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Dartford boss Steve King says second-half display in National League South draw with Chippenham bodes well for games ahead

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Dartford manager Steve King took heart from their improved performance against Chippenham in National League South last weekend.

After a run of three games without a goal, Darts looked set for victory thanks to leading scorer Ade Azeez’s brace and Noor Husin - only for the visitors to grab a late leveller in a 3-3 draw.

Steve King said his Darts side played with their early-season confidence at the weekend. Picture: Keith Gillard
Steve King said his Darts side played with their early-season confidence at the weekend. Picture: Keith Gillard

But King saw enough from his players, especially in the second half, to see that their early-season confidence was coming back.

“I felt that we got back to playing some good stuff and we deserved to win the game,” said King.

“I felt we were a bit nervous when we started but the two goals just before half-time helped and in the second half we looked back to ourselves, we looked good.

“If you lose a couple of games 1-0 and draw another, it’s going to have an effect but they showed me that we’ll be all right.”

It’s easy to overlook that Dartford remain top of the table, their blistering start to the season has meant their current drop in results has not seen them plummet down the standings.

It’s given the chasing pack the chance to close the gap, but King isn’t going to press the panic button.

“Everybody is going to have a dip at some stage, everyone else has probably already had one before us,” said King.

“You can’t win every game. I said that when we were winning, even after three or four games of the season.

“For us to be where we are now, I’m pleased with the start we’ve had. We haven’t played great in a couple of games but it’s been fine margins.

“No one has taken us apart, to lose 1-0 is not the end of the world.

“Experience will tell you if I press the panic button when you are top of the league then you are in trouble.

“We had a great start that enabled us to get ahead of people.”

Dartford used Luke Wanadio at right-back against Chippenham after injury ruled out Jordan Wynter.

“It was put upon us on Thursday and Friday that Jordan wasn’t going to be fit so there was no time to bring anybody in,” said King.

“There were different options going through our head and we asked Luke to play there.

“I thought he did well, he made one sloppy pass and they got a free-kick and then scored from it when he should have put the ball down the line.

“He did all that we asked from him, and he put eight crosses into the box which is what we wanted to see - defend well and try to get crosses in.”

Dartford’s stats from the game suggested there isn’t much wrong with their attacking play.

A total of 25 crosses went into the Chippenham box, 17 entries from central positions and three efforts were blocked on the line.

It was surprising that they conceded three goals at the other end, however - the first time a King side have shipped three goals in one game since a 3-1 loss at Eastbourne in December 2020.

“We haven’t conceded three goals in a game for a long time,” said King. “That was their one-off game, if you like.

“Given how well we’ve played defensively, it was a bad day at the office in that respect.”

Dartford host fourth-placed Oxford City this Saturday.

The visitors have only lost once this season and King is expecting a difficult encounter.

“I watched them against Chelmsford and it’s going to be a tough game,” said the Darts boss.

“They are a good side and they look to play football so it should be a good game to watch.

"They’ve only been beaten once so it’s going to be tough.”

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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