The FA Cup is over for another season as we exited at the hands of Folkestone Invicta last Saturday, and now we will look to build on the victory earned at Cheshunt in our last league outing.
On another day, we may well have earned victory over Invicta, with the woodwork twice denying us during the second half, whilst Jayden Clarke poked home a goalbound shot that caused an offside flag to be raised. Having said this, Paul Barnes believed after the game that his side had not matched the energy levels displayed at Chippenham and Cheshunt, with all our chances coming from deep crosses rather than from players breaking in behind the Folkestone defence.
That win at Cheshunt almost two weeks ago moved us out of the relegation zone to 19th after the first ten games of the season, with a win today potentially moving us up another couple of places should other results go our way. However should we lose, and two of Concord Rangers, Farnborough or Hungerford win, we shall be back in the bottom four.
This week has seen one in and one out at the club, as Ibby Akanbi departed following his month spell with us, with 24-year-old ex-Welling forward Ashley Nzala arriving in his place. Nzala has trained with his new teammates twice this week and is in contention to make his debut today.
We take on a side who arrive in plenty of confidence, with four wins on the spin taking them up to third in the table. During that run they have dispatched Eastbourne, Hampton & Richmond, Dover and most recently Hungerford, who they beat 2-0 in the only league game of last weekend. Marvin Herschel and Alex Wall netted the goals, whilst they kept a first home clean sheet of the season, something that the Hamlet are still striving for. The game will also pit us against Alan Dowson once again, who we have come up against during his time with Walton & Hersham, Kingstonian, Hampton & Richmond and Woking during the last 18 years. Dowse won his last trip to Champion Hill in April 2019, with Reise Allassani netting twice in a 3-1 Woking win.
There are plenty of Hamlet players well-known to fans of the Darts, with no fewer than six of the current squad having played for the visitors in the past. Ronnie Vint graduated from the academy into the first team, and in almost a decade, played more than 200 times for the club. George Porter, Kalvin Kalala and Josh Hill all moved to the Hamlet from Dartford over the summer, after scoring a combined total of 18 goals in 129 appearances for the Darts. Danny Mills spent some time on loan from Ebbsfleet at Princes Park during the 2017-18 campaign, whilst Sanchez Ming also turned out during Steve King's first season in charge in 2019-20.
Dartford were unbeaten in the two meetings between the sides last season, winning 2-0 at Champion Hill in August courtesy of goals from Hill and another player to have appeared for both sides in Tyrique Hyde. In the return meeting, the Darts earned a share of the spoils thanks to an equaliser from regular Hamlet nemesis Jake Robinson, after Tyrone Sterling had put us ahead. Since promotion in 2018, we have won just one of our six meetings against Dartford, that coming at Champion Hill in March 2019, with Jamie Mascoll and Decarrey Sheriff netting for us. Mascoll's goal earned the Goal of the Season at the end of the campaign.