MATCH PREVIEW: Dartford vs Chippenham Town | National League South | Tuesday 13th February 2024
Dan Blake previews our visit to Dartford
On Tuesday night, The Bluebirds head back on to the road and to a venue, which saw one of Chippenham Town’s greatest moments. Dartford is the task at hand and following Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat against Braintree, Gary Horgan’s men will be looking to produce another memorable Tuesday night in Dartford, as the run of games comes thick and fast in National League South.
Last Time Out
Saturday’s clash with Braintree at The Thornbury Surfacing Stadium, saw the visitors come away 1-0 winners. Baris Altintop’s 75th minute header from Tom Blackwell’s corner was the decisive goal.
The first half saw the best of the chances fall to Chippenham and Craig Fasanmade had the ball in the back of the net, only for the assistant’s flag to be raised to halt the Chippenham celebrations. Chippenham started the game brightly and Freddie Grant’s header from Jake Evans’ early corner was a signal of intent from the hosts. Jake Evans saw a shot blocked in an otherwise largely uneventful first half.
The second half started with strong penalty appeals, Craig Fasanmade being brought down and the possibility of Jake Evans’ header being cleared by a Braintree hand, not convincing referee Shelby Elson to point to the penalty spot.
Chances fell to Dan Ellison with a header and chances from Tyreke Johnson and Will King unable to test Braintree’s Jack Sims. Following Braintree’s opener, Tom Blackwell had the chance to turn from provider to scorer but he could only find the side net.
The best chance for Chippenham to rescue a point came in stoppage time, but a combination of substitute Caine Bradbury’s shot being blocked and Luke Spokes unable to keep his shot down, meant it was an afternoon of frustration for Chippenham. Will King was named the Lit Fibre Man Of The Match.
Ground: Princes Park
Manager: Tony Burman (Interim)
Last Season Finish: 2nd
Dartford are on track to miss the play-offs for the first time since the 2018-19 season, as a season of struggle to date compared to recent seasons, sees them sit in 19th place in the National League South table. Saturday saw Dartford lose 1-0 at Twerton Park against Bath City. The form table for the last 10 league games sees only Taunton Town having picked up less points than Dartford. With relegation from National League South not out of the question, consolidating their National League South status before a summer rebuild, seems the likely preferred scenario at Princes Park from the current position.
Alan Dowson replaced Steve King as Dartford manager in May 2022 and spent 71 games in charge of the club, before his sacking last month. Tony Burman has been brought in as interim manager for a fourth spell with the club.
The Darts have had penalty heartache in the last two seasons in the play-offs, with Chippenham dumping them out of the 21-22 play-offs, before St Albans repeated history last season in the semi-final.
Countdown to kick-off
We cannot go any further without mentioning the play-off eliminator game at Princes Park in the 21/22 season. Following a 0-0 draw after 120 minutes the match went to penalties. Will Henry saved the first penalty from Luke Allen. Jordan Young had Chippenham’s first penalty saved as well by Charles-Cook in the Dartford net. Will Henry saved Azeez’s penalty, Dartford’s second. Tom Mehew scored his penalty, Danny Greenslade’s was saved. Noah Coppin and Alefe Santos put their penalties away and jubilation from all of a Chippenham persuasion followed Santos’ game clinching moment. Chippenham had beaten Dartford against the odds and it lead them to the play-off semi-final where they would go out away at eventual play-off winners, Ebbsfleet United.
Since that historic night, Dartford have won two of the last three games between the sides. The clash at the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium when the sides met in October saw Dartford come out 4-1 winners. When the sides met at Princes Park last season, The Darts won 2-0 with Jack Smith and Luke Allen on the scoresheet.
Ones to Watch
Luke Coulson is Dartford’s top scorer this season with 9 goals across all competitions. Coulson is a former Bromley, Ebbsfleet and Eastleigh player. Jordan Wynter is vastly experienced and the former Arsenal youngster has played in the EFL for Bristol City and Cheltenham. Since joining Dartford in 2019, Wynter is closing in on 150 games for The Darts and brings experience to the back line.
With the games coming thick and fast, Gary Horgan has utilised his squad carefully and rotation could once again come into play with team selection. There was a timely boost on the bench with Aaron Amadi-Holloway’s return following injury. Having been on the substitutes bench on Saturday, Luke Spokes, Caine Bradbury and Matt McClure will be looking to feature from the off, having come on in the second half. Tom Owen-Evans and Aaron Amadi-Holloway completed the very strong Chippenham bench on Saturday.