Dartford have only managed one league fixture this month and hope to make that two with a visit to Aldershot Town this weekend.
Weather conditions have prevented the Darts from action with a number of postponements this February. It seems so long ago since Tony Burman’s side earned a creditable home draw against Bristol Rovers, which was followed up with an important win versus AFC Telford United.
Claiming all three points at the New Bucks Head is so far the only league fixture fulfilled by the Darts this month. Potentially the away trip to AFC Telford United could turn out to be crucial in Dartford’s bid for survival. At the start of the match Burman’s side were eight points adrift, going into injury time an opportunity to close the gap was slipping away until a last minute own goal changed the mood as the Darts secured a 3-2 triumph.
Andy Pugh showed why he has been missed with some decent performances since coming back from injury. The striker opened the scoring in Shropshire but his sending off means he will be missed again this weekend. Tom Dallison could make his second start in a Dartford shirt after making his début against AFC Telford United. The teenager signed on loan from Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion is likely to partner Rory McAuley at the back.
Last season the Darts were outplayed in Hampshire and know this time a decent result will help build momentum. The Shots made home advantage count 18 months ago by recording their first win of the campaign. Lee Noble’s early cross against the crossbar was the closest the Darts came to scoring. Aldershot Town looked comfortable throughout which was reflected by goals from Brett Williams, Manny Oyeleke and Aaron Wickham.
Since the 3-0 defeat the two sides have played out consecutive 1-1 draws at Princes Park. Earlier this season, Josh Scott’s first half goal was cancelled out by Pugh. Last term ten men Aldershot Town scored late on to deny Dartford an important win. Elliot Bradbrook’s penalty was not enough for the Darts as Williams scored a last minute 30 yard stunner.
Up until recently Aldershot Town’s form caused enough concern for chairman Shahid Azeem to act. Last month Andy Scott was sacked after a run of one win in nine games. Captain Chris Barker has been appointed as caretaker manager and after a loss in his first fixture has led the Shots to consecutive wins. If it wasn’t for those back to back wins against fellow relegation threatened Welling United and Alfreton Town, the Hampshire club would be in the thick of a battle. As it is the Shots have a eight point cushion with 12 games to go, but still need to go away to four of the current top five.
The Darts will be well aware of the potential threat of Brett Williams who scored twice against Dartford last season. The 27 year old has scored 12 this term to add to the 24 league goals in 2013/2014. At the other end of the pitch goalkeeper Phil Smith will be familiar after spending a spell at Princes Park, the former Portsmouth shot stopper played three times in Dartford’s last league campaign.
Andy Pugh will be suspended for his red cared at AFC Telford United a fortnight ago. Ryan Hayes could return after missing the 3-2 win with a hamstring injury. Christian Doidge has had his loan spell extended whilst Jamie Richards is due to play his final game of his current loan, Burman is keen to keep the 20 year old defender for longer.
Aldershot Town have signed Fulham left-back Tom Richards on a youth loan deal and Rochdale defender Sean McGinty also on loan. Joshua Scott is suspended after being dismissed against Alfreton Town last weekend
Head to Head
Aldershot Town wins: 6 / Dartford wins: 4 / Draws: 7
Current League Form
|Aldershot Town (WWLLLL)||Dartford (WDLLLL)|
|Alfreton Town||A||3-2||AFC Telford United||A||3-2|
|Welling United||H||2-1||Bristol Rovers||H||2-2|
|Kidderminster Harriers||H||0-1||FC Halifax Town||H||1-2|
|Lincoln City||A||0-3||Kidderminster Harriers||H||1-2|
|AFC Telford United||H||1-2||Braintree Town||A||0-3|
Last Meeting at the ESS Stadium
13 August 2013 – Aldershot Town 3 Dartford 0 – Att: 2138
Goalscorers: Williams (18), Oyeleke (61), Wickham (87)
Aldershot Town Lineup: Morris, Oastler, Goodman, Webster, Barker, Stanley, Rowlands, Oyeleke, Molesley, Williams, Paterson (subs used: Douglas, Roberts, Wickham)
Dartford Lineup: Julian, Clark, Mitchel-King, Burns, Rogers, Cornhill, Bradbrook, Noble, Hayes, Prior, Birchall (subs used: Collier, Woodyard, Harris)
Previous Six Meetings (* – F.A Cup)
7 – Dartford have gone seven games unbeaten against sides in the bottom seven which includes Aldershot Town
39 – league games since Dartford last won back to back league games, against Hyde and Macclesfield Town in March 2014
43 – league fixtures since Aldershot Town were involved in a no score draw, only Barnet have gone longer (63 games). Dartford’s last goalless draw was 28 matches ago, their last clean sheet in the Conference Premier.
1986 – The last time Dartford played less than two league games in February was 29 years ago. Whilst in the Conference Premier the Darts won their only league match in February against Altrincham 3-2
1991 – Was the last time only two league fixtures were fulfilled in February, Dartford drew both Southern League Premier games 1-1 against Dorchester Town then Atherstone United
Since reformation Dartford have won three and lost once on 28 February. Slade Green were beaten 4-1 in 1996, Yate Town defeated 5-2 two years later and Tooting and Mitcham United were beaten 3-1 six years ago. Corby Town won against the Darts 3-0 back in 2004.