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Dartford boss Steve King says evenly-matched sides make National League South tougher than ever

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Dartford manager Steve King believes there’s little to choose between the leading sides in National League South.

King heralded the quality of teams in the division before a ball was kicked and has seen nothing in the opening three-quarters of the campaign to change his mind.

Dartford manager Steve King says there's top quality throughout the promotion-chasing sides in National League South. Picture: Mecha Morton (54854227)
Dartford manager Steve King says there's top quality throughout the promotion-chasing sides in National League South. Picture: Mecha Morton (54854227)

Dartford’s promotion credentials - as well as their unbeaten home record - will be put to the test when leaders Dorking Wanderers visit Princes Park this Saturday.

Dorking lead second-placed Maidstone by six points with Darts 10 points off top spot, albeit with a game in hand.

“I still think it’s the toughest league that it’s ever been,” said King. “Credit to Dorking, who have won 14 out of 15 games and also Maidstone, who went on a 14-game unbeaten run until last weekend.

“All the squads in the top five or six have got a lot of quality, players have dropped down from higher levels to this league and there’s also two full-time sides in the top five.

“But as we all know, anyone can turn over anyone else on their day, that’s just a fact.”

Defeat to Dorking will all but end Dartford’s hopes of catching the leaders.

King watched Dorking edge Maidstone 1-0 last weekend - a game that could have gone either way.

He said: “I felt Maidstone were the better side for long periods but Dorking had the better chances.

“Maidstone pinned them back for about 60 minutes. When two players went off injured from their midfield, the game opened up and Dorking got their passing game going.”

Dartford lost 1-0 at Dorking earlier in the season but the hosts were fortunate not to have their keeper red-carded for handball outside the area in the first half and a late own goal proved decisive.

A 2-1 loss at Hungerford ended Dartford’s run of five straight league wins but King doesn’t believe it’s a case of bouncing back.

“We’ve won five out of six, taken 15 points from 18, so I don’t see it as a case of that,” he said.

“If we’d lost three or four in a row then maybe but we lost 2-1 and we battered them - we missed a load of chances.

“Ade Azeez was one-on-one, Jordan Wynter headed over from six yards, Ade’s rebound hit the player on the line, Connor Essam had one cleared off the line - we had enough chances to score three or four by half-time.”

Jack Jebb returns from suspension against Dorking having completed his two-match ban, Marcus Dinanga is also fit again after injury while on-loan QPR wideman Ody Alfa is pushing for another start.

King added: “Ody is a really talented player, with lots of quality, he’s direct and likes to run at players.

“He destroyed this league before when he was at Billericay. He’s with us for the rest of the season and I’m sure we’ll see good things from him between now and then.”

Luke Wanadio has made his move to Isthmian Premier Folkestone permanent after a successful loan spell at Cheriton Road.

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