Another Clash At The Top
Following on from last Saturday's top of the table win over Maidstone at Meadowbank, Dorking take to the road this weekend to face another promotion contender in the shape of Dartford.
Wanderers made it three league wins and clean sheets on the spin with defeat of Hakan Hayrettin's side a week ago, Josh Taylor netting his first goal for the club since his summer arrival, in front of a record home crowd of 2,898. With substantial backing from the travelling contingent in the away end and both set's of supporters in good voice beneath blue skies and sunshine, the occaision was a truly memorable one, and in tandem with the hard fought contest on the field, a great advert for the division.
The one major downside of the afternoon was the injury to Matt Briggs sustained midway through the first half. In real time it looked like Briggs had collided with the advertising boards after crossing the ball near the byline, but the wing back had actually caught his foot awkwardly in the pitch and stumbled off the field. Suspected post-match to be an ACL injury, this has unfortunately been confirmed in recent days, ruling Briggs out of action for circa 9 months. We wish Matt all the very best with his recovery and look forward to seeing him back in action next season.
Marc White will be able to welcome captain Barry Fuller back to the matchday squad for Saturday's game as he has now completed his three match suspension. Alongside longer term absencentees Jason Prior, Giuseppe Sole and Briggs, the manager did also confirm a few players may be doubtful through sickness picked up through the course of the week.
Fresh off the presses, confirmed earlier today was the signing of forward Davide Rodari on loan from Crawley Town until the end of the season. We welcome Davide to the club and look forward to seeing him in action, potentially as soon as this weekend as he will be included in the matchday squad.
Despite relinquishing their dominance at the top of the table towards the back end of last year, Dartford have been in decent form in the last couple of months and remain a side very much in the promotion shake up. They are currently sat 4th heading into this weekend's fixture, 10 points behind Wanderers but with a game in hand.
A 1-0 defeat away at Ebbsfleet marked the beginning of the new year for Steve King's side, but his team responded by then going on an 8 game unbeaten run in the league, including avenging the loss to the 'Fleet by the same score line, and also defeating Havant & Waterlooville by a one goal to nil at Westleigh Park. The unbeaten streak did come to an end last time out away at Hungerford Town; a 2-1 defeat with Dartford having been reduced to 10 men during the second half. Despite the inconsistent results that have crept in through the winter, ultimately Dartford do remain one of just three clubs in the top six divisions (with Liverpool and Boreham Wood) to have not suffered defeat at home in the league this campaign.
Manager Steve King has refreshed his squad in recent weeks as long serving defender Ronnie Vint and Afghanistan international midfielder Noor Husin have departed to Dulwich Hamlet and Southend United respectively. Using the loan market, central defender Kory Roberts has been brought in from Bromley, as has left back Junior Tiensia from Millwall U23s. Further up the field, King has strengthened his hand with the arrivals of forward's Marcus Dinanga from Altrincham and Ody Alfa from QPR, the latter having previously had spells at Billericay and Maidstone. Adebayo Azeez and Jake Robinson are the club's joint top scorers in the league with 10 goals each.
The Darts may be a bit light on options at the back heading into the weekend as Tiensia serves a one-match ban and Jernade Meade and Josh Hill are also ruled out through injury. #Throwback Recent encounters at Princes Park have been thoroughly entertaining, Wanderers on the right side of high scoring contests in the last two season's. Last term, Wes Fogden's opener was cancelled out by Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, but a quality finish from Jason Prior did send Wanderers into half-time with the advantage. The Darts again pulled back, Jack Jebb levelling with a free kick, but Matt Briggs scored with a quarter hour remaining to make sure of all three points with a 2-3 win. In the reverse fixture at Meadowbank back in October, a Jordan Wynter own goal late on was enough for Wanderers to win a tough, hard fought contest.