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Nuneaton Town v Dartford

Dartford bow out of the Conference Premier league after two years on Saturday with a trip to Nuneaton Town’s Liberty Way.

With relegation confirmed on Easter Monday, the Darts will be plying their trade back in the Conference South next season against the likes of Concord Rangers, Gosport Borough and Wealdstone.

This weekend’s opponents Nuneaton, under both guises as Town and Borough, have been a bogey side for Dartford during stints in the top flight of non league. In fact, the Darts last away win in the league at Nuneaton was 36 years ago in the Southern League, under the leadership of Roy Dwight the Darts won 1-0.

Dartford’s last trip to Liberty Way in December 2012 came when Nuneaton Town were at the foot of the Conference Premier standings. The Darts were in fifth and favourites for a win, but Andy Brown had other ideas and his goal on the stroke of half time was enough for the Boro.

Earlier this season, two goals conceded in the opening eight minutes was enough for Nuneaton Town to take home the points. Louis Moult grabbed an early brace during Boro’s purple patch at the start of the season, which saw them surprisingly top of the Conference Premier after the first nine matches. Elliot Bradbrook did pull a goal back with almost half hour played but the deficit was only halved as the visitors won 2-1.

A run of three straight single goal defeats condemned Tony Burman’s side to relegation. On Monday, Elliot Bradbrook gave the Darts hope at half time and with results elsewhere going against Dartford a win was imperative. Tamworth equalised in the second half when Jessy Reindorf scored shortly after Dartford’s Lee Noble struck the post. Kevin Thornton put the visitors ahead from the spot and when the Darts pushed for an equaliser the Lambs counter attacked leaving Tyrone Sterling isolated, Thornton finished off the move and Dartford’s hopes of survival. Although Bradbrook showed captains spirit in the final minute with a well taken effort, relegation was imminent. The 3-2 defeat against Tamworth is coincidentally the same scoreline and fixture that kicked off Dartford’s Conference Premier spell almost two years ago.

Devastated Dartford manager Tony Burman told BBC Radio Kent:”It’s a disappointing day for us and a disappointing season all round in all fairness. We’ve had a go but we just couldn’t cross that line”. Burman is confident luck will change, he added: “The club has been riding along nicely and it’s been doing well and I’m sure there will be better times for us in the future”.

Fortunes have changed for both clubs over the two seasons in which they returned to the summit of non league. Whilst the Darts finished eighth last term they will be back playing Conference South. Nuneaton Town struggled in their last campaign but survived with a late surge of decent results, this time they started where they left off and only recently tailed of to mid table.

Nuenaton Town have spent the majority of the season pushing for a playoff spot, topping the division after nine games undefeated. Boro then went on a nine game winless streak  before form picked up again and by December were in fourth. Inconsistent results left NuneatonTown on the brink of the palyoffs, however hopes have faded of late as the clubs last win was against Tamworth, a run of eight matches without victory.

A large part of Boro’s success has been down to former manager Kevin Wilkin who was appointed boss when Borough reformed as Town. A hat trick of playoff wins led the Warwickshire club into the Conference Premier within five years but a month ago Wilkin left to join Wrexham.

Before the Easter fixtures Brian Reid has been put in charge, the former Ayr United manager last spell in a managerial role was with the Philippines national under-23. The 43 year old’s first game in charge last week ended in a single goal defeat at home to Barnet. The clubs fifth loss in six games was followed by Easter Monday’s goalless draw away to Kidderminster Harriers.

Team News

Mat Mitchell-King only managed 26 minutes on Easter Monday as he was forced off through injury. Tyrone Sterling was also replaced in the final minute when he also picked up a strain. Ryan Hayes misses the final game of the season, the midfielder has had an operation on his long term injury. Loanees Jim Stevenson and Rory McAuley are likely to paly their last game for the Darts and will return to their parent clubs Luton Town and Cambridge United respectively.

Head to Head

Nuneaton Town wins: 11 / Dartford wins: 13 / Draws: 14

Current League Form

Nuneaton Town (DLLLDL) Dartford (LLLWDL)
Kidderminster Harriers A 0-0 Tamworth H 2-3
Barnet H 0-1 Braintree Town A 0-1
Wrexham A 0-3 Forest Green Rovers H 0-1
FC Halifax Town H 0-1 Grimsby Town H 1-0
Alfreton Town A 1-1 Lincoln City A 0-0
Braintree Town A 1-2 Luton Town H 1-2

Last Meeting at Liberty Way

4 December 2013 – Nuneaton Town 1 Dartford 0 – Att: 651

Goalscorers: Brown (45)

Boro Lineup: Smith, Cartwright, Dean, Forsdick, Gordon, James, O’Halloran, Walker, Brown, Newton, Taylor (sub used: York)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Burns, Champion, Ajayi, Rose, Hayes, Wallis, Rogers, Noble, Harris, Erskine (subs used: Collier, Crawford)

Match Stats

ntfc v dfc stats

Previous Five Meetings (* – F.A Trophy Fourth Round)

14.09.2013 Dartford 1 Nuneaton Town 2
20.04.2013 Dartford 0 Nuneaton Town 1
05.12.2012 Nuneaton Town 1 Dartford 0
09.03.1987* Nuneaton Borough 1 Dartford 3
26.04.1986 Nuneaton Borough 3 Dartford 1

Stats

Dartford have suffered 14 single goal defeats in the Conference Premier this season. Only Macclesfiled Town (18) and Hyde (17) have suffered more.

Nuneaton town have the second best average points per game (2.24) against sides in the bottom half. Only champions Luton Town have been more prolific

The Boro have won every home game against sides currently below them in the Conference Premier

Dartford v Tamworth

Dartford will need the crowd to be full of support against Tamworth to help the club avoid relegation in their last home game of the season.

The Darts are hoping to secure Conference Premier football next campaign and will not want to follow in the footsteps of their visitors. Relegated Tamworth will be dropping down a step to the Conference North returning to the division they won five years ago.  A rare double is on the cards if Dartford win after they beat their visitors 2-0 back in August with goals from Danny Harris and Kenny Clark.

A year prior, back in August 2012, the Darts started their recent Conference Premier adventures with a home defeat against the Lambs. On the opening day of the season the Staffordshire club spoiled the party thanks to Adam Cunnington’s brace. Peter Till was on target just before half an hour and Cunnington gave the visitors a two goal advantage. On the stroke of half time Elliot Bradbrook’s free kick gave Dartford their first Conference Premier goal in 26 years. Cunnington extended the Lambs lead with fifteen minutes to go and Harry Crawford scored what turned out to be a mere consolation.

After last season’s eighth place finish, the Darts have had a tougher campaign enduring a club record equalling ten straight league defeats. With a few loan signings results picked up, including a run of three consecutive wins, and slowly the gap to safety was closing until Dartford picked up just one point in nine against their relegation rivals. A last gasp draw versus Aldershot Town was followed by losses against Southport and Chester.

Spirited displays over the next six matches pulled Dartford within a point of safety. For a few moments last weekend they were out of the bottom four but a later Danny Wright strike for Forest Green Rovers put the Darts back in. Prior yet another crucial fixture Tony Burman urged the fans to get behind the team to give his side precious support. On Good Friday, a defeat at Braintree Town has left the club perilously close to Conference South football next term.

Tamworth’s 2-0 away defeat on Saturday, their tenth in a row on the road confirmed relegation to the second tier of non league football. On Friday, the Staffordshire club beat fellow struggler’s Hereford United helping Dartford’s cause.

The Lambs have struggled since the turn of the year which saw Marcus Law lose his job. Dale Belford has stepped in once more, the goalkeeper has played in every Conference Premier match for Tamworth and temporarily managed the club in 2011.

The Lambs, like last season have used the most players in the league surpassing 40 but two of those will be familiar to the Darts. Matthew Godden is currently on loan and has scored five times in ten games up to 12 April. The 22 year old striker netted five in nine for Dartford. It was hoped that Godden, on loan from Scunthrope United could score the goals to help the Lambs. Experienced strikers such as Justin Richards, Nick Chadwick and Darren Byfield have not worked out as well as they had hoped, the trio notching just seven goals between them.

Jack Evans has been a regular in the Tamworth starting eleven making 34 league appearances before the Easter fixtures, the 21 year old featured on loan at Princes Park last season scoring two league goals for the Darts in 15 appearances.

Up to Saturday, Tamworth were the lowest scorers in the Conference Premier with bottom club Hyde. On the road the Lambs have lost ten in a row, in that spell they have twice gone four games without scoring. Another blank against Southport means the Staffordshire club have failed to score in 22 of their 43 league matches, the most blanks by any club this season.

Selected Fixtures

Woking v Aldershot Town
Cambridge United v Chester
Hereford United v Alfreton Town
Southport v FC Halifax Town

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Tamworth wins: 2 / Draws: 0

Current Form

Dartford (LLWDLW) Tamworth (WLLLDL)
Braintree Town H 0-1 Hereford United H 1-0
Forest Green Rovers H 0-1 Southport A 0-2
Grimsby Town H 1-0 Luton Town A 0-2
Lincoln City A 0-0 Gateshead A 0-5
Luton Town H 1-2 Lincoln City H 0-0
Macclesfield Town H 2-1 Chester A 0-2

Last League Meeting At Princes Park

6 November 2012 – Dartford 2 Tamworth 3 – Att: 915

Goalscorers: Till (27), Cunnington (40), Bradbrook (45), Cunnington (76), Crawford (79)

The Darts Lineup: Wells, Burns, Bonner, Arber, Green, Noble, Bradbrook, Champion, Rogers, Harris, Erskine(subs used: Hayes, Wallis, Crawford)

The Lambs Lineup: Breedon, Tait, Oji, Marshall, Barrow, Kelly, Till, Kerry, Marna, Wright, Cunnington (subs used: Gudger, Liabo)

Match Stats

dfc v tfc stats

Previous Meetings

26.12.2013 Tamworth 0 Dartford 2
01.12.2013 Tamworth 3 Dartford 2
11.08.2012 Dartford 2 Tamworth 3

 

Braintree Town v Dartford

In a week the champions were crowned there is still everything to play for at Cressing Road when Dartford visit Braintree Town on Good Friday.

Last season’s best part time teams go head to head with both sides desperate for three points for completely different reasons. The Darts trail Aldershot Town by a point and know a victory could lead them out of the relegation zone going into the final two games.

Braintree Town have surprised  the Conference Premier yet again and remain in contention for an unexpected playoff spot. Three points behind fifth placed Gateshead, who they drew 0-0 with on Tuesday night, the Irons look set to finish in their highest ever league position for a third year running.

Tony Burman felt his side was unlucky last weekend when a  late Forest Green Rovers goal condemned the Darts to defeat. Max Cornhill had a goal disallowed when  he was flagged offside and goalkeeper Alan Julian was in fine form to keep Rovers at bay. Former Wrexham striker, Danny Wright scored the winner with seven minutes remaining leaving it too late for Dartford to salvage a point.

Burman told BBC Sport: “It’s disappointing, but in fairness today we really needed to take the lead. If we’d taken the lead today, then there would have been a bit more adrenaline in the players. A lot of them were dead on their feet”, he added: “It wasn’t to be and I’ve got no complaints at their efforts, but it got scrappy in the second half and that happens”.

After the shock win against playoff chasers Grimsby Town, Burman accepted his small squad could struggle in the latter parts of Saturday’s fixture, he commented: “Tired legs was going to happen – there’s nothing I can do about that. It is a small squad we’ve got and we have a couple of injuries too – it’s been our bug bear all season, but I can’t fault the way the players have played”.

If there is one thing Braintree Town have in common it’s the depth of their squad. Alan Devonshire has engineered a challenging part time side in front of an average attendance of 960. The Iron have used just 24 players and incredibly have been playing catch up with 16 league games in just a month and a half. Against the odds, Devonshire has his Essex side competing for a playoff spot with three matches remaining.

March’s form has set the Iron up but the tiredness could be creeping in with four of their last six games drawing blanks in front of goal, at home they have failed to score in their last three. However, Braintree Town are more than capable with results like the 3-2 away win against champions Luton Town in front of over 10000 fans. The Iron also had to play out the five goal thriller with ten men when goalkeeper Nick Hamann was sent off.

The Iron beat Dartford back in August with second half goals from Alan Massey and former Ebbsfleet United striker Liam Enveer-Marum. The last meeting at Cressing Road, saw the scoreline reversed with Dartford taking home three points in a 2-0 triumph. Tom Bonner and Jacob Erskine had the Darts in front by half time which was enough to see the game out.

Team News

Dartford’s back line is unlikely to change but Tony Burman will have Kenny Clark available for selection. The defender was sent off against Luton Town and has now served his three match ban. Elliot Bradbrook has missed the last two games through injury and Ryan Hayes is out for the rest of the season.

Head to Head

Braintree Town wins: 2 / Dartford wins: 2 / Draws: 3

Current League Form

Braintree Town (DWLLDW) Dartford (LWDLWW)
Gateshead H 0-0 Forest Green Rovers H 0-1
Luton Town A 3-2 Grimsby Town H 1-0
Macclesfield Town H 0-1 Lincoln City A 0-0
Salisbury City H 0-1 Luton Town H 1-2
FC Halifax Town H 0-0 Macclesfield Town H 2-1
Southport A 4-0 Hyde A 2-0

Last Meeting at Cressing Road

25 September 2013 – Braintree Town 0 Dartford 2 – Att: 721

Goalscorers: Bonner (17), Erskine (34)

The Iron Lineup: Naisbitt, Peters, Bailey-Dennis, Wells, O’Connor, Mulley, Quinton, Symons, Sparkes, Marks, Holman (subs used: Dawkin, Sheppard)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Burns, Arber, Bonner, Rose, Champion, Bradbrook, Hayes, Wallis, Harris, Erskine (subs used: Rogers, Birchall, Crawford)

Match Stats

btfcvdfc stats

Previous Meetings (* – Friendly / ** – F.A Trophy First Round)

24.08.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
11.04.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 0
25.09.2013 Braintree Town 0 Dartford 2
12.02.2011 Braintree Town 1 Dartford 1
01.02.2011 Dartford 1 Braintree Town 0
20.07.2002* Braintree Town 3 Dartford 0
03.11.2001** Dartford 0 Braintree Town 3

Stats

Dartford are fifth in the current away form table whilst Braintree Town are fifth from bottom in the current home form table.

Braintree Town have yet to lose to any of the clubs in the bottom four. At home they have not been beaten by any of the bottom seven.

1 – Dartford have claimed one point from teams in the top six on their travels.

4 – number of own goals the Iron have benefited from this season, more than another club

343 – minutes since Braintree Town scored at Cressing Road. Dan Holman was the last Iron player to hit the back in of the net in the 2-1 win against Nuneaton Town.

 

Dartford v Forest Green Rovers

Tony Burman has just four games to save Dartford’s season and stave off relegation to the Conference South, starting against Forest Green Rovers.

The Darts are back at Princes Park for the second time in under 48 hours after hosting playoff hopefuls Grimsby Town on Thursday night.

Max Cornhill’s 75th minute winner gave the Darts a crucial win against the Mariners. Now just a point from safety Dartford have kept pace with Aldershot Town and Hereford United who both won on Tuesday. The Darts managed to beat third placed Grimsby Town without their captain Elliot Bradbrook (thigh injury) and Kenny Clark (suspension). Helped by the red card of Jamal Fyfield, who picked up two yellows, Cornhill netted his seventh of the season with a header from Lee Noble’s corner.

Since returning to the Conference Premier, Rovers are the only side to have played Dartford more times than Thursday’s visitors Grimsby Town. Having drawn Forest Green Rovers in last season’s F.A Cup and this term’s F.A Trophy both ties needed a replay to settle matters. In the eight meetings between the two clubs over the previous two campaigns Dartford have come out on top just once, the only time they have managed this feat against the Gloucestershire club.

The last league fixture at Princes Park ended in a 1-0 defeat and a sending off for both sides. Yan Klukowski fired a volley in the top corner after 11 minutes and when Harry Crawford was dismissed for the Darts the task became harder. Jamie Turley was next to see red for his tackle on Lee Noble but Dartford couldn’t rescue a point. Klukowski had a habit of scoring against the Darts last season as his league goal added to his brace he bagged in the F.A Cup.

Rovers couldn’t have started this season any better by recording an 8-0 win against bottom club Hyde, the scoreline is the biggest win in the league this campaign. In the club’s 16 years in the Conference Premier, the current longest serving side, the win versus Hyde is their biggest during their current spell in the top flight of non league football.

The Gloucestershire club quickly became favourites for the title but all that disappeared between mid September and mid October as Rovers picked up one win between seven defeats. During that run Dave Hockaday departed by mutual consent and so Chairman Dale Vince eyed up Steve Burr as a potential successor which never materialised. In came former Gillingham midfielder Adrian Pennock who has managed to return Forest Green Rovers to security. However, Rovers have failed to win any of their last five games picking up two points and losing their last three away trips.

Selected Fixtures

Grimsby Town v Chester
Hereford United v Gateshead
Macclesfield Town v Aldershot Town
Southport v Tamworth

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Forest Green Rovers wins: 4 / Draws: 4

Current Form

Dartford (WDLWWD) Forest Green Rovers (DLLLDW)
Grimsby Town H 1-0 Kidderminster Harriers H 1-1
Lincoln City A 0-0 Barnet A 1-2
Luton Town H 1-2 Woking A 1-2
Macclesfield Town H 2-1 Southport A 0-2
Hyde H 2-0 Welling United H 0-0
Cambridge United A 1-1 Grimsby Town H 2-1

Last League Meeting At Princes Park

6 November 2012 – Dartford 0 Forest Green Rovers 1 – Att: 915

Goalscorers: Klukowski (11)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Burns, Bonner, Arber, Rose, Hayes, Bradbrook, Champion, Noble, Harris, Crawford (subs used: Erskine, Collier, Green)

Rovers Lineup: Russell, Turley, Oshodi, Asafu-Adjayi, Racine, Green, Bangura, Klukowski, Brogan, Taylor, Norwood (subs used: Stokes, Vieira, Koroma)

Match Stats

dfc v fgr stats

Previous Meetings (* F.A Cup / ** F.A Trophy)

03.12.2013** Forest Green Rovers 1 Dartford 0
30.11.2013** Dartford 1 Forest Green Rovers 1
02.11.2013 Forest Green Rovers 1 Dartford 0
16.04.2013 Forest Green Rovers 2 Dartford 3
06.12.2012 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

Stats

Since Dartford’s defeat at Salisbury City on 18th January 2014, the Darts would be 5th in the Conference Premier if the season had started the following day

Dartford have not conceded in back to back league games for the first time since a year ago when they shout out Braintree Town and Stockport County on 11th and 13th April 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dartford v Grimsby Town

Dartford and Grimsby Town meet for the sixth time since the Darts return to the Conference Premier with both sides needing points for different reasons.

The Darts pulled within a point of safety on the weekend after a clean sheet and goalless draw up at Lincoln City’s Sincil Bank. Whether the point is vital enough at the end of the season remains to be seen. Jim Stevenson came the closest for the Darts as they looked comfortable. In the second half their opponents improved without really troubling Dartford’s defence who managed an eighth clean sheet in the league this season. Mid week fixtures without Dartford’s involvement has left Tony Burman’s side four points adrift.

A well earned away draw comes off the back of a spirited home performance against league leaders and title certainties Luton Town, and back to back wins against north west sides Hyde and Macclesfield Town. Hosting third place Grimsby Town will be Dartford’s first of five remaining games over the next 16 days. Tony Burman’s small squad has been further reduced with the suspension of Kenny Clark, the absence of Ryan Hayes and with Elliot Bradbrook substituted through injury on Saturday.

A mixture of successful cup runs and postponements leave Grimsby Town playing catch up, having played the fewest league fixtures so far. The Mariners look destined to reach the playoffs for a successive year, however they are still glancing over their shoulders as they hold a four point advantage.

After Dartford’s surprise scalp of Grimsby Town last term, where they won 2-0 at Blundell Park thanks to goals from Tom Champion and Adam Birchall, the Mariners have got the better of Tony Burman’s men in recent fixtures.  The Darts suffered a 3-0 aggregate defeat at the F.A Trophy semi final stage last season, followed by a 2-1 loss at Princes Park in the league and a 5-2 thrashing at Blundell Park this campaign.

Last time Grimsby Town visited Princes Park, Jack Evans scored the Darts only goal in the 26th minute following up Nathan Collier’s rebound. Despite working hard, the Darts conceded two late goals. Andy Cook equalised with fifteen minutes to go and full back Aswad Thomas secured an away win, which earned Grimsby Town a playoff birth. The Mariners failed to return to Wembley losing to Newport County in the semi-final, adding to their disappointment of becoming F.A Trophy runners up.

The Mariners boasted the best defence last season conceding just 38 times, a trend which has continued under boss Paul Hurst. This time out Grimsby Town are ranked fourth in defence, letting in the fewest in the league on their travels. In fact, the Lincolnshire club are on a roll away from Blundell Park having recorded four 1-0 wins in a row versus Nuneaton Town, Hereford United, Wrexham and Kidderminster Harriers. Victory against the Harriers made it Grimsby Town’s third straight triumph in the Conference Premier.

On Tuesday, they hosted in form Woking, who themselves had won their last six fixtures. Incredibly the match featured three stoppage time goals as the two sides drew 2-2. Kevin Betsy looked to have given the Cards victory six minutes from time but Oumare Tounkara struck a last minute equaliser. Woking went back in front through Kieran Murtagh which was eventually cancelled out by Lenell John-Lewis’s stoppage time penalty.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Grimsby Town wins: 4 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

Dartford (DLWWDL) Grimsby Town (DWDDLW)
Lincoln City A 0-0 Woking H 2-2
Luton Town H 1-2 Kidderminster Harriers A 1-0
Macclesfield Town H 2-1 Wrexham A 1-0
Hyde A 2-0 Hereford United A 1-0
Cambridge United A 1-1 Luton Town H 1-2
Chester H 0-1 Nuneaton Town A 1-0

Last League Meeting At Princes Park

9 April  2013 – Dartford 1 Grimsby Town 2 – Att: 1201

Goalscorers: Evans (26), Cook (79), Thomas (88)

The Darts Lineup: Somogyi, Green, Arber, Bonner, Burns, Wallis, Bradbrook, Evans, Rogers, Collier, Sheringham (Subs used: Noble, Harris, Prior)

The Mariners Lineup: McKeown, Hatton, Miller, Naylor, Niven, Colbeck, Disley, Wood, Taylor, Cook, John-Lewis (Subs used: Thomas, Artus, Southwell)

Match Stats

dfc v gtfc

Previous Meetings (* – F.A Trophy semi-final / ** – Friendly)

25.09.2013 Grimsby Town 5 Dartford 2
09.04.2013 Dartford 1 Grimsby Town 2
23.02.2013* Dartford 0 Grimsby Town 0
16.02.2013* Grimsby Town 3 Dartford 0
06.10.2012 Grimsby Town 0 Dartford 2
17.04.1897** Dartford 2 Grimsby Town 3

 

Lincoln City v Dartford

Dartford will make another attempt to escape the drop zone on the weekend when they travel to Lincoln City’s Sincil Bank.

The Darts are still looking for their first points against the Imps having failed in their previous three attempts. Last season a penalty in the final minute completed Lincoln City’s double over Dartford.

Colin Larkin kept his cool to earn the Imps a home win despite playing the majority of the match with ten men. Vadaine Oliver took  advantage of some slack marking in the sixth minute to put the hosts in front and when Lee Noble was clattered by Jake Sheridan the referee brandished a red card. In the second half, Noble levelled the match but a controversial penalty handed Larkin his spot kick winner.

Luckily, the Darts will not have to deal with Larkin who moved to Gateshead in the summer, the 31 year old striker took home the match ball earlier last season, with his hat-trick at Princes Park in a 4-2 victory.

Earlier this term the Darts suffered a 2-1 defeat at home, with the Imps racing to a two goal lead. Ben Tomlinson gave the visitors the lead on 21 minutes and after half an hour Andrew Boyce scored the second. Dartford halved the deficit on the hour through Elliot Bradbrook’s header. The Darts suffered more penalty controversy against Lincoln City when referee Lee Swabey claimed to have seen a penalty incident but not award Dartford a spot kick.

Performances from the Darts have been spirited over the last two league games. Coming from behind to beat Macclesfield Town was followed by a gutsy defeat to champions elect Luton Town. On Tuesday, Tony Burman was once more left bemused by an official whose decision to send off Kenny Clark turned the match. Mikel Suarez, making his first start in a Dartford shirt gave his side a shock lead heading in from a corner. With Clark stepping in for the unavailable Jim Stevenson in an unfamiliar midfield role, the former Chelmsford City defender was sent off.

Burman told www.kentonline.co.uk: “I’m really disappointed with the decision. The referee is in the centre of the field and the ball was down this side”, he added: “There’s absolutely no way he can see that’s a sending-off. It’s a foul, I agree, but a lot of people went round him and I think he reacted to that. I don’t think it’s a sending-off”.

The Hatters turned the screw, taking advantage of the extra man, Luton Town edged closer to the title with two late goals. Pelly Ruddock hit a  20-yard strike which drew John Still’s side level and Andre Gray headed the winner from Ronnie Henry’s cross. Defeat has left the Darts in the relegation with a two point deficit over Hereford United in 20th. A win would have taken the club up to 19th and two points above safety.

Dartford’s hosts had a tough Winter pre New Year but have since boosted their striking options seeing improvements to their league position. Ending 2013 with a 5-1 loss at FC Halifax Town left the Imps hovering over the relegation candidates. However, fourteen games without failing to score and just four defeats in that time has steadied the club.

Occupying 16th position, Lincoln City could be officially safe this season if results go their way this weekend. Since dropping into the Conference Premier, the Imps have been consistent in their league standing finishing 17th and 16th. Gary Simpson was put in charge in February last year and fortunes have neither improved or worsened.

Team News

Kenny Clark will miss Saturday’s game through suspension following his red card on Tuesday.  Clark, who took on Jim Stevenson’s usual role was unlikely to start with Stevenson returning. Alex Wall is has been recalled by Luton Town, the striker scored six goals in 11 matches for the Darts. Both Wall and Stevenson were illegible to play against their parent club Luton Town in midweek. Ryan Hayes remains out of action having not featured since mid November.

Lincoln City have suspension concerns of their own meaning Thierry Audel and 16 goal top scorer Ben Tomlinson will miss out. Central defender Audel was dismissed in the 3-1 at Gateshead and serves his second of a three game ban. Tomlinson, who scored against the Darts this season has accumulated 15 cautions. The most booked player in the Conference Premier this campaign is also banned for three fixtures. New Zealand international Kris Bright returns having served a ban for the red card he received. Todd Jordan only managed half an hour on Saturday and was forced off with an injury.

Head to Head

Lincoln City wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 0 / Draws: 0

Current League Form

Lincoln City (DLLLDL) Dartford (LWWDLL)
Tamworth A 0-0 Luton Town H 1-2
Gateshead A 1-3 Macclesfield Town H 2-1
Braintree Town A 2-0 Hyde A 2-0
Braintree Town H 2-0 Cambridge United A 1-1
Welling United H 1-2 Chester H 0-1
Alfreton Town A 1-1 Southport A 0-3

Last Meeting at Sincil Bank

9 February 2013 – Lincoln City 2 Dartford 0 – Att: 1789

Goalscorers: Oliver (6), Noble (76), Larkin (89 pen)

The Imps Lineup: Preece, Boyce, Garner, Miller, Gilbert, Power, Sheridan, Turnbull, Smith, Oliver, Larkin (subs used: Jones, Hobson, Gray)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Rose, Arber, Bonner, Burns, Champion, Bradbrook, Hayes, Noble, Harris, Erskine (subs used: D. Green, Evans, Collier)

Match Stats

ltfc v dfc stats2
Previous Meetings

19.10.2013 Dartford 1 Lincoln City 2
16.03.2013 Lincoln City 2 Dartford 1
29.09.2012 Dartford 2 Lincoln City 4

Stats & Facts

16 – Number of away goals in the league scored by the Darts this season, only Tamworth, Aldershot Town and Southport have scored fewer

33 – The number of players each club has used in the Conference Premier this season

42 – Number of league goals at Sincil Bank this season, the fewest for any Conference Premier venue along with Braintree Town’s Cressing Road.

238 – Lincoln City have won the most corners in the league this term

Lincoln City’s Kris Bright is well travelled in the football world, he has played in his home country, Hungary, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Greece and Malta. The 27 year old striker made an appearance in FIFA’s Confederation Cup in 2008 but missed out on New Zealand’s 2010 World Cup squad. His father, Dave played in the 1982 World Cup for New Zealand.

The ‘traditional’ Imp is set to return to Lincoln City’s shirt next season as the club changes its logo. The symbol of the city emblazoned the shirt in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

*stats taken from www.bbc.co.uk