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Dartford manager Steve King aware that squad needed to respond from FA Trophy exit with positive result


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Dartford manager Steve King warned his squad that another shock cup exit cannot define their season.

The Darts bounced back from their FA Trophy defeat at lower-league Needham Market with a 2-0 home win over Bath on Saturday.

Dartford's Connor Essam blocks a shot from Needham Market's Ben Fowkes during their FA Trophy exit. Picture: Mecha Morton (54854281)
Dartford's Connor Essam blocks a shot from Needham Market's Ben Fowkes during their FA Trophy exit. Picture: Mecha Morton (54854281)

It was a big relief for the home side, who couldn’t afford a similar reaction to their FA Cup loss at AFC Sudbury.

Dartford didn’t win any of their next five league games – failing to score in four of them – after the fourth qualifying round exit and skipper Tom Bonner’s outrageous red card hit them hard.

“That was pointed out - the Trophy game has gone now, we can’t do anything about it so forget it,” stated King.

“It was important to get that win against Bath. After the FA Cup we drew the next game, lost the next one and it was four or five games.

“After that we didn’t recover properly. We went into that game 11 unbeaten with 10 wins and a draw. We strolled up at that game, went in front with a worldy goal from Jebby and didn’t follow it on.

“The sending-off changed the game but it was important to get this win straight after the Needham one.

“Needham deserved that win, I’ve got no complaints as they were better than us on the day. That’s football, I’ve been on the other end of it when I’ve knocked Premier League or Championship clubs out and people say ‘how have you done that?’ but it’s football, anyone can beat anyone on the day.

“I’ve been managing 22 years, it was the furthest I’ve been in the FA Trophy and I thought we had a great chance of getting into the quarter-finals. It would have been Stockport but that’s another story!

Needham Market's Luke Ingram scores the winner to knock Dartford out of the FA Trophy. Picture: Mecha Morton (54854267)
Needham Market's Luke Ingram scores the winner to knock Dartford out of the FA Trophy. Picture: Mecha Morton (54854267)

“We had to get it out of our system and I had to get it out of my system, it’s taken me a week, it’s gone now and we’ve got to crack on with the league.”

Dartford will look to extend their winning run in National League South on Tuesday night with a re-arranged trip to Hungerford.

Midfielder Jack Jebb serves the second of a two-match ban following his red card for foul and abusive language at the conclusion of the Needham Market game.

“We’ve got a talented squad for the level and we’re taking each game as it comes,” said King.

“There’s been no talk that it’s four out of four, or five out of five. We’ve just cracked on with every game and we go to Hungerford on Tuesday and start again.

“There’s a good group and a good togetherness plus there’s a will to win amongst them.

“We’ve got lots to play for. We’ve got the top two to play at home, where we’re unbeaten, but we’ll take it one game at a time.”

King could still add to his squad and while former Welling midfielder Che Krabbendam made a brief debut as a late substitute against Bath, further new faces could arrive.

Dartford nearly landed a striker from a National League club last week, a move that could yet be revived.

“We’re light on the squad, believe it or not,” said King. “I can get a couple of players in if I want.

“I haven’t rushed it, I’m waiting for the right player. I nearly signed a forward, it didn’t quite come off although it might happen this week.

“I don’t just want to spend money. We need the right players and we’re close to one or two.

“I think that one will make a big difference to us, he’s from the National League so I’m trying to convince him this is the place to be to play his football.”

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