Dartford host title contenders Cambridge United and welcome back two of their former players, who helped them up to the Conference Premier.
The two Tom’s return to Princes Park under different circumstances. Tom Champion has impressed his new club in the central of midfield whilst Tom Bonner has made one league start and suffered a nasty injury, keeping him sidelined for this weekends fixture.
Dartford took four points of the U’s last season following up their shock 2-1 win at the Abbey Stadium with a 1-1 draw at Princes Park. Dartford put in a spirited and gutsy performance to end 2012 and came away with a well earned draw. Harry Crawford’s swivel and turn half way through the first half put Dartford 1-0 up. Michael Gash, now at Kidderminster Harriers scored from a free kick on the stroke of half time. The visitors created more chances in the second half but were denied by the superb Marcus Bettinelli between the Dartford sticks.
On Tuesday night, the Darts got of to a sensational start away to Kidderminster Harriers taking a 2-0 half time lead. After just two minutes Alex Woodyard’s excellent cross was met by Max Cornhill, who headed his first league goal for the club. Twenty minutes later débutante Alex Wall’s shot across the goal was parried by Danny Lewis and Andy Pugh netted the rebound for his first for the club. Wall also found time to hit the post and despite plenty of possession for the Harriers the hosts were restricted to long range efforts. Harriers halved the deficit three minutes into the second half when Gash bundled in from close range. Pressure continued to mount in front of the Darts goal with Gash striking the crossbar. However, resolute defending and an excellent team effort ensured Dartford completed the double over Kidderminster Harriers.
Tony Burman will be unable to select Rory McAuley and Andy Pugh who are unable to face their parent club. McAuley made the most league appearances for Cambridge United last term, the 24 year old defender has already matched the amount of league starts for Cambridge United this season with the Darts. An ankle injury after the second game of the U’s campaign kept McAuley out until he spent time with Chelmsford City on loan. Pugh is more known in the Kent scene having played for Welling United and made one loan appearance for Ebbsfleet United this campaign. Pugh was signed by Cambridge United after impressing at the Wings where he scored an average of one every two matches.
Cambridge United have only tasted two Conference Premier defeats this campaign opening the season with a record 16 games unbeaten. At home the U’s have won all 12 matches conceding just twice and on their travels they are just as tight. The U’s have conceded just 11 league goals this term keeping a staggering 17 clean sheets, Richard Money’s squad looks set to go head to head with Luton Town for the title.
The U’s travelled to Tamworth’s Lamb Ground on Tuesday night and were restricted in the first half as the sides went into the break goalless. The promotion chasers went in front just past the hour when Liam Hughes’ free kick put Cambridge United in front. That goal was enough to close the gap at the top of the Conference Premier by a point, with one game in hand over Luton Town.
Prior the win at Tamworth and stalemate at FC Halifax Town, the U’s have been making their way towards Wembley in the F.A Trophy. After a 2-2 draw with their title rivals Luton Town, in which new Dart Alex Wall chalked a goal for the Hatters, Cambridge United won the replay 1-0 thanks to new signing Ashley Chambers. In that match Tom Bonner suffered a nasty injury ruling the defender out for several weeks. The U’s now face Conference South side Eastleigh in the last eight of the competition and have their eye on the non league double.
Chambers, signed from League two club York City is a number of new signings by Richard Money. The striker scored 21 times in 133 appearances for the Minstermen. Identifying a need for goals Matthew Barnes-Homer has been signed on a free transfer from Forest Green Rovers. The 27 year old made his name in last season’s F.A Cup upset when he netted twice as Macclesfield Town beat Cardiff City. The striker scored almost one in two games at Rovers and in 2010-2011 top scored for Luton Town. Goalkeeper, John Sullivan has also been snapped up from Portsmouth and he made his league début in the 1-1 draw versus FC Halifax Town.
Cambridge United maybe taking full advantage of their home form, however the U’s are draw specialists on the road. With eight so far this season, more than any other Conference Premier club, the second placed side were winless in six league matches on their travels before Tuesday night’s win.
Dartford welcome the return of suspended midfielder’s Lee Noble who has now served his four match ban and Danny Harris. Ryan Hayes remains out through long term injury, Kenny Clark missed the mid week fixture and Nathan Collier didn’t travel. Welsh winger Ben Swallow was selected in the squad on Tuesday but stayed on the substitutes bench. Rory McAuley and Andy Pugh are ineligible to play against their parent club.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 8 / Cambridge United wins: 3 / Draws: 1
Current League Form
|Dartford (WLDLLL)||Cambridge United (WDDWLW)|
|Salisbury City||A||0-1||FC Halifax Town||A||1-1|
|Welling United||A||1-1||Nuneaton Town||A||0-0|
|Welling United||H||1-2||Braintree Town||H||1-0|
|Alfreton Town||A||1-2||Hereford United||A||0-1|
|FC Halifax Town||H||1-2||Macclesfield Town||H||3-0|
Last Meeting At Princes Park
6 February 2013 – Dartford 1 Cambridge United 1 – Att: 1716
Goalscorers: Crawford (23), Gash (45)
The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Rose, Bonner, Arber, Rogers, Champion, Bradbrook, Hayes, Noble, Erskine, Crawford (Sub used: Harris, Collier)
The U’s Lineup: Hedge, Roberts, Coulson, McAuley, Haynes-Brown, Dunk, Jarvis, Gash, Pugh, Hughes, Smith (Sub used: Willmott, Wellard)
1 – Cambridge United have scored just once in the final fifteen minutes of league matches this season, the fewest in the division
11 – The Darts have conceded the most league goals in the fifteen minutes before half time, more than any other Conference Premier club this campaign
12 – Dartford’s 2-1 win at Kidderminster Harriers on Tuesday was their first league victory since 19 October 2012, twelve games ago
20 – The U’s are top of the Conference Premier Fair Play league, in fact they have the cleanest record amongst the top five English divisions. Cambridge United have picked up just 20 yellow cards and no reds
Dartford and Hyde may be in the bottom two but they are top of the league for the amount of players used. Dartford have used 31 players so far this term, three less than bottom club Hyde.
Cambridge United have not won or lost by more than a goal away from home in this Conference Premier campaign
The U’s have racked up the most 1-0 wins in the league this season achieving this feat eight times