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Season Review Part Eight– A look back on 2010/2011

8 – Mid-January to February – Dartford on Tour

Bouncebackability

Whilst Dartford was falling Farnborough was rising. The Boro had won three consecutive matches and striker Bradley Bubb was scoring for fun with eight goals in his last five league matches. The Darts had no chance especially if the last match between the two sides in August was anything to go by. Before the game Tony Burman signed full back Matt Jones from Bishop’s Stortford, George Purcell and Lee Burns were ruled out through injury.

Lee Noble who was recalled from his loan spell was on form and Dartford’s main hope, in the twelfth minute he was taken out in the penalty box. Dartford fans behind the goal were jubilant, great start. Charlie Sheringham stepped up to the spot to place his shot right footed and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.

The lead lasted just eight minutes when on form striker Bradley Bubb was released on the left, his shot was struck well enough. Andrew Young pushed the ball upwards but it looped into the far corner. Dartford defenders all looked at one another, shoulders shrugged, here we go again.

Noble continued to weave inside out causing Farnborough some problems, he harassed, scurried at their defenders to put them under pressure. His enthusiasm rubbed off on the Dartford team until it went a step too far. Noble knocked the ball out to Elliot Bradbrook on the right who put in a deep cross to the far post. A misplaced header across the six yard box enticed Farnborough goalkeeper Michael Jordan to go for the ball. Noble steamed forward in an over enthusiastic attempt to win possession. The ball hit the goalkeeper; Noble’s outstretched leg went into Jordan’s chest. The referee charged to the scene, Farnborough players were furious and surrounded the referee, the red card was pulled out, Noble was sent off. The Dartford players were furious with the Boro reaction. Everything calmed down. The Darts had to play 55 minutes a man down. No chance for a win, let’s hope for a draw.

Tom Champion takes the plaudits

Adversity galvanised Dartford and three minutes after the restart Jon Main was sent through but the ball got caught between his feet. Main turned with his back to goal and layed the ball off to the onrushing Sheringham. Charlie drove the shot low and hard into the bottom corner from 19 yards, a quality finish, and an unexpected lead.

Fifteen minutes later, The Darts grew in confidence and boxed Farnborough into their own corner. The Boro tried to clear their lines three times and Dartford kept pressing. Main won possession and passed to Sheringham who looked up to notice Tom Champion on the edge of the ‘d’ and crossed the ball. One bounce, Champion adjusted his body, wrapped his right foot around the ball and his stunning volley landed in the top far corner of the net. The head strapped Champion milked the plaudits from the crowd, he deserved it. What was going on? Farnborough was shell shocked.

The Darts was denied a penalty, Main was denied by Jordan, it looked like Farnborough was a man down.  Then on 73 minutes The Boro failed to clear again from a corner. Sheringham flicked the ball on and Danny Harris nodded the ball past the goalkeeper at the near post, 4-1. Incredible afternoon.

Dartford 4 Farnborough 1 – Highlights

A New Cup Adventure

A new cup adventure began. Okay so it was ‘only the Kent Senior Cup’ but for some fans it was a realistic opportunity to land some silverware. The Kent Senior Cup is like the Football League Cup in some ways. Do we go for it? Do we try out some youngsters? Is it a chance to win something or a waste of time? However you feel about the cup it was here and Dartford faced Isthmian Premier League outfit Tonbridge Angels. Tony Burman opted for the young and promising Deren Ibrahim in goal and gave Adam Burchell a run out, other than that the first eleven could have started a league match.

Danny Harris opened the scoring on the hour when Ryan Hayes’ deep free kick to the far post was knocked down to Harris who swept the ball home. Charlie Sheringham replaced Hayes in the 85th minute then wrapped up the win. Sheringham took the ball down on his chest before cutting inside the defender and curling the ball beyond the Tonbridge keeper into the net. The Darts negotiated their way through the first round.

Dartford 2 Tonbridge Angels 0 – Kent Senior Cup First Round Highlights

Out of Harms Way

Despite the incredible win against the odds versus Farnborough, Dartford was still in the bottom three. The atmosphere surrounding the club lifted after a second win in succession against Tonbridge Angels. Next up was mid-table side Bishop’s Stortford who The Darts demolished earlier in the season.

Lee Noble was lively and was blocked off the ball early on, blood was spilt, and the challenge was nasty enough for Noble to change his shirt and to be bandaged up. The knock back failed to stop the midfielder as he controlled the game with his intricacy and skill; the sides were level at the break.

In the second half, Danny Harris was sent clear and rounded the goalkeeper. Harris went to ground, the referee deemed it a dive, yellow card, contentious decision. Jon Main was shut out, Bonner shot straight at the keeper, and Dartford was defending and playing on the break. With sixteen minutes remaining Noble delivered a low in swinger from the left, Billy Burgess jumped over the ball and Charlie Sheringham with his back towards goal turned on a sixpence and fired into the roof of the net, brilliant finish. The afternoon in Hertfordshire was a success, a third consecutive win and second consecutive clean sheet, 1-0 it finished. Out of the bottom three.

Bishops Stortford 0 Dartford 1 – Highlights

Thou Shall Not Pass

Princes Park hosted league leaders Braintree Town in a fiery encounter against The Darts. Dartford was growing in confidence but knew this would be a difficult fixture. The supporters started to believe, the team gained momentum, and everyone was starting to pull together. The Irons had won six in a row with strikers Sean Marks and Jamie Guy scoring eleven between them in the last seven matches.

Braintee Town showed why they were comfortable league leaders early on when Kenny Davis tested Andrew Young. Dartford’s Danny Harris failed to get on the end of Jon Main’s cross then on seventeen minutes, controversy. Charlie Sheringham went up for a header just inside the Braintree half; Matt Paine fell to the ground clutching his face. It was hard to tell what had happened but referee was convinced Sheringham threw an elbow to Paine’s face, red card, and uphill struggle.

Later on in the first half Irons player Kenny Davis was more than fortunate. When on the halfway line he lunged two footed at Danny Harris, the tackle was a shocker, the Dartford fans gasped in horror it was that bad. The referee unbelievably played on as Braintree won possession back and attacked, at which point the referee put a stop to the game. Braintree players raced towards the referee furious he stopped their attack, the man in black lost control of the match. Complete injustice for Dartford.

 

Captain Bradbrook nets the only goal of the game in a fiery contest

Like the Farnborough game the poor refereeing decisions galvanised Dartford supporters who remained incensed. The second half was tough; Dartford players worked their socks off against 11 men and the officials, as if it wasn’t hard enough playing the league leaders. Dartford held out until 81 minutes when the crucial moment arrived.  Lee Noble persisted to keep control off the ball on the half way line but was bundled over. The ball trickled to Elliot Bradbrook, The Captain dinked the ball forward which rolled underneath the foot of the Braintree centre half. Suddenly Jon Main was in, his first touch was heavy, his second was almost smothered by the goalkeeper, the ball bobbled up, Bradbrook reacted and side footed goal wards, goal! The Darts had beaten the odds again. Four consecutive wins, three consecutive clean sheets. Onwards and upwards.

Dartford 1 Braintree Town 0 – Highlights

The Darts Head North East

It was onwards and upwards indeed as The Darts and their faithful travelled to the north east. Dartford faced Conference National side Gateshead in the last sixteen of the F.A Trophy. Quite literally the journey was just too far for the Dartford players.

Phil Turnball’s deflected shot gave Gateshead the lead just before the break, if only The Darts could have held on. In the second half Gateshead were in control as they used their wingers to good effect. Substitute Brain Wake doubled the lead four minutes from time and with Dartford pressing forward were caught out again in the last minute by Kris Gale. Gateshead was barely troubled but like the Port Vale game in the F.A Cup the adventure was fun, Dartfordians could be proud.

 

This is Hardcore: Dartford fans travelled all the way to the North East

Gateshead 3 Dartford 0 – F.A Trophy Third Round Highlights

Gateshead to Weston

After the long trip north east The Darts and their travelling contingent travelled west as they clocked up the miles. A Tuesday night at Weston Super-Mare was to follow; a side Dartford soundly beat 4-1 back in September. The Seagulls was winless in six losing their last three, Dartford had won three league matches on the bounce.

Weston started brightly and Justin Porter tested the reflexes of Andrew Young. There were very few chances in the first half. The best efforts from The Darts came from Carl Rook and Charlie Sheringham. A tight game ensued and the second half was much the same until Weston’s Jamie Laird lost his footing, Sheringham turned quickly and beat goalkeeper Lloyd Irish in the 73rd minute. The season was turning around, another win, and another clean sheet.

Jon Main's first for Dartford

Loanee Strikes

The battle between Dartford and Braintree Town just eleven days ago was still fresh in the memory.  Charlie Sheringham was controversially sent off whilst Braintree’s Kenny Davis was lucky to stay on the pitch. Dartford supporters were still aggrieved by the events and really wanted to put one over the league leaders, furthermore our very own Ray Cherry was not allowed to film the match.

Dartford players were looking tired after long journeys and a crammed fixture list. Lee Noble was suspended and young Deren Ibrahim replaced Andrew Young in goal. On five minutes the league leaders attacked, a cross was unfortunately turned in by Billy Burgess, Dartford got off to a bad start. However parity was restored when Ibrahim’s punt up field was met by loanee Jon Main who lobbed the keeper with aplomb. The rest of the match was played out with both sets of players looking weary. The spoils were shared.

Unbeaten Run Continues

One of Dartford’s poorest performances was against Welling United in January. The Wings were coping well with off field problems and still challenging in the playoff places. Lee Noble was back and early on he set up Jon Main, his shot was tipped round the post. Another Dartford effort was hacked off the line. At the other end Joe Bruce was turned by Andrew Pugh and his curling effort was bravely blocked by Billy Burgess. A desperate lunge by Paul Goodacre gave Welling a free kick on the edge of the box, Jamie Day’s effort dipped just over the cross bar.

In the second forty five, Loui Fazackerley crossed for Liam Bellamy who nodded wide, Ibrahim was beaten. Elliot Bradbrook dug out an opportunity on the edge of the Welling box but his sliced volley ended inches wide scrapping the side netting. Then just past the hour The Wings took the advantage. After a number of testing corners they finally made one count when Jack Parkinson headed in from six yards.

Ryan Hayes scores an audacious free kick

Tony Burman made a double substitution on 73 minutes which proved to be a great decision. Ryan Hayes who had been out of the first eleven for a little while was introduced for his craft, Lee Burns came on for his endeavour. With eight minutes remaining Dartford won a free kick way out against the right touchline a good 30 to 35 yards out. Hayes looked up and struck the ball with power and swerve, Welling goalkeeper Tom Lovelock moved across to his near post, the ball swerved into the top corner, what a goal. Super sub Ryno saved the day.

Dartford 1 Welling United 1 – Highlights

Slip Up

It had been seven matches since Dartford lost, it had been 15 games since Hampton and Richmond last won. Normally in this position Dartford supporters will be expecting nothing but victory but with our record against the bottom sides we were still wary. After all, we lost to Thurrock when they were on a dreadful run; we were turned over by Dorchester Town which left us shocked. Dartford did not disappoint, well they did but some of us expected.

The Beavers came away from Princes Park with a resounding 4-0 win. Dean Wells scored against the Darts for a second time in the season when a corner was not cleared on 24 minutes. Six minutes before the break Ian Hodges doubled the lead. In the second half it took Hampton and Richmond a minute to make it three through Lawrence Yaku. Just two minutes later Yaku headed in his second. Let’s just call it a slip up.

Dartford 0 Hampton and Richmond 4 – Highlights

Back On Track

Dartford travelled to Dorset on a Tuesday night to put right their latest defeat, to revenge the 4-0 drubbing The Magpies gave us in November. The pitch was boggy as the winter weather had taken its toll across the non-league scene across the country. In all fairness this was not a game for the football purists but the exhausted Dartford players battled hard and were rewarded.

A goalless draw looked on the cards and how fitting it was when the Patron Saint of Lost Causes battled a lost cause in the Dorchester box. Danny Harris broke one tackle, rode another challenge and reached out a leg to slide the ball into the goal, 1-0 with just under seventeen minutes remaining. As the game reached a conclusion Jon Main spotted Lee Noble who looked like he went too wide, his shot was hit low and into the net for number two. Dartford avenged the defeat early in the season and had put the previous match to bed.

Dorchester Town 0 Dartford 2 – Highlights

February Finishes

It had been an incredible turnaround for Dartford, who was in the bottom three just a month and a half ago.  Six league wins, three draws and a defeat lifted them up to fourteenth position and seven points clear of relegation. Although they were fourteen matches to play over two more months it was the first time Dartford supporters could relax a little but there was still work to be done.

Braintree Town still led the table seven points ahead of in form Ebbsfleet United. The Fleet won four of their five February fixtures. Welling United, Farnborough and Chelmsford City maintained their playoff spots. Lewes moved off the foot of the table with three consecutive wins and Maidenhead United slipped towards danger after just two victories in twenty one matches. It was Woking who were the in form team with six consecutive wins without conceding, this was to stretch to seven on 1 March 2011.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Braintree Town 29 20 5 4 57 22 +35 65
2 Ebbsfleet United 29 17 7 5 55 36 +19 58
3 Farnborough 29 17 5 7 55 33 +22 56
4 Chelmsford City 29 16 6 7 58 33 +25 54
5 Welling United* 29 17 5 7 55 35 +20 51
6 Eastleigh 27 14 5 8 49 33 +16 47
7 Dover Athletic 28 14 5 9 60 40 +20 47
8 Woking 28 13 7 8 39 27 +12 46
9 Bromley 29 12 10 7 37 41 -4 46
10 Havant and W 24 9 6 9 34 33 +1 33
11 Staines Town 29 9 11 9 37 39 -2 38
12 Basingstoke Town 29 9 8 12 33 43 -10 35
13 Weston-super-Mare 31 10 7 14 41 47 -6 37
14 Dartford 28 8 9 11 35 40 -5 33
15 Bishop’s Stortford 30 9 4 17 34 60 -26 31
16 Hampton and Richmond 26 5 11 10 31 38 -7 26
17 Dorchester Town 28 6 9 13 28 38 -10 27
18 Thurrock 28 6 9 13 37 56 -19 27
19 Maidenhead United 27 6 7 14 28 46 -18 25
20 Boreham Wood 29 6 8 15 37 53 -16 26
21 Lewes 31 6 6 19 25 49 -24 24
22 St Albans City 29 4 10 15 25 48 -23 22

*Welling United deducted five points

Stuart Maidment

Photos courtesy of Dave Adkins, videos courtesy of Ray Cherry.

 

Result: Dartford 0 Southend United 3

Tony Burman’s post match interview v Southend United

Post Match v Southend United

Stats and Trends – 11th July 2011

On This Day

Dartford FC have only ever played on the 11th July once, and that was in a 7-2 defeat against Norwich City back in 2009. The Dartford goalscorers on this day were James White and current holder of the Leach/Towersey Memorial Shield, Lee Noble.

Trends

– Dartford have scored in every match in their history against Southend United – winning twice and drawing once.

– The Darts have also conceded in all matches bar one – last year’s pre-season 2-0 victory (16th July 2010)

Ex Darts at Southend

None

Records v Southend United

Played 3, Won 2, Drawn 1, Lost 0, For 7, Against 2

Records v Southend United Reserves

Played 2, Won 1, Drawn 0, Lost 1, For 5, Against 5

Season Review Part Seven– A look back on 2010/2011

7 – December to mid-January – Up for the Cup, not for the League

Giant Killers

Like the previous month December opened with another cup game for The Darts against higher league opposition. Away to the future Conference League Champions in the first round of the F.A Trophy, Tony Burman’s side had a huge task to beat Crawley Town. League form was mixed but the cup exploits in previous months gave fans some hope.

Crawley Town were on the up, with financial backing to boot. In the summer, controversial manager Steve Evans had signed players with football league potential. He brought in prolific goal scorer Matt Tubbs from Salisbury City, Sergio Torres from League One’s Peterborough United and the reliable Richard Brodie from York City, for fees that would not look out of place in the higher realms of the football league, Crawley Town were criticised for their spending and were labelled the ‘Manchester City of non-league football’.

Dartford, a club rescued by its supporters in the early nineties, a club within their budget were up against Crawley Town who had been saved by one man with financial clout, a club chasing a dream getting ever closer to reality. Coupled with the managers past, Crawley Town were not everyone’s cup of tea.

Evans underestimated The Darts and made eight changes to the team who had just knocked out Swindon Town in the F.A Cup. With a depleted squad Burman stuck with his strongest eleven and after just nine minutes his side were in complete control. Three minutes had passed when Charlie Sheringham turned and volleyed Dartford in front, great start. Then unbelievably Ryan Hayes put in one of his in swinging corners which hit the far post and landed in the net, dream start 2-0 after just nine minutes.

Billy Burgess and Paul Sawyer

As expected The Red Devils came back into the game, Andrew Young made some good saves before Chris Flood hit the post. Flood caused problems again when his shot was parried by Young; Richard Brodie was waiting and pulled a goal back. Dartford’s post was struck for a second time but they dug deep as their goal led a charmed life. From out of nowhere Charlie Sheringham unleashed a 25 yard strike, a superb goal, 3-1.

With nine minutes to go Dartford were clinging onto victory and when Craig McAllister scored from the spot Crawley Town went all out attack. It took nine minutes for Dartford to build a 2-0 lead at the start of the match, it took nine minutes at the end to lose a two goal lead. In the final minutes Dean Howell scored a well taken free kick from the edge of the box. It wasn’t finished there because moments later The Red Devils ‘won it’ when Richard Brodie tapped home Steve Masterton’s cross. The Assistant Referee’s flag was raised, we almost threw the game away. Like the Port Vale draw it was hard to decide whether a draw was pleasing or not, so close, oh so close.

Tom is the Champion

Losing a 3-1 lead against Crawley Town in the first game was a massive blow. For some the giantkilling chance had gone but home advantage and another 90 minutes gave us hope again. Steve Evans included prolific goalscorer Matt Tubbs and experienced midfielder Sergio Torres in a much stronger line up, had the Sussex side learnt their lesson? Tony Burman replaced Danny Harris with Elliot Bradbrook for the replay in front of 605 supporters. Dartford did not want to repeat their last replay against higher league opposition that was for sure.

The cup tie was just five minutes old when Matt Tubbs went down in the box, the Red Devils claimed penalty, Evans made his feelings known, Mr Hopkins ordered play to continue. Again, the Dartford goal led a charmed life as Andrew Young made comfortable saves and the defence blocked numerous shots. Carl Rook was substituted before half time for Tom Champion, it was all Crawley Town in the first half but remained goalless at the break.

As the game went on Crawley became more urgent in their play, they did not let up using their pace and ability which saw them promoted to the football league at the end of the season. Lee Burns, Dartford’s top scorer last season was struggling to score this term. Crawley Town broke away and when the ball was centred Burns stuck out a foot, half volleyed the ball sped goal bound. Young was wrong footed, Burns looked on in horror, if this goes in then what an own goal. Young adjusted his body shape and from underneath the cross bar palmed the ball over, an incredible test of reflexes, Burns smiled in relief.

Tom Champion strikes a giant killing goal

Dartford were minutes from extra time when Ryan Hayes delivered a free kick which was cut out by the first man, luckily the ball went out for a corner. Hayes crossed with his left foot, the ball swung in to the six yard box. Michel Kuipers got through nine or ten players crowded in his area and palmed the ball away. Kuipers charged forward with his desperate Crawley defenders. The ball bounced once to the feet of Tom Champion standing eight yards out, Champion perfectly positioned volleyed the ball right footed, the crowd erupted with joy, the ball smashed the back of the net, Dartford had won it in the dying minutes of the match, giant killers.

Dartford 1 Crawley Town 0 – F.A Trophy First Round Replay Highlights

Derby Day Defeat

It had been a whole month without league football, rain, heavy snow, the harsh winter all limited the whole football world to a small amount of fixtures. Frustration and boredom settled in on Saturday afternoons nothing could replace football. What better way to return to action than the second derby between Dartford and Ebbsfleet United. The festive spirit was in full flow; fans of both sides passing on season greetings, pints flowing but when kick off signalled three o’clock, the action started and both sets of supporters made plenty of noise. No segregation added to the atmosphere and banter, non-league football, the festive spirit, against your rivals, there is nothing near as good.

Joe Bruce is dismissed

The derby started off frantically and on ten minutes The Fleet won a free kick when Michael West was blocked. The Darts were still setting up and so Derek Duncan took the opportunity to curl the free kick beyond Andrew Young and put The Fleet ahead. It was not long before Dartford was on level terms when four minutes later Ryan Hayes dangerous free kick was nodded in by Elliot Bradbrook. Ebbsfleet missed two more chances and reliable striker Calum Willock somehow missed an open goal from yards out. Willock was to make amends on the half hour mark when he went through on goal, Joe Bruce was caught the wrong side of Willock, legs tangled, Willock went down, Bruce was sent off, penalty. Willock dusted himself off and put The Fleet 2-1 in front at the break.

With a numerical disadvantage Dartford struggled to create chances. Ebbsfleet were denied three more times. James White entered the field of play on 66 minutes in place of Ryan Hayes to sure things up. White let Ebbsfleet know he arrived and his late tackle on Tom Phipp was rewarded with a caution after just 30 seconds on the field. Then moments later disaster struck, already down a man White’s rash tackle on Duncan left The Darts down to nine men, game over, no chance. Despite the uphill struggle Charlie Sheringham almost equalised, snatching an unlikely draw, he was denied by Preston Edwards and The Fleet triumphed in front of a bumper crowd of 2435.

Ebbsfleet United 2 Dartford 1 – Highlights

Winless at Welling

New Year, new start, new found optimism. Dartford faced a second Kent derby in four days against Welling United who were challenging at the top of the table. Managed by ex Dart and crowd favourite Jamie Day, The Wings were in financial trouble off the field but performing admirable on the field.

Loanee George Purcell brought the game to life when he turned ex Dart Jamie Coyle and unleashed a worldy from 25 yards, the cross bar rattled. The first quarter of the match was going to plan, Lee Burns deflected header went over and The Darts started brightly. But this was as good as it got for Tony Burman’s side.  For once Andrew Young looked shaky, a number of chances later and Welling went in front via Lee Clarke.

Carl Rook scores from the spot

The second half was a continuation of the first in that The Wings dominated. Young saved from Jamie Day’s free kick and from the resulting corner Lee Cumbers made it two, punishing some poor defending. Dartford fans were given hope with eight minutes to play. Adam Burchell went down under minimal contact and a controversial penalty was awarded, Carl Rook pulled one back but it was too late. The performance fell well short and Dartford fans were concerned.

The New Year, new start, new found optimism was on the verge of being lost, two defeats in a row against local rivals put Dartford in a tricky position.

Three in a Row

A third difficult match was to follow, home to Chelmsford City. The Essex side were in the playoffs pushing for promotion. The performance was better but in honesty it was not difficult to improve the efforts at Park View Road just days ago.

In the first half an awful injury to Tom Champion changed the mood on the terraces. An accidental clash of heads left Champion transported to East Grinstead hospital; he needed 30 stitches and serious patching up. Seven minutes into the second half Dartford took the lead when Carl Rook headed yet another one of Ryan Hayes’ in swinging corners.

Rook puts The Darts ahead

Chelmsford City manager Glenn Pennyfather had attacking options on the bench and he was not afraid to use the options available. Billy Bricknell was already on as a first half substitute and was joined by Rob Edmans and Stephen Reed early in the second half. The tactical move was crucial; Bricknell levelled the game on 58 minutes and the turnaround was completed five minutes later. A speculative header found its way to Edmans feet who tapped in for 2-1. The Clarets were in control and from the moment they lead they never looked like losing. Three defeats in a row, welcome to 2011.

Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2 – Highlights

Doom and Gloom

The Darts played Thurrock for the third time this season knowing that the Essex club were on an atrocious run with just two wins from nineteen league games. In fact, they had just conceded thirteen goals in two games losing 6-1 to Chelmsford City and 7-2 at home to Dover Athletic. The Fleet also departed company with manager Greg Lincoln who was replaced with Grant Gordon. Gordon made a few loan signings in an attempt to close the gap on their opposition. With home advantage surely The Darts could end this traumatic run.

The answer was no, things got worse, this month was not going to plan, it was a complete disaster and fans were expressing their worries. An ex Dartford player won the game for Thurrock on 68 minutes. To rub salt into Dartford’s wound, Thurrock had kept their first clean sheet of the season after 20 attempts.

Relegation concerns were rife among the supporters because they cared so much about the club. The team was being questioned, everyone needed to pull together. Tony Burman reacted by releasing Michael Shinn and Ollie Berquez. He also recalled Lee Noble before the Thurrock match.

Dartford 0 Thurrock 1 – Highlights

Cup Distraction

Four consecutive defeats and out of the relegation zone on goal difference, a  trip to The Robert Parker Stadium to take on Ashford Town (Middlesex) in the F.A Trophy Second Round was welcomed. The fixture allowed the team to temporarily forget about their league form. Supporters hoped that a victory would breed confidence and the league season would be turned around.

The numbers in Tony Burman’s squad were dwindling, Elliot Bradbrook, Joe Bruce and James White were suspended. Burman temporarily brought in Jack Clark from Cray Wanderers who impressed Dartford supporters and Adam Burchell made a rare start.

George Purcell's shot finds the back of the net

Twice Dartford rattled the Ashford Town cross bar, first by Charlie Sheringham on three minutes and then Lee Burns half way through the first half. Ashford claimed a penalty but this was turned down, other than that The Darts defence coped easily. In the second half, Ryan Hayes replaced Burchell and before the hour passed to Billy Burgess, he set up George Purcell who placed his shot passed the goalkeeper. At last victory, Dartford made it into the last 16 of the F.A Trophy and faced a long journey to the North East to face Conference National side Gateshead.

Ashford Town (Middlesex) 0 Dartford 1 – F.A Trophy Second Round Highlights

This is a Low

Tony Burman made a coup before the cup tie against Ashford Town (Middlesex). Former Tonbridge Angels and AFC Wimbledon goal getter Jon Main signed on loan but due to the arrangement he was unavailable for the F.A Trophy match. His record was phenomenal, for The Angels he had scored 52 goals in 57 games. Whilst at AFC Wimbledon he broke the Conference South goal scoring record for a season netting 33 times. Last season he was AFC Wimbledon’s second highest scorer with 15 goals and still missed the last two months through injury. Tony Burman had brought in a reliable striker but there was a catch, could Main get fit again and back to his best?

Carl Rook was sacrificed to hand Jon Main his debut in a Darts shirt. Dartford tested Staines Town goalkeeper Louis Wells early on when Charlie Sheringham’s shot was stopped. Purcell fired wide and the travelling fans were encouraged when Purcell and Lee Noble was denied by Wells. Danny Gordon attempted an audacious 40 yard volley for The Swans which flew off target. Dartford was foiled again when Paul Goodacre’s headers crashed against the woodwork. Going into half time the three pronged attack of George Purcell, Jon Main and Charlie Sheringham looked lively enough.

James White rescues a point

In the second half and against the run of play, The Swans opened the scoring when Danny Gordon pounced on some hesitant Dartford defending. A fifth consecutive defeat looked to be on the cards and so Burman introduced Carl Rook. Jon Main who quietly impressed all afternoon, headed the ball out wide to Tom Bonner. The full back crossed for the waiting substitute Rook who back heeled the ball in towards the path of James White, the ball bobbled over the line, White had equalised with six minutes on the clock.

Dartford 1 Staines Town 1 – Highlights

 

A New Year Begins

Braintree Town’s tough defence kept them top of the table by three points after winning three consecutive matches. This run was to continue throughout January as the Essex side won all six matches in January 2011. Bromley had slipped down to eighth after their tremendous start to the season. Chelmsford City picked up form and moved up to second and Eastleigh increased their winning streak to four. Ebbsfleet lost their 12 match unbeaten run against the league leaders but remained in contention at the top.

At the bottom of the table Lewes and Boreham Wood propped up the rest, Thurrock climbed out of the relegation zone. Despite rescuing a point against Staines Town, The Darts hit a season’s low, winless in seven league matches, taking a measly two points from twenty one. Dartford FC slumped into the dreaded bottom three. Supporters, players and management were unhappy at the way the season was panning out, could everyone turn the season around?

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Braintree Town 19 13 3 3 36 14 +22 42
2 Chelmsford City 19 12 3 4 39 22 +17 39
3 Ebbsfleet United 19 11 5 3 31 19 +12 38
4 Farnborough 21 11 5 5 39 24 +15 38
5 Welling United* 21 13 3 5 45 26 +19 37
6 Eastleigh 19 10 4 5 36 22 +14 34
7 Dover Athletic 20 10 5 5 46 30 +16 35
8 Bromley 23 10 8 5 32 35 -3 38
9 Havant and W 18 6 6 6 25 23 +2 24
10 Woking 21 7 7 7 25 25 0 28
11 Bishop’s Stortford 23 9 3 11 27 40 -13 30
12 Basingstoke Town 19 6 6 7 18 21 -3 24
13 Weston-super-Mare 25 8 7 10 35 40 -5 31
14 Staines Town 21 6 8 7 28 28 0 26
15 Maidenhead United 20 6 6 8 21 30 -9 24
16 Hampton and Richmond 19 4 9 6 21 26 -5 21
17 Dorchester Town 19 5 5 9 23 26 -3 20
18 St Albans City 19 3 8 8 20 32 -12 17
19 Thurrock 21 4 6 11 26 45 -19 18
20 Dartford 20 3 7 10 24 33 -9 16
21 Boreham Wood 20 3 5 12 25 41 -16 14
22 Lewes 22 3 3 16 17 37 -20 12


*Welling United deducted five points

 

Stuart Maidment

Photos courtesy of Dave Adkins and Carol White-Griffiths, videos courtesy of Ray Cherry.

 

2011/12 fixtures

13 August 2011 WESTON-SUPER-MARE (a)
16 August 2011 EASTBOURNE BOROUGH (h)
20 August 2011 HAMPTON & RICHMOND BOROUGH (h)
23 August 2011 DOVER ATHLETIC (a)
27 August 2011 CHELMSFORD CITY (a)
29 August 2011 BROMLEY (h)
03 September 2011 BASINGSTOKE TOWN (a)
10 September 2011 EASTLEIGH (h)
17 September 2011 FARNBOROUGH (a)
20 September 2011 STAINES TOWN (h)
24 September 2011 TONBRIDGE ANGELS (h)
08 October 2011 BOREHAM WOOD (a)
22 October 2011 TRURO CITY (h)
25 October 2011 THURROCK (a)
29 October 2011 WOKING (h)
05 November 2011 SALISBURY CITY (a)
12 November 2011 WESTON-SUPER-MARE (h)
19 November 2011 EASTLEIGH (a)
03 December 2011 DOVER ATHLETIC (h)
06 December 2011 STAINES TOWN (a)
17 December 2011 DORCHESTER TOWN (h)
26 December 2011 WELLING UNITED (a)
01 January 2012 WELLING UNITED (h) *subject to change
07 January 2012 HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE (a)
14 January 2012 BASINGSTOKE TOWN (h)
21 January 2012 HAMPTON & RICHMOND BOROUGH (a)
28 January 2012 THURROCK (h)
04 February 2012 MAIDENHEAD UNITED (a)
11 February 2012 SUTTON UNITED (h)
14 February 2012 EASTBOURNE BOROUGH (a)
18 February 2012 WOKING (a)
25 February 2012 SALISBURY CITY (h)
03 March 2012 TONBRIDGE ANGELS (a)
10 March 2012 FARNBOROUGH (h)
17 March 2012 HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE (h)
24 March 2012 DORCHESTER TOWN (a)
31 March 2012 MAIDENHEAD UNITED (h)
07 April 2012 CHELMSFORD CITY (h)
09 April 2012 BROMLEY (a)
14 April 2012 SUTTON UNITED (a)
21 April 2012 BOREHAM WOOD (h)
28 April 2012 TRURO CITY (a)
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