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Dartford v Chelmsford City

Dartford have it all to play for on Sunday when they host Chelmsford City in the National South playoff semi final second leg.

The Darts will set up a mouthwatering final against rivals Ebbsfleet United on 13 May should both sides win this weekend. However, the Clarets will be standing in Dartford’s way after a goalless draw on Wednesday night kept the semi final in the balance.

Tony Burman made one change from the final league game of the season, Duane Ofori-Acheampong started in place of Andy Pugh. It was Chelmsford City who began well with Robbie Willmott’s tenth minute strike flashing wide past Deren Ibrahim, the Darts goalkeeper also turned over Louie Theophanous’ effort five minutes later. Chris Bush headed wide from a corner as the Clarets opened the first fifteen minutes brightly. Dartford’s Luke Wanadio did put the ball in the Chelmsford City net shortly afterwards, but the offside flag was already up. Five minutes before the interval, the Clarets wasted the best chance of the half when the ball was bundled past the post.

The second half improved but still there were very few clear cut opportunities, until Chris Dickson hit a volley over the bar just past the hour mark. The Darts managed to press their opponents more as the game developed but without creating much in front of goal. For the second leg, it’s likely Keaton Wood will have to be assessed as he was substituted after coming out of a challenge dazed.

Wednesday night was the fifth time this season the two sides have met, with home advantage counting for nothing. Dartford have now drawn two and won one in their visits to the Melbourne Community Stadium, whilst Chelmsford City have recorded two victories at Princes Park.

The first fixture between the clubs came back in the opening month of the campaign. Luke Wanadio headed Dartford ahead just before the hour but the lead didn’t last long. Shaun Jeffers, the Clarets top scorer in the National South this season with 21 goals, put the Essex side level eleven minutes later.

Drawn together in the F.A Cup, Dartford returned to the Melbourne Community Stadium in an intriguing cup tie. On a windy September afternoon, the weather was influential on the outcome with the Darts racing into a three goal lead before half-time. Goalkeeper, Ross Fitzsimons scored an unfortunate own goal early on and Elliot Bradbrook’s penalty and second goal five minutes later, put the Darts in a commanding position at the break. Chelmsford City fought back with two Shamir Mullings headers in two minutes to set up a tense finish, but the Darts held on to a 3-2 victory.

Fate would pair the two together again in the F.A Trophy second round at Princes Park. The meeting in January turned when midfielder Alex Brown’s reckless challenge left Dartford a man short. Chelmsford City eventually took advantage when Chris Dickson’s far post finish secured a 1-0 victory for the away team. A month later, the Clarets repeated the same scoreline in the National South, this time Anthony Church’s deflected effort found the net to earn the Essex club three points.

Whilst Dartford are aiming for a return to the National League after a two year absence, Chelmsford City have never reached those heights but do have plenty of Playoff experience. The Clarets reached the Playoffs four times in five years between 2009 and 2013 and lost at the first hurdle on each occasion. They also lost out in an Isthmian Premier League Playoff semi-final back in 2007. Meanwhile, the Darts only Playoff campaign was a successful one five years ago, earning them promotion to the National League when they beat Basingstoke Town and Welling United.

Dartford boss, Tony Burman stated that getting his club to the playoffs this term was amongst his greatest achievement for the club. Although he led the Darts to promotion five years ago to the National League he feels this time round it’s a bigger deal considering the budget available compared to others in the division. One thing Burman does have going is previous playoff experience within his squad. Elliot Bradbrook, Tom Bonner, Lee Noble, Danny Harris and Ryan Hayes were all part of the winning side five years ago.

Chelmsford City will have some former Darts hoping to  prove a point with Max Cornhill in midfield, Josh Hill in defence and Luke Daley on the wing. The Clarets also have an array of attacking options such as Shaun Jeffers, Chris Dickson, Louie Theophanous, Elliott Buchanan, Robbie Willmott and Anthony Church.

The winners will face either Ebbsfleet United who finished second in the National South or Hampton and Richmond who ended up seventh, on the 13 May. The Fleet are just about in the driving seat currently leading the semi-final 2-1 going into the second leg.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 36 / Chelmsford City wins: 52 / Draws: 91

End of Season League Form
Dartford (WWDLWW)
Won 3-2 v Poole Town (A)
Won 4-0 v Bishop’s Strotford (H)
Won 3-1 v Hampton and Richmond (H)
Lost 0-2 v Hungerford Town (A)
Won 4-3 v Eastbourne Borough (H)
Drew 2-2 v Hemel Hempstead Town (A)

Chelmsford City (DWWLWW)
Drew 1-1 v Hungerford Town (A)
Won 3-1 v Bath City (H)
Won 3-1 v Welling United (H)
Lost 0-2 v Oxford City (A)
Won 3-0 v Poole Town (H)
Won 2-0 v Hampton and Richmond (A)

Meetings This Season
Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0 (03/05/2017 – National South Playoff)
Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1 (18/02/2017 – National South)
Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1 (14/01/2017 – F.A Trophy)
Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 3 (17/09/2016 – F.A Cup)
Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 1 (13/08/2016 – National South)

On This Day
Twenty three years ago Dartford finished their first season back after reformation. The campaign ended with a ‘home’ match against Deal Town at Oxford Road, Sidcup where a 2-2 draw secured a sixth place finish. Micky Collins top scored in 1993/1994 with 21 goals, future Dartford boss Gary Julians scored 18 and Paul Hennessy 15. Tony Burman finished the season with 21 appearances (12 from the bench) and two goals.

Chelmsford City v Dartford

Dartford are two games away from a playoff final and potential promotion to the National League, but standing in their way will be Chelmsford City.

The Darts snatched a home second leg advantage away from the Clarets on the weekend to finish the campaign in third. Tony Burman’s side travelled to the Dorset coast and after Andy Pugh’s ninth minute tap in looked to be on course. However, Poole Town came from behind with a headed goal by Marvin Brooks and a second from Steve Devlin before half time.

Meanwhile, Hungerford Town went in at the break level with Chelmsford City and the league standing unchanged between the Darts and the Clarets. Rod Stringer’s Chelmsford City took lead through Josh Rees but with nine minutes remaining Hungerford Town’s Louie Soares levelled. Still in third place the Essex side looked set to finish in third.

Then injury time on the Jurassic Coast created plenty of drama, Tom Murphy hooked the ball over his head from close range to put Dartford level at 2-2. The biggest twist came six minutes into stoppage time when Lee Noble lashed home a winner giving the Darts a very late 3-2 victory.

If the Darts and the Clarets are not sick of the sight of each other, they probably will be by the end of the second leg on May 7th. They have already met four times this term with home advantage counting for nothing. Dartford drew and won when they visited the Melbourne Community Stadium, whilst Chelmsford City recorded two victories at Princes Park.

The first fixture between the clubs came back in the opening month of the campaign. Luke Wanadio headed Dartford ahead just before the hour but the lead didn’t last long. Shaun Jeffers, the Clarets top scorer in the National South this season with 21 goals, put the Essex side level eleven minutes later.

Drawn together in the F.A Cup, Dartford returned to the Melbourne Community Stadium in an intriguing cup tie. On a windy September afternoon, the weather was influential on the outcome with the Darts racing into a three goal lead before half-time. Goalkeeper, Ross Fitzsimons scored an unfortunate own goal early on and Elliot Bradbrook’s penalty and second goal five minutes later, put the Darts in a commanding position at the break. Chelmsford City fought back with two Shamir Mullings headers in two minutes to set up a tense finish, but the Darts held on to a 3-2 victory.

Fate would pair the two together again in the F.A Trophy second round at Princes Park. The meeting in January turned when midfielder Alex Brown’s reckless challenge left Dartford a man short. Chelmsford City eventually took advantage when Chris Dickson’s far post finish secured a 1-0 victory for the away team. A month later, the Clarets repeated the same scoreline in the National South, this time Anthony Church’s deflected effort found the net to earn the Essex club three points.

Whilst Dartford are aiming for a return to the National League after a two year absence, Chelmsford City have never reached those heights but do have plenty of Playoff experience. The Clarets reached the Playoffs four times in five years between 2009 and 2013 and lost at the first hurdle on each occasion. They also lost out in an Isthmian Premier League Playoff semi-final back in 2007. Meanwhile, the Darts only Playoff campaign was a successful one five years ago, earning them promotion to the National League when they beat Basingstoke Town and Welling United.

Dartford boss, Tony Burman stated that getting his club to the Playoffs this term was amongst his greatest achievement for the club. Although he led the Darts to promotion five years ago to the National League he feels this time round it’s a bigger deal considering the budget available compared to others in the division. One thing Burman does have going is previous playoff experience within his squad. Elliot Bradbrook, Tom Bonner, Lee Noble, Danny Harris and Ryan Hayes were all part of the winning side five years ago.

Chelmsford City will have some former Darts hoping to  prove a point with Max Cornhill in midfield, Josh Hill in defence and Luke Daley on the wing. The Clarets also have an array of attacking options such as Shaun Jeffers, Chris Dickson, Louie Theophanous, Elliott Buchanan, Robbie Willmott and Anthony Church.

Head to Head
Chelmsford City wins: 52 / Dartford wins: 36 / Draws: 90

Current League Form
Chelmsford City (DWWLWW)
Drew 1-1 v Hungerford Town (A)
Won 3-1 v Bath City (H)
Won 3-1 v Welling United (H)
Lost 0-2 v Oxford City (A)
Won 3-0 v Poole Town (H)
Won 2-0 v Hampton and Richmond (A)

Dartford (WWDLWW)
Won 3-2 v Poole Town (A)
Won 4-0 v Bishop’s Strotford (H)
Won 3-1 v Hampton and Richmond (H)
Lost 0-2 v Hungerford Town (A)
Won 4-3 v Eastbourne Borough (H)
Drew 2-2 v Hemel Hempstead Town (A)

Meetings This Season
Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1 (18/02/2017 – National South)
Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1 (14/01/2017 – F.A Trophy)
Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 3 (17/09/2016 – F.A Cup)
Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 1 (13/08/2016 – National South)

Stats
The home side in this fixture last won on 3 January 2010 when Chelmsford City triumphed 2-0 in the National South. Since then there has been four away wins (two by each club) and four draws.

Dartford are unbeaten in four at the Melbourne Community Stadium but have won just twice in the last eight there.

Not only did the Darts finish third and the Clarets fourth in the league, they also ended in the same positions for average attendances this term. Dartford averaged 997 over their 21 home games compared to Chelmsford City’s 912.

On This Day
It’s been twenty years since Dartford scored on 3 May at home to Cirencester Town in the Southern League Southern Division. The Darts went on to win 4-2 as they finished their campaign in 14th place. Only two more games have played since, a 0-0 draw at home to St Leonards three years later and a 2-0 loss twelve months on away to Witney Town, in the Southern League Eastern Division.

Poole Town v Dartford

Dartford will prepare for the National South playoffs by travelling to Poole Town for their final league game of the season.

Tony Burman’s men went out on a Princes Park high last weekend with a 4-0 win over basement boys Bishop’s Stortford. our different players found the net, Andy Pugh, Elliot Bradbrook, Duane Ofori-Acheampong and Alfie Pavey. It was a fantastic way to celebrate an afternoon which saw Bradbrook crowned Player of the Year and Ofori-Acheampong collecting the Leach?Towersey Memorial Shield.

Dartford’s fate may well be known to some extent in that take on Chelmsford City, but with the sides level on points both will be trying to finish third for a second leg home advantage. Captain, Bradbrook told www.kentonline.co.uk: “I’d much rather finish third than fourth to have the second leg here rather than away”, he added: “We can start looking ahead to those play-off games but we need to try and finish third so we’ve got two big games to finish off”.

Away form has dipped in recent months with the club without a win in six attempts collecting four points from 18, their worst away run this campaign. Despite the downturn on their travels, Burman expressed his delight at securing at least a top four finish, he also spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and said: “At the start of the season if you look at the financial table, we weren’t top or third, we were around eighth or 10th”, he continued: “That’s why I’m delighted with what we’ve done. On and off the field, we should be proud of the team because we’ve had a good group this year”.

Opponents, Poole Town have had an excellent campaign in their first season back at this level. Promoted as Southern League champions last term, the Dolphins have held their own and more in the National South. The Dorset club will want to prove a point by finishing in the top five despite being rejected for a place in the Playoffs. Five games without a win has coincided with the news Poole Town cannot take part in the end of season finale due to standards to their ground. The Dolphins will definitely be playing National South football next term.

Over the course of this season, they were the first to defeat table toppers Maidenhead United, thrashed Gosport Borough 7-0 in the New Year and have the fourth best defence in the division. They have lacked goals for a top half side but Steve Devlin has still managed 14 goals for the Dolphins this season. Currently on an unbeaten home run of seven, their best during 2016/2017, Poole Town will be hoping to lift the mood by making it eight.

Earlier in the season, Dartford beat Poole Town at Princes Park when Ofori-Acheampong headed in Lee Noble’s free kick and within a couple of minutes Luke Wanadio made it two. Poole Town halved the deficit causing trouble for the Darts in the second half but Burman’s men held on.

The Darts will want to end their six year final game blues to carry momentum into the playoff semi-final against Chelmsford City. Dartford last tasted victory on the last day of a league season back in 2011.

Head to Head
Poole Town wins: 25 / Dartford wins: 15 / Draws: 5

Current League Form
Poole Town (LLDLDW)
Lost 0-2 v Whitehawk (A)
Lost 0-3 v Bath City (A)
Drew 1-1 v Hemel Hempstead Town (H)
Lost 0-3 v Chelmsford City (A)
Drew 1-1 v Hungerford Town (H)
Won 2-1 v Concord Rangers (H)

Dartford (WDLWWD)
Won 4-0 v Bishop’s Strotford (H)
Won 3-1 v Hampton and Richmond (H)
Lost 0-2 v Hungerford Town (A)
Won 4-3 v Eastbourne Borough (H)
Drew 2-2 v Hemel Hempstead Town (A)
Lost 0-1 v St Albans City (A)

Previous Meetings
Dartford 2 Poole Town 1 (03/12/2016 – National South)
Dartford 2 Poole Town 0 (14/03/1992 – Southern League Premier)
Poole Town 0 Dartford 0 (02/11/1991 – Southern League Premier)
Poole Town 1 Dartford 0 (06/04/1991 – Southern League Premier)
Dartford 0 Poole Town 0 (24/11/1990 – Southern League Premier)
Dartford 0 Poole Town 1 (14/03/1983 – Southern League Premier)

Dartford League Stats 2016/2017
Biggest Win: 6-1 v East Thurrock United (Home) / 5-0 v Truro City (Away)
Biggest Loss: 0-2 v St Albans City (Home) / 0-5 v Maidenhead United (Away)
Most Consecutive Wins: 6 (07/01/2017 to 11/02/2017)
Most Consecutive Draws: 2 (13/08/2016 to 16/08/2016 & 25/02/2017 to 28/02/2017)
Most Consecutive Losses: 1 (on eight occasions)
Clean Sheets: 15
Failed to Score: 10

On This Day
Ricky Bennett scored four as Dartford swept aside Faversham Town 6-0 in the Kent League back on 29 April 1995. Since reforming the Darts are unbeaten in their two away matches on this day. Seventeen years ago was the match away to Tonbridge Angels in the Southern League Southern Division, the Darts ran out 4-2 winners. A year before the millennium, Dartford drew 1-1 with Havant and Waterlooville.

Dartford v Bishop’s Stortford

Dartford welcome relegated Bishop’s Stortford to Princes Park this weekend in the Darts last home match of the regular campaign.

With a playoff place confirmed on Easter Monday and a showdown against Chelmsford City, the Darts know that finishing third will give them a home advantage in the second leg. So with two league games to go, Dartford will be hoping to build momentum for the semi-final on the 3rd and 7th May.

Tony Burman stated reaching the playoffs was one of his best achievements since being at the club. The Dartford boss watched his side beat Hampton and Richmond 3-1 on Easter Monday, to make up for the poor 2-0 defeat at Hungerford Town on Good Friday.

The Darts outplayed the Middlesex club and took the lead when Elliot Bradbrook drilled in a rebound for his 23rd goal in all competitions. A well worked team goal and quality finish from Alex Brown extended the lead before half time. Former Dartford player, Nathan Collier headed in for Hampton and Richmond, but the three points were secure once Ronnie Vint netted the third.

The Darts will be aiming for a sixth consecutive win over Bishop’s Stortford to complete a double over their opponents. Back in November, Tony Burman’s side strolled to a 3-0 victory, in which goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim celebrated his 100th appearance with a clean sheet. An own goal got Dartford on the move with Andy Pugh and Elliot Bradbrook adding more to the tally.

Last season at Princes Park, the Darts hosted Bishop’s Stortford just over a year ago. Danny Harris scored against his former club after just five minutes, but the Blues drew level when Ronnie Vint headed past his own goalkeeper. Keaton Wood scrambled home his first for the Darts and after Tom Bradbrook had a goal chalked off, the striker made it 3-1. The victory completed a double last term after a 2-1 triumph at Bishop’s Stortford. Dartford also won both fixtures during the 2010/2011 campaign and victory this weekend will mean three consecutive doubles over the Blues.

Manager, Kevin Watson has been unable to steer Bishop’s Stortford to safety. Relegated a fortnight ago, the Blues have struggled all season and can only avoid finishing bottom if they overtake Margate, who are a point ahead. The Blues have gone eight games without a league goal and on Easter Monday lost 5-0 for the second time in three matches, conceding their 100th goal of the season. Bishop’s Stortford will be without Darren Purse and Luke Callandar for the rest of the season due to suspension, while Adam Everett will play his final game of the campaign on Saturday.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 5 / Bishop’s Stortford wins: 3 / Draws: 2

Current League Form
Dartford (WLWDLW)
Won 3-1 v Hampton and Richmond Borough (H)
Lost 0-2 v Hungerford Town (A)
Won 4-3 v Eastbourne Borough (H)
Drew 2-2 v Hemel Hempstead Town (A)
Lost 0-1 v St Albans City (A)
Won 4-0 v Margate (H)

Bishop’s Stortford (LLLLLL)
Lost 0-5 v Wealdstone (A)
Lost 0-2 v Gosport Borough (H)
Lost 0-5 v Weston-super-Mare (A)
Lost 0-2 v Oxford City (H)
Lost 0-2 v Maidenhead United (H)
Lost 0-8 v Ebbsfleet United (A)

Previous Meetings
Bishop’s Stortford 0 Dartford 3 (19/11/2016 – National South)
Dartford 3 Bishop’s Stortford 1 (25/03/2016 – National South)
Bishop’s Stortford 1 Dartford 2 (24/10/2015 – National South)
Bishop’s Stortford 0 Dartford 1 (29/01/2011 – National South)
Dartford 3 Bishop’s Stortford 0 (24/08/2010 – National South)
Bishop’s Stortford 2 Dartford 1 (11/04/1981 – F.A Trophy)
Dartford 1 Bishop’s Stortford 1 (04/04/1981 – F.A Trophy)
Dartford 1 Bishop’s Stortford 4 (22/11/1975 – F.A Cup)
Bishop’s Stortford 3 Dartford 1 (27/10/1970 – F.A Cup)
Dartford 1 Bishop’s Stortford 2 (24/10/1970 – F.A Cup)

Stats
Dartford will equal their season’s best of consecutive home wins in the league if they beat Bishop’s Stortford. From 12 November 2016 to 4 February 2017, the Darts won six in a row scoring 18 times. Dartford’s current sequence of five consecutive home wins has seen them score the same number of goals.

In seven of the 20 home league games this term, Dartford have scored three or more and all since the turn of the year.

The Darts have won 48 points at home this season with 15 wins and 3 draws. Another victory will take them above the last time Dartford achieved promotion from the National South in 2011/12, when the Darts won 15 and drew 4 to total 49 points.

Dartford have kept seven clean sheet at Princes Park in the league this campaign, matching the total in the 2012/2013 National League season when the Darts finished eighth.

On This Day
Dartford have won just once on 22 April since reforming and that was seven years ago. A Danny Harris double gave the Darts a 2-0 away win at Hendon, almost two weeks on from claiming the Isthmian Premier League title. The last victory at home was at Watling Street back in 1989 when Dartford beat Dorchester Town 4-0.

Dartford v Hampton and Richmond Borough

Dartford complete their Easter schedule by hosting Hampton and Richmond Borough and hope to avoid a repeat of the reverse fixture back in August.

Eight months ago on Bank Holiday August, the Darts travelled to the Beveree and suffered a 4-1 hiding. At the time the Beavers were a free scoring outfit and continued their run with goals by Christian Jolley, Michael Kamara, a Tom Bonner own goal and Nicke Kabamba. As early as the fourteenth minute, Danny Harris had equalised for the Darts but the afternoon belonged to the Middlesex club.

The Darts last hosted the Beavers six years ago and three  of the current squad started that day. Bonner, Elliot Bradbrook and Ryan Hayes helped Dartford win 2-1 with Lee Noble and Danny Harris making substitute appearances. The Darts made it three wins out of three to climb to the top of the table thanks to early goals from Charlie Sheringham and Elliot Bradbrook, the scorer of Hampton and Richmond Borough’s consolation was soon to be Darts, Jacob Erskine.

Another former Dartford player to have featured for the Beavers this season is versatile midfielder Nathan Collier. The former Darts made over 100 appearances for the club joining up with Tony Burman from Hampton and Richmond Borough in July 2012, he rejoined the Beavers last summer after a spell at Eastbourne Borough.

Under Alan Dowson, Hampton and Richmond Borough clinched the Isthmian Premier League title on the last day just over a year ago. This season they started strongly and had been a challenger at the top for the first three months of the campaign. The Middlesex may have fell out of the playoff places but they have remained in contention for the majority of the season. The Beavers’ boss believes it has been a ‘tremendous season’, especially when the club lost prolific scorers Jamal Lowe and Kabamba to League Two side Portsmouth in January.

Dartford’s penultimate home game will be followed by the visit of relegated Bishop’s Stortford in five days time. The final match of the regular campaign will see the Darts travel to the Dorset coast, to take on last year’s Southern Premier League champions Poole Town.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 3 / Hampton and Richmond Borough wins: 4 / Draws: 0

Current League Form
Dartford (LWDLWW)
Lost 0-2 v Hungerford Town (A)
Won 4-3 v Eastbourne Borough (H)
Drew 2-2 v Hemel Hempstead Town (A)
Lost 0-1 v St Albans City (A)
Won 4-0 v Margate (H)
Won 5-3 v Truro City (H)

Hampton and Richmond Borough (DWLDWD)
Drew 1-1 v Wealdstone (H)
Won 5-0 v Oxford City (A)
Lost 0-2 v Chelmsford City (H)
Drew 1-1 v Ebbsfleet United (H)
Won 3-1 v Whitehawk (A)
Drew 3-3 v Poole Town (A)

Previous Six Meetings
Hampton and Richmond Borough 4 Dartford 1 (29/08/2016 – National South)
Hampton and Richmond Borough 1 Dartford 3 (21/02/2012 – National South)
Dartford 2 Hampton and Richmond Borough 1 (20/08/2011 – National South)
Dartford 0 Hampton and Richmond Borough 4 (19/02/2011 – National South)
Hampton and Richmond Borough 1 Dartford 0 (19/08/2010 – National South)
Dartford 0 Hampton and Richmond Borough 1 (27/09/2008 – F.A Cup 2nd Qualifying)

Stats
The Darts have not lost back to back games in the league all season

3 – Dartford have only lost three games at home this campaign, whilst Hampton and Richmond have only lost three on their travels.

11 – Dartford have scored three or more goals in a league match on 11 occasions this term. Their best record since the 2011/12 campaign when the Darts achieved this feat 14 times.

77 – The Beavers are the fourth highest scorers in the National South, only the top three have outscored the Middlesex club.

On This Day
Dartford will be hoping to end a 36 year wait for a win on 17 April, last tasting victory in 1981 against Crawley Town. The Darts were victorious in the Southern League Southern Division fixture winning 2-1 at Watling Street. Three defeats and three draws later has seen Dartford travel to Barrow a year later only to lose 2-0 in the top division of non league, a 1-1 draw at Folkestone Invicta in the Kent League back in 1995 and a 1-0 defeat at Newport Isle of Wight. Thirteen years ago, Dartford were brushed aside 5-0 by Histon at home before two 2-2 draws in 2006 away to Enfield and in 2010 at home versus Aveley.

Hungerford Town v Dartford

Dartford will be guaranteed a National South playoff place if they beat Hungerford Town on Good Friday at Bulpit Lane.

Leading the Crusaders by nine points with four games to go, the Darts will move out of reach with victory and even with a draw they will still be in the driving seat. As Tony Burman’s side try to gather momentum in the remaining games they will hope to come back from Berkshire with the win they need.

Over the last few weeks Burman has admitted that tension is starting to creep into Dartford’s game. Defeat away to St Albans City followed by throwing away the lead twice against Hemel Hempstead Town, the Darts hosted Eastbourne Borough last weekend in another tense affair.

Andy Pugh had Dartford in front on eleven minutes only for the Sports to peg the hosts back through Mark Hughes. The goal of the game came from Luke Wanadio as he curled the Darts ahead before the break. Ryan Hayes, on the other wing put Dartford 3-1 up and a fourth came from Elliot Bradbrook. Just when the match looked settled, Eastbourne Borough staged a fight back with goals from Gavin McCallum and Ryan Worrall, leaving Burman’s side to hold on for an entertaining 4-3 victory.

Whilst the Darts have now won their last four home matches, it’s on the road where points are beginning to be dropped. Four draws in the last five away fixtures, including the defeat to St Albans City, means Dartford last won away from home in the league over two months ago.

The meeting with Hungerford Town will be the second one ever and back in August goalkeeper, Deren Ibrahim hit the headlines scoring the opener from inside his own half. The points were secured when Alex Brown made it 2-0 with a few minutes remaining.

Manager, Bobby Wilkinson has led Hungerford Town to their highest ever level and this term will see them finish in the top ten at least. Last season’s Southern Premier League playoff winners have had a decent campaign  taking advantage against teams below them. The Crusaders have however failed to beat any of the top seven, but have managed to draw against the top two at home.

Unbeaten in six league games, Hungerford Town won 2-1 last weekend over Whitehawk. The Berkshire club left it until injury time when Luke Williams scored the winner, the goal completed the turn around from a one goal deficit, Warren Bentley netted the equaliser earlier. At Bulpit Lane, the Crusaders are unbeaten in ten National South matches stretching back to November. Currently in sixth spot, Hungerford Town need the points on Good Friday to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Head to Head
Hungerford Town wins: 0 / Dartford wins: 1 / Draws: 0

Current League Form
Hungerford Town (WDDDWW)
Won 2-1 v Whitehawk (A)
Drew 1-1 v Poole Town (A)
Drew 0-0 v St Albans City (H)
Drew 0-0 v Welling United (A)
Won 2-1 v Weston-super-Mare (H)
Won 2-1 v Concord Rangers (H)

Dartford (WDLWWD)
Won 4-3 v Eastbourne Borough (H)
Drew 2-2 v Hemel Hempstead Town (A)
Lost 0-1 v St Albans City (A)
Won 4-0 v Margate (H)
Won 5-3 v Truro City (H)
Drew 1-1 v Concord Rangers (A)

Previous Meeting
Dartford 2 Hungerford Town 0 (27/08/2016 – National South)

On This Day
Unbeaten in their last eight matches on 14 April, the Darts have won their last two against Sutton United and Hastings United respectively. Five years ago, a goal from Tony Garrod was enough to beat the U’s in the National South. Five years earlier, Dartford won 2-1 against Hastings United with goals from Carl Bruce and Brendon Cass. Sittingbourne held the Darts to a 1-1 draw in 2001 whilst in the Southern League Division One East. In 1990, Ashford Town were beaten at Watling Street 2-1 and two years prior Dartford won their Southern League Cup semi-final second leg encounter with Waterlooville 4-1, recording an 8-1 aggregate victory. Dartford lifted the cup almost a fortnight later beating Bromsgrove Rovers 4-3 over tow legs.

Dartford v Eastbourne Borough

Dartford’s playoff battle continues this weekend when they host mid-table side Eastbourne Borough at Princes Park.

When the two teams met in January, the game ended in farcical conditions as fog descended on Priory Lane. As a spectacle their was very little to see yet the game ended 3-2 to the Darts. Luke Wanadio opened the scoring but three minutes later Elliott Romain equalised. Andy Pugh then put Dartford back in front as the fog began to roll in, giving his side the lead going into the break. Conditions worsened in the second half, Kaka Dembele extended the lead and very few in the ground witnessed Nat Pinney net the final goal of the game.

Dropped points over the last seven weeks has left the Darts in fourth place, level on points with Chelmsford City. Looking over their shoulder Tony Burman’s side are only a win ahead of Poole Town, who have a game in hand. Whilst the teams currently occupying a playoff spot jostle for position, Eastbourne Borough will be hoping to finish as high as they can in the National South, the Sports are guaranteed a place in the division next season.

It was only last weekend which saw Dartford lose their third place spot. Defeat away to St Albans City was followed up with a 2-2 draw at Hemel Hempstead Town, the hosts were reduced to ten men. Burman assessed the performance when speaking to www.dartfordfc.com, he commented: “I felt the players worked really hard on Saturday and I think we all realised that once a team goes down to 10 men it’s not always easy to play against.  There seems to be a lot of  tension in the performances of the team of late which for me is affecting their decision making and their performance as individuals and as a group”.

A penalty scored by Elliot Bradbrook and a Luke Wanadio goal put Dartford ahead twice, however the Tudors showed character to come back with former Dart, Charlie Sheringham and defender Tony Diagne finding the net. Burman added: “It is obviously disappointing to take the lead twice and not come away winning the game especially away from home. The two goals scored against us from our point of view were poor goals to concede, and I think both highlighted that tension and decision making”.

Eastbourne Borough have taken ten points from their last six league games and have been amongst the goals. The Sports were thrashed by Chelmsford City 5-1 and after a successive defeat they beat Welling United 7-3 at home, Jamie Taylor notching a hat-trick. Last weekend, Tommy Widdrington’s side took on a Wealdstone team unbeaten in eleven and with slim hopes of the playoffs. The Sports ended that glimmer the Stones had with a resounding 5-1 victory featuring two more strikes from Taylor and a brace from Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain, younger brother to Arsenal midfielder Alex. Another threat in attack is Elliott Romain, scorer of 20 goals this term and third highest scorer in the National South. Widdrington has now stepped down as boss after five years in charge stabilising the club.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 7 / Eastbourne Borough wins: 4 / Draws: 2

Current League Form
Dartford (DLWWDW)
Drew 2-2 v Hemel Hempstead Town (A)
Lost 0-1 v St Albans City (A)
Won 4-0 v Margate (H)
Won 5-3 v Truro City (H)
Drew 1-1 v Concord Rangers (A)
Won 2-0 v Bath City (H)

Eastbourne Borough (WDWLLW)
Won 5-1 v Wealdstone (H)
Drew 1-1 v Margate (A)
Won 7-3 v Welling United (H)
Lost 1-2 v Bath City (H)
Lost 1-5 v Chelmsford City (A)
Won 2-0 v Truro City (H)

Previous Six Meetings
Eastbourne Borough 2 Dartford 3 (24/01/2017 – National South)
Eastbourne Borough 1 Dartford 1 (20/02/2016 – National South)
Dartford 1 Eastbourne Borough 0 (11/08/2015 – National South)
Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 1 (03/04/2012 – National South)
Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1 (29/11/2011 – F.A Trophy replay)
Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 0 (26/11/2011 – F.A Trophy)

Stats
3 – Dartford have won their last three home matches beating Margate, Truro City and Bath City

4 – Elliot Bradbrook has scored in each of Dartford’s last three home games with four goals

7 – The Darts are unbeaten in seven games against Eastbourne Borough in all competitions, winning five a drawing two

71 – number of goals scored by Eastbourne Borough, only the top three in the division have scored more

On This Day
Dartford are on a 12 game unbeaten run in games played on the 8 April, including a 10-0 victory over Crawley Town in 1975. The Darts handed the Sussex club a thrashing when taking part in the MSFL. The unbeaten run consists of six wins and six draws with the last match at home in 2006 against Boreham Wood. The Southern League Division One East fixture ended 2-2. In fact Dartford have drawn their last three home games on this day, one being the F.A Trophy semi-final first leg goalless stalemate with Macclesfield Town. The Silkmen ended up victors in the tie finishing runners up at the Wembley final to Telford United. The Darts last win came 17 years ago in the 2-0 away triumph at Wisbech Town, the last home victory was against rivals Gravesend and Northfleet back in 1977 in an entertaining 3-2 encounter.

Hemel Hempstead Town v Dartford

This weekend Dartford will be determined to get back to winning ways when they visit Hemel Hempstead Town in the National South.

A six match unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday with defeat at St Albans City, the second time the Saints have beaten the Darts this term. The result leaves Tony Burman’s side still in third place, ten points ahead of Hungerford Town in sixth. Charlie Walker’s second half goal was the difference between the two teams on a disappointing afternoon for the Darts.

Burman was pleased with the opening 45 minutes, he told www.dartfordfc.com: “Our first half performance was good enough going up the slope and against the wind. We created two or three chances which we should of converted”, but felt the game was lost in the second half, he added: “At half time I felt we should of gone on and stamped our authority on the game but unfortunately this did not happen. We have not played badly many times this season but the performance in the second half was well below par”, he continued: “We are all disappointed with the result but as I have said before these things happen at this time of year. We need to move on and prepare ourselves for the next game as we enter the final month of the season”.

Last season, Dartford visited Vauxhall Road on the opening day of the campaign. Having been relegated from the National League, the Darts were taken by surprise in a 1-0 loss, the Tudors goal coming from Ollie Hawkins. In the two fixtures since, both at Princes Park, Dartford drew 2-2 from two goals down and this term won 2-0 thanks to strikes from Danny Harris and Luke Wanadio.

Deren Ibrahim will return from international duty, the goalkeeper was selected in the 5-0 defeat against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Over the last two National South matches, Billy Collings has stood in having been signed on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion. Andy Pugh picked up a knock against Margate and took no part in the defeat last weekend, whilst on loan Millwall striker, Alfie Pavey made a third substitute appearance. Burman also added academy players to the squad in the run in to the end of the season, including Henry Fulton who has featured in a Kent Senior Cup tie.

Hemel Hempstead Town may have lost top scorer Jake Robinson to the Billericay Town revolution, but a familiar face has come in on loan from Dartford’s rivals Ebbsfleet United. Former Dart, Charlie Sheringham has started life at Vauxhall Road on excellent form scoring seven goals since joining in February, including a hat-tick against Gosport Borough. In defence, Callum Driver has also been involved regularly this season having joined on loan from Maidstone United.

In another link with Ebbsfleet United, manager Deam Brennan managed to recapture the services of crowd favourite Jordan Parkes. The striker found getting game time at Stonebridge Road difficult, along with Sheringham, and opted to return to Hemel Hempstead Town this summer. Parkes praised his team mate Sheringham an interview with www.hemelfc.com, he said: “Charlie Sheringham has been brilliant for us since he came in, Charlie was
one of my mates at Ebbsfleet and as soon as Deano said there was a chance for us to bring him in, I was straight on the phone to him persuading him that he would enjoy it here”, he added: “He is definitely enjoying his football and scoring freely. He was exactly the type of player that we needed to bring in, someone that we can use as a target,
who is reliable, works hard and wants to succeed within the game”.

The Tudors will no doubt be playing National South football again next term, but in their second season at this level they have managed to impress as an attacking team. The Hertfordshire club have scored the same as the Darts, but defensively they have shipped in 72 goals, only three teams have leakier defences.

Hemel Hempstead Town’s last home outing ended in a 3-2 victory over Margate with Sheringham scoring a brace. The win was sandwiched between two defeats including a 6-0 thrashing at Bath City. On their day they are capable of recording big wins like the 6-0 thrashing of Gosport Borough and 4-1 triumph over Whitehawk. It’s these results that sum up the Tudors’ campaign where inconsistency leaves them in twelfth place.

Head to Head
Hemel Hempstead Town wins: 1 / Dartford wins: 2 / Draws: 1

Current League Form
Hemel Hempstead Town (LWLDWW)
Lost 0-2 v Concord Rangers (A)
Won 3-2 v Margate (H)
Lost 0-6 v Bath City (A)
Drew 2-2 v Chelmsford City (H)
Won 4-1 v Whitehawk (A)
Won 6-0 v Gosport Borough (A)

Dartford (LWWDWD)
Lost 0-1 v St Albans City (A)
Won 4-0 v Margate (H)
Won 5-3 v Truro City (H)
Drew 1-1 v Concord Rangers (A)
Won 2-0 v Bath City (H)
Drew 0-0 v Welling United (A)

Previous Meetings
Dartford 2 Hemel Hempstead Town 0 (12/11/2016 – National South)
Dartford 2 Hemel Hempstead Town 2 (17/10/2015 – National South)
Hemel Hempstead Town 1 Dartford 0 (08/08/2015 – National South)
Hemel Hempstead 2 Dartford 9 (16/09/1972 – F.A Cup)

Stats
139 – goals scored involving games Hemel Hempstead Town have played this term, the highest in the division at 3.86 goals per game.

102 – Dartford games have featured just over a century of goals at 2.83 goals a match

35 – the Darts have conceded just under one goal a game and have the third best defence in the league, behind the top two in the division

72 – in contrast Hemel Hempstead have let in more than double compared to the Darts, only Gosport Borough, Truro City and Bishop’s Stortford have worse defences

On This Day
April Fools Day, four years ago saw the Darts thrash Woking 4-1 in the National League. Nathan Collier broke the deadlock then Jayden Stockley levelled for the Cards. Lee Noble had Dartford back in front before half time and on the hour Sheringham made the game safe. Noble completed the fine win with a long range free kick. A year later, the Darts fell to a 2-1 loss to Luton Town, Mikkel Suarez scored a rare goal and with twelve minutes remaining it looked as though another upset against the Hatters was developing. Kenny Clark was red carded and with ten men the match turned in Luton Town’s favour. Pelly Ruddock had the Hatters level and now a Premier League star, Andre Gray netted the winner. Dartford’s last away game on 1 April came eleven years ago when they beat Illford 2-0 in the Southern League Division One East.

St Albans City v Dartford

Dartford look a strong bet to secure a playoff spot and hope to increase their chances and winning streak this weekend against St Albans City.

On current form Dartford have a great opportunity to make it three victories in a row and record a seventh away game without defeat. The Darts should approach the fixture with confidence after scoring nine in their last two outings. On Tuesday night, a 4-0 victory over basement boys Margate was secured when Elliot Bradbrook scored twice taking his tally to 20 for the campaign, Luke Wanadio and loanee Alfie Pavey added to the scoreline. Bradbrook, who scored a stunning volley in the 5-3 triumph versus Truro City scored the goal of the night with another long range effort.

Before Tuesday’s win Tony Burman managed to sign Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Billy Collings on loan. The debutante kept a clean sheet in the absence of Gibraltar international Deren Ibrahim. Andy Pugh picked up an injury against the Gate and was replaced with Dartford’s other loan signing Pavey.

The Darts will be keen to erase the memory of last season’s disappointing 4-0 final day defeat at Clarence Park. Chasing an unlikely playoff place, Dartford capitulated to finish the campaign in eighth place. Earlier this term, Dartford failed to score again against the Saints in a 2-0 loss at Princes Park.

St Albans City began December in second place but have since claimed one win in their last 15 outings, losing their last six in the National South. The Hertfordshire club are now eleventh and desperate to halt their slide down the standings. Manager, Ian Allinson who guided the Saints to safety last term now faces a different challenge in renewing the early season promise.

Two particular defeats will come as a concern to the Saints, on the weekend they went down 4-0 to struggling Gosport Borough and before the 3-0 reverse to Ebbsfleet United, they lost 1-0 to relegation candidates Bishop’s Stortford. With no goals scored this month, the problem worsened when top striker Louie Theophanous moved to Dartford’s playoff rivals Chelmsford City, the forward scored 41 goals in his Saints career in 94 appearances. That leaves Merson, the current top scorer this term partnering veteran Jamie Cureton or Charlie Walker. From midfield, Shaun Lucien has scored seven times since his summer move from Weladstone, but the success rate in front of goal has dried up.

When Allinson signed Tom Gardiner from Dartford to boost the defence back in January, it looked like the Saints had made a statement of intent. However, form has turned and Gardiner who had played 76 matches for the Darts in his career has lost in a St Albans City shirt in nine of his 14 appearances so far. Tom Bender, another ex Dartford defender has been out of action this month after injuring shoulder at the end of February, the 24 year old scored at Princes Park earlier in the campaign in the Saints 2-0 win back in November, Merson scored the other.

To aid stopping the rot, St Albans City have made some on field changes by signing Solomon Sambou, Kieran Monlouis and Christopher Haigh from lower league clubs. It looks like mid-table this term for the Saints, a vast improvement on last campaign’s relegation battle but falling short of their early season promise.

Head to Head
St Albans City wins: 2 / Dartford wins: 6 / Draws: 4

Current League Form
St Albans City (LLLLLL)
Lost 0-4 v Gosport Borough (A)
Lost 0-3 v Ebbsfleet United (H)
Lost 0-1 v Bishop’s Stortford (A)
Lost 0-3 v Wealdstone (H)
Lost 2-3 v Truro City (A)
Lost 1-4 v Bath City (H)

Dartford (WWDWDD)
Won 4-0 v Margate (H)
Won 5-3 v Truro City (H)
Drew 1-1 v Concord Rangers (A)
Won 2-0 v Bath City (H)
Drew 0-0 v Welling United (A)
Drew 1-1 v Oxford City (A)

Previous Meetings
Dartford 0 St Albans City 2 (08/11/2016 – National South)
St Albans City 4 Dartford 0 (30/04/2016 – National South)
Dartford 2 St Albans City 0 (06/02/2016 – National South)
St Albans City 1 Dartford 2 (02/04/2011 – National South)
Dartford 2 St Albans City 2 (22/03/2011 – National South)
Dartford 1 St Albans City 1 (25/11/2008 – F.A Trophy – Lost 2-4 on penalties)

Stats
3 – the last three league victories have completed league doubles over Bath City, Truro City and Margate.

15 – the number of times Dartford have scored three or more goals in a game in all competitions. Ten of which have been in the National League and eight of those in 2017.

31 – Number of goals scored by Elliot Bradbrook and Luke Wanadio in all competitions this term, more than the combined number of goals scored by recognised strikers Andy Pugh, Duane Ofori-Acheampong, Ben Francis, Tom Murphy and Alfie Pavey (27 between them).

360 – St Albans City have gone over 360 minutes without scoring in the National South. The Saints worst run since August 2015.

On This Day
he Darts are unbeaten in their last five matches on 25 March with the most recent victory a year ago. Danny Harris scored early on, Keaton Wood put Dartford ahead again and Tom Bradbrook secured a 3-1 win at Princes Park. The previous two games on this day were home and away versus Corby Town. In 2006, the Darts drew 1-1 in the Southern Division One East and six years earlier won 1-0 in the southern section. Fareham Town were beaten 3-1 in 1998 and in 1995, Dartford were held at home to a goalless draw with Herne Bay in the Kent League.

Dartford v Margate

Dartford will be in search of three points against bottom of the table side Margate in the National South.

The Darts who are in a strong position to make the playoffs this season, host the Gate who have it all to do to escape relegation. Tony Burman’s side will enter the Kent derby off the back of an entertaining 5-3 victory over Truro City on the weekend, whilst Margate were beaten thanks to a former Dart.

On Saturday, Andy Pugh’s brace helped overcome the White Tigers, but it was the visitors who went in front. Andrew Neal took advantage of Deren Ibrahim’s mistake in the goalkeeper’s last game before joining up with the Gibraltar squad. Pugh equalised with his first of the afternoon made by the endeavour of Duane Ofori-Acheampong. Then Elliot Bradbrook volleyed in the goal of the game from 25 yards to give the Darts a 2-1 lead at half-time.

The Darts struggled to shake off Truro City and they levelled through Neal once more, it wasn’t long until Luke Wanadio put Dartford ahead in a hectic final 25 minutes of the match. Jamie Richards headed the White Tigers level at 3-3, however goals from Pugh and Tom Murphy sealed the three points for Dartford as they recorded five goals against Truro City for a second time this season.

Earlier in the league campaign, the Darts won 2-0 at Hartsdown Park but had to leave it relatively late to secure the three points. Two goals in the closing quarter of an hour gave Dartford victory, the first scored by Andy Pugh from close range. The win was almost guaranteed once Bradbrook netted from the penalty spot two minutes from time.

Dartford drew 1-1 with Margate last time at Princes Park after falling behind to a Freddie Ladapo goal, the striker went on to move to Premier League side Crystal Palace and is now on loan at Shrewsbury Town. Elliot Bradbrook scored the equaliser after good work from Ryan Hayes.

Tony Burman’s side have fell off the pace of the top two over recent weeks, unable to convert draws into victories. The Darts can take heart in their excellent form against other Kent sides, over ninety minutes, this term having recorded six wins and three draws from ten matches played. Against Margate they are unbeaten in their last three meetings securing two victories and a draw.

The last twelve months have been dreadful for the Gate, the coastal club were on the fringes of the playoff places towards the end of February last year. Nikki Bull looked to have found his feet then ten consecutive losses saw Margate slide down the National South. Surviving on the final day of the season, by a goal, off field problems have spilled over into this campaign.

The Gate’s win over Gosport Borough just over a week ago, was their first in 20 matches and Ira Jackson’s double strike were Margate’s first goals in 10 games. Now Steve Watts is in charge and he had guided his team to a draw in the game preceding the victory, against Concord Rangers, which had ended an incredible 18 game losing streak. On the weekend the Gate fell to a 3-2 defeat versus Hemel Hempstead Town with Charlie Sheringham scoring twice for the Tudors.

Michael Thalassitis has rejoined the club from Welling United. The striker had left Hartsdown Park in November for Hemel Hempstead Town, when Margate were forced to slash their wage bil,l and after a short spell at Park View Road is now back at the coastal side.

At the beginning of the month, Watt used his contacts at former club Maidstone United to attract defender Ben Swift to the squad. Up front Pape Gueye also comes in on loan for a month from National League side Sutton United.

The Darts in third place are eleven points clear of sixth place and hope to edge closer to a playoff spot, whilst Margate are thirteen points adrift from safety.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 46 / Margate wins: 42 / Draws: 29

Current League Form
Dartford (WDWDDL)
Won 5-3 v Truro City (H)
Drew 1-1 v Concord Rangers (A)
Won 2-0 v Bath City (H)
Drew 0-0 v Welling United (A)
Drew 1-1 v Oxford City (A)
Lost 0-1 v Chelmsford City (H)

Margate (DLWWLW)
Lost 2-3 v Hemel Hempstead Town (A)
Won 2-0 v Gosport Borough (H)
Drew 0-0 v Concord Rangers (A)
Lost 2-3 v Chelmsford City (H)
Lost 0-2 v Whitehawk (H)
Lost 0-1 v East Thurrock United (A)

Previous Meetings
Margate 0 Dartford 2 (13/09/2016 – National South)
Dartford 1 Margate 1 (28/12/2015 – National South)
Margate 0 Dartford 2 (29/08/2015 – National South)
Dartford 0 Margate 1 (23/03/2010 – Isthmian Premier League)
Margate 0 Dartford 4 (18/08/2009 – Isthmian Premier League)
Margate 2 Dartford 2 (07/03/2009 – Isthmian Premier League)

Stats
The last time a home side won this fixture in 2008 when the Darts progressed in the Isthmian League Cup with a 3-2 victory.

In a league meeting, the last home by either club in this fixture was in 1997, Dartford recorded a 1-0 win in the Southern League Southern Division.

On This Day
Dartford have just won once in their last nine games on 21 March and that was 25 years ago. The Darts beat Moor Green 3-1 in the Southern Premier League. Since then the Darts have tasted three defeats in a row and celebrated just one goal, against Folkestone Invicta in a 4-1 loss 17 years ago. AFC Hornchurch in 2009’s Isthmian Premier League meeting and Southport in 2015’s National League fixture both won 2-0 against Dartford.