Published: 05:00, 18 November 2021
Defender Josh Hill says Dartford’s players still believe in their own ability.
The Darts have gone five National League South games without a win following their FA Cup exit at lower-league AFC Sudbury.
It’s not been for the want of trying with Dartford dominating high-flying Oxford City last weekend, only to come away with a goalless draw.
Hill knows there’s lots of outside noise about Dartford’s shortcomings in recent weeks, but he’s keen to keep a level head.
“I don’t think we’ve lost our belief at all,” said Hill. “It’s a really good group, we’re all really positive.
“I’ve been in changing rooms when you haven’t won in six and it’s nowhere near as positive or the camaraderie loses a bit but we haven’t done that here. As soon as we get three points we’ll be back on track.
“My friends have said it to me, ‘the wheels have fallen off, blah, blah, blah’. At the end of the day, if you said in August that come mid-November you’d be top of the league whether it was by a point or two, in our hands or not, (you’d take that).
“If we go on another run again and go top then I’m sure we’ll stay top. We’re not worried yet, it hasn’t been long enough to get worried.
“If we were dropping down the league and were sat in mid-table, yes we’d be worried. But we’re still top and we have to keep remembering that.”
Dartford’s run has included 1-0 defeats at Dorking Wanderers and Concord. They dropped points late on against Chippenham last week that could have put a different complexion on the Oxford result.
And while the FA Cup exit at AFC Sudbury still wrangles, with skipper Tom Bonner picking up an unjust red card, Hill knows they need to ensure this run of results doesn’t define their campaign.
“There’s been a couple of games in the last six where we haven’t looked ourselves, obviously the FA Cup game we weren’t that good,” he noted.
“But there are other games that we’ve played really well and either haven’t been able to score or have been unlucky. It can all change on one decision, even going back to the FA Cup game, we’re 1-1 and the referee made a terrible decision to send Tom Bonner off.
“It was never a second yellow and a red card, if we don’t go down to 10 men we might go on and win that game and we’re in a totally different position now. What we’ve got to do is try to make sure that one decision like that doesn’t change the outcome of the whole season.
“We’re working on that, performances like Saturday are really positive and we need to keep on battling. Once we get the three points again, which hopefully will be at Hemel on Saturday, then I’m sure we will be back on a good run.
“It is frustrating but if we’d won last week instead of conceding in the 90th minute then we take four points in two games against decent sides, and we’re really happy with that. It changed the whole perspective.”
Reflecting on the draw with Oxford City at Princes Park, Hill said: “We just couldn’t score on Saturday, we did everything but score and it’s really frustrating. When you have that many chances and don’t score it’s frustrating.
“I had a couple of chances, the keeper made a great save to his left. Ade’s had one disallowed, the header and one off the line, Ports had a couple. Everyone’s getting involved, we just couldn’t get it in the back of the net. You have those days but we’ll work on it during the week and go again. If we get three points next week then we forget about it, hopefully we can do that.
“Teams like Oxford are going to be up there competing and they will take points off the other top teams. If we get a win and go on another run then it’s a totally different outlook.
“It says a lot that we’re that disappointed not to beat a side that have only lost once and haven’t lost for a number of games. They are delighted with a point away to top of the league but if we ended up winning two or three-nil they wouldn’t be that disappointed.
“At the start of the season we win that game two or three-nil. The luck’s dropped off at the moment but it will be back, we just need to keep grafting.”
Hill is normally a big threat from set pieces, along with the towering Bonner and Connor Essam.
But the trio have only one goal between them this season - a statistic they are only too aware of.
“We spoke about it the other day,” revealed Hill. “We’ve got one between us from when I scored against Dulwich and apart from that we haven’t really contributed.
“We haven’t needed to either but the pressure is starting to rise a bit. I can’t believe that the keeper saved that one against Oxford but I’m sure it will come, we’ve just got to be patient.”