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Dartford boss Steve King prepared for final-day battle in race for top-three finish in National League South

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Dartford manager Steve King won’t be surprised if the battle for third place goes down to the wire.

The Darts and rivals Ebbsfleet are battling to land third spot in National League South, and with it a home play-off semi-final.

Steve King's Dartford are a point behind Ebbsfleet with three games to play. Picture: Keith Gillard
Steve King's Dartford are a point behind Ebbsfleet with three games to play. Picture: Keith Gillard

Fleet currently lead King’s Dartford by a single point but with three games remaining, anything could happen.

Dartford travel to Slough this weekend and then host Braintree on Monday while the Fleet host Chippenham on Saturday before travelling to relegation-threatened Billericay.

The race could be decided over the Bank Holiday fixtures but King knows Dartford can only focus on themselves.

“We’ve just got to look after our own results, and what will be will be,” stated King. “It’s out of our hands.

“Whoever finishes third and fourth gets the home game which will be an advantage so that’s still a positive, but that extra point is the difference right now.

“I think both teams are probably relaxed as they’ve already made it to the play-offs.

“When you look at their games this weekend, Chippenham are in eighth place and going for the last play-off spot so that’s a tough one.

“Then on Monday, Ebbsfleet face Billericay who are fighting for their lives so there’s still mileage in it I reckon.

“We want to finish as high as we can. We’re trying to get third but it’s going to be tough.

“I think it will go down to the final day. There might be another twist or turn still to come yet, anything can still happen.”

Both teams are also in form. Dartford have lost just once in eight league games while the Fleet have won their last four matches.

But again King is also trying to bring players back into his squad who have been missing through injury. The likes of Danny Leonard, Luke Allen and Jernade Meade all need minutes ahead of the play-offs.

“We’re trying to integrate some players back into the team who have been out injured,” said King.

“Players like Luke Allen and Jernade Meade need minutes so hopefully we can get them some gametime in the last three matches.

“But we’re not taking out foot off the gas by doing that, we’ve just got to get the balance right.

“We gave players minutes in the Kent Cup at Welling on Tuesday night which was good.”

Keiran Murtagh scored twice with Marcus Dinanga also on target as Darts beat St Albans 3-1 last weekend.

Murtagh impressed in the midfield trio alongside Jack Jebb and the on-loan Samir Carruthers.

“The three midfield players, Samir, Jebby and Keiran were outstanding,” said King. “Keiran was very good, scored two goals and had a hand in everything.

“We had a good balance in there, they can all get forward as long as one of them stays, and then we’ve got Luke Allen to add into that mix still.

“I thought we played well in patches. When we needed to go up levels we did that and the third goal was especially pleasing as it was a three or four-man move and Marcus finished it off brilliantly.”

Goals by Jordan Greenidge and a stoppage-time Jake Robinson penalty saw Darts recover from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Welling in the Kent Senior Cup semi-final on Tuesday. Darts reached the final via a penalty shoot-out, progressing 5-3 on spot-kicks.

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