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.
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|
|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)
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