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Dartford defender Max Statham wants to make up for play-off semi-final heartache in National League South this season

Dartford defender Max Statham insists he’s got unfinished business after last season’s play-off heartache.

The Darts were knocked out of the National League South play-offs on penalties by St Albans in May.

Max Statham - enjoying his time with Dartford. Picture: Keith Gillard
Max Statham - enjoying his time with Dartford. Picture: Keith Gillard

It was a cruel end to a promising first season in Dartford colours for Statham, who impressed mainly in a right-back role.

“I loved playing for Dartford last season and I love the club as well,” said Statham, who didn’t take long to agree a new deal with Dartford boss Alan Dowson in the close season.

“I feel like we’ve got unfinished business from last season, I thought we were hard done by in the semi-final to lose on penalties so we’re hoping to go all the way this year.

“It’s still early on in the season. Results haven’t gone our way so far but it’s a long season and we’ll come good.

“We didn’t do it last year but the main aim is to get promoted so we’re going to work towards that.

“It’s a different type of squad but once we get going, I think it will be a stronger squad, a little tougher and grittier but I’m confident we’ll get there.”

Statham’s first goal of the season looked to have been enough to claim Dartford’s first win this campaign last weekend.

But a poor piece of defending from Brandon Barzey gifted Farnborough a penalty which Alfie Pavey tucked away deep into stoppage time.

“We looked solid, it was just one mistake last Saturday and if we can cut those out then we’ll be fine,” said Statham.

“We were a little slow to start but we grew into the game and started to click, it’s a shame about the result at the end as we would have liked the three points.

“It’s the third draw at home so we’re still unbeaten here and it’s something to build on.

“We conceded late on the other week as well so as a group we’ve got to look at ourselves and work on it.

“Like any team with new players coming in, it can take a while to gel. We’re slowly getting there, I feel like against Bath we were pretty good and there were spells in the past two games as well.

“We’ve got to work on that last 10-15 minutes and seeing games out, and then we’ll be good.”

Statham made a habit of scoring goals from set-pieces last season, and he was at it again at the weekend.

He shows predatory instincts in the box and he’s looking to beat his tally from last term.

“I was a forward player when I was younger but those days are gone now!” smiled Statham, who filled in at left-back against Farnborough.

“I enjoy getting forward and hopefully I can score more goals than last season which was five. That’s another goal for me to aim for.

“Martin Tyler (first-team coach) said before that I’ve got an eye for goal and I wasn’t sure where he got that from but he seems to be right.

“I’ve just made it a good habit of being in the right place at the right time and hopefully that can continue. I made it a good habit last season but hopefully it carries on this year.

“I started pre-season off well having finished last year well but then I got a bad tackle in a friendly (at Dunston) which put me out for a few weeks.

“I’m glad to be back playing and hopefully I’ll play as many games as possible.”

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