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Aldershot Town v Dartford

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.

Team News

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
Altrincham  A  0-1 Dover Athletic  A  1-6
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)

Match Stats

aldershot v dfc stats

Previous Six Meetings (* – F.A Cup)

18.10.2014 Dartford 1 Aldershot Town 1
25.02.2014 Dartford 1 Aldershot Town 1
13.08.2013 Aldershot Town 3 Dartford 0
16.11.1968* Dartford 3 Aldershot Town 0
18.11.1964* Aldershot Town 1 Dartford 0
14.11.1964* Dartford 1 Aldershot Town 1

Stats

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.

AFC Telford United v Dartford

There will be no love lost on Valentine’s Day when Dartford face fellow relegation battlers AFC Telford United this weekend.

Victory for the Darts will not only complete a rare double it could help close a seven point deficit on Southport, who are placed above the dreaded drop zone. AFC Telford United are one place and point below Tony Burman’s side and have recently shown signs of life, the Conference North champions are keen to avoid a return to the second tier of non league football.

Throughout this month starting this weekend, Dartford will be up against three sides in the bottom section of the league standings. A home match versus mid-table Gateshead follows this weekend’s clash with AFC Telford United. Then two away days at Alfreton Town, currently level with Southport and Aldershot Town, who are just two points above safety, awaits the Darts.

Burman may not feel the fixture against the Bucks is the be all and end all this campaign, but the Darts boss knows closing the deficit over Southport is important for the club, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We’ve got to close the gap, if we can win our next two or three games, it could be a different picture. But if we lose those games, it becomes more drastic and it will be difficult”.

Earlier this season Dartford finished August with a home win against the Bucks but had to come from behind. With ten minutes remaining of the first half Tony Gray put the visitors in front. Fortunes turn around with Luke Daley scoring his first goal for the Darts, and his only so far, the midfielder struck a precise equaliser from twenty yards out. Andy Pugh netted what turned out to be the winner leading to plenty of praise from his boss after the match.

Pugh has struggled this term scoring just two league goals in only 16 appearances. The former Cambridge United striker first suffered an achilles injury followed by a torn testicle. Returning at the end of January, the 26 year old has made two consecutive substitute appearances and added his third of the season in the F.A Trophy against FC Halifax Town. The Darts may have been knocked out in a 3-1 defeat but at least they can concentrate on the league. Burman knows the value of having Pugh back, especially when it’s proven difficult to bring more fire-power to Princes Park, he likened Pugh to a new signing and feels the striker is looking sharp, aided by the fact he is training with the academy during the day.

After a demoralising 6-1 loss at Kent rivals Dover Athletic, Dartford recorded back to back 2-2 draws with FC Halifax Town in the trophy then respectably with Bristol Rovers. Ryan Hayes has taken most of the plaudits of late with three goals in as many games, the creative winger added to his goal scored from a corner against Kidderminster Harriers by repeating the feat versus FC Halifax Town and Bristol Rovers.

For a side who had to wait a dozen games to record their first win back in the Conference Premier signs of recovery are appearing. AFC Telford United will move above Dartford if they can record a win and are now under the guidance of Steve Kittrick. The former Guiseley boss replaced Liam Watson who led the Bucks back to the Conference Premier last term. Kittrick has moved the Shropshire club up one place and has only tasted defeat once in the league. Two wins, three draws and a loss is mid-table form since the 57 year old took over in December.

During the January transfer window, Kittrick has been trying to make his mark signing Ben McLaughlin on loan from Everton, John Disney from Chester, midfielder Danny Ventre and defender Glenn Matthews. Tony Gray remains the biggest threat up front with 11 goals this season, a quarter of the amount scored by the Bucks.

Last time at the New Bucks Head, the Darts avenged a 4-1 home defeat with a 2-0 triumph. Charlie Sheringham made the difference against an already relegated Bucks, who at the time stretched their winless streak to 30 games. The on loan striker scored one and made an assist setting up Jason Prior. The Darts went ahead when Prior netted his first goal for the Darts, Sheringham doubled the lead early in the second half.

Team News

Nathan Green is likely to return after being cup tied against FC Halifax Town. Latest signing Jamie Richards will also be availble after missing the F.A Trophy loss. Mat Mitchel-King left the club and has signed for St Neots Town. Andy Pugh continues to get match fit and will hopefully add more minutes to his recovery.

AFC Telford United’s new defensive signing Ian Sharps will be pressing for a competitive start having come through ninety minutes in the 2-0 win over a Birmingham City Under 21s’ side on Wednesday evening.

Head to Head

AFC Telford United wins: 14 / Dartford wins: 16 / Draws: 8

Current League Form

AFC Telford United (DLWWDD) Dartford (DLLLLL)
Eastleigh A 3-3 Bristol Rovers H 2-2
FC Halifax Town H 0-1 Dover Athletic A 1-6
Wrexham A 4-0 FC Halifax Town H 1-2
Aldershot Town A 2-1 Kidderminster Harriers H 1-2
Nuneaton Town A 0-0 Braintree Town A 0-3
Nuneaton Town H 4-4 Braintree Town H 0-2

Last Meeting at the New Bucks Head

13 April 2013 – AFC Telford United 0 Dartford 2 – Att: 1375

Goalscorers: Prior (11), Sheringham (49)

AFC Telford United Lineup: Young, Salmon, Briscoe, Rooney, Trainer, Leslie, Smith, Spray, Williams, O’Neil, Adaggio (subs used: Bradley, Meechan, Ford)

Dartford Lineup: Somogyi, Rose, Arber, Bonner, Burns, Wallis, Bradbrook, Noble, Hayes, Prior, Sheringham (subs used: Rogers, Evans, Collier)

Match Stats

afctu v dfc stats

Previous Six Meetings

30.08.2014 Dartford 2 AFC Telford United 1
06.04.2013 AFC Telford United 0 Dartford 2
07.10.2012 Dartford 1 AFC Telford United 4
02.11.1985 Telford United 2 Dartford 1
07.09.1985 Dartford 2 Telford United 1
30.04.1985 Telford United 1 Dartford 2

Stats

0:25 – the quickest goal scored in the league this season by Dartford’s Ryan Hayes against Kidderminster Harriers

6 – games since the Bucks recorded a home win in the Conference Premier

10 – points obtained by AFC Telford United at home, the lowest total in this season’s Conference Premier

27 – league matches since Dartford’s last clean sheet on 23 August 2014 versus Torquay United, the longest streak in the Conference Premier this term

96:17 – the latest goal scored in the league this season by AFC Telford United’s Kyle Perry against Altrincham

FC Halifax Town v Dartford

A place in the F.A Trophy Quarter Finals is up for grabs as the Darts visit FC Halifax in the long awaited third round replay.

The two sides met twice last month in separate competitions but weather conditions have made getting the replay on difficult. Back at Princes Park, Dartford had to come from two goals down to stay in the competition and be included in the hat for the next round.

FC Halifax looked likely to repeat their 2-1 league win they recorded at Princes Park in mid-January as they went two up by half-time. With twelve minutes on the clock Calum Driver gave away a free kick which the visitors took full advantage of. Striker Richard Peniket was left unmarked and guided the ball beyond Jason Brown from close range. The lead was doubled a minute before the interval when Adam Smith’s good work and cross met Matty Pearson who powerfully headed in a second.

Tony Burman took action during the break and the introduction of winger Ryan Hayes, at the expense of Peter Sweeney, turned the tie. Hayes, for the second time this season swung in a corner which went in the visitors goal directly to pull one back for the Darts. Looking like an exit for Dartford, Rory McAuley’s attempts to level the tie were unsuccessful until the final minute. The centre back struck a late equaliser volleying beyond Matt Glennon to take the contest to a replay.

After the well earned draw Tony Burman praised Hayes for his contribution, he spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and said: “At 2-0 down, it was made for Ryan to come on and do something like that. He came on and caused a few problems although we probably didn’t get the ball out to him as much as we could have done. He’s good at dead ball situations and he’s come on and done okay”.

The replay has already been postponed few times making preparations far from ideal for the Darts. However an excellent 2-2 draw with Bristol Rovers will give the squad a degree of confidence. Once again, Burman after some deliberating gambled on Hayes despite the state of the Princes Park pitch. The decision proved to be worthwhile as the winger scored twice as the Darts came from behind on both occasions.

Rovers went one up through Matty Taylor, who scored a penalty in the reverse fixture. The deficit was short-lived and Hayes repeated his feat against FC Halifax Town with another inswinging corner, this time goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall failed to fully connect with an attempted punch with the ball going in his own net. The Gas went ahead once more when McAuley’s clearance rebounded off substitute Ellis Harrison. Dartford’s spirit continued to show and Hayes was left to score a stunning free kick to earn the Darts a much needed point.

Burman reiterated the quality Hayes has shown over the last two home games, he commented: “If Ryan’s got his mind on the game, he can produce like that. In fairness to Ryan, he’s produced many a magic moment at the club over the last ten years”.

FC Halifax Town will feel they have already missed an opportunity to progress but can look to their 2-1 win at Princes Park, the Shaymen won that league game despite ending up with nine men. On the weekend they narrowly beat bottom of the table side AFC Telford United thanks to Pearson’s third goal in three games. The win ended the Bucks unbeaten run of four as FC Halifax Town moved into sixth place by full time. Postponements left the Yorkshire club without a Conference Premier fixture on the weekend which saw them slip to eighth, a couple of points away from the playoffs.

The winners will face Gateshead or Wrexham at home in the last eight and will know they are within three games of reaching Wembley.