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Preview: Dartford play Havant & Waterlooville in the National League South play-off semi-final

Dartford manager Steve King knows just how good this weekend’s play-off opponents can be.

They head to Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday for their National League South play-off semi-final clash.

Dartford won't come across anyone tougher than Havant in the play-offs says boss Steve King Picture: Keith Gillard
Dartford won't come across anyone tougher than Havant in the play-offs says boss Steve King Picture: Keith Gillard

Their opponents finished second in the table behind Wealdstone and King knows his team face a considerable challenge at Westleigh Park.

He said: “They are a seasoned team, with good players and match winners. I know all of their players and some used to play for me. It will be really tough but we have given ourselves a good platform.

“We have shown we are strong but for me this is the real test because I think along with Wealdstone they are the best team in the division.

“I have seen them a number of times this season and when I saw them beat Dorking 6-0 it was probably the best 60-70 minutes I have seen in non-league football, and I have watched thousands of games. That is as good as I have ever seen.

“We know what strengths they have but we have to work on their weaknesses and I have my own thoughts on that.”

Kent football fans will recognise many of the Havant team, which includes well-travelled front-man Danny Kedwell, former Maidstone defender Simon Walton, who is their player-coach and ex-Gills youngster Dean Beckwith.

Sam Magri played for Ebbsfleet and Dover while Andy Drury is another to have played at Stonebridge Road and Josh Taylor had a loan spell with the Stones.

Saturday’s match, which kicks off at 3pm, will once again be played behind closed doors.

The experience was a weird one on Sunday, says Dartford boss King, who will be forced to watch from the stands again due to a touchline ban.

“It was really weird, surreal,” he said, following their 3-0 win at Slough Town in last weekend’s eliminator.

“It was competitive on the pitch and it took the first half to get going, it was a poor first half of football, it was cagey, we didn’t want to lose the game, didn’t want to give the ball away, didn’t get into our rhythm of what we normally do, it was weird.

“I am sitting there thinking what is this? It is a game but with nothing on it but there was a massive carrot. Strange.”

Weymouth and Dorking Wanderers contest the other semi-final.

The winners of the semi-final matches will meet next Saturday, August 1, for a place in the National League.

More: Half-time message does the trick in play-off eliminator

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