The aspirations of the club is that we do better than last year, says Dartford joint-manager Adam Flanagan
DARTFORD joint-manager Adam Flanagan says his side must do better this season.
The Darts finished in tenth-place in the Vanarama National League South last season, having collected 64 points from 42 league games and finishing just a couple of places adrift of the play-off zone.
Dartford opened their pre-season campaign with a 1-0 win at Sevenoaks Town yesterday, with substitute winger Jedd Smith firing home the only goal of the game with 74 minutes on the clock.
Right-back Jordan Wynter and striker Charlie Sheringham hit the woodwork for Dartford during the first half as Flanagan and Jamie Coyle used 18 players against the Isthmian League South East Division side, managed by former Dartford striker Micky Collins.
Dartford continue their pre-season preparations with a home game against Vanarama National League side Ebbsfleet United, who beat K Sports 4-3 yesterday.
“I would expect it to be, again, a game played at a very good tempo by two teams that want to do really well this year,” said Flanagan.
“We’re bedding in new players. Obviously, it’s evident that Ebbsfleet have got a new squad put together by Garry Hill so it will be a fixture where both teams will be looking to get more minutes into their players’ and try to get their squads to gel.”
The Darts then travel to Grays Athletic (13 July), host Gillingham – who thrashed Faversham Town 9-1 yesterday (16 July), then welcome Leyton Orient (20 July) and Bromley (23 July) to Princes Park before travelling to Nikki Bull’s Leatherhead on 27 July.
Dartford kick-off their Vanarama National League South campaign with a trip to Wealdstone on Saturday 3 August (15:00).
The Stones finished in seventh-place last season and reached the play-offs where they won 3-1 at Bath City before going down to a 3-2 Semi-Final defeat at Woking, who went on to beat Steve King’s Welling United 1-0 in the Promotion Final.
“The pitch is quite big, the fans are quite vocal. I think it’s a good game,” said Flanagan.
“I think it’s a good game. To be fair, I like going to Wealdstone and playing there.
“They’ve got Dean Brennan in this year and We always had good contests when he was at Hemel Hemsptead so we’re looking forward to improving over the next few weeks and get ourselves ready for that game.”
So what can the Dartford faithful expect from their side in Coyle and Flanagan’s second season in charge of the club?
“I think with regards to league position, the aspirations of the club and everyone at it as a management team, players and fans is that we do better than last year,” replied Flanagan.
“The minimum is play-offs but that’s what we need to be pushing for, if not more.
“What we expect is to add more goals and opportunities to score because it wasn’t good enough last year and get more clean sheets than we did. We didn’t have enough clean sheets and that’s us as a collective.
“If we can concede less goals and we can score more, hopefully we’ll get the points that we need to get ourselves in where we want to be.”
Dartford remain a part-time outfit, training two nights a week and rival clubs Dulwich Hamlet and Maidstone United are full-time sides.
“It just shows you that what’s been happening in the National League is starting to peter down into this league now,” said Flanagan.
“I think if you’re full-time I’d like to think that will give you opportunities to work with the team a lot more to bed your philosophy a lot more. When you play, it should be a benefit but I’m undecided whether it’s a benefit. It depends what your financial backing is, if you can do with financial backing then there’s a lot of players playing that would want to be full-time and four mornings a week. Even at this level they would take that.
“If you try to do four mornings and your financial backing isn’t where it needs to be, then it could be tough because you move away from having good experienced, two nights a week players to getting probably having a really young squad based around players who are young and hungry and wan that environment.
“I guess time will tell. Torquay were full-time last year and they got up (winning the league) and I believe that Woking might’ve been mornings and they got up. It will be interesting to see what happens this year.”
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