It’s been an interesting month for Dartford, despite rumblings about recent performances the black and white army went through November unbeaten in league and cup.
The month started excellently when The Darts faced a difficult away fixture at The Raymond McEnhill Stadium. Salisbury City boasted a brilliant record at home under Darrell Clarke and against Dartford. Goalkeeper Andrew Young was released by Tony Burman days prior the match and former Staines Town keeper Louis Wells was signed as the replacement.
Louis Wells (far left) applauds with his new team mates
Wells début couldn’t have got off to a worse start when after just two minutes a wicked deflection wrong footed the 29 year old putting The Darts a goal down. In all fairness no goalkeeper could have adjusted his feet quick enough to stop Stuart Anderson’s effort. Dartford battled back and a Jon Wallis free kick tied the scores halfway through the first half.
In the second half it was Salisbury’s goalkeeper who had a day to forget. Conor Gough could have done better to keep out Wallis equaliser but when Jacob Erskine collided with the goalkeeper to head the ball in for the winner Gough ended up with a fractured rib and was unable to continue. The Darts defended valiantly to earn an exceptional victory.
A week later Weston Super-Mare turned up at Princes Park and took the lead after half hour courtesy of Nat Pepperall. Adam Green levelled the scoreline approaching up to half time. The Seagulls were reduced to ten men in the second half but Dartford failed to break down their visitors to claim a second win, instead The Darts had to settle with a disappointing draw.
For a second weekend in a row Tony Burman’s side failed to see off ten men. Travelling to Hampshire to face Eastleigh was bound to be tough considering Dartford’s terrible record at Silverlake Stadium. Once again, Green scored Dartford’s first goal this time from the penalty spot and the hosts were reduced to ten men shortly after. The lead was stretched to two through Wallis second of the season. Dartford were cruising and in control until conceding just before the break. Danny Smith’s goal was added to in the second half when Tom Jordan earned Eastleigh a draw. Ten men, a two goal lead and two points dropped.
The attention turned to the F.A Trophy in the last weekend of the month. The Darts were drawn out against fellow league opponents Eastbourne Borough. The trip to Priory Lane ended 0-0 in very blustery conditions but the performance was better than previous weeks according to Burman.
Tom Champion is delighted with his strike
Back at Princes Park the Tuesday night replay ended with a 2-1 win. Tom Champion’s scorcher put the home side in front and Danny Harris made it two nil. A dubious penalty let Eastbourne Borough back in the tie when former Dart Carl Rook pulled a goal back. Eastbourne’s Clark Masters was then red carded for handling outside the box and Dartford progressed to the first round. Due to the replay Dartford’s anticipated clash with table toppers Woking had to be re arranged for another day. Dartford face Brackley Town in round two.
Woking lead the Conference South for a third month in a row and look favourites for promotion at this stage. Scoring for fun they are now ten matches unbeaten. The only two sides taking points off The Cards since 3 September 2011 are Salisbury City and Chelmsford City. During this unbeaten spell the Surrey side have netted 26 times, conceded only six goals and kept five clean sheets. Garry Hill has also added Crawley Town’s Ben Smith on a months loan to bolster the squad. However, Woking were stopped in their F.A Trophy tracks when Chelmsford knocked them out with a 2-0 win.
Despite four consecutive wins Welling United trail The Cards by four points. Welling have now won eight of their ten home matches, drawing the other two. Jamie Day’s side look every bit the settled side but with striker Andrew Pugh hinting he would like to go full time the Kent club will be hoping he stays. Pugh has scored a third of Welling’s league goals and is the leagues second top scorer.
Unsurprisingly Chelmsford City are starting to find the right gear. It seemed only a matter of time before The Clarets turned draws into wins and they are now unbeaten in 12 Conference South matches. In November the Essex club demolished Bromley 6-1, drew with league leaders Woking and knocked them out of the F.A Trophy. The Clarets also tasted F.A Cup success by convincingly beating AFC Telford 4-0 in the first round. A second round home tie awaits with League Two’s Macclesfield Town.
Sutton United continue steady progress and remain in the playoffs with The Darts. The U’s beat struggling Staines Town 4-1 before picking up a point in their last two league matches. Sutton have failed to score in their last two Conference South fixtures but managed a 1-0 F.A Cup win against Conference Premier side Kettering Town. The U’s will look forward to the televised second round sell out at home to League One’s Nott’s County.
Dicks: Dorchester's potential boss
Two managers have lost their jobs since October’s review. Ashley Vickers left Dorchester Town on 29 October and since then the Dorset side have picked up form. The Magpies conceded just one goal in November and have gone 297 minutes without conceding, they are now five matches unbeaten. One notable scalp was inflicting Basingstoke Town’s first defeat away from home. Former Premier League defender and Grays Athletic manager Julian Dicks is reportedly favourite to take charge of The Magpies.
Spencer Day earned a managerial role at Farnborough when they departed company with Garry Haylock. The Boro lost seven in a row, this seasons worst losing streak, before Day took charge. The ex Chertsey Town boss crowned his début with a 3-1 win against Salisbury City, who have now lost there last five and slumped to sixteenth place.
At the bottom of the table Staines Town and Thurrock continue to struggle. Staines have picked up just two points from the last 27 available and Thurrock’s lack of fire power has left them just a point above The Swans. Thurrock did defeat Hampton and Richmond but a couple of wins from The Beavers have given some hope to their supporters as they close the gap on Maidenhead United.
Maidenhead United are now without a win in ten matches and an F.A Cup run has been a welcome distraction for The Magpies. In the F.A Cup first round the Conference South was represented by six clubs. Maidenhead United forced a replay against League Two’s Aldershot Town, the Berkshire club was just twelve minutes away from an upset. In the replay Aldershot Town won 2-0.
Basingstoke Town and Bromley were knocked out by Brentford and Leyton Orient respectively. However, Chelmsford City, Salisbury City (3-1 winners over Arlesly) and Sutton United are all still flying the Conference South flag.
In November the Conference South sides also entered the F.A Trophy third qualifying round. Eleven sides progressed to the first round which will take place on 10 December 2011.
Did you know…
0- Welling United and Woking have not lost a home league match yet and Chelmsford have not been defeated away. Thurrock are the only side who have failed to pick up three points at home and Staines Town are still looking for their first away win.
7- Farnborough’s victory against Salisbury City on 19 November 2011 stopped a run of seven consecutive defeats, the longest losing streak in the Conference South so far.
10- Maidenhead United have not won in ten Conference South fixtures since 13 September 2011, the longest winless streak this season so far.
57- Goals have been scored by a penalty (9%) out of 629 goals scored in the Conference South this season. Tonbridge Angels have netted the most with six. Basingstoke Town, Eastbourne Borough, Eastleigh and Farnborough have yet to score a penalty.
299- The number of first half goals scored in the Conference South this season.
330- The number of second half goals scored in the Conference South this season.