Dartford take a break from league action as their F.A Trophy campaign starts with a home tie against Forest Green Rovers.
Hoping to repeat last season’s run to the semi-final, the Darts enter the first round on the back of seven straight defeats in all competitions. The terrible November run started against this weekend’s opponents at the New Lawn, when James Norwood fired Rovers in front after five minutes. The striker’s header was enough to end a run of five consecutive loses for Forest Green Rovers before a new manager was appointed.
Judging by the form book, Dartford will be underdogs versus the side that knocked them out of the F.A Cup over a year ago. Taking Rovers to a replay, the Darts followed up the 1-1 away draw with defeat. Jan Klukowski’s double along with goals from Matthew Taylor and Magno Vieira, overturned Harry Crawford’s strike to guide Forest Green Rovers into the first round. Within a fortnight, the Gloucestershire club notched another win beating Dartford 1-0 in the league.
Out of the four meetings with Forest Green Rovers during 2012/13, the Darts claimed one victory with a 3-2 win in Nailsworth. Danny Harris scrambled the visitors ahead and Elliot Bradbrook scored from the spot. Chris Stokes halved the deficit before Bradbrook headed in his second, Jamie Turley recorded a consolation goal for the hosts.
On Tuesday night, Tony Burman watched his side fall to a Barnet side who had not won a Tuesday night fixture for eight years. England C international Keanu Marsh-Brown scored from a tight angle on his return to the side, the striker now has eight league strikes to his name this season. Luisma Villa curled a 20-yard free kick into the top corner to secure the triumph for the Bees and his third goal in five matches.
In order to strengthen the current squad, Burman turned to Luton Town again on deadline day for loan signings. Midfielder, Jim Stevenson joins from the Hatters until 4 January. The 21 year old has made six appearances for Luton Town this season after being signed from Conference North club Histon.
Forest Green Rovers Chairman, Dale Vince decided to freshen his management team up at the end of October. Hovering four points above the bottom four and suffering a F.A Cup exit to Conference South side Bishop’s Stortford, Dave Hockaday left his position as boss. With Gary Mills and Steve Burr on Vince’s wishlist, the pair pledged their futures to their current clubs. Former Bournemouth and Gillingham defender Adrian Pennock was appointed just over a fortnight ago. Having gained coaching experience under Tony Pulis at Stoke City and managerial experience at Welling United, the 42 year old has made a promising start.
Home wins against Nuneaton Town and Lincoln City may have been followed by defeat at Wrexham but Pennock made amends on Tuesday night. Travelling to Salisbury City, Rovers secured their first away win since August as Norwood scored the first and last goals on the night. Salisbury City’s Dan Fitchett equalised but a Danny Wright volley and Klukowski penalty was rounded off with Norwood’s second in a 4-1 triumph. The Gloucestershire club have moved up to 12th in the Conference Premier, four points off the playoffs.
The two time F.A Trophy runners up were knocked out at the second round last season to Conference North side Gainsborough Trinity.
Dartford’s injury crisis continues, in mid week Jason Prior lasted less than a half and was taken to hospital. The striker who suffered a serious leg injury last year will be out of action again. Elliot Bradbrook battled through the full ninety minutes despite his repairing ribs feeling tender. Matthew Godden was not fit enough to start against Barnet suffering from last weeks calf strain, the Darts top scorer did manage to get on the park for half an hour. Lee Noble is suspended for the red card he picked up versus Gateshead and defender Kenny Clark’s fifth caution on Tuesday night means he will miss one match.
England C international, Jamie Turley is available having served a one match ban for the two cautions he picked up at Wrexham. Defender Eddie Oshodi stepped in on Tuesday night but he is one more yellow card away from another suspension. Chris Stokes has been out of action, his last appearance was against Dartford. Former Ebbsfleet United midfielder Magno Vieira also missed the mid week trip to Salisbury City. Striker, Matthew Barnes-Homer picked up his fifth yellow card in the 4-1 win at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium and will be suspended.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 1 / Forest Green Rovers wins: 3 / Draws 3 (* = F.A Cup)
|02.11.2013||Dartford||0||Forest Green Rovers||1|
|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|
|16.11.1996||Dartford||0||Forest Green Rovers||0|
F.A Trophy Ten Year Performance
Dartford and Forest Green Rovers have come runners up three times between them in the F.A Trophy. The Darts lost 2-1 against Morecambe in the 1974 final. Rovers were defeated 1-0 in 1999 versus Kingstonian and by the same scoreline against Canvey Island two years later.
Dartford’s run to last season’s semi-final was their best F.A Trophy performance since the 1988/89 campaign. The Darts were beaten by Macclesfield Town 4-1 on aggregate having drawn the first leg 0-0 at Watling Street.
No side have ever won the F.A Vase and F.A Trophy, Forest Green Rovers remain the closest to have achieved this double. Having won the vase in 1982 and reaching the trophy final twice.
Forest Green Rovers have only failed to score on three occasions this season, twice in the league and once in the F.A Cup. No team in the Conference Premier has failed on fewer occasions.