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Dartford v Southport

Dartford could make it successive home wins this weekend if they can overcome Southport for the first time in their history.

Both fixtures between the Darts and the Sandgrounders finished with identical score lines. In total Dartford took the lead four times against Saturday’s opponents and were pegged back each time. At Princes Park, Elliot Bradbrook scored a brace with a well taken long range effort and a penalty. The Merseysiders equalised with a headed goal from Steve Akrigg and repeated the same feat by grabbing a last minute draw courtesy of Karl Ledsham.

In the previous fixture Harry Crawford scored his first goal since returning to the club which took his tally to a dozen for the season. Crawford’s stuck in the opener with his first goal outside of Kent in a Dartford shirt. Andy Owens equalised for Southport but Tom Bonner had the Darts back ahead. Once again, Southport equalised when Shaun Whalley scored from the spot. A second successive stalemate means that neither side have ever beaten each other.

The last seven days started off extremely well for the Darts when they defeated an in form Kidderminster Harriers 3-0. Jason Prior, Elliot Bradbrook and Danny Harris all featured on the score sheet in a well deserved victory. On Tuesday night, Dartford travelled to Lincolnshire to face Grimsby Town, who knocked the Darts out of last season’s F.A Trophy semi-final.

Grimsby Town looked in control when Danny Harris opened the scoring half way through the first period. Dartford’s winger scored his second in as many games with a well taken side footed finish. The lead lasted just eight minutes but if it wasn’t for Grimsby Town’s goalkeeper, James McKeown’s stop moments before the Darts could have been two up. McKeown’s clearance found Rob Hannah, he laid the ball off to Patrick McLaughlin who struck from 20 yards to equalise. The Mariners piled on more pressure and after a number of corners Shaun Pearson gave the hosts the lead. Once more Dartford suffered from a set piece play and in an 11 minute spell Grimsby Town scored a third courtesy of Lenell John-Lewis.

Early in the second half the Darts were given hope when the quick thinking Lee Noble scored directly from a free kick with the Grimsby Town defenders still preparing the wall. In the final five minutes the game got away from Dartford when Scott Kerr and Craig Disley condemned the Darts to a 5-2 away defeat.

Saturday’s opponents began their campaign in fine form topping the league table after two matches with a perfect record. Four wins from the opening half dozen fixtures left the Sandgrounders in the playoff zone. However, a run of four games without a win followed, including a 4-1 away defeat to Tamworth.

On Tuesday, Southport hosted another of the Conference Premier’s surprise packages in Alfreton Town. The hosts went into the fixture after failing to score in their previous two games and at half time the sides headed back to the dressing rooms with nothing to show. Alfreton Town gained an advantage when John Akinde scored his fifth of the campaign but the lead was cancelled out by Nick Fenton’s own goal. Southport’s barren spell without their own player scoring ended when Osayamen Osawe netted the winner, the striker’s third of the season.

The Merseysiders finished a place above the relegation places last term with a four point cushion. Boss Liam Watson left the managerial role to join relegated AFC Telford United in the Conference North. Chairman, Charles Clapham MBE was quick to appoint Alan Wright who takes his first job in the world of football management. The 41 year old made his name at Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers as a full back.

Team News

Tyrone Sterling hobbled off after just 17 minutes up at Blundell Park on Tuesday night. Max Cornhill took his place on the substitute bench and made an appearance later on whilst Mat Mitchel-King was still out. Tony Burman only named four substitutes in the match against Grimsby Town.

Current League Form

Dartford (LWLLDL) Southport (WLLDLW)
Grimsby Town A 2-5 Alfreton Town H 2-1
Kidderminster Harriers H 3-0 Braintree Town A 0-1
Luton Town A 0-3 Lincoln City A 0-1
Nuneaton Town H 1-2 Welling United H 2-2
Chester A 0-0 Tamworth A 1-4
Lincoln City H 1-2 Aldershot Town H 1-0

Last Meeting At Princes Park

17 November 2012 – Dartford 2 Southport 2 – Att: 1506

Goalscorers: Bradbrook (17), Akrigg (21), Bradbrook (33 pen), Ledsham (90)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Rose, Bonner, Arber, Burns, Hayes, Champion, Bradbrook, Hayes, Harris, Erskine, (subs used: Collier, Wallis, Rogers)

The Sandgrounders Lineup: Mcmillan, Smith, Lever, Akrigg, Grand, Whalley, Ledsham, Moogan, Poku, Almond, Tames (subs used: Lynch, Chalmers, Stephenson)

Match Stats

dfc v sfc stats

Stats (collated from www.bbc.co.uk/sport)

0 – Along with Gateshead, Dartford are the only other side yet to score in the final 15 minutes of a league match this campaign

37 – The Darts have had the least shots off target this season, but only Chester have had fewer attempts in total

88 – Fouls Dartford have conceded, one less than Hyde who have given away the least fouls

291 – The number of minutes Southport went without their own player scoring. Osawe’s winner on Tuesday night put an end to the barren spell

Grimsby Town v Dartford

Dartford hit the road after a morale boosting win on the weekend and hope to carry the momentum up to Grimsby Town on Tuesday night.

The Darts take on the Mariners for the fifth time in less than a year with one of the meetings ending in a memorable away win for Tony Burman’s side. Back in October, the now departed midfielder Tom Champion gave the Darts a second half lead. With the home side pressing to salvage a point, Adam Birchall scored to seal the match in his first loan spell at the club. Dartford’s form eleven months ago propelled them to fifth place, a far cry from their current eighteenth place standing.

In a two legged F.A Trophy semi-final, the Mariners gained the upper hand in the first match on home soil. Craig Disley’s superb volley gave the hosts a half time lead which was only extended in the final five minutes. Disley netted a second following Marcus Bettinelli’s rare mistake and Anthony Cook put the tie beyond Dartford, who managed a 0-0 draw in the second leg. Grimsby Town also edged out the Darts at Princes Park with two late goals after falling behind.

Dartford enter Tuesday night’s fixture in good spirit, having gone four games without a win and netting just five times all season, Saturday’s expectations against last season’s runners up were low. Hosting an in form Kidderminster Harriers side ended in one of the weekend’s surprise results.

Jason Prior opened his account for 2013/14 when his close range effort came off Harriers defender Lee Vaughan. The strikers second Dartford goal of his career gave the Darts enough hope to complete a victory, Tony Burman told BBC Radio Kent: “You need something to give you a boost. When you score a goal you get a boost, but full credit to Jason (Prior), he took his chance well and that gives you the belief”.

Dartford’s captain then notched his third goal in five games, Elliot Bradbrook slotted the ball home six minutes after the interval. A third arrived when Danny Harris

finished from twelve yard, his second goal for the campaign.Victory lifted the Darts out of the bottom four to give them confidence going into Tuesday’s game. Burman was delighted with his team’s work ethic who bounced back from a difficult spell, he commented: “The guys have come out from the off and they’ve worked hard, closed Kidderminster down, they deserved the win today”, he added: “It probably could have been more, we had a few chances that could have been put in, but it’s nice, it’s given us a lift for a few days. You can’t beat working hard as a team, I’m really pleased for the players”.

Grimsby Town have had a mixed start and with a tight defence from last term are strong candidates to reach the playoffs this time. Despite the long awaited return of Liam Hearn, goals have been hard to find as the Mariners have recorded just one more than Dartford so far. Hearn top scored for his club two years ago but long term injury’s have prevented his progress. Off the pitch the striker had to refute rumours of a bust up with the now departed joint boss Rob Scott, who was sacked for “gross misconduct” after defeat at Nuneaton Town.

Now with only Paul Hurst managing the side, the Mariners go into the mid week clash on the back of one win in five. Scoring just once in 364 minutes of football the Lincolnshire club have picked up five points from the last 15 available. The last of those points were earned in a goalless draw up at Chester.

Hurst’s first fixture in sole charge was pleasing enough for the 38 year old, he told BBC Radio Humberside: “I’m pleased with a point because of how the game went, with the sending off so early in the second half”, he continued: “I thought just towards the end of the first half, we finally looked like we were getting into our stride and playing a bit better so obviously I would have liked to keep 11 on the pitch”. Like Burman, the Grimsby Town boss was also impressed with his players efforts, he added: “I thought we coped extremely well with it, and it’s credit to the players work rate and commitment”.

Team News

James Rogers has left the Darts to rejoin former club and Kent rivals Dover Athletic. The midfielder has been a reliable player but has found first team football limited. Max Cornhill and latest Dartford signing Josh Hill returned to the substitutes bench on the weekend but Mat Mitchel-King was still out with injury. Adam Birchall was dropped to the bench before replacing Prior and Uche Ibemere made his second substitute appearance for the Darts.

Joe Colbeck will be suspended after his red card versus Chester. Hearn featured for first time this month in that 0-0 draw at Chester. Ritchie Jones made his first start for the club after getting iternational clearance just over a week ago, having previously signed for San Jose Earthquakes where he didn’t feature in a first team match.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Grimsby Town wins: 3 / Draws 1

Current Form

Grimsby Town (DLWDLW) Dartford (WLLDLW)
Chester A 0-0 Kidderminster Harriers H 3-0
FC Halifax Town A 0-4 Luton Town A 0-3
Braintree Town H 1-0 Nuneaton Town H 1-2
Luton Town A 0-0 Chester A 0-0
Nuneaton Town H 1-2 Lincoln City H 1-2
Hyde A 1-0 Tamworth A 2-0

Last League Meeting at Blundell Park

6 October 2012 –  Grimsby Town 0 Dartford 2 – Att: 4009

Goalscorers: Champion (52), Birchall (84)

The Mariners Lineup: McKeown, Wood, Pearson, Pond, Thomas, Colbeck, Disley, Niven, Neilson, Cook, Hannah (subs used: Elding, Artus, Southwell)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Burns, Arber, Bonner, Rose, Champion, Bradbrook, Collier, Noble, Harris, Birchall (subs used: Wallis, Erskine)

Match Stats

gtfc v dfc stats

Last Five Meetings (FAT = F.A Trophy / Fr = Friendly)

09.04.2013 Dartford 1 Grimsby Town 2
23.02.2013 (FAT) Dartford 0 Grimsby Town 0
16.02.2013 (FAT) Grimsby Town 3 Dartford 0
06.10.2012 Grimsby Town 0 Dartford 2
17.04.1897 (Fr) Dartford 3 Grimsby Town 2

Stats

With every point Dartford have picked up they have kept a clean sheet. The first goal is important in Dartford games, with the side going on to score first winning on each occasion.

At home Grimsby Town have scored in every league match this season

3 – the number of clean sheets and blanks recorded by Grimsby Town in the last four matches

Dartford v Kidderminster Harriers

Dartford slipped into the bottom four and hope to climb back out when they take on last season’s runners up Kidderminster Harriers this weekend.

Both sides were struggling at the wrong end of the table the last time they met at Princes Park over a year ago. The Darts kick started their last campaign with their first victory in the Conference Premier for 26 years.  Substitute Lee Burns headed the vital winner in the first half, his only goal of the season from a Ryan Hayes corner as Dartford won 1-0. The return fixture ended with the Harriers recording a convincing 5-1 reverse.

Dartford haven’t managed a home win since the opening day of the season and know points are crucial them to pull them away from the bottom four. Based on last season’s opening weeks, the Darts and Kidderminster Harriers know all to well that there is plenty to play for. When the two sides met last August the bottom two positions were occupied by both clubs with no points to show. Whilst Dartford finished a credible eighth, Kidderminster Harriers won 25 out of their last 29 games to finish runners up missing out on the title by two points on the final day. The Harriers failed to reach a Wembley playoff final losing to Wrexham 5-2 on aggregate.

Tony Burman’s men have lost their last three matches at Princes Park. The Darts followed the 2-0 loss against Braintree Town with 2-1 defeats against Lincoln City and Nuneaton Town. In the latest two home fixtures set pieces and early goals put Dartford on the back foot before Elliot Bradbrook pulled a goal back.

On Tuesday night, Dartford travelled to Kenilworth Road where they upset Luton Town 2-0 last season. This time around the scores were reversed by half time. Paul Benson scored his first goal in a Hatters shirt when his effort went in off the post. Elliot Bradbrook missed a great opportunity and within seconds Luke Guttridge scored at the other end. Alex Lawless who had just returned from injury made it 3-0 just after the hour when he took the ball round Alan Julian.

Kidderminster Harriers have got off to a better start than 12 months ago and are just five points of the pace at the top of the table, occupying third place.

Last weekend, the Harriers recorded their second 2-1 win in a row beating Hyde. Anthony Malbon’s close chest control and fine strike from outside the box gave the hosts the lead. Hyde’s Tom Collins levelled the score but Michael Gash headed in a first half winner. On Tuesday night, James Dance scored his third goal in as many games after six minutes to give the Harriers the lead at Tamworth. Gash doubled the advantage with his third goal of the season and Malbon converted from the spot in the final minute, the 3-0 victory is the Harriers third successive league triumph.

Malbon and  Gash have scored three goals each this term and have had the chance to develop an attacking force since March. Gash, who scored against the darts for his former club Cambridge United last term joined the Harriers to help their promotion push. The 27 year old scored six goals in 11 games in the final two months of the campaign. Meanwhile, Malbon top scored for the club in 2012/13 amassing an impressive 19 strikes after featuring in every Conference Premier match last season.  Kidderminster Harriers’s back four has remained a consistent foundation for the team to build on, with the same reliable players featuring nearly every week since the early months of last season.

Team News

Tyrone Sterling returned to the starting eleven in the week but was substituted after the hour mark. Mat Mitchel-King and Max Cornhill were still missing through injury, however Burman is hoping for both players to return.

Steve Burr handed James Grimes his first start against Tamworth whilst Joe Lolley has been absent for three matches because of a minor injury he received.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 11 / Kidderminster Harriers wins: 12 / Draws: 7 / Dartford Goals: 44 / Kidderminster Harriers Goals: 45

Current League Form

Dartford (LLDLWL) Kidderminster Harriers (WWWLLW)
Luton Town A 0-3 Tamworth A 2-0
Nuneaton Town H 1-2 Hyde H 2-1
Chester A 0-0 Welling United A 2-1
Lincoln City H 1-2 Luton Town H 0-2
Tamworth A 2-0 Nuneaton Town A 1-2
Braintree Town H 0-2 Chester H 3-1

Last Five Meetings

22.12.2012 Kidderminster Harriers 5 Dartford 1
05.12.2012 Dartford 1 Kidderminster Harriers 0
29.03.1986 Kidderminster Harriers 4 Dartford 1
05.10.1985 Dartford 5 Nuneaton Borough 1
19.01.1985 Kidderminster Harriers 1 Dartford 1

Last Meeting At Princes Park

20 April 2013 –  Dartford 1 Kidderminster Harriers 0 – Att: 1068

Goalscorers: Burns (36)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Rose, Bonner, Arber, Green, Hayes, Chaampion, Bradbrook, Rogers, Harris, Crawford,  (subs used: Burns, Noble)

The Harriers Lineup: Lewis, Briggs, Austin, Dunkley, Williams, Shakes, Vincent, Byrne, Johnson, Rowe, Malbon (subs used: Demetriou, Pilkington, Blissett)

Match Stats

dfc v khfc stats

Stats

3 – home league defeats in a row for Dartford, last seen at Princes Park between 13 November 2011 and 8 January 2012 when the Darts lost 4-0 to Dorchester Town, 2-1 versus Chelmsford City and 1-0 against Thurrock in the Conference South.

5 – number of goals scored by Dartford this season, the fewest in the Conference Premier. Kidderminster

8 – Dance, Gash and Malbon have scored the Harriers’s last eight league goals over five matches.

Luton Town v Dartford

Dartford aim to pick up some much needed points on Tuesday night when they travel to Kenilworth Road and face Luton Town.

The Darts enjoyed both matches against the Hatters last term by completing their only double in the league. On top of a six point haul Luton Town failed to breach the Dartford defence on both occasions. Lee Noble’s sixth minute strike from a direct free kick out wide gave Tony Burman’s side a shock lead and the afternoon was made better after Tom Bonner gave the Darts a 2-0 lead before half time which was enough to take home three points. The corresponding fixture ten months ago was played in front of Dartford’s biggest audience last season. At Princes Park the double was completed in February with Ryan Hayes netting the winner.

With just two wins in eight league games Dartford find themselves in nineteenth position, picking up less than a point a match. The latest setback occurred on the weekend in a 2-1 defeat at home to joint leaders Nuneaton Town. The Darts found themselves two down with just eight minutes on the clock as they became another victim of Louis Moult’s goalscoring feats this season. Moult headed his first from a set piece before striking his own 25 yard free kick into the top corner. Elliot Bradbrook pulled back a goal for the Darts with a sublime overhead kick but the 2-1 half time scoreline remained the same after ninety minutes.

Burman was disappointed that his side were unable to create an equaliser, he told kentonline.co.uk: “We might have played some pretty football and passed it about but some of them, in my opinion, didn’t have the desire to make things happen in the second half”. The Dartford boss made his frustration known on defending free kicks, he commented: “It’s two set pieces again which we’ve been punished for”, he added: “The set-pieces are so important and I can’t keep telling the same people about it”.

Tuesday’s hosts have made a slow start considering the expectations of their large support. Five places and a win away from Dartford, Luton Town have also struggled to find the net scoring only five this term. At the other end the Hatters have remained resolute letting in a paltry four.

Manager, John Still and winger David Martin both have links with Dartford having represented the club. Still managed the Darts between 1983 and 1986 guiding the club to promotion reaching the Conference for the second time in the club’s history. After guiding Dartford to a record third place finish in 1985 he left in February 1986. Martin’s performances and wonder goals for the Darts earned him a deal with Crystal Palace prior his spells with Millwall, Derby County and Southend United.

On Friday night Luton Town went down to their first defeat in six games conceding for the first time in four matches. Away to Wrexham, the Hatters were beaten by goals from Andy Bishop and Johnny Hunt. Former Maidenhead United striker, Alex Wall was dismissed for violent conduct in a disappointing evening for the Bedfordshire club.

Team News

Mat Mitchell-King missed his third successive league game on the weekend through injury and midfielder Max Cornhill was also absent for the fourth time in a row. Tyrone Sterling returned to action as an 83rd minute substitute.

Luton Town will have Alex Wall missing through suspension. F.A Cup hero from last season Scott Rendell has gone out on loan to Woking. Alex Lawless made his first start of the season after being out with injury.

Head To Head

Luton Town wins: 1 / Dartford wins: 2

Last Meeting at Kenilworth Road

1 December 2012 –  Luton Town 0 Dartford 2 – Att: 6567

Goalscorers: Noble (6), Bonner (41)

The Hatters Lineup: Brill, Howells, Ainge, Henry, Lawless, Mendy, O’Donnell, Smith, Rendell, Fleetwood, Gray  (sub used: Walker)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Burns, Arber, Bonner, Rose, Champion, Bradbrook, Hayes, Noble, Harris, Erskine (subs used: Rogers, Collier)

Match Stats

ltfc v dfc stats
Stats

0 – Luton Town have failed to score in the first hour of matches this season. Dartford have yet to score in the final half an hour of matches.

5 – number of times the Hatters have failed to score this season. More than any other club except Macclesfield Town, who have also failed to find the net on five occasions

216  – number of minutes since the Darts conceded in the league away from home.

381 – minutes the Hatters went without conceding before their 2-0 defeat at Wrexham, only Cambridge United have kept more clean sheets

 

Dartford v Nuneaton Town

Dartford host unbeaten high fliers Nuneaton Town in the Conference Premier on Saturday.

Both sides were promoted via the Conference regional leagues two seasons ago through the playoffs. Whilst the Darts finished higher last term, it is the Boro who are surprising the division sitting level with Cambridge United at the top of the table.

Twice the Darts lost to Nuneaton Town by a single goal last season,the last home match took place on the final day of last season. A goal by Wes York in the final ten minutes separated the two sides as Dartford secured an eighth place finish and the Boro ended in fifteenth position. At Liberty Way the match winner was the impressive Andy Brown who scored 19 times last season and has notched four this term already.

Goals have been at a premium in Dartford matches this campaign. On Saturday the Darts kept their third clean sheet whilst adding another blank in front of the opposition net. Likewise, Chester’s attacking force has been lacking and so it was no surprise both sides were unable to break the deadlock. The goalless draw left Dartford’s assistant manager Paul Sawyer, who was stepping in for the absent boss Tony Burman, content with a point considering the Darts had changed their shape, he told BBC Radio Kent: “We did create, we were still pushing for the win at the end, and we’re happy to take a point away”, he added: “I thought on another day we could have nicked three points”.

The Boro built foundations towards the tail end of 2012/13 winning their final three matches and collecting eight clean sheets in the last 13 fixtures. This time out Nuneaton Town have surprised a few thanks to the strike partnership of Brown and Louis Moult. The latter was on loan last season and has netted five goals as a permanent squad member since the first matchday in August. The potent strike force is responsible for nine of the clubs dozen goals this season, leading the way in the top goalscoring charts.

Manager of the Month for August, Kevin Wilkin has led Nuneaton Town to second position, a drastic improvement to their start a year ago. Opening their campaign unbeaten over seven games the Boro have won their last three fixtures with the latest at home to Wrexham. Brown took advantage of the space given to score unmarked from close range with 15 minutes remaining. In the final minute the game was put beyond doubt when Moult secured victory.

Team News

Mat Mitchel-King and Max Cornhill could return to action but will need fitness tests. Tyrone Sterling missed out entirely on Saturday due to family commitments. With all three out last weekend Nathan Collier filled in at centre back and did a fine job. After an impressive Kent Senior Cup win on Tuesday three of the substitute bench consisted of younger players. Uche Ibemere, George Monger and Ronnie Vint may not have featured during the match but they made the selected 16 for Saturday.

Nuneaton Town had doubts over Wes York last weekend and Gareth Dean but they still featured in the win against Wrexham whilst David McNamee made his first start of 2012/13. On Tuesday, Dean appeared as a second half substitute and captained the England C team that lost 1-0 to Latvia. James Armson started whilst Louis Moult made an appearance from off the bench, York and James Belshaw were also in the standby squad. First choice goalkeeper Dimitar Evitimov has been on Bulgaria under 21 duty against Estonia and Russia. The 20 year old featured in the 1-1 draw in Lovech against Estonia and 3-1 defeat to Russia in Khimki.

Head to Head (includes Nuneaton Borough)

Dartford wins: 13 / Nuneaton wins: 10 / Draws: 14 / Dartford Goals: 48 / Nuneaton Goals: 45

Current League Form

Dartford (DLWLLL) Nuneaton Town (WWWDWD)
Chester A 0-0 Wrexham H 2-0
Lincoln City H 1-2 Grimsby Town A 2-1
Tamworth A 2-0 Kidderminster Harriers H 2-1
Braintree Town H 0-2 Barnet A 1-1
FC Halifax Town H 0-2 Southport H 3-1
Aldershot Town A 0-3 Forest Green Rovers H 1-1

Last Five Meetings

20.04.2013 Dartford 0 Nuneaton Town 1
05.12.2012 Nuneaton Town 1 Dartford 0
05.12.1987 Nuneaton Borough 0 Dartford 0
05.09.1987 Dartford 3 Nuneaton Borough 1
09.03.1987 Nuneaton Borough 1 Dartford 3

Last Meeting At Princes Park

20 April 2013 –  Dartford 0 Nuneaton Town 1 – Att: 1844

Goalscorers: York (81)

The Darts Lineup: Somogyi, Green, Burns, Bonner, Arber, Champion, Wallis, Bradbrook, Hayes, Harris, Sheringham (subs used: Rogers, Evans, Collier)

The Boro Lineup: Burge, Phillips, Cowan, Dean, Forsdick, O’Halloran, Adams, Armson, York, Brown, Moult (subs used: Gordon, Dance, Walker)

Match Stats

dfc v ntfc stats

Stats

7 – Nuneaton Town have scored in every league match this season.The Boro’s last league blank was on 28 March 2013 against Woking, a run of 13 consecutive games scoring. Also the number of away games unbeaten stretching back to 30 March 2013 when they beat AFC Telford United 3-0.

16 – Number of players used by Tony Burman in the Conference Premier this season, the least by any other club alongside Southport and Welling United.

26 – Dartford’s last goal against a Nuneaton side was 26 years ago.

75 – percentage of Boro league goals scored by Brown and Moult this season.

395 – number of minutes Nuneaton Town went without conceding a goal last season, during the first three weeks of March 2013.

 

042

Dartford host Nuneaton Town on the final day of last season

Chester v Dartford

Dartford visit the Deva Stadium for the very first time to take on newly promoted Chester on Saturday.

The Darts travel North West in hope they can return to winning ways in the Conference Premier, after defeat at home to Lincoln City last weekend. Following the 2-0 triumph over Tamworth, Tony Burman’s side hosted the Imps and were two down inside half an hour. Elliot Bradbrook pulled back the deficit and a controversial refereeing decision which denied the Darts a penalty, prevented the points being shared.

On Tuesday night Nathan Collier, Tyrone Sterling, Alex Woodyard and Ryan Hayes featured in a much changed starting eleven against local rivals Welling United in the Kent Senior Cup. Burman also gave starts to newly added squad members Jay Porter, George Monger, Uche Ibemere and Mohamed Eisa.

Eisa struck first with a deflected effort giving the Darts a lead going into half time. Welling United hit back in the second half with a Loick Pires goal but Dartford stretched their lead to 3-1 with strikes from Woodyard and substitute Brima Daramy. The Wings managed a consolation through Loui Fazakerley, the defender scored the final goal of the evening but it was Dartford who progressed to the next round with a 3-2 victory.

Chester have pedigree at this level despite technically never playing in the Conference Premier. Formerly known as Chester City the club was dissolved after 125 years whilst participating in the top flight of non league. Only three years ago did the new Chester side start their journey back up the football pyramid smashing records along the way.

Managed by Neil Young since the club formed, Chester have won a treble of back to back promotions wining league titles on each occasion. Last season’s Conference North Team of the Year amassed 107 points last term with a goal difference of plus 71 and set six new records for the league.

In contrast the 2013/14 campaign has been far from successful for the Cheshire club who currently lie third from bottom, but would be a position lower if it wasn’t for Aldershot Town’s points deduction. Key losses over the summer in midfielder Antoni Sarcevic to Fleetwood Town and last season’s top scorer Nathan Jarman, who moved to North Ferriby United hasn’t helped the cause.

Young has pulled of a coup by capturing former Manchester United, Southampton and Stoke City defender Danny Higginbotham only last week. The 34 year old has ‘fallen in love with football again’ after moving from League One side Sheffield United. Despite five straight defeats for the newly promoted club, Higginbotham couldn’t have wished for a better start.

In the early kick off last weekend against Wrexham, the Blues claimed their first scalp of the season in the much anticipated derby. Paul Linwood headed the first goal from the six-yard after five minutes. Lewis Turner then made it 2-0 on 17 minutes with the help of twin brother Nathan who set the defender up. Young has urged his side not to relax after victory against the Welsh club and to use the win to push his side to more rewarding performances.

Team News

Dartford’s starting line up will be much changed from Tuesday nights cup match at Welling United with a number of more experienced players returning to the side. Mat Mitchel-King missed the defeat at home to Lincoln City through injury and Tony Burman has no suspension concerns.

Chester will be without Ashley Williams who has appeared in four of the Blues fixtures this term, starting twice. The midfielder was dismissed in Saturday’s win at Wrexham for violent conduct and will miss three games.

Current Form

Chester (WLLLLL) Dartford (LWLLLW)
Wrexham A 2-0 Lincoln City H 1-2
Forest Green Rovers H 1-2 Tamworth A 2-0
Kidderminster Harriers A 1-3 Braintree Town H 0-2
Woking H 0-2 FC Halifax Town H 0-2
Hereford United H 0-2 Aldershot Town A 0-3
Barnet A 0-3 Alfreton Town H 1-0

Stats

4 – number of goals scored by Dartford and Chester this season, only Tamworth have netted fewer.

22 – Chester have used 22 players, along with FC Halifax who were promoted from the Conference North with the Blues. No other team has used more players this term.

34 – The Blues have attempted the fewest shots at goal, hitting and missing the target 17 times.

315 – the number of minutes it took Chester to register their first Conference Premier goal.

321 – the number of minutes Dartford went without scoring a goal before the 2-0 win at Tamworth.

 

Welling United v Dartford

Kent Senior Cup action returns for the Darts against newly promoted rivals Welling United on Tuesday night.

Dartford are back in the county cup after exiting last term in controversial circumstances. Unable to fulfil there second round fixture with Margate the Kent F.A awarded the tie to the seaside club. Prior the competition last season, the Darts had reached successive finals defeating Bromley 4-1 in 2011 with goals from Elliot Bradbrook, Ryan Hayes, Danny Harris and an own goal. The following year ended in a shock final defeat when Hythe Town clinched the cup for the first time.

Dartford defeated Welling United in the Conference South playoff final almost 16 months ago but their opponents, who joined them in the Conference Premier for this campaign, have made a better start in the league.

Lee Noble was the hero back in May last year when his fourth minute long range strike settled the final, earning Dartford promotion to the Conference Premier for the first time in 26 years. Whilst Dartford finished runners up in the South division, Welling United finished in third. It didn’t take long for the Wings to recover as they took the Conference South title last season going unbeaten at Park View Road.

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Tuesday’s opponents last reached the final in 2009 thrashing Whitstable Town 6-1. The deadlock was broken from the penalty spot by former Dartford favourite Charlie Sheringham. Parity was restored when Ian Pulman equalised but Jack Parkinson’s two goals, Lee Proterhoe, Sam Hurrell and Ryan Johnson put the score way beyond the Oystermen.

The last meeting between the two sides was in the Conference South which ended in a 1-1 Boxing Day draw at Park View Road in front of 1815 fans. Lee Clarke gave the hosts a first half lead from a penalty and with time running out the hosts were awarded another spot kick. Saved by Louis Wells, the Dartford goalkeeper set up a counter attack which Noble got on the end of to rescue a point. A week later both clubs went head to head for the New Year derby which was delayed by 15 minutes, the crowd struggling to make kick off in time at Princes Park. A bumper attendance of 2559 witnessed Harris head home the winner just before the hour mark.

Both sides lost on Saturday in the league with the Darts yet again starting slow at home to Lincoln City. Ben Tomlinson gave the Imps the lead on 21 minutes and the visitors went two up after half an hour when Andrew Boyce scored. Dartford halved the deficit on the hour through captain Elliot Bradbrook’s header, his first of the campaign. Late on a stonewall penalty was waved away by the referee who claimed to have seen the incident.

Not convinced with the first half performance, Tony Burman ‘couldn’t fault the guys’ in the second half but he was left bemused by Mr Swabey’s decision which potentially costed the Darts a point, he told BBC Sport: “It was 100% handball – no question. Anywhere else on the pitch it’s handball and that’s the second Saturday in a row. It was on target and it was handball”, he added: “The referee says it was handball but it wasn’t intentional. It’s absolute rubbish”.

The Wings lost 2-1 away to Hereford United on Saturday but the Kent side went into the break level. Early in the second half Chris Sharp gave the Bulls an advantage which was doubled with six minutes remaining through Michael Rankine. Welling United’s top scorer Ross Lafayette netted a last minute consolation.

Dartford are scheduled to face Welling United in the Conference Premier at home on Boxing Day and away on New Years Day.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 14 / Welling United wins: 8 / Draws: 5

Previous Meetings (PO = Playoff Final)

13.05.2013 (PO) Dartford 1 Welling United 0
02.01.2012 Dartford 1 Welling United 0
26.12.2011 Welling United 1 Dartford 1
15.02.2011 Dartford 1 Welling United 1
01.01.2011 Welling United 2 Dartford 1

Recent Kent Senior Cup Performances

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Stats

3 – Number of times Welling United have won the Kent Senior Cup

10 – Number of times Dartford have won the Kent Senior Cup

15 – Players Jamie Day has used for Welling United this season, the fewest in the Conference Premier

25 – Amount of games Welling United are unbeaten at home in the league since 28 April 2012

8462 – Combined attendance for the three meetings between Dartford and Welling United during the 2011/12 season, an average of 2820.