Early days yet for the teams in the Conference South and with one month flying past Dartford fans should be delighted with their start.
Dartford took fifteen minutes to open their account when Elliot Bradbrook kicked started the season with a goal. A second from Tom Bonner settled any nerves and a brace from Charlie Sheringham opened The Darts campaign in style. The performance was excellent and the new signings impressed on their debuts.
Two fixtures later and Tony Burman boasted a 100% record. Princes Park hosted a 2-1 win against Eastbourne Borough then Hampton and Richmond. In both games The Darts created a wave of chances and the only concern was the amount of opportunities spurned.
The match at The Crabble was entertaining and both sets of fans thought they could nick all three points. Hardly surprising when both sides had very good spells with the ball and a 2-2 draw satisfied both teams in the end. Tony Burman’s wish of putting on ‘a good show’ for both sets of supporters was certainly granted. A second successive draw was earned at Chelmsford City and a clean sheet to boot. Going by the fans reaction the standard of football was not as high as games one to four and a draw was a fair result.
August ended in style with a 3-1 victory at home against Bromley. Again Dartford had numerous chances at 1-0 up but failed to convert. Bromley equalised and the game turned when Ryan Hayes went down in the box. The penalty was converted by Sheringham and a minute later a second set piece was finished by Danny Harris. Third place and 14 points from 18 leaves The Darts in an excellent position.
The side look to have a very good balance with Tom Bonner playing centre half, two full backs who have impressed, Tom Champion’s reliability in the centre of midfield and Charlie Sheringham scoring goals. The signing of Richard Graham has given Dartford width and options, Bradbrook has been able to play central and join the attack when required and both sets of wingers seem to have a good understanding with the full backs. If anyone needs a rest, or if Burman needs to change things the subs bench boasts the skilful Lee Noble, the strong and industrious Lee Burns, and the speedy Danny Harris. The promising Jack Pallen is still waiting to get involved after injury as is James Rogers after illness. The depth in quality and numbers look better than this time last year allowing for a strong start to the season.
But what about the other teams? Welling United managed to keep the majority of their squad who have shown they can score goals. The Wings top the division with an impressive seventeen goals, six scored by Andrew Pugh. Last season they were the third highest scorers so their attack play looks likely to continue.
Unsurprisingly, Woking occupies second spot and with their experience, non-league prestige, high attendances they should continue to challenge top spot. The Cards defence is excellent shown by keeping four clean sheets from six games. Last season they managed seven in a row and the second highest amount of clean sheets. Surprisingly Maidenhead United who survived relegation last season on the final day are in fifth spot taking ten points from the last twelve.
The new boys have started steadily. Sutton United must have thought they were in for a long season after a 5-0 defeat to Woking on day one. However they bounced back with three wins in a row and amassed ten points so far. Salisbury City can match Sutton United’s points total but have struggled on their travels so far.
Truro City sprinted out of the blocks winning the first three but have stuttered with three defeats in a succesion. Eastbourne Borough and Tonbridge Angels have earned seven points, The Angels will be happier of the two sides.
It is interesting to see the two sides in transition struggling in comparison to last season’s finishes. Farnborough Town went full time and have only one win to their name whilst Eastleigh, another to go full time lost their opening three but have since taken seven points from the last nine.
At the bottom Hampton and Richmond’s performance at Princes Park suggests they are unlucky to be in the bottom three without a victory. Thurrock are leaking goals and are the only other side yet to record a win. The Essex side must be one of the favourites to go down with their low attendances and reprieve from last season. Boreham Wood have mirrored last year’s slow start despite the signings of numerous new players.
Still there is a long way to go, a lot of football to be played and so typical of non-league football it can take as much as a single turning point, a player to hit form, a team to gel or a couple of loan signings to turn a season. One month down, eight to go.