In the first of the return fixtures Dartford travel to The Lamb Ground on Saturday and hope to avenge their opening day loss to Tamworth.
Adam Cunnington stole the show for Tamworth back in August claiming the crucial goals to inflict defeat on the Darts. Former Fleetwood Town midfielder, Peter Till opened the scoring for the visitors and Cunnington doubled the lead. On the stroke of half time Elliot Bradbrook neatly tucked away a free kick to lift Princes Park’s hopes. Cunnington hit a super strike in the second half with fifteen minutes remaining, the strikers second was enough to seal an away win despite Harry Crawford’s début goal.
It was a harsh lesson for Tony Burman after the clubs first Conference National fixture in 26 years but he was pleased with what he witnessed, he told PURE DFC on the opening day: “We’ve played pretty well – I’m disappointed we’ve not got all three points to be honest. We’ve made three mistakes on the goals, and we’ve been punished”.
Fortunes have since changed with Dartford rising to fifth in the table even though they lost their opening three fixtures. Away from home a strong defence has built a great foundation for the team who have now gone just over four and half matches without conceding on their travels. Marcus Bettinelli, Mark Arber, Tom Bonner, Lee Burns and Richard Rose has helped the club go five matches unbeaten away from Princes Park.
On Saturday the Darts progressed in the F.A Trophy beating Isthmian Premier League side Kingstonian 4-0. New loan signing Semi Ajayi conceded a penalty in the opening minutes giving the K’s the chance to shock their visitors. Marcus Bettinelli kept out Andre McCollin’s spot kick to deny the hosts.
Jacob Erskine opened the goalscoring from close range after a tidy piece of build up play by Dartford. The K’s were reduced to ten men when Simon Huckle’s challenge on Elliot Bradbrook was deemed a straight red card. In the second half, Ajayi made himself a nuisance from a set piece which Bradbrook flicked into the goal with his head. Danny Harris spurned a few opportunities before expertly curling the ball beyond Rob Tolfrey and Nathan Collier wrapped up proceedings with a calmly taken fourth.
Tamworth have hit their worst form of the season after a promising start to their campaign. After their first four matches the Lambs were in third place and unbeaten. Four wins and ten defeats later has seen the club struggle of late especially at home. The Lamb Ground has witnessed the fewest goals in the league (19) and the lowest amount scored by a home team (7). Marcus Law’s team have now gone 299 minutes without a league goal. Another blank on Saturday will equal the clubs previous Conference Premier record set in 2009 when they suffered a four game barren spell at the Lamb Ground.
One player to watch is striker Adam Cunnington who has scored 12 league goals in 20 starts, more than half of the squad’s total. Former team mate of Mark Arber at Dagenham and Redbridge the 25 year old has settled into life with Tamworth. One cap England international Lee Hendrie has made all his appearances in the last seven league matches with the Lambs and brings experience to the midfield.
Without a win in six league fixtures the Staffordshire club took on Lincoln City last weekend in the F.A Trophy. Their visitors were unbeaten in ten and were dispatched by Lloyd Kerry’s hat trick in a 3-1 victory. The Lambs came from behind to progress in the competition and picked out Corby Town in round two.
Mark Arber remains sidelined after suffering a fractured jaw against Southport a fortnight ago. Harry Crawford returns from his three match ban and will be available for selection. Defender, Semi Ajayi could make his league début for the Darts after signing on loan from Charlton Athletic.
Jean Paul Marna left Tamworth by mutual consent returning to France. The 31 year old striker has suffered from an achilles injury this season and has made just three starts and a substitute appearance in the Conference Premier this season.
Current League Form
|Tamworth (DDLLLL)||Dartford (DWLWDL)|
|AFC Telford United||H||0-0||Luton Town||A||2-0|
|Macclesfield Town||A||0-2||Forest Green Rovers||H||0-1|
|Grimsby Town||H||0-1||Mansfield Town||H||2-0|
|Hyde||A||1-2||AFC Telford United||H||1-4|
11 August 2012 – Dartford 2 Tamworth 3 – Att: 1370
Goalscorers: Till (27), Cunnington (40), Bradbrook (45), Cunnington (76), Crawford (79)
The Darts Lineup: Wells, Burns, Bonner, Arber, Green, Noble, Champion, Bradbrook, Rogers, Erskine, Harris (subs used: Hayes, Wallis, Crawford)
The Lambs Lineup: Breedon, Tait, Oji, Marshall, Barrow, Kelly, Till, Kerry, Marna, Wright, Cunnington (subs used: Gudger, Liabo)
18 – Dartford have used the fewest players in the league this season. Tamworth have used 27 players the second highest in the Conference National in 2012/13.
126 – The amount of shots off target recorded by the Lambs in the league this season, more than any other club
1106 – Tamworth’s average home attendance in the Conference Premier this campaign
2562 – Dartford’s average away attendance is the highest in the league this term
Most goals have been scored or conceded in the last fifteen minutes of the first half in matches involving the two sides…
Did you know…
Tamworth defender Tom Marshall is living two dreams at the moment. When the 25 year old is not playing for the Lambs he is busy creating basslines in his band Stubblemelt. Check out the indie rockers at www.stubblemelt.com.