Supporters get in for free on Tuesday night when Dartford visit the Silverlake Stadium, where opponents Eastleigh are unbeaten this season.
The Darts have to record their first ever away win against the Spitfires to have a chance of climbing out the bottom four. In the final game before the F.A Cup second round tie with Bradford City, manager Tony Burman will be keen to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat.
A loss on the weekend against Forest Green Rovers means the Darts have failed to pick up an away point for over two months, spanning four matches. Eddie Oshodi was on the score sheet twice for Rovers, firstly putting the home side ahead and late on his own goal gave Dartford a glimmer of hope. Oshodi headed his side into a fifth minute lead and with twenty minutes to go James Norwood scored against the Darts again. Oshodi put the ball past his own goalkeeper Sam Russell with eight minutes remaining but Dartford couldn’t find the equaliser.
The Darts, unbeaten against Eastleigh in their last four meetings have only actually beaten the Hampshire side once. In the previous two matches both sides have taken it in turns to come back from a two goal deficit to draw 2-2. Most recently, the Darts found themselves 2-0 down at Princes Park versus the Conference South champions reaching what Burman described as ‘rock bottom’. The Spitfires went two up inside 22 minutes, Jamie Collins scored from the spot and James Constable netted the visitors second. The Darts improved after the break and were rewarded with Elliot Bradbrook’s headed goal and Harry Crawford’s dramatic 91st minute leveller.
Last time at the Silverlake Stadium, Dartford couldn’t finish off ten men Eastleigh. The Darts thought they would return home with all three points when Adam Green scored from the spot and Jon Wallis made it 2-0. In between the goals Ian Herring was dismissed for the hosts making Eastleigh’s task harder. However, the Spitfires hit back and salvaged a draw thanks to goals from Danny Smith and Tom Jordan.
Under Richard Hill, Eastleigh have started their début season in the Conference Premier with plenty of promise. The backing of chairman Stewart Donald has given the club a platform to build. Hill can rely on a strike force which includes the likes of James Constable, Craig McAllister, Stuart Fleetwood, Jack Midson and Ben Strevens all of which have Football League experience, midfielder Jai Reason is also amongst the clubs top scorers this term.
Despite defeat on Saturday, to former League Two side Torquay United, the Spitfires have been in great form. The 2-0 loss at Plainmoor ended a run of seven unbeaten matches in all competitions which has seen Eastleigh reach the F.A Cup second round, where they will face Southport. The Hampshire club may be six points off the playoff spots but they have games in hand, due to the cup run and the postponed home fixture versus Lincoln City, when a fire broke out at the visitors hotel.
Dartford have always found it tricky visiting Eastleigh suffering their heaviest defeat almost eleven years ago. In that Southern League Division One Eastern season, the Spitfires won 5-0 in December 2003 before completing a double with a 5-1 victory at Dartford’s temporary home Stonebridge Road. In the Conference South just over four years ago, the margin of defeat decreased in a 3-0 loss, which included Richard Graham amongst the goals, the midfielder joined Dartford for the following season.
Victory for Dartford will guarantee they move out of the relegation zone at the expense of Southport, who are without a league game this week.
On loan striker Bradley Tarbuck is still waiting for his full Dartford début, the 19 year old Portsmouth player came off the bench for the last twenty minutes on Saturday. Tarbuck’s inclusion in the squad has come about due to the injuries to Harry Crawford and Andy Pugh leaving the Darts short up front. Lee Burns continues to watch from the sidelines having missed the last four league games with injury.
Head to Head
Eastleigh wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 1 / Draws: 3
Current League Form
|Eastleigh (LWDWWW)||Dartford (LLLDWL)|
|Torquay United||A||0-2||Forest Green Rovers||A||1-2|
|Forest Green Rovers||A||1-1||Lincoln City||A||0-1|
|Nuneaton Town||H||2-1||Welling United||H||2-1|
|FC Halifax Town||H||4-1||Grimsby Town||A||0-3|
Last Meeting at the Silverlake Stadium
19 November 2011 – Eastleigh 2 Dartford 2 – Att: 604
Goalscorer: Green (26 pen), Wallis (36), Smith (43), Jordan (53)
Dartford Lineup: Wells, Jones, Green, Bonner, Goodacre, Champion, Noble, Bradbrook, Wallis, Burns, Harris (subs used: Graham, Hayes, Erskine)