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Dartford manager Alan Dowson knows what it takes to win the National League South play-offs as St Albans semi-final looms

Alan Dowson says Dartford’s season is just getting started as they prepare for the National League South play-offs.

Runners-up Darts meet St Albans in the semi-finals at Princes Park on Sunday (12.30pm).

Dartford manager Alan Dowson, right, and coach Christian Jolley.
Dartford manager Alan Dowson, right, and coach Christian Jolley.

Win that and they’ll host Oxford City or Worthing in the final on Sunday, May 14 (12.30pm)

Striker Alex Wall, who’s rated 50:50, is the only injury doubt for a Darts side who are otherwise at full strength.

That’s all boss Dowson can ask as he attempts to lead Dartford back to the National League after an eight-year absence.

“It’s lovely, going into the play-offs,” said Dowson.

“It’s one of them where most people’s season has finished and ours hasn’t.

“Ours is probably just starting. It’s great.

“We think we can win them.

“We’ve finished second, which we’re pleased about, and we’ve managed to get through it with a team that should be fully fit for the play-offs.

“I’ve been in the play-offs and won them; I’ve been in the play-offs and lost them.

“The main thing is getting everybody fit going into them, so I cannot complain how it’s worked out, to be honest.”

Dowson led Woking to National South play-off glory when he last worked in the division four years ago, after finishing runners-up to Torquay.

He added: “Sometimes people say that the team who finishes second doesn’t do it in the play-offs.

“That’s cobblers, all that, a load of crap.

“We were second at Woking and we did it, and we’re second here and we can do it again.

“It’ll be tough, whoever we play, but we’re two games away from living the dream, so why not?

“That’s what we’re focused on.

“We trained on Monday, we trained on Thursday and we’ll be ready to go on Sunday.

“I’m quite relaxed about it, to be honest.

“It’s what happens on the day. You’ve just got to play.

“If we’re the second-top team in the league and we play to our ability, we’ll win; if we don’t, we won’t.

“We’ll have a big crowd in - they can certainly help - and we’ve got players who every time a big occasion’s there and they’ve needed to win, they have done.

“When the pressure’s on they come good and that’s what I’ve got to hope at the minute.

“I’ve gone into the play-offs on a bad run of form; I’ve gone into the play-off on a good run of form.

“It doesn’t matter what form we’ve been in - it just matters what form we’re in on the day.”

Dowson only took charge at Princes Park on the final day of May, following Steve King’s dismissal.

It didn’t leave long to get ready for the season, so Darts can be more than happy to finish runners-up in a campaign that ended with a goalless draw at Hampton & Richmond on Saturday.

“Finishing second has been a really good achievement by the football club,” said Dowson.

“It’s not about me, it’s about the team and the staff and the players.

“We lost a lot a players, I was late to the job, I had to try and put myself across and the club had to put themselves across as well.

“I didn’t really know the area, so, yes, I’m pleased, but it’s not a one-man band here. I don’t believe in all that.

“Everybody’s pulled their weight to get us where we are.”

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