Dartford travel up to Merseyside on Saturday determined to finish above their relegation rivals Southport by the end of the afternoon.
The Darts enter the weekend a point behind the Sandgrounders who themselves leap frogged Tony Burman’s side on Tuesday night. Since returning to the Conference Premier, the Darts have yet to fall behind against the Merseysiders. In the two meetings last term both fixtures finished 2-2 with Dartford leading four times. The last visit to Southport saw Harry Crawford score his first goal of his second loan spell with the club. Andy Owens equalised for the hosts but Tom Bonner had the Darts back ahead. The Sandgrounders equalised when Shaun Whalley scored from the spot to share the points.
This season’s match at Princes Park could have seen defender Mat Mitchel-King starting in goal. With Alan Julian stuck in traffic, Derren Ibrahim and Tom Welham were unavailable for selection. Luckily, Julian arrived in time and the pre match preparations didn’t deter the Darts. Just past the half hour mark, Elliot Bradbrook got on the end of Lee Noble’s corner only for Southport goalkeeper Danny Hurst to parry the captain’s shot. Striker Adam Birchall followed up the rebound to secure three points for Dartford.
On Tuesday night satisfaction turned to disappointment at Princes Park with the Darts going agonisingly close to picking up a valuable three points. With the first half coming to an end, Aldershot Town goalkeeper Glenn Morris upended the impressive Alex Wall. Morris was red carded for his foul in the box and captain Elliot Bradbrook netted his seventh league goal of the season. The Shots, needing the points as much as Dartford, waited until two minutes from time to snatch a 1-1 draw. Brett Williams took advantage of the space given to him and hit a fine long range effort past Alan Julian. The 26 year old striker has now scored 18 in the Conference Premier this term. Despite ending the evening with a draw the Darts are now unbeaten in their last six league matches.
Meanwhile up in Merseyside, Southport moved up the league standings with a 2-1 triumph over playoff chasers Grimsby Town. John Coleman’s side had to come from behind to jump out of the relegation zone when Grimsby Town’s Lennell John-Lewis opened the scoring. The Sandgrounders hit back with goals from Scott Brown and Osayamen Osawe to record their second home win in a row.
It’s Southport’s home record of eight wins and four draws that is keeping the club afloat. On their travels they have a solitary victory to their name against bottom side Hyde on the opening day of the season. In December, after the club suffered four straight defeats the previous month, chairman Charlie Clapham appointed former Conference Premier winning manager John Coleman. The former Accrington Stanley boss also played for the Sandgrounders during the eighties.
Head to Head
Southport wins: 0 / Dartford wins: 1 / Draws: 2
Current League Form
|Southport (WLWDLL)||Dartford (DWWWDW)|
|Grimsby Town||H||2-1||Aldershot Town||H||1-1|
|Forest Green Rovers||A||1-3||Hereford United||H||2-0|
Last Meeting at Haig Avenue
2 March 2013 – Southport 2 Dartford 2 – Att: 823
Goalscorers: Crawford (29), Owens (40), Bonner (59), Whalley (83 pen)
The Sandgrounders Lineup: McMillan, Smith, Owens, Byrne, Willis, Parry, Whalley, Ledsham, Chalmers, Kay, Poku (subs used: Clancy, Almond)
The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Green, Champion, Bonner, Burns, Wallis, Bradbrook, Hayes, Rogers, Harris, Crawford (subs used: Erskine, Evans)
33 – Number of players Dartford and Southport have both used in this season’s Conference Premier campaign
15 – Number of players for each side who have registered a league goal this term
7 – Number of goals scored by each clubs league top scorer this season, Dartford’s Elliot Bradbrook and Southport’s Danny Hattersley
Southport have beaten six of the top seven at home and have yet to play third placed Barnet