The Darts host Conference North champions AFC Telford United after spending a year apart from each other.
Paths could have easily crossed in the summer but Dartford’s survival means they will face the Bucks for the first time since April 2013. Both meetings in 2012/2013 were significant in some way for AFC Telford United.
In October 2012, Dartford was brushed aside at home in a 4-1 defeat. The win for the Bucks was their last victory before an awful sequence of results. If Dartford fans were put through the mill last term then spare a thought for their opponents who went 30 games without a win, setting a Conference Premier record.
The return fixture signalled AFC Telford United’s final defeat before they broke their unwanted sequence. Charlie Sheringham scored and set up Jason Prior to record a 2-0 triumph for the Darts. AFC Telford United were relegated after that tumultuous campaign but credit is due as they bounced back at the first attempt, taking the Conference North title. The Bucks held off North Ferriby United by three points to return to the Conference Premier.
A tough start for Tony Burman’s men has left the side in the bottom four with two points on the board looking for their first win. Over the Bank Holiday, the Darts grabbed a well deerved point when hosting Torquay United but felt two points had been squandered after Elliot Bradbrook missed a penalty.
On Monday, Dartford made the trip to the Hive to take on a Barnet side who has started their campaign brightly. For the third game running the Darts failed to find the back of the net. Meanwhile, Barnet’s Lee Cook took forty minutes to complete a hat trick to give the hosts a resounding 4-0 victory. Former Ebbsfleet United striker John Akinde opened the scoring for the Bees giving Barnet their third succesive win against Dartford without conceding.
AFC Telford United have yet to get to grips with the Conference Premier since their return. The Shropshire club picked up their first point on the opening day of the campaign against Welling United. Defeats at home to Macclesfield Town and Aldershot Town was followed by another at Bristol Rovers.
The Bucks Bank Holiday Monday fixture against Liam Watson’s former club Southport ended in a six goal thriller with both sides sharing the points. AFC Telford United join Dartford on two points but moved out of the relegation zone.
The Bucks had to come from three times and with ten men to earn a draw at home to the Soundgrounders. Johnny Gorman scored a free kick which was cancelled out by Phenix but just before the interval Richard Brodie made it 2-1 to Southport. Godfrey Poku was dismissed on with hardly any of the second half played. Tony Gray levelled the game but Brodie put the visitors back ahead. In the final minute, Phenix ensured the match would end up 3-3.
Managed by Liam Watson, the former Southport boss has continued to enhance his reputation. Watson led the Sandgrounders to the Conference Premier and kept the Merseyside club there. Now he has turned fortunes around in Shropshire making up for AFC Telford United’s managerial instability of two seasons ago, when they went through four bosses in under two months.
Lee Burns is likely to miss a third match in a row after suffering from cracked ribs. Peter Sweeney is working on getting match fit but has featured regularly so far this season.
AFC Telford United’s Godfrey Poku will begin his suspension for his red card. Chris Lever is continuing his come back from injury whilst Rod McDonald and Mike Grogan returned over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Head to Head (includes playing Telford United)
Dartford wins: 15 / AFC Telford United wins: 14 / Draws: 8
|Dartford (?DLDL)||AFC Telford United (?LLLD)|
|Torquay United||H||0-0||Bristol Rovers||A||0-1|
|Kidderminster Harriers||A||0-1||Aldershot Town||H||0-2|
Last Meeting at Princes Park
9 October 2012 – Dartford 1 AFC Telford United 4 – Att: 1359
Goalscorer: Jones (35), Jones (37), Hubbins (55), Trainer (69), Bradbrook (75)
Dartford Lineup: Bettinelli, Burns, Bonner, Arber, Rose, Noble, Bradbrook, Champion, Hayes, Crawford, Birchall (subs used: Wallis, Harris, Erskine)
AFC Telford United Lineup: Young, Salmon, Hubbins, Rose, Chilvers, Davies, Trainer, Leslie, Taylor, Jones, Spray (subs used: Brown, Roberts, Sharp)
Previous Six Meetings
3 – Number of players AFC Telford United have had sent off, more than any other club this season
6 – AFC Telford United have gone six Conference Premier matches without a victory, their last coming on 13 April 2013
9 – Dartford have now gone nine league games without a win
37 – The Bucks have gone 37 games without consecutive wins in the Conference Premier, the longest sequence in the division