Celebrating Non-League Day, the Darts are back in National South action this weekend taking on Oxford City at Marsh Lane.
Dartford’s playoff ambitions ended at Saturday’s venue six months agoon the final day of last season. Ronnie Vint’s goal put fate in Dartford’s hands as they moved into the playoff places. Then in an eight-minute second half spell Zac McEachran and Kabongo Tshimanga ended Darts’ hopes of finishing in the top seven.
This time the Darts approach their trip with more confidence having won three of their last four matches in all competitions. A couple of 2-0 victories over Concord Rangers in the league and Horsham in the F.A Cup was followed up by a 3-2 reverse at home to Slough Town. On the weekend, Dartford continued their progress in the F.A Cup comfortably beating Southern Premier South side Blackfield and Langley to record their third consecutive away victory.
In charge of the third qualifying round tie, Tony Burman opted to play Cameron Brodie at right back to replace the departed Alex Flisher. Returning from suspension, Lee Noble was back in the team alongside Luke Allen and Tom Bonner came in at left back. Up front Darren McQueen made way for Adam Cunnington.
Charlie Sheringham almost opened the scoring after just three minutes, but his effort was ruled out for offside. However, the striker only had to wait a little longer when he linked up with Cunnington to score from close range. Luke Allen netted his second F.A Cup goal in as many games after a well worked move and just before half-time Mark Smith’s stunning save kept the score at 2-0. In the second-half, Allen won a penalty which Sheringham converted and despite the hosts pulling a goal back, Cunnington headed in the fourth which was to be his last for the club after he left by mutual consent this week.
As well as Brodie racking up more minutes, two other academy players featured as substitutes and were introduced. Alfie Evans showed promise in midfield and Jay Bacon replaced the injured Sheringham, who will now be out with a dislocated shoulder. In other team news, Rob Howard will be available for selection after missing the F.A Cup fixture to prevent getting cup tied. Jordan Wynter and Sam Blackman and are moving towards full recoveries, Mark Onyemah could be fit after a knee injury.
Oxford City beat the Darts twice at home last term also winning a F.A Cup fixture 4-1, Tshimanga’s hat-trick was the highlight of the cup tie. Since Dartford’s return to the National South in 2015, the Darts have only managed a single victory at Marsh Lane in five attempts. Elliot Bradbrook and Tom Murphy scored the goals to secure a 2-0 win back in March 2018.
Under the guidance of Mark Jones, Oxford City are level on points with Dartford with the same goal difference. Where the Darts have outscored Saturday’s opponents, the Hoops have a stronger defence. Winless in five league games, the Oxfordshire club last tasted victory in the National South on August’s Bank Holiday, their only home win and only other league triumph came two weeks earlier.
The latest reverse came in their last league fixture against Braintree Town. A first-half penalty was scored by Braintree Town’s Ade Cole and was enough to condemn the Hoops to their sixth defeat of the campaign. Either side the National South loss, Oxford City have progressed through to the F.A Cup fourth qualifying round scoring nine times without reply. Southern League Division One Central side north Leigh were beaten 7-0, goals coming from six different players and an own goal.
Jones’ side will take more confidence from last weekend’s third qualifying round win, especially as it was against fellow National South side Hampton and Richmond Borough. In a six minute second-half spell Nana Owusu netted from the spot and McEachran added a second to earn a fourth qualifying round tie with Margate.
Head to Head
Oxford City wins: 2 / Dartford wins: 4 / Draws: 2
Current League Form
|Slough Town||H||2-3||Braintree Town||A||0-1|
|Concord Rangers||A||2-0||Billericay Town||H||2-2|
|Hemel Hempstead Town||H||1-1||Havant & Waterlooville||H||0-3|
|Hungerford Town||A||2-2||Bath City||A||2-1|
Last Six Meetings
Dartford are on a three game winning run in all competitions, the last time they won for four straight away matches was from 17 February 2018 to 4 August 2018. The Darts won their last five away games in the 2017/2018 campaign and the opening away match last season.
The Darts have scored two or more goals in each of their last six outings, they last managed that in September 2017. They last managed two or more goals in seven consecutive games the year before during September and October of 2016
The Darts have lost their last two games at Marsh Lane and have won once in their last five attempts at Oxford City.
On This Day
Dartford last tasted defeat on 12 October in 1963 and since then they have played six, won three and drew three. The last two fixtures on this day ended all square in normal time with the most recent six years ago against Hereford United. The National League match finished 2-2 with Lee Noble opening the scoring before Kevin Krans and Ross Dyer put the hosts ahead. A point was rescued when Uche Ibemere’s late goal made sure of the draw. Nine years ago, a dramatic evening saw Dartford beat Canvey Island on penalties after playing out an enthralling 3-3 F.A Cup third qualifying round replay. Danny Harris, Carl Rook and Paul Goodacre put the Darts 3-1 up, but they let the lead slip as Canvey Island forced extra time then penalties, the shoot-out finished 9-8.