Published: 05:00, 20 December 2021
Dartford striker Jake Robinson says their Boxing Day clash with Ebbsfleet will be a massive game - regardless of derby bragging rights.
Just five miles separate the two clubs while the gap at the top of National League South could hardly be smaller.
Ebbsfleet went top on Saturday but lead third-placed Dartford on goal difference with both clubs taking 31 points from 16 games.
“It’s going to be great,” said Robinson. “People have been telling me about it since the fixtures came out in pre-season.
“The way both teams have started the season it has taken on even more importance. It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere. These are the games you play football for, especially this level, you don’t get many chances to play in front of big crowds.
“Boxing Day football is always a bit special. We’ve got eight days now to rest up, train hard and attack that one. That week is going to be a massive part of our season.
“Even if it wasn’t a derby and we were 200 miles apart it’s going to be a massive game given the league standings and how highly fancied both teams were this season.
“You add that extra edge to it, these derby games can go one of two ways. It could be a real niggly, horrible game where you have to grind it out or you’ve got two teams playing expansive, attractive football and if both teams click on the day, then it could be a fantastic spectacle for everyone.”
Robinson took his tally to six goals in six starts and three substitute appearances with a brace in last Saturday’s FA Trophy win at Cray Wanderers.
He also bagged a hat-trick in the delayed Kent Senior Cup final last month, and is happy with his goal ratio - if frustrated by the stop-start nature of his debut campaign in a Dartford shirt.
“It’s been frustrating because my ratio has been good this year,” he noted.
“From the games I’ve played and the goals I’ve scored, it’s looked really good.
“There’s just been little knocks and the one more serious injury that kept me out for a bit. I haven’t really been able to get going but when I was able to contribute, I’ve been happy with it and look to build with it.
“Like I’ve always said to you, I like to score consistently and get goals week in, week out. I feel like I’m doing that when I’m called upon. We’ve got some big games coming up so we’re going to need everyone fit and sharp, it was good to get back amongst it at Cray.”
Robinson could have easily had a hat-trick at Cray to add to his impressive collection of matchballs.
And it was that missed chance that he was thinking of post-match rather than the two goals he did score that put Dartford on the way to a spot in the fourth round.
“I’m my own biggest critic,” stated Robinson. “That chance in the second half will be the one I’m thinking of tonight when I’m at home, not the two goals themselves.
“I’ll watch it back, think what I could have done differently and then move on as I know I’m going to get more chances, especially playing in this team.
“A win’s a win in the cup and we’re pleased to be through in a competition like this. There were definitely some bright points, we looked almost back to our early season form at times.
“We couldn’t quite put 90 minutes together, we’re a bit disappointed with the second half as we gave the ball away too much but we’re through and that was the main thing.
“We would have liked a clean sheet. We’re quite picky but we have to be this year – we’ve got very high standards and when we don’t quite reach them, we’ve got to recognise that. There’s been a few times in the last few weeks where that’s happened but I feel like it was a step in the right direction.
“I looked at the Cray squad in pre-season and thought it was a proper squad and that they’ll be decent at that level. I’m surprised to see they have struggled so far but I think they will climb the table.
“They’ve got enough about them and we knew it was going to be a tough draw away from home. We’ll take anyone at home now, it will be nice to have a good game at Princes Park.”