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Joint-managers Jamie Coyle and Adam Flanagan take Dartford FC to Bath City on opening day

By Steve Tervet

Dartford are hoping to go under the radar in the most competitive National League South for years.

The new season starts on Saturday with Darts under new management and up against a cluster of wealthier clubs.

Big-spending Billericay are the title favourites while many think Woking and Torquay are well-placed to bounce back after relegation.

Dartford joint-managers Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle Picture: Andy Payton
Dartford joint-managers Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle Picture: Andy Payton

Concord and Welling have strengthened while Dulwich and Slough are dark horses following promotion but Dartford's joint-bosses are quite happy for the spotlight to shine elsewhere.

Jamie Coyle said: "We want to be up at the right end of the table challenging but this league’s never been so tough since I started playing.

"I can’t remember so many teams having a real opportunity to battle for promotion with the financial clout that’s come into the league this year.

"Torquay and Woking have come down and with the two clubs that have come up from the Bostik Premier, there’s some real money being thrown around.

"It’s going to be a really competitive league but we’ve got to concentrate on what we’re doing and hopefully go under the radar a little bit with all the clubs that are spending the big cash.

"We want to give a good account of ourselves and be battling to get in the play-offs."

Tony Burman's side bore the weight of expectation last season but Coyle and Adam Flanagan, his successors, should be able to work without that pressure.

Coyle said: "That’s what you want when you’re going into a new job. We’ve kept the core of the team together but we’ve added seven or eight as well.

"It’s going to be a challenge in terms of getting them all to settle in together but they've been really impressive in training.

"Me and Adam have worked tirelessly to get the organisation and set-pieces right and from there, giving the boys a real belief and a freedom to go out and express themselves.

"The boys have responded well to it and I can’t wait for the first game of the season now."

Dartford start away to Bath on Saturday before hosting old rivals Chelmsford at Princes Park on Tuesday.

Coyle said: "Even after that, we’ve got Hemel, Concord and Wealdstone so it’s going to be a real tough start.

"But if you’re going to compete this year, you’re going to have to play them at some point.

"It’s exciting because if we come out of the first month with some healthy points on the board, we’re in a great position to drive forward."

New signings Callum Driver, Ben Greenhalgh, Kudus Oyenuga, Delano Sam-Yorke, Simon Mensah, Manny Ighorae and Billy Roast are all available with Andy Pugh the only Darts player missing through injury.

The striker had surgery on his broken leg last weekend and is now recovering at home.

Alex Wall, meanwhile, has been released.

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