Dartford will arrive in Gloucestershire on Saturday determined to pick up three points against a below par Forest Green Rovers.
The Darts met their opponents four times last term eventually recording a win against Rovers at the fourth time of asking. A year ago, Dartford forced a F.A Cup replay in the fourth qualifying round before crashing out. In Nailsworth, the first meeting ended one a piece thanks to Jacob Erskine’s equaliser cancelling out James Norwood’s 25 yard strike.
Days later, the replay failed to go to plan for Dartford goalkeeper Louis Wells, his two unfortunate errors proving costly. Harry Crawford may have given the Darts the lead but Forest Green Rovers struck four times to earn a first round place. Jan Klukowski scored a free kick and added a second which Wells should have handled better. The Darts keeper spilt a long range effort for Matthew Taylor to pounce and former Ebbsfleet United player Magno Vieira made it 4-1.
It seemed like the Darts were never going to beat Forest Green Rovers after a 1-0 loss at Princes Park, a fortnight after the F.A Cup exit. However, towards the end of last season Dartford recorded their final win of 2012/13. Danny Harris got the score moving in the eighth minute, scrambling the visitors ahead at The New Lawn. Elliot Bradbrook increased Dartford’s lead from the spot after Ryan Hayes was upended. Eddie Oshodi, who was sent off last week, was red carded for a dangerous tackle but Chris Stokes halved the deficit. Bradbrook’s header restored the two goal advantage meaning Jamie Turley’s goal was merely consolation.
The Darts approach this weekend’s league fixture on the back of a hard working North Kent derby victory. Dartford started brightly without causing too many problems in front of goal whilst Ebbsfleet United had better chances in the first half. Lee Noble won a penalty early in the second half and on his 200th appearance Bradbrook dispatched the spot kick. The Fleet won a penalty of their own and when Anthony Cook missed he became the fourth Ebbsfleet United player to miss from 12 yards this season. The Darts hung on to secure a first round meeting with fellow Conference Premier club Salisbury City.
Tony Burman’s side have failed to win their last five away fixtures in the Conference Premier but enter Saturday unbeaten in six competitive games.
Meanwhile, Forest Green Rovers are unexpectedly in a terrible run of form which cost manager Dave Hockaday his job. Amongst one of the favourites at the start of the season, especially after their 8-0 mauling of Hyde on day one, Rovers have won once in eight league matches and lost the other seven.
To make their campaign worse, the currently longest serving Conference Premier club crashed out of the F.A Cup at the first hurdle, falling to Conference South side Bishop’s Stortford. Reece Prestedge’s goal was enough to send the Bishops into the F.A Cup first round and earn a tie with League Two’s Northampton Town.
Gary Seward took charge in the cup defeat making it clear he would like to continue in his role permanently, just a few days ago Seward parted company with the club. Chairman Dale Vince continues his search and has already approached Gateshead for Gary Mills. The Tynesiders appointed Mills just two months ago and the former York City boss has committed his services to the Heed. In charge on Saturday will be the Academy Manager Scott Bartlett.
Elliot Bradbrook is the latest name on the Dartford injury list after cracking two ribs in Tuesday nights F.A Cup replay. The Darts skipper blocked a penalty rebound and still managed to finish the rest of the match, helping his side reach the first round proper. Matthew Godden returns from sitting out the two F.A Cup clashes with Ebbsfleet United whilst Jason Prior is racing to get fit. Striker Adam Birchall and defender Kenny Clark look set to make a comeback. Tyrone Sterling has been continuing with his recovery and Matt Fry has returned to action. Academy player Femi Akinwande made his début on Tuesday by coming on as a substitute and loan goalkeeper Tommy Forecast was on the bench. Midfielder Lee Noble and defender Fry are both one caution away from picking up a suspension.
Forest Green Rovers will be without suspended Oshodi, the defender who was sent off agianst the Darts last term was red carded a fortnight ago versus Grimsby Town. Stokes and Matthew Barnes-Homer are currently on four cautions and will face a ban if they pick up another yellow card. Reece Styche is making progress on his return from an anterior cruciate ligament injury by playing a part in Rovers’s defeat to Bishop’s Stortford. Norwood and Aarran Racine return from suspension whilst Kieron Forbes has been a doubt and didn’t feature last weekend.
Head to Head
Forest Green Rovers wins: 2 / Dartford wins: 1 / Draws 3
Current League Form
|Forest Green Rovers (LLLLWL)||Dartford (WDDLWL)|
|Macclesfield Town||H||2-3||Hereford United||A||2-2|
|Kidderminster Harriers||A||1-4||Salisbury City||H||1-1|
Last League Meeting at The New Lawn
16 April 2013 – Forest Green Rovers 2 Dartford 3 – Att: 575
Goalscorers: Harris (8), Bradbrook (25 pen), Stokes (48), Bradbrook (52), Turley (79)
The Rovers Lineup: Russell, Hodgkiss, Stokes, Turley, Oshodi, Bangura, Klukowski, Forbes, Vieira, Norwood, Connolly (subs used: Bennett, Odubade, Rowe)
The Darts Lineup: Somogyi, Green, Champion, Bonner, Arber, Wallis, Bradbrook, Burns, Hayes, Harris, Sheringham (subs used: Rogers, Evans, Collier)
Last Five Meetings (* = F.A Cup)
|16.04.2013||Forest Green Rovers||2||Dartford||3|
|06.11.2012||Dartford||0||Forest Green Rovers||1|
|23.10.2012*||Dartford||1||Forest Green Rovers||4|
|20.10.2012*||Forest Green Rovers||1||Dartford||1|
|19.04.1997||Forest Green Rovers||0||Dartford||0|
2.43 – The average number of goals per game scored at home by Forest Green Rovers this season, the best in the league
12 – Rovers have scored in their last 12 league matches, the longest streak at present in the Conference Premier
62.5% – the percentage of games in which Dartford have failed to score in away matches this campaign