Published: 06:00, 01 October 2021
Dartford’s FA Cup clash with Maidstone this weekend will have no bearing on the race for National League South honours.
That’s the verdict of Darts boss Steve King ahead of their third qualifying round trip to the Gallagher on Saturday.
Both teams are unbeaten in the league, with Darts two points ahead of Stones after a blistering start to the season.
But asked if the winner in Saturday’s cup tie will gain an advantage in the race for league honours, King retorted: “No bearing, 100 per cent not - you don’t get three points for this game.
“The league is a competition won over 40 games, this is a one-off cup tie.
“It’s probably the worse draw either of us could have got because of where we are in the league but it’s a one-off and anything can happen on the day.
“It won’t define the season or anything like that. It’s going to be a tough game, they’ve had a good start and so have we.”
It’s one of the stand-out ties at this stage of the FA Cup and King was expecting television coverage.
Instead, they’re sending the cameras to Brackley’s trip to step 5 minnows Hanley Town.
“I’m surprised that they’ve not put it on TV,” admitted King. “I thought it was a big enough game against two teams at the top of the league, and a Kent derby, to get that coverage.”
There’s sure to be a terrific atmosphere at the Gallagher with Darts fans quickly snapping up their 500-ticket allocation.
King’s men were cheered on by more than that number in last weekend’s impressive 6-0 derby win at struggling Welling, and Dartford’s flying start to the campaign has captured the imagination of their fans.
“There’s a real buzz around the town,” said King. “I’m hearing that we’re attracting new fans plus some old people that are coming back to watch the club again.
“I really hope that they can get behind us again on Saturday - be loud and proud is what I always say.
“There were at least 700 supporters backing us at Welling last weekend, we could do with that level of support as much as possible on the road.
“We took 300 to St Albans, over 100 to Bath, and we’ve sold out the tickets for the FA Cup game now, it’s a shame we couldn’t have more than that.
“We’ve got a few Kent derbies in the league as well and it’s important the fans get behind us when we play Maidstone and Ebbsfleet the same way that they did at Welling.”
Jake Jebb returns from an Achilles injury at Maidstone while Josh Hill is also available after missing last weekend’s game to attend his sister’s wedding.
However, striker Jake Robinson has been ruled out for three weeks with a foot injury.
Reflecting on the win at Welling last weekend, King said: “It was a very good day at the office. The most pleasing thing was that we kept going - sometimes you can play well for half a game or 70 minutes but we kept going to the end.
“I know I said it on the day but I looked back at the game and we’ve missed another seven chances on top of the ones we scored.
“The group has got a fantastic attitude. They’ve gone ever so well so far, we’ve got players that can score goals all over the pitch and that makes a big difference for us.”