Upcoming MatchSevenoaks Town vs Dartford/July 13, 2024/Greatness Park

REVIEW | HALF-TIME IN SEASON 2022/23

As 2022 comes to an end and a new year begins, it’s time to reflect on Dartford FC and the season so far. So, pour yourselves a glass of whatever tickles your fancy, and read on….

AUGUST

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With the failure to progress beyond the first stage of the promotion play-offs at the end of last season, the summer break saw a change at the helm of the football club. Shortly after we parted ways with Steve King, Alan Dowson was announced as the new manager and a sea of positivity was witnessed at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park.

And, with a much smaller and stable First Team squad, which now consists of a combination of experience and youthful promising Academy Graduates, the stage was set for another attack on the National League South.

The season began with a long road trip to Bath City, where a Pierre Fonkeu brace on his debut ensured that the Darts returned to Kent with all three points. That was followed by a 2-1 victory over newly promoted Cheshunt at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park, as Fonkeu netted another superb brace.

Unfortunately, the winning start came to an end after Havant & Waterlooville finished on top after a narrow win at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. That result was then followed with two further defeats at Taunton Town and Worthing, before the Darts travelled to Hemel Hempstead where a superb Samir Carruthers scored twice to secure a 2-0 victory at Vauxhall Road.

SEPTEMBER

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September started with a tricky fixture at struggling Chippenham Town. Sadly, Tom Bonner and Co fell to a fourth defeat in six courtesy of an extremely late Jordan Young free-kick. However, the result would prove to be the spark that Alan Dowson’s side needed…

With a shock defeat in the FA Cup Qualifying Round at the hands of Beckenham Town the only blip, the remainder of September saw the Darts begin an incredible run of results that would see them remain unbeaten until mid-November.

That run began with an excellent 3-1 victory at former National League side Dover Athletic, before further wins over Hampton & Richmond Borough and Eastbourne Borough saw Dartford begin to climb up the National League South table.

OCTOBER

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The month of October saw Alan Dowson’s side remain unbeaten with six wins and a draw in all competitions.

The sole draw came on the road at St Albans, after the latter’s Shaun Jeffers cancelled out Jack Smith’s opener in what was Dartford’s first draw of the season.

With Alex Wall firing Dartford through to the next round of the London Senior Cup after a tight game against Tooting & Mitcham, the Darts also registered five victories in the league throughout the month.

It all started with a 2-0 win over Hungerford Town, followed by wins over Dulwich Hamlet, Tonbridge Angels, and Slough Town. Meanwhile, the final game of the month saw Alex Wall net a brace during an excellent 3-0 victory over struggling Weymouth.

NOVEMBER

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November began with a local derby against Welling United under the floodlights of Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. With a bumper crowd exceeding 1,700 on a wet evening, the Darts thumped their rivals 5-1 with goals from Pierre Fonkeu, Davide Rodari, Maxwell Statham, Jack Smith, and Luke Coulson. Former Dartford striker Ade Azeez did net a goal for the visitors early in the second-half, but the hosts were never going to be denied in a superb performance.

That result was then followed by another strong display against Braintree Town, who were brushed aside 4-1 in an exciting second-half of attacking football. Not even the unfortunate sending off of Skipper Tom Bonner could deny Dartford the victory, as Charlie Sheringham, Samir Carruthers, and Man of The Match, Luke Coulson were amongst the goalscorers to ensure that the points remained in Kent.

Sadly, those two excellent results were followed by a little slump in form as the Darts would register just a single point in the next three games.

A well-organised Farnborough ended Dartford’s unbeaten run, before a fired-up Swindon Supermarine sent the Darts crashing out of The FA Trophy after a superb George Dowling bagged a hat-trick in a 4-0 victory for the Wiltshire side.

The Darts then returned to action with a long trip to Oxford City on a cold Tuesday evening, and earned a hard-fought point before hosting Concord Rangers at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park the following Saturday.

Talismanic midfielder Samir Carruthers shone once again in that fixture, proving why he was selected in the National League’s Team of The Half-Season as we reached the mid-way point of the season. Both he and Pierre Fonkeu were amongst the scorers, as Dartford dominated proceedings to win by three goals to one.

DECEMBER

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The final month of the year saw Dartford travel to Chelmsford, where an extremely fortunate late goal by Louis Dunne left the visitors wondering where Lady Luck had disappeared to.

That was then followed by a tough, hard-fought goalless stalemate against a well-disciplined Bath City side in what was the last game of 2022 at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. Result aside, the most memorable moment was the applause and admiration shown to Bath City’s Alex Fletcher, who’d suffered a horrific injury in City’s recent fixture against Dulwich Hamlet. Like other clubs within the league, the Dartford family were united in their love, support, and respect of Bath City and Alex, and we all continue to wish him a speedy recovery.

The final two fixtures of the year saw the Darts travel to two of the promotion chasing sides in the National League South… Havant & Waterlooville and Ebbsfleet United. And, with the sceptics believing otherwise, Alan Dowson’s men stepped up… and stepped up big!

First up was Havant & Waterlooville on a freezing cold Wednesday evening. And, in temperatures dipping below -5°C, former Hawk Alex Wall hit a rich vein of form. The big striker found the back of the net twice in a dominant display alongside the returning Luke Allen, as Dartford returned home after securing a 3-1 victory.

Just when things couldn’t possibly get any better, Dartford made the short trip to Ebbsfleet for a Boxing Day Derby. And, a superb performance saw the Darts absolutely obliterate their hosts in an eleven-minute blitz, as Luke Allen, Luke Coulson, and Maxwell Statham gave the Darts a 3-0 lead before we’d made ourselves comfortable!

Once again, Alex Wall put in an outstanding performance and scored his third goal in two games before the break, as the Darts ran away with a delightful 4-1 success.

INTO THE NEW YEAR

As we roll into 2023, Dartford have a three-point lead at the top of the National League South table. And, having played a few more games than the teams around them, it’s all to play for as the fixtures come thick and fast from January through to the end of April.

Dartford kick-off with the return derby fixture, as we entertain Ebbsfleet at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park on New Year’s Day, before travelling to Cheshunt the following weekend.

January also sees Tom Bonner and Co entertain Hemel Hempstead and Taunton Town, before travelling to in-form Worthing at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, our defence of the Kent Senior Cup sees us travel back to the Kuflink Stadium to take on Ebbsfleet, while the Met Police come to Dartford in the next round of the London Senior Cup in what will be a busy start to the new year.

By Chris Palmer