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Dartford boss Alan Dowson insists ‘car-crash’ first-half spell in 4-0 National League South derby defeat at Tonbridge Angels was ‘a one-off blip’

Alan Dowson insists “a car-crash” first-half spell which sent Dartford spiralling to a dismal derby defeat was a one-off blip.

The Darts were three goals down by half-time and lost their National League South game at Tonbridge 4-0 last weekend.

Dartford manager Alan Dowson. Picture: Keith Gillard
Dartford manager Alan Dowson. Picture: Keith Gillard

While Dartford manager Dowson is remaining upbeat, he may reconsider his opinion if his team don’t put in a much-improved display at home to St Albans this Saturday.

Asked if it had hurt more for his troops to have put in such a poor performance during a derby, Dowson replied: “A little bit. But I cannot really do too much about it.

“I hated my Monday and my weekend after the result - but we cannot do anything about it now.

“I think it’s a one-off blip. If it happens again on Saturday, it’s a problem.

“I believe it’s my heaviest defeat as a Dartford manager. I understand supporters’ frustrations - but I cannot change it now.

Captain Luke Coulson – is expected to return for Dartford’s home game against St Albans this Saturday. Picture: Keith Gillard
Captain Luke Coulson – is expected to return for Dartford’s home game against St Albans this Saturday. Picture: Keith Gillard

“All I can do is get on with my job. It was a bad day at the office.”

Dowson, in fact, was relatively pleased with how the Darts began against Tonbridge as striker Harvey Bradbury started on his return from suspension.

But after Angels’ Jordan Greenidge had broken the deadlock, midfielder Lewis Gard swiftly made it 2-0, man-of-the-match Mohammad Dabre added a third and Greenidge completed the rout with just over 10 minutes to go.

Dowson reflected: “We started the game on Saturday unbelievably well and we had four or five corners inside the first 15 minutes.

“Then, there was a car-crash 20 minutes. That cost us - but we have got to get on with it.

“I’m gutted to lose a local derby, especially after how well we did in them last year, but you have to take it on the chin and move forward.

“People didn’t do their jobs. We said ‘make sure someone is in the front zone’ before kick-off. They didn’t do that from their first corner and that’s where the goal came from.

“A few minutes later, we conceded again and it’s almost game over. There were people feeling sorry for themselves.”

Dowson admits he now wants to see a response from everyone at the club with a behind-closed-doors friendly having been arranged for Tuesday.

“There needs to be a response from everybody,” he said. “It’s got to come from me but everyone needs to respond.”

Dartford are set to face a St Albans side - who they met in last term’s play-offs - at Princes Park with both mid-table clubs having identical league records.

Dowson, who was without captain Luke Coulson at Tonbridge due to a family wedding, said: “Come the new year, we will be back in the mix. We all have to think like that.

“We will look to attack the next three games, starting on Saturday against St Albans. We played them in the play-offs last year.

“Maybe they have had some kind of hangover after last season. But they have Shaun Jeffers, who is a good player, and some other good players.

“But we have decent players, as well.”

Coulson will return for the Darts’ festive period and Dowson stated: “He will be back training on Thursday and will be captain again on Saturday.”

Dartford remain on the hunt for more additions to their squad but Dowson wants to ensure they’re the right sort of character.

“We’re in talks with a few players,” he revealed. “My next couple of signings are very important.”

After St Albans, they play Welling twice, starting with a trip to Park View Road on Boxing Day (1pm). They meet again on Saturday, December 30.

Dartford have helped spread some Christmas cheer with a hospital visit.

Staff and players headed to Darent Valley Hospital on Tuesday. While Dowson expected to miss the visit due to family commitments up north, he intends to go later in the week and is eager to see the club involved in such projects within the community.

He said: “It’s massive. We do it all the time.

“I’m trying to make sure we do as much as we can on that side of things.

“Hospitals are massively important with what they do - especially at this time of year.

“Some of the local lads always do it - the likes of Sam Odaudu. Geoff (Ashburn) from the supporters’ club deserves a mention for helping to organise it.

“It’s something I’m really keen to keep the club involved with.

“We always try to help people out.”

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