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There is healthy competition for places at Dartford now, says manager Steve King

Manager Steve King admits there is healthy competition for places at Dartford.

Midfielder Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong impressed on his debut in Dartford’s 3-0 win over Tonbridge at the weekend after joining on an initial one-month loan from National League Aldershot.

Dartford manager Steve King. Picture: Keith Gillard
Dartford manager Steve King. Picture: Keith Gillard

Charlie Sheringham came off the bench for the second successive game and staked his claim for a place in Dartford’s starting line-up ahead of their New Year’s Day home derby against Welling, striking late on against Tonbridge.

That came after Darren McQueen had put Dartford 1-0 ahead at half-time, before striker Elliott Romain doubled his side’s advantage as the Darts moved up to 10th following the victory.

“That’s what we want (competition for places),” said Darts manager King. "We’ve been unlucky with injuries. Since I’ve been here, we’ve had six to eight injuries to key players.

“But slowly we are getting them back and we are getting a bit of competition for places, good competition.

“There are some good players pushing other players now.”

Dartford will take on Welling, King’s former club, for the second time in six days on New Year’s Day.

The sides met on Boxing Day at Park View Road, with a double from McQueen plus Romain’s strike leading Dartford to a 3-0 win over the Wings, who sit just three points outside the relegation zone.

With Welling boss Mark Goldberg still absent on a family holiday, coaches Hugo Langton and Osei Sankofa will again take charge of the Wings but King warned: “It’s going to be tough.

“It’s not going to be like it was the other day, it’s going to be much tougher, I predict.

“They are not going to want to lose again after losing 3-0 in the (first) derby.”

More than 1,200 fans were at Princes Park for Dartford’s success against Tonbridge – the gate was higher than Ebbsfleet’s home game with Dover on the same day – and King hopes there will be another good crowd against Welling.

He said: “I should think we should get nearer to 2,000 – 1,800 to 2,000. That would be nice. Hopefully, we can give them something to cheer about.”

Dartford will begin 2020 only two points adrift of the play-off places but King is refusing to get carried away.

“When we came in, our remit was ‘can we survive in the division?’ and ‘can we climb as high as we can?’ That’s all we have done,” said King.

“We are so many points away from the bottom two, and that’s always been our first target.

“We take each game as it comes and keep doing what we are doing.”

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