win at the Gallagher Stadium, Elliot Bradbrook’s penalty was earlier cancelled out by Keaton Wood’s own goal.
Last season Dartford went out at the third qualifying round stage losing to Eastbourne Borough in a replay. It was the first time the Darts went out at that stage since the 2015 defeat at home to Whitehawk, the manager for the Hawks that day was Steve King. Maidstone United enjoyed a run to the quarter-finals last term beating Woking, Oxford City and Salford City along the way. The Stones fell short in the last eight losing a replay to Stockport County.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 44 / Maidstone United wins: 44 / Draws: 18
Current Form (FAC – F.A Cup)
|Hampton & Richmond||A||2-1||Torquay United (FAC)||H||1-0|
|Eastbourne Borough||A||2-0||Hampton & Richmond||A||1-2|
|Chippenham Town||H||1-1||Braintree Town||A||1-1|
|Kingstonian (FAC)||H||2-3||Billericay Town||H||2-1|
|Oxford City||A||1-0||Kings Langley (FAC)||H||4-1|
Last Six Meetings
* – Kent Senior Cup, Maidstone United won 8-7 on penalties
Maidstone United have won both F.A Trophy ties between the two sides. In 1987 the Stones won 5-1 in the first round and in 1972 they won 1-0 at the same stage.
The Darts have won just two of the last eight cup ties against Maidstone United, a Kent Senior Cup Final in 1988 and a Kent Senior Cup first round match in 1991.
Dartford have won seven of the last ten games against the Stones stretching back to the Kent Senior Cup win in 1991.
The Darts best F.A Trophy performance came in 1974 when they lost the final 2-1 at Wembley to Morecambe. Since then Dartford have been semi-finalists on four occasions with the last time in 2013.
Maidstone United’s run to the Quarter-Final last season equalled their best performance in the competition, they had previously reached the last eight in 1985 and 1987.
On This Day
Dartford’s last victory on the 23 November was way back in 1991 when they beat Burton Albion 1-0 in the Southern Premier League. Since then the Darts four of their last five including a F.A Trophy second round defeat against Farnborough Town in 1998. Dartford were also knocked out of the Southern League Cup 15 years ago losing 5-2 to Wingate and Finchley and their last game on this day was a 1-0 loss at home to Gateshead six years ago. The last time the Darts avoided defeat on this day since the Burton Albion victory was in the 0-0 draw against local rivals Erith and Belvedere in 2002.