Dartford visit Southern Premier South champions Weymouth on the weekend in hope they secure their first win of the season.
The Darts have taken just two points in their opening four games in their worst start to a campaign in five years. Meanwhile, newly promoted Weymouth have settled in the National South going unbeaten with two victories and two draws. Over the years, the Terras have often got the better of the Darts, but the last meeting between the two sides was almost 22 years ago. Victory for Dartford will be the first triumph at the Dorset club since April 1990.
On Monday night, Dartford capitulated away from home once again falling to a heavy 4-0 reverse at Chelmsford City. It was the second away game in a row in which the Darts conceded four, the first time being on the opening day of the season at Wealdstone. In both of those matches Dartford fell apart over a short second half period, at Wealdstone they let in three goals in twelve minutes and on Monday they shipped in three in a fifteen minute spell.
The pair of defeats sandwiched a couple of 1-1 draws at home to St Albans City then Havant and Waterlooville. Joint manager, Jamie Coyle is concerned with his side defending, he spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and said: “We’re conceding sloppy goals which we didn’t do last year which is a concern for us”, he continued: “Some of them are coming from set-pieces which is really disappointing. We’ve got a lot of work to do”.
Despite two heavy defeats, the Darts have been competitive in parts and have arguably been the better side at times with the scorelines flattering the opposition, Coyle added: “We’ve said that too many times this season. The first half was the most we’ve dominated a side this season. We had some glorious chances, put some great set-pieces into the box and unfortunately didn’t score the goal”.
New striker Adam Cunnington has performed well as a target man since joining the Darts, but he has asked his team-mates to mix up their style of play, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We’ve got to make sure we don’t go too direct and make sure we mix it up a little bit”, he continued: “We did that to a degree at Chelmsford in the first half and looked a better side for it. Second half, we went one-nil down and went long ball again. Every flick-on isn’t going to go through, teams aren’t silly”.
After two away games where Dartford fell apart, Cunnington commented: “We’ve got to stand up and be counted. You can’t be losing games 4-0 in National South. You have to stay in games and then you never know, you might nick a goal at the end and come away with a draw”.
The 31-year-old is keen for the side to get off to a good start on Saturday at Weymouth, he added: “We’ve had a real tough start – no excuses – we should have picked up more points. But we have to look forward. We’ll go there knowing we can hurt them, we’ve just got to take those chances early on. It settles everyone’s nerves a bit and then we can relax and play our football. By the looks of it, that’s the key to us at the moment”.
With a sizeable injury list, which includes summer signing Sam Blackman as a long term absentee, there is hope returning players may turn Dartford’s fortunes around. Charlie Sheringham and Alex Flisher were named on the bench after a spell on the sidelines, but Lee Noble and Darren McQueen have played no part in any matchday squad this term. Luke Allen who impressed in his first three games in a Dartford shirt was out injured on Monday, whilst Jordan Wynter is due to serve a ban after his straight red card against Chelmsford City, although the defender will be available versus Weymouth.
It’s been a tough start for Adam Flanagan and Coyle, but on the South Coast it’s been anything but. The Terras began their return to the National South after a ten year absence with a 2-1 win at Maidstone United. The two clubs were two divisions apart last term and a brace from Ben Thomson gave Weymouth a perfect start. Mark Molesley’s side drew against early pace setters Bath City 1-1 before a Josh McQouid inspired hat-trick earned them a 4-1 victory against Chelmsford City last weekend.
On Tuesday night, the Terras drew 1-1 at Slough Town in an encounter which Molesley described as topsy-turvy, he spoke to www.dorsetecho.co.uk and said: “It was a topsy-turvy one, we started well and it went a bit backfoot for our usual performance”, he added: “We had plenty of chances and were knocking on the door, we just couldn’t find that breakthrough unfortunately. It’s a tough place to come and we’re still unbeaten, so there’s plenty of positives and plenty of stuff to improve on”.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 17 / Weymouth wins: 34 / Draws: 15
Last Six Meetings
27.12.1997 Weymouth 2 Dartford 0
23.08.1997 Dartford 2 Weymouth 3
15.02.1997 Weymouth 2 Dartford 1
05.10.1996 Dartford 3 Weymouth 5
22.12.1990 Weymouth 0 Dartford 0
18.08.1990 Dartford 5 Weymouth 3
Dartford last beat Weymouth 29 years ago winning 5-3 at Watling Street.
Since Dartford’s last victory, the Terras have gone five unbeaten, drawing one before winning the last four matches.
The Darts have won just twice and drawn three in their last 20 league visits to Weymouth stretching back to 1959.
On This Day
John Hunt netted a hat-tick as Dartford beat Greenwich Borough in the Kent League back in 1994. In his second spell for the Darts, Hunt went on to score one more time making ten appearances. Dartford’s last win on this day came in 2002 when summer signing Shaun Loft scored a brace in a 3-0 home win against Kings Lynn. Two years later the Darts were involved in a six goal thriller drawing 3-3 with Great Wakering Rovers at Stonebridge Road. Dartford have never played at Princes Park on this day, but since the stadium opened they were involved in an away fixture at the Beveree, Hampton and Richmond running out 1-0 winners nine years ago, the last time the Darts played on the 17th August.