Dartford Match Preview

City are on the well-trodden path to Kent again on Saturday when they will face high fliers Dartford for the third time this season.

They inflicted a defeat on City back in early September at Twerton, while maintaining their 100% start. Two down at half time, we fought back well courtesy of an Alex Fletcher goal but it proved to be only a consolation in a 3-1 defeat.

And two months later Steve King’s team returned and won through on penalties in the Trophy following a much closer match which ended goalless after the home team hit the woodwork three times.

Further wins in the competition against Cray Wanderers and Weymouth saw them travel to Needham Market last Saturday, where for the second time this season they fell to a shock knock out defeat to a lower level club from Suffolk.

The Darts hit a rough patch of form in the League in the closing weeks of 2021 including defeats to promotion rivals Dorking, Maidstone and Ebbsfleet.

So having led the table for the first 15 matches they have occupied their present position of around 4th for some time. However, a return to early season form has been hinted at with a recent unbeaten run of seven matches, with the last four all won.

They remain unbeaten at Princes Park but have won only half of the twelve fixtures with mid to low table Tonbridge, Hampton and Concord all securing draws.

If City supporters had to choose just one team to beat over the remainder of the season it would probably be Dartford who have won 9 of the last ten league meetings. The exception was a 3-0 defeat at Twerton in 2019 courtesy of goals from Tom Smith and Andy Watkins.

We have returned empty handed from Princes Park on each of our five visits but there was enough evidence from the recent fixtures with Maidstone and Dorking to suggest that we will be no pushovers this time.

The two old rivals met many times at The Darts’ former Watling Street ground where we had a very good record and secured a memorable win in our very last visit in 1990. City were involved in a three-horse race for the title with Dover and Dartford but a Gary Smart goal effectively eliminated the latter to set up a dramatic finale.

Princes Park is certainly very different to that old ground and is widely regarded as one of the best in the league. Unlike many new grounds, this one has character and provides comfort for both seating and standing spectators. It was constructed with the environment in mind and is famous for its ‘wooden man’ who appears to be holding up the roof above the terrace!

Tickets can be bought in advance from the Dartford website.

Unfortunately the Supporters Club has received insufficient bookings for a coach but for those wishing to drive the 150 mile trip from Bath will take around three hours.

The train trip from Bath Spa will take about the same time, changing at Paddington and Charing Cross, with Princes Park one mile from Dartford station.

Finally, you can read a preview of Saturday’s match from a Dartford perspective here.