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Dartford v Ebbsfleet United

Dartford will be up against local rivals and National League South favourites Ebbsfleet United on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Darts have made a steady start to their campaign picking up ten points in six games. Their opponents have so far lived up to expectations winning their first four, however dropped points on Saturday leaves them second in the National League South.

Dartford bounced back from a 3-2 home defeat against Gosport Borough to win Saturday’s Kent derby at Hartsdown Park. Another pleasing performance over a misfiring Margate ensured the Darts earned a second away win of the season. Lee Noble scored his first of the campaign with half hour played as Tony Burman’s side dominated the first half. Making his first start since March, Lee Burns was dismissed to make life difficult on a slender lead. Any doubts were extinguished with twenty minutes to go when captain Elliot Bradbrook secured the three points.

Ebbsfleet United are sitting five points behind early pace setters Bath City with a game in hand. The Fleet opened their season with a 1-0 win over Basingstoke Town. A Jordan Parkes double gave Daryl McMahon’s side a 2-0 victory at Kent rivals Maidstone United before a third successive clean sheet and 2-0 triumph at St Albans City.

After 310 minutes of football, the Fleet conceded their first goal when Wealdstone took the lead but goals from Parkes and Danny Kedwell turned the match around. On Saturday, it was Ebbsfleet United’s turn to come from behind after finding themselves two down at home to Whitehawk. The second half comeback was completed when former Dart, Matthew Godden scored then ex Ipswich Town player Danny Haynes netted the equaliser.

When the fixture list came out it was a surprise to some that the Darts would meet the Fleet so early in the season. Many expected the Kent derby to take place over the festive period.

It’s been almost two years since the last meeting against Ebbsfleet United in a F.A Cup qualifier. The Darts were under pressure to progress being in the higher division at the time.

After a draw at Stonebridge Road the tie went back to Princes Park which Dartford edged in a 1-0 victory. The Fleet missed a penalty in the first game and once again a spot kick ended up the deciding factor.

Elliot Bradbrook took his chance from 12 yards on his 200th Dartford appearance, putting Tony Burman’s side ahead. Alan Julian became the hero and Anthony Cook the villain as the latter had his penalty saved by the Darts goalkeeper.

The last league meeting at Princes Park came on Boxing Day in 2012. Dartford came from a goal down to take all three points with three unanswered goals. Fleet’s Liam Enveer-Marum scored just after half time but the Darts hit back thanks to a Harry Crawford brace and an Elliot Bradbrook effort.

Both sides have slipped down the Kent pecking order in recent seasons and are keen to return to the National League. The Darts will be determined to put right back to back bottom four finishes in that division.

The Fleet have pressure to succeed due to the financial backing the club is receiving. The club is looking to return to the top flight of non-league football in their third campaign back in the National League South.

Ebbsfleet United hope to be in the Football League sooner rather than later and after a disappointing 2014/15 campaign by their standards, this season has started brightly, with the exception of their abandonment at Stonebridge Road just over a fortnight ago.

Returning back to Princes Park will be central defender Tom Bonner who was instrumental in Dartford’s promotion to the National League. Making over 100 appearances for the Darts, the 27 year old’s performances earned him a move to Cambridge United but injury curtailed his playing time with the U’s.

Kenny Clark also featured for Burman and was part of the 2013/14 squad that finished in the bottom four. Clark was used as a central defender and midfielder that season and made over 30 appearances. In the same campaign, Matthew Godden spent time on loan at Princes Park, the striker scored five goals in nine league games.

Whilst the Darts have recent National League experience at their disposal, the Fleet’s squad is stronger in size. In the summer, manager Daryl McMahon added to his squad which includes newly signed Jordan Parkes from Hemel Hempstead Town, the striker scored 21 times for the Tudors last term.

Danny Kedwell brings experience up front, the former Gillingham and AFC Wimbledon man is in his first full season with the Fleet. The fact another former Dart, Charlie Sheringham has missed games through injury and Adam Cunnington has been used sparingly, despite averaging a goal every other game, shows the depth and quality available to McMahon, a reflection of the kind of budget Ebbsfleet United are working with.

Bragging rights will be up for grabs this Bank Holiday and since the Fleet have changed their name, the Darts are unbeaten in the last three home meetings against their local rivals.

Head to Head

Ebbsfleet United wins: 107 / Dartford wins: 116 / Draws 90

Current League Form

Dartford (WLWDWL) Ebbsfleet United (WWWWD)
Margate  A  2-0 Whitehawk  H  2-2
Gosport Borough  H  2-3 Wealdstone  A  2-1
Concord Rangers  A  3-2 Weston Super Mare  H  A-A
Sutton United  H  2-2 St Albans City  A  2-0
Eastbourne Borough  H  1-0 Maidstone United  A  2-0
Hemel Hempstead Town  A  0-1 Basingstoke Town  H  1-0

Previous Meetings

29.10.2013 Dartford 1 Ebbsfleet United 0
26.10.2013 Ebbsfleet United 1 Dartford 1
01.01.2013 Ebbsfleet United 2 Dartford 2
26.12.2012 Dartford 3 Ebbsfleet United 1
28.12.2010 Ebbsfleet United 2 Dartford 1
28.08.2010 Dartford 1 Ebbsfleet United 1

On This Day
After five games of the 2009/10 Isthmian Premier League campaign the Darts had won their first four before drawing. The unbeaten run continued at AFC Hornchurch with goals from Lee Burns and Elliot Bradbrook. Two years ago, Dartford were beaten by Lincoln City at Princes Park. Elliot Bradbrook’s goal was just a consolation after the Imps went in at half time two up. Twelve years ago Dartford played Bashley, winning a F.A Cup tie 1-0 at home. The two sides had met on the same day five years prior when Bashley won by a single goal in the Southern League Southern Division.

Margate v Dartford

Dartford start the Bank Holiday weekend with a tough trip to newly promoted Margate.

After a home defeat, the Darts will be hoping for a solid away performance at Hartsdown Park against the Isthmian Premier league playoff winners, who are looking for their first league win.

The last meeting between the two clubs should have taken place two years ago in the Kent Senior Cup second round. The Darts were unable to fulfil the fixture and were forced to withdraw from the competition meaning the last match versus the Gate was six years ago.

Dartford brushed aside Margate in 2009 with a 4-0 victory. A training ground free kick routine had the Darts one up after seven minutes. Ryan Hayes faked to cross but slid the ball through to Jamie Day who finished the move. Margate couldn’t cope with John Beales’ long throw in’s and twice the Darts benefited through Rob Haworth then Lee Burns. Alan Tait came on as a substitute and added to the scoreline.

At Hartsdown Park, the Darts are unbeaten in five competitive visits stretching back to 1998, when the Gate triumphed 3-0 in the Kent Senior Cup. Since then Dartford have won two and drawn three including a F.A Trophy victory ten years ago.

Over the last two National League South games, defensive errors have given manager Tony Burman to work on. Although Dartford won their last away outing 3-2 at Concord Rangers, they had to overturn a two goal deficit caused by poor defending. The warning signs developed into more costly mistakes resulting in a 3-2 defeat versus Gosport Borough four days later.

Burman knows his work on the training ground will be crucial this week and is determined to overcome the defensive frailties, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “It’s something that’s got to be stamped out. The players know that and I hope they learn because you just can’t give goals away like we have done in the last two games”.

At home to the Boro enough opportunities were created to win, however the Darts were left to rue missed chances. Burman commented: “In the last third, some of our play should have been a bit more intelligent than it was. The players are better than that but our touch, when it was played up to people, could have been better”, he added: “we’ve given the game away, I think, rather than losing it to the better side”.

One shining light is the form of Tom Bradbrook who has taken his goalscoring tally to five in the first five league games. The striker is only behind Bishop’s Stortford’s Elliott Buchanan and Gosport Borough’s Justin Bennett in the league’s top scorers list. Last weekend he was partnered with George Sykes due to the absence to the preferred Andy Pugh, who picked up an injury at Concord Rangers.

The Darts have a perfectly mediocre record this term sitting eleventh with seven points and a level goal difference. Margate on the other hand have drawn four of their opening five league games. On the opening day they faced another of the promoted sides Truro City, a penalty save by Nikki Bull helped the Gate earn a 1-1 draw with ten men.

Character was shown against Whitehawk when Terry Brown’s side fought from two down to pick up a point. The subsequent match ended in a 2-0 defeat to Havant and Waterlooville before dominating a goalless draw versus Wealdstone.

Last weekend Margate travelled to Basingstoke Town and for the third consecutive match failed to find the back of the net. Another stalemate thanks to the excellent performance from goalkeeper Bull made sure the fourth point of the season was picked up.

Manager, Terry Brown has also taken to the training ground to solve the misfiring Gate, he told www.margate-fc.co.uk: “If I look at the last three games we’ve hardly tested the goalkeeper regardless of what system we play or who you play because I’ve juggled that around. Nearly everyone in the squad has had some kind of game time”.

One familiar face who has had plenty of game time is former Dartford player Nathan Green. Last season the 23 year old spent six months at Princes Park making 15 appearances and scoring two goals. Green impressed the Darts but opted for a move to Margate in the summer after his contract ran out, so far he has started every league fixture this term.

Current League Form

Margate (DDLDD) Dartford (LWDWL)
Truro City  H  1-1 Hemel Hempstead Town  A  0-1
Whitehawk  A  2-2 Eastbourne Borough  H  1-0
Havant and Waterlooville  A  0-2 Sutton United  H  2-2
Wealdstone  H  0-0 Concord Rangers  A  3-2
Basingstoke Town  A  0-0 Gosport Borough  H  2-3

Previous Meetings

23.03.2010 Dartford 0 Margate 1
18.08.2009 Margate 0 Dartford 4
07.03.2009 Margate 2 Dartford 2
02.12.2008 Dartford 3 Margate 2
11.10.2008 Dartford 0 Margate 1
12.11.2005 Margate 0 Dartford 1

On This Day

Dartford have played one away fixture away on this day since reforming losing to Newport Isle of Wight fifteen years ago. At this level the Darts beat Bromley 3-1 to christen the newly working scoreboard. Elliot Bradbrook lashed a volley into the top corner. After a Danny Waldren equaliser Dartford came good in the final eight minutes with goals from Charlie Sheringham and Danny Harris. In 2009, Wealdstone were the first team to take a point off Dartford in a 1-1 draw, Lee Burns netted the Darts goal. In the nineties Yate Town were beaten 1-0 in the Southern League Southern division and Folkestone Invicta were 3-2 winners in the Kent League.

Dartford v Gosport Borough

Dartford will be hoping to continue their unbeaten run at Princes Park today when they host Gosport Borough.

It’s been 26 years since the Darts last hosted the Hampshire side when they convincingly won 5-1 in the Southern Premier League. The fixture took place at Watling Street where the Boro failed to win in their last six attempts there, losing five.

On Tuesday night, Dartford had to show character to come from two down to beat Concord Rangers. Tony Burman’s side were undone by two Lewis Taafe both from defensive mistakes.

An Andy Pugh effort, helped by a deflection, gave the Darts a lifeline. The striker then curled a shot into the top corner five minutes from time to level the match. In injury time, top scorer Tom Bradbrook managed to score his fourth of the season in as many games to earn the Darts their first away win and points on the road.

Dartford have fared slightly better at Princes Park taking four out of a possible six points on their own patch. A 1-0 win over Eastbourne Borough was followed up by a 2-2 draw with Sutton United.

Tonight’s opponents have been on the rise after a rapid fall in the early nineties. At the end of the 1989/90 campaign Gosport Borough began their slide into the Wessex League, firstly relegated to the Southern League South then two years later into the regional division. The Boro spent 15 seasons in Wessex Leagues before rising again.

The man who has masterminded the club’s return is boss Alex Pike. Ten years at the helm he has brought stability and progression to the Boro, winning the Wessex League in 2006/07. Five years later, the Hampshire side were promoted to the Southern Premier League via the playoffs and repeated the feat again to reach the National League South the following season. Pike led Gosport Borough to the F.A Trophy final in 2013/14 losing to non-league double winners Cambridge United.

This season, Gosport Borough opened their campaign without conceding a goal in 318 minutes. An opening day goalless stalemate with St Albans City was followed up with a 4-0 away win at Weston Super Mare. The club’s golden boot winner from last season, Justin Bennett was the star of the show netting all four goals. A second 0-0 draw kept the unbeaten start going as they shared a point with Maidenhead United.

On Tuesday night, Pike’s side hosted last season’s playoff runners up Whitehawk. Like Dartford they left it late, this time grabbing a draw from two down.

It took until the 48th minute for the deadlock to be broken when the Hawks went in front courtesy of Scott Neilson. The away side won a penalty which was scored by Sam Deering five minutes later. Bennett halved the deficit with his fourth goal of the campaign in as many games. In the final minute Boro’s Rory Williams looped in a cross which found the back of the net.

Dartford will hope to continue their good run against Gosport Borough intact. The Darts last experienced a home defeat against the Hampshire side in April 1981 and have only lost once to the Boro in their last ten meetings.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 9 / Gosport Borough wins: 4 / Draws: 3

Last Meeting at Watling Street

22 August 1989 – Dartford 5  Gosport Borough 1
Having finished the last two seasons as runners up Dartford were amongst the favourites for promotion. Peter Taylor’s late eighties squad won their second home match of the campaign in style, keeping their perfect start to 1989/90 going.

Previous Six Meetings

24.10.1989 Gosport Borough 0 Dartford 1
22.08.1989 Dartford 5 Gosport Borough 1
04.04.1989 Dartford 4 Gosport Borough 2
04.03.1989 Gosport Borough 1 Dartford 2
05.03.1988 Gosport Borough 0 Dartford 1
26.09.1987 Dartford 2 Gosport Borough 2

On This Day (since reforming)

Hastings United 1 Dartford 3 – Dartford continued their 100% start to the 2009/10 season with a dominating display. Lee Burns clipped in the first goal in off the upright and Rob Haworth made sure the Darts were two up at half time. Ryan Hayes crossed for Burns to score his second, Hastings United’s Matt Maclean scored from distance into an empty net. Seventeen years ago, Dartford faced Fleet Town losing the away fixture 2-1 in the Southern League South.

 

Concord Rangers v Dartford

Tony Burman will be up against his former captain when Dartford travel to Adam Flanagan’s Concord Rangers.

The two worked together to mastermind the Darts promotion five years ago as Isthmian Premier League champions, this time they will be in opposite dugouts.

Flanagan returned to Concord Rangers as manager having had a spell as a player with the club. The 37 year old replaced Danny Cowley and will have big shoes to fill, Cowley guided the Beachboys through the divisions in an eight year spell. As a manager, Flanagan has already had success with Brentwood Town winning promotion to the Isthmian Premier League via the playoffs.

Thames Road will be hosting a mini reunion, three more former Darts are now representing Concord Rangers this season and have participated in the opening three fixtures. Max Cornhill left only last season, the attacking midfielder was used sparingly since the turn of this year prompting the 28 year old to depart Princes Park after 68 appearances and nine goals.

James White has impressed Concord Rangers since joining the Essex club and he was alongside Flanagan in Dartford’s title winning season, the midfielder made 112 appearances for the Darts.

Tony Stokes was signed by Burman in 2012 on dual registration but didn’t make an appearance, but the talk of the summer has been whether former Dartford midfielder Adam Woodyard remains a Concord Rangers player.

After opening day disappointment away at Hemel Hempstead Town, the Darts have picked up four points from their last two fixtures. A 1-0 home win over Eastbourne Borough was followed up with a 2-2 draw with Sutton United, Tom Bradbrook scoring all the goals in each match.

Signs have been promising that the team is gelling and had the opportunities in front of goal been taken then the points tally could be better. The entertaining draw against Sutton United saw Dartford pegged back twice with Tom Bradbrook heading in the first from a Ryan Hayes free kick. The visitors were level before the break courtesy of Micky Spillane’s volley. A bizarre second put the Darts back in front, an underhit pass forced U’s goalkeeper Ross Worner’s to clear the ball which hit Tom Bradbrook in the face, the striker scored but was forced off. With five minutes remaining Sutton United equalised through Jamie Collins, his second in as many games.

Concord Rangers topped the National League South table after two games but defeat away to Truro City has seen the Beachboys drop to sixth. On the weekend, Tony Stokes started with good news scoring after just three minutes but was later red carded in the final minute. Truro City came from behind at Treyew Road to end Concord Rangers’ perfect record with goals from Shane White and Matt Wright.

Prior their defeat, the Essex club got off to a stunning start to the campaign with a goal after 16 seconds, Tony Stokes’ half volley from 25 yards put Concord Rangers in front. Joe Gardner, Max Cornhill and Steve Cawley added to the score before Weston Super Mare grabbed a consolation.

The Beachboys followed up their 4-1 victory with another three points beating Wealdstone 2-1 away from home. Cornhill netted another which was cancelled out by Elliot Godfrey. Ben Greenhalgh scored the decisive goal early in the second half.

The only competitive meeting between the two clubs came in the Isthmian League Cup encounter six and half years ago. Two Dartford favourites scored the goals to help the Darts progress in the Isthmian League Cup. Brendon Cass and a Cody McDonald brace was enough secure a passage into the next round as Dartford ran out 3-1 winners against the Beachboys.

Head to Head

Concord Rangers wins: 0 / Dartford wins: 1 / Draws: 0

On This Day

On 18 August, the Darts have played five since reforming and winning just once. The most recent fixture three years ago, in the National League, resulted in 2-0 defeat away to Macclesfield Town. Dartford’s only win on this day came six years ago in a formidable 4-0 victory over Margate during the Isthmian Premier league title winning campaign. Jamie Day, Rob Haworth, Lee Burns and Alan Tait netted the goals. On the opening day of the 2007/08 campaign Brendon Cass and Jay May scored to earn a 2-2 draw versus Maldon Town in the Isthmian Division One North whilst in 2001 Stamford won 3-1 in the Southern League Division One East. In what turned out to be crucial result Furness beat the Darts back in the Kent League 2-1 and went on to win the league on the final day, Dartford’s 1-1 draw on the last game of the season wasn’t enough to snatch the title from Furness.

 

Dartford v Sutton United

The Darts aim to keep a perfect home record going this weekend when they welcome Sutton United to Princes Park.

Dartford have fond memories of hosting the U’s from the last time the two sides met in the National South. A prolific afternoon in front of goal saw the Darts thrash Sutton United 6-1

Five of the players in today’s squad were involved that day with three getting on the score sheet. Goals from midfielder Lee Noble and an Adam Green penalty three minutes apart had Dartford two up. Sutton United’s Harry Beautyman pulled a goal back only for Danny Harris to score a third before the break.

Second half goals from Luke Wilkinson, Elliot Bradbrook and Jacob Erskine turned the match into a rout. Lee Burns and Ryan Hayes were also involved making substitute appearances.

Victory for Tony Burman’s side was the first at home against the U’s in 34 years. Another triumph will make it three in a row after beating the Surrey club twice just over three years ago.

On Tuesday night, Dartford made one change to the starting eleven that lost 1-0 to Hemel Hempstead Town on the opening day. Ryan Hayes replaced Danny Harris as the Darts hosted Eastbourne Borough, also looking for their first points.

The evening got off to a great start for the Darts, man of the match Jack Simmons crossed towards the near post where Tom Bradbrook nodded home with only six minutes on the clock. In the second half, Burman’s side showed encouraging signs and although another goal didn’t materialise the Darts beat Eastbourne Borough to kick start their campaign.

Simmons spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk after the game and said: “It’s been a good start, the most important thing is that we got the three points and are off the mark now. But it’s only one game so we’ll build again and get ready for the weekend”.

Sutton United, who have failed to win on the opening day since returning to the National South in 2011 continued their form last weekend. Up against Isthmian Premier league champions Maidstone United they were beaten 2-0 with the Stones goals coming from Joe Healy and Alex Akrofi.

Defeat was followed up with a win away to Havant and Waterlooville. Manager, Paul Doswell made two changes bringing in Dan Wishart and Matthew Spillane at the expense of Kevin Amankwaah and Ross Stearn.

The Surrey club made a breakthrough when Dan Fitchett scored after 37 minutes. In the second half, defender Simon Downer was substituted and Jamie Collins who replaced him put the visitors two ahead to seal the first three points of the season for his side.

Over the summer, the Sutton United boss has used his Eastleigh connections by signing Dean Beckwith, Dan Spence and the experienced Craig McAllister, all three made their first starts last weekend. Striker Stuart Fleetwood, another former Eastleigh player had to settle with coming off the bench which he repeated on Tuesday night. Midfielder, Glen Southam formerly of Dover Athletic was also part of the Eastleigh side who won the National South in 2014.

The Darts could have been facing former goalkeeper Jason Brown who had moved to the U’s in the summer, however the former Welsh international decided to pursue a coaching role leaving Doswell short. Ross Worner was eventually snapped up from AFC Wimbledon, who also made his début at home to Maidstone United.

Sutton United are likely to use crowd favourite Craig Dundas up front. The striker has made over 350 appearances for the Surrey side and is a crowd favourite having won eight end of season player awards during his time with the U’s.

Although the campaign has only just begun, both sides will be keen to add to the three points collected over the opening two fixtures.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 5 / Sutton United wins: 4 / Draws: 0

Last Meeting at Princes Park

20 March 2012 – Dartford 6 Sutton United 1 – Att: 1022

Goalscorer: Noble, Green (pen), Harris, Wilkinson, Bradbrook, Erskine; Beautyman

Dartford Lineup: Wells, Jones, Green, Bonner, Wilkinson, Champion, Noble, Wallis, Erskine, Bradbrook, Harris (subs used: Rogers, Hayes, Burns)

Previous Meetings (* F.A Cup / ^ F.A Trophy / + Club Call Cup)

14.04.2012 Sutton United 0 Dartford 1
20.03.2012 Dartford 6 Sutton United 1
06.02.2010 Dartford 0 Sutton United 2
22.09.2009 Sutton United 0 Dartford 3
04.04.2009 Sutton United 1 Dartford 0
15.11.2008 Dartford 2 Sutton United 3
25.10.1988+ Dartford 1 Sutton United 2
04.11.1978* Sutton United 0 Dartford 2
 14.01.1978^  Dartford  2  Sutton United 0

On This Day (since reforming)

Dartford 3 Horsham 2 – Six years ago Elliot Bradbrook made an immediate impact on his competitive début for the Darts. The midfielder scored a brace at Princes Park in a 3-2 victory against Horsham. On the opening day of the Isthmian Premier league 2009/10 season, Dartford had to come from behind to win. Horsham’s Russel Eldridge had the visitors ahead before Bradbrook took the game by the scruff of the neck. In ten second half minutes Bradbrook scored, won a penalty which captain Adam Flanagan netted, then gave the Darts a two goal cushion. At the end Pat Harding grabbed a consolation for Horsham but it was Dartford who triumphed.

Dartford v Eastbourne Borough

Dartford are finally back in action at Princes Park in their first home game of the season welcoming Eastbourne Borough.

Over the summer the Princes Park pitch was relaid and so the wait for a home fixture has lasted longer than anticipated.

The Darts won three out four against their visitors, during their last spell in the National South. A double in the league was added to the F.A Trophy replay victory.

Tony Burman’s side won both fixtures at Princes Park just under four years ago by the same result. In the F.A Trophy replay, second half goals from Tom Champion and Danny Harris were enough for the hosts. Former Dartford striker Carl Rook inevitably scored for Eastbourne Borough as the game ended 2-1.

Like this campaign, four years ago the Sports were Dartford’s first home opponents of the season then. Back then the match ended in a second successive victory for the Darts to maintain a perfect winning start. Charlie Sheringham scored his third in the opening two fixtures and Adam Green made it 2-0. Ethan Strevett’s corner was fumbled into his own net by Dartford goalkeeper Andrew Young in the final minute.

At the turn of the millennium the two clubs met over three seasons in the Southern League Division One East. When Eastbourne Borough were known as Langney Sports, the Darts won both encounters. In the following two season’s the Sports won all four in the league.

After a three year absence from the second tier of non-league, the Darts opened their campaign away at Hemel Hempstead Town on the weekend. A defeat by a solitary goal left Burman’s side with no points t show from the opening match. Oliver Hawkins headed the winner just after half an hour past the new Dartford number one Deren Ibrahim.

Despite a loss on Saturday, the build up to the new season was successful for the Darts with five wins and a draw. Dartford only conceded one goal providing Ibrahim plenty of optimism. The 24 year old, has been long involved in the Dartford set up coming through the youth system and has finally been given the opportunity to shine.

For the first time new faces will taste matchday at Princes Park with seven new signings over the summer. Burman has had to rebuild his squad following relegation from the National League. On the weekend Mark Onyemah, Tom Gardiner, Callum McNaughton and Jack Simmons all started their débuts. George Sykes and Barry Cogan were also débutantes coming off the bench to feature.

One opponent adding familiarity around Princes Park will be former Dart, Nathan Collier. Whilst at Princes Park the utility player made over 100 appearances for the Darts with nearly half from off the substitutes bench. Former loanee, Jack Evans is also at Eastbourne Borough having been part of Burman’s 2012/13 squad making 15 league appearances.

Collier made his first start for the Sports on Saturday in their 2-1 defeat at home to Maidenhead United. Evans was a used substitute was unable to make an impact to earn his side any points. Ryan Worrall had the hosts in front scoring from the spot, the penalty was won by Nat Pinney. The lead lasted just three minutes when it was Josh Huggins’ turn to be upheld in the box, Ben Wright equalised. Eastbourne Borough threw away the points with four minutes to go when Jake Reid finished a rebound.

Tommy Widdrington guided the Sussex club to eleventh last term and has stabilised his team since being appointed in February 2012. Over the summer, the 45 year old has added former Gillingham, Ebbsfleet United and Maidstone United player Craig Stone from Dover Athletic. Striker, Elliot Romain has also joined the Sports from local rivals Lewes.

Head to Head (includes Langney Sports)

Dartford wins: 5 / Eastbourne Borough wins: 4 / Draws: 1

Last Meeting at Princes Park

29 November 2011 – Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1 – Att: 611

Goalscorers: Champion, Harris

Dartford Lineup: Wells, Jones, Green, Bonner, Goodacre, Champion, Hayes, Wallis, Harris, Burns, Rogers

Previous Meetings (* = F.A Trophy)

03.04.2012 Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 1
29.11.2011* Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1
26.11.2011* Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 0
16.08.2011 Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1
04.03.2003 Dartford 0 Eastbourne Borough 1
20.08.2002 Eastbourne Borough 4 Dartford 0
30.10.2001 Eastbourne Borough 1 Dartford 0
11.09.2001 Dartford 1 Eastbourne Borough 2
23.04.2001 Langney Sports 1 Dartford 2
24.02.2001 Dartford 1 Langney Sports 0

On This Day (since reforming)

Dartford returned to the top flight of non-league for the first time in 26 years. In their opening fixture Tamworth visited Princes Park and won 3-2 to give the Darts something to ponder.

Hemel Hempstead Town v Dartford

Dartford are set for the season opener at Hemel Hempstead Town this weekend after a three year absence from the National League South.

Relegation last term from the Conference Premier, now the National League left manager Tony Burman with some rebuilding to do. Eight new faces will be part of this season’s squad and they hope to get off to the perfect start when they travel to Vauxhall Road.

Burman realises the spending power has shifted towards other teams in the league making this campaign tougher, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We’ve got to be realistic with our aims”, he added: “People have strengthened with players who should be playing League football, let alone the National League, and they’re playing in National South”, he continued: “I’d like to think that come the end of the season, we’re there or therabouts trying to get into that playoff place”.

An unbeaten pre-season against lower league teams consisted of five wins and a draw. New number one goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim only conceded one goal, a promising start for the 24 year old who has finally got his opportunity as first choice goalkeeper.

In front of Ibrahim, the Darts welcome a brand new fresh looking defence which has already suffered a blow. Danny Fitzsimons, signed from Luton Town picked up a long term injury ruling him out of the trip to Hertfordshire. Mark Onyemah also arrives from the Hatters in a loan deal and will join former West Ham United defender Callum McNaughton, ex Hibernian player Tom Gardiner and Ronnie Vint, who has been promoted from the academy.

In a familiar looking midfield last season’s Player of the Year, Lee Noble will be joined by captain Elliot Bradbrook, winger Ryan Hayes, Danny Harris and new signings Jack Simmons from Canvey Island and Barry Cogan from Dover Athletic. Becka-Ka Dembele and Ebrima Adams follows in Vint’s footsteps from the academy. Marvin Hamilton briefly played for Hemel Hempstead Town in 2011/12 and joins after a spell at Dartford’s next opponents Eastbourne Borough.

A regular goalscorer has been a problem area for Tony Burman and so the front line has been strengthened. Andy Pugh, prolific at this level with Welling United and Tom Bradbrook remain part of the plans. Added to the strike force is former Barnet forward George Sykes. The versatile Lee Burns has agreed a new contract but over the summer continued with his work commitments which saw him leave last season early.

The Tudors finished in a respectable ninth last term after promotion in the previous campaign. Their successful debut season in the National League South was helped by top scorer Jordon Parkes, who left for Ebbsfleet United in the summer. Manager, Dean Brennan has replaced Parkes with former Bromley striker Jamie Slabber. John Frendo who top scored for St Albans City has also moved to Vauxhall Road. The Tudors can also boast an ex Premier league midfielder in Matthew Spring.

Brennan is keen to build on last season’s performance, the 35 year old commented: “We take the cups as a bonus, but we’ve set targets for the league. We don’t want to be bystanders in this division, we want to improve on last season. It’s definitely a tougher division though, with some well established non-league clubs with large support bases.”

The Irishman respects the Darts having been a division apart last term, he told www.hemelfc.com: “I watched them play near the end of last season, against Gateshead, and I was impressed with them. Dartford are a powerful side with dynamic speed. It’s a big jump from this league to the next, so I understand the circumstances that led to them being here. Their manager knows this division well, they’ve great travelling support and it’ll be a fantastic opening game for us”.

Hemel Heampstead Town have already began their competitive campaign having played Hitchin Town on Monday in the Hertfordshire Charity Cup.  Willie Gnahore scored a brace as the Tudors went on to win 2-0.

It’s been 43 years since the Darts last faced Saturday’s opponents in the F.A Cup first qualifying round. Managed by Doug Holden, Dartford went on to record a 9-2 away victory to progress in the cup.

Team News

Dartford are already without one of their summer recruits, Danny Fitzsimons will be out of action for months and potentially the whole season. Lee Burns is unlikely to feature having missed pre season due to work commitments. Ronnie Vint is a doubt with a groin problem. With three full backs missing Marvin Hamilton and Mark Onyemah are favourites to make their débuts.

Hemel Hempstead Town could line up with the side that beat Hitchin Town. Ed Asafu-Adjaye is out for another six weeks, John Frendo could be missing for up to four weeks. James Potton, Jamie Slabber and Jamie Butler are all fighting to get fit in time. Matthew Spring will not be available due family commitments.

 

National League South Season Preview 2015/2016 – Part Five

Sutton United | Truro City | Wealdstone | Weston-Super-Mare | Whitehawk

Sutton United

Founded: 1898 / Ground: Borough Sports Ground

A famous name in non league football thanks to a F.A Cup third round win, against holders Coventry City in 1989. Sutton United were a Conference Premier side back then but have spent most of their time in the Isthmian League. Joining the Conference South when non league was restructured, the club were relegated in 2007/08. The U’s spent just three season’s away winning the Isthmian Premier League after two playoff attempts, including a runner up spot behind Dartford. The Surrey club reached the playoffs twice in the Conference South in four seasons, but last term finished mid table.

SuttonunitedLast Season

Conference South: 15th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 3rd Round

League Top Scorer: Jessy Reindorf & Dan Fitchett (6 goals)

Average Attendance: 548

The Manager – Paul Doswell

Making his name at Eastleigh, Paul Doswell led the Hampshire club through three consecutive promotions to take the Spitfires from the Wessex League to the Conference South. Doswell had an immediate impact at Eastleigh, appointed in 2002 he won the Wessex League title in the same year. Two playoff triumphs followed and the first season in the Conference South his side finished a creditable eighth. Leaving Eastliegh in 2006 it wasn’t until two years later he joined Sutton United. Success has continued with two playoff appearances in the Isthmian Premier League before winning the league title. In the Conference South Doswell has made a further two playoff appearances and came runners up against his old side Eastleigh in 2013/14.

The Summer

Connections with Eastleigh remain sound for Paul Doswell by signing a trio of players. Dean Beckwith, Dan Spence and the experienced Craig McAllister move from the Silverlake Stadium to the Borough Sports Ground. Striker Stuart Fleetwood, another former Eastleigh player will provide goals and has had spells with Forest Green Rovers, Luton Town and Hereford United. Last season’s goalkeeper for the Darts, Jason Brown had joined but left without playing a match to concentrate on coaching. That meant Doswell had to search for a goalkeeper again finding AFC Wimbledon’s Ross Worner. Tom Bolarinwa comes in from Cray Wanderers and Ross Stearn from Bath City.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

14 April 2012 – Sutton United 0 Dartford 1 – view highlights

Dartford may have taken all three points but results elsewhere meant they couldn’t catch Woking at the top of the table. A counter attacking move starting from the Darts own half ended with Tony Garrod scoring the winner.

20 March 2012 – Dartford 6 Sutton United 1 – view highlights

One of Dartford’s finest performances since Princes Park opened. The Darts thrashed eventual runners up Sutton United in some style. Lee Noble and an Adam Green penalty three minutes apart had the hosts two up. Harry Beautyman pulled a goal back then Dartford raced away. Danny Harris before the break, Luke Wilkinson, Elliot Bradbrook and Jacob Erskine turned the match into a rout.

Next Meetings

Saturday 15 August 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 23 January 2016 at Borough Sports Ground

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Truro City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Treyew Road

If ever there is example of how a chairman can influence a club then Truro City fall in to that category. An F.A Vase triumph nine years ago and promotion the same season was only the start. Three consecutive league titles moved the Cornwall club through the regional divisions into the Southern Premier. After only two attempts the Southern Premier League was won and then wheels began to fall off. A winding up petition in August 2011 caused uncertainty and chairman Kevin Heaney stepped down. The club were relegated back to the Southern League in 2012/13, however they have enjoyed a swift return winning the playoffs in May.

Truro-city-football-clubLast Season

Southern Premier: 3rd

F.A Cup: 1st Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Did not enter

League Top Scorer: Craig Duff (18 goals)

Average Attendance: 417

The Manager – Steve Tully

At just 35 years old Steve Tully is one of the youngest managers in this season’s National South. The former full back spent his playing days in the West Country representing Torquay United, Weymouth and Exeter City making over 100 appearances for each club. He joined Truro City as a player in 2013 and in March 2014 became player manager. In his first role as boss Steve Tully guided Truro City back to the National League South with a playoff triumph over St Neots Town.

The Summer

It’s been quiet at Treyew Road with only three signings being made. Martin Rice makes the short journey across the Devon/Cornwall border moving from Torquay United, the goalkeeper returns to the club after spending three years at Truro City. Midfielder, Aaron Dawson has limited experience at Exeter City and Torquay United, the 23 year old can also play in defence. On loan left back Conor Riley-Lowe will be at Treyew Road for at least the next six months.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

28 April 2012 – Truro City 1 Dartford 1
With a playoff spot secured the final match of the season played out evens. Dartford fans made their way across the country to enjoy a celebratory weekend. Former Premier League striker Barry Hayles scored for Truro City with three minutes left. Dartford’s Jacob Erskine equalised with virtually the last kick of the game.

22 October 2011 – Dartford 1 Truro City 2 – view highlights
Truro City took full advantage of slack defending, Adam Green and Andrew Young got things mixed up leaving Andrew Watkins to tap in for the visitors. A couple of minutes later Paul Goodacre scored an own goal giving the Cornishmen a two goal lead. Tom Bonner halved the deficit after Truro City were reduced to ten men.

Next Meetings

Saturday 19 September 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 13 February 2016 at Treyew Road

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Wealdstone

Founded: 1899 / Ground: The Vale Stadium

It may have taken a while but Wealdstone have returned to the level they were at in the late eighties. Whether they can return to the heights of the early eighties is another matter, the Middlesex club won the Alliance Premier League and F.A Trophy double but were relegated from the Conference in 1988. The Stones sunk as far down as Isthmian Division Three before their current manager was appointed. Since then four promotions in twenty years, including the most recent Isthmian Premier League title in 2013/14, has seen Wealdstone get back to the second tier of non league. Three years ago they embarked on a F.A Trophy run to reach the last four and last season finished a creditable twelfth in the Conference South.

wealdstoneLast Season

Conference South: 12th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Jefferson Louis, Scott McGleish and Matt Ball (8 goals)

Average Attendance: 720

The Manager – Gordon Bartlett

By far the longest serving manager in this season’s National South, Gordon Bartlett has been in charge of Wealdstone since 1995 and involved in non league coaching for 25 years. At Southall and Yeading before he joined the Stones he guided both clubs to Wembley reaching F.A Vase finals. Since taking over at the Middlesex club he has won four promotions, including the Isthmian Division Three and Premier titles, seventeen years apart. The school teacher also had a playing career with Portsmouth, Denver Dynamos in the United States of America, Brentford, Slough Town and Hayes.

The Summer

Budget plays a part any any level and Wealdstone have had to look at divisions below the National South over the summer. With the exception Ryan Hope who won promotion with Boreham Wood, each signing has come from the National South or lower. Dale Binns has plenty of experience at this level having played for **********, he joins from Sutton United. Tom Cadmore missed out on promotion at Whitehawk last term and he also moves to the Stones. From the Isthmian and Southern Leagues comes in Bradley Hudson-Odoi from Metropolitan Police, Josh Urquhart from Harlow Town and Josh Hutchinson from Potters Bar Town, Oliver Duffy has arrived from Hanwell Town.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

21 February 2012 – Wealdstone 1 Dartford 0

An upset was caused a week later as Wealdstone’s Lee Chappell scored the decisive goal to take the Stones to the next round. The Isthmian Premier leaguers held on to defeat the Darts, a division higher, and went on to reach the last four in an excellent trophy run.

14 February 2012 – Dartford 2 Wealdstone 2 – view highlights

An entertaining F.A Trophy third round tie ended with the Wealdstone levelling twice. Danny Harris scored first before Richard Jolly equalised. Lee Noble had the Darts ahead once more until Chris O’Leary forced a replay ten minutes from time.

Next Meetings

Saturday 3 October 2015 at the Vale Stadium

Tuesday 26 January 2016 at Princes Park

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Weston-Super-Mare

Founded: 1887 / Ground: Woodspring Stadium

The Somerset club boast a proud record in that they have never been relegated in their 128 year history. Weston-Super-Mare did however come close on three occasions when reprieves saved the club in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Over the last five years the Seagulls have improved into a mid-table side and three season’s ago they recorded their highest ever league finish, two places outside of the Conference South playoffs. The forthcoming season will be Weston -Super-Mare’s twelfth consecutive in the National League South and that comes after twelve campaigns in the Southern League.

Weston-super-Mare_AFC_logoLast Season

Conference South: 17th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: Dayle Grubb (11 goals)

Average Attendance: 287

The Manager – Ryan Northmore

A career change was forced upon Ryan Northmore when a number of knee operations led to coaching. The former goalkeeper made over 200 appearances for the Seagulls and won Player of the Year three seasons in a row. As a player he turned out for Torquay United before making his way in non league football. Spells at Team Bath, Woking and Dorchester Town before returning to Weston-Super-Mare as boss, he officially retired from playing just three years ago. Northmore has been heavily involved in  working with Weston-Super-Mare’s academy side and in November 2014 was named caretaker manager. The 34 year old impressed enough last term to make the vacant managers job his own.

The Summer

Returning to Weston-Super-Mare for a third spell is 25 year old Tristan Plummer. The winger was unable to hold a first team place whilst at Bristol City, Hereford United and Aldershot Town. Two other signings come from Southern Premier League side Paulton Rovers, Danny Wring is added to the midfield and Scott Wilson could provide goals up front. Joe McClennan returns to Weston-Super-Mare after leaving the club previously for Bath City.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

12 November 2011 – Dartford 1 Weston-Super-Mare 1 – view highlights
Even with a man advanatge Dartford failed to capitalise. The visitors left when Matt Villis got on the end of a goal mouth scramble.  Adam Green made the game all square with a well driven shot. James Price was red carded with just under twenty minutes remaining.

13 August 2011 – Weston-Super-Mare 0  Dartford 4 – view highlights

The campaign couldn’t get off to a better start for the Darts. An away trip West and Charlie Sheringham’s brace put three points on the board. Elliot Bradbrook and Tom Bonner had earlier put Dartford two goals to the good.

Next Meetings

Saturday 12 September 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 5 March 2016 at Woodspring Stadium

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Whitehawk

Founded: 1945 / Ground:Enclosed Ground

Only five years ago Whithawk were playing in the Sussex League where they had been throughout their history. Finally winning the title in 2009/10, the club excelled at a rapid rate. A playoff defeat in their début Isthmian Division One South was soon forgotten when they won the championship the following campaign. A consecutive title followed moving Whitehawk out of the Isthmian Premier League to the Conference South. The Sussex club survived their first term finishing nineteenth, six points from safety. Last season the Hawks reached the playoff final with a fourth place finish losing out to Boreham Wood, the clubs best ever league performance.

Whitehawk_F.C._logoLast Season

Conference South: 4th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Danny Mills (18 goals)

Average Attendance: 258

The Manager – Steve King

In the space of just five years, Steve King took Lewes from Isthmian League Division One South to the Football Conference with three titles and that was just the beginning of his managerial career. At this level he has finished in each of the top four positions and in the league below added a further title with Farnborough. Another spell at Lewes was followed by leading Macclesfield Town in the Confereence Premier, who he took to the F.A Cup fourth round bowing out to eventual winners Wigan Athletic. In February 2014, he retunred to management and was denied another promotion this time with Whitehawk losing the playoff final to Boreham Wood.

The Summer

Steve King possesses enough confidence in his squad which very nearly gained promotion to the National League. Rather than bringing in new blood, King has concentrated on securing players in last years squad. Paul Lorraine, who joined Dartford briefly before the Darts were reprieved will be part of the Whitehawk defence. In midfield Sergio Torres brings his experiences with Wycombe Wanderers, Peterborough United and Crawley Town. Last season’s top goalscorer Danny Mills remains at the Enclosed Ground and will be looking to add to the 18 he scored last term.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

4 September 1982 – Dartford 5 Whitehawk 2

Carl Laraman scored a hat trick and was the star of this F.A Cup preliminary round fixture. The Darts went on to win comfortably against the Sussex club representing their regional division. Dartford were spending their first campaign back in the Southern Premier following relegation from the Alliance Premier League the season before.

Next Meetings

Saturday 19 December 2015 at Enclosed Ground

Saturday 12 March 2016 at Princes Park

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National League South Season Preview 2015/2016 – Part Four

Maidenhead United | Maidstone United | Margate | Oxford City | St Albans City

Maidenhead United

Founded: 1869 / Ground: York Road

A proud record is held by Maidenhead United in that York Road is the oldest senior football ground continuously used by the same club. For nine of those years they have had the same manager in Johnson Hippolyte in charge, stability is important to the club. Now the Berkshire side feel it is time to push up the pyramid and in the summer Maidenhead United welcome a familiar face in town. Fresh ideas, experience and a bit of backing could see the Magpies enjoying a more comfortable campaign than they are used to. Over the last six seasons, Maidenhead United have finished no higher than sixteenth, so flirtation with relegation has been the norm at York Road.

Maidenhead UnitedLast Season

Conference South: 18th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Dave Tarpey (20 goals)

Average Attendance: 406

The Manager – Alan Devonshire

A former England international as a player, Devonshire returns to Maidenhead United after managerial experience with the club in the late nineties. The former West Ham United midfielder played over 350 games for the Hammers winning the F.A Cup in 1980. The 59 year old knows a thing or two about being an underdog and proved this at former club Braintree Town. When he took over in May 2011, Braintree Town had just won promotion to the Conference Premier for the first time in their history. At Cressing Road, he improved the club each season until last term. Devonshire also impressed at Hampton and Richmond, who he took from the Isthmian Division One to the Conference Premier.

The Summer

Contacts at a former club has come in handy for Maidenhead United’s new boss. Devonshire has signed three from Braintree Town and one he worked with whilst with the Iron. Defenders Ryan Peters and Alan Massey, creative midfielder James Mulley and goalkeeper Carl Pentney all move from Braintree Town. When the Iron spent their first campaign in the Conference Premier striker Ben Wright was amongst the goals, he links back up with Devonshire. Josh Huggins follows Wright from Havant and Waterlooville. Dean Inman from Hayes and Yeading, Jake Reid from Dover Athletic and Rene Steer from Boston United also bulk out the Magpies squad. Last season’s top scorer with 20 goals Dave Tarpey signed a new contract at York Road. To make way for the host of signings there has been something of a clearout including former Dartford striker Jacob Erskine.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

31 March 2012 – Dartford 2 Maidenhead United 1 – view highlights
A playoff spot was clinched by Dartford as the two sides met for the second time in just over a fortnight. Jacob Erskine tucked the ball in the net just before the hour and Luke Wilkinson doubled the lead. Paul Semakula pulled one back for the visitors. Daniel Brown was dismissed for Maidenhead United and Danny Harris followed for the Darts.

13 March 2012 – Maidenhead United 1  Dartford 1 – view highlights
The hosts had to grind out a result when they were left with ten men meaning Dartford dropped valuable points. Alex Wall opened the scoring for the Magpies then Reece Tison-Lascaris was sent off. Danny Harris scored the equaliser for Dartford who pushed for a winner to no avail.

Next Meetings

Saturday 21 November 2015 at York Road

Saturday 2 April 2016 at Princes Park

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Maidstone United

Founded: 1992 / Ground: Gallagher Stadium

The only former Football League club in the National League South, Maidstone United had to make their way back up from the Kent League. Off field mismanagement led to the Stones being declared bankrupt in 1992 and being forced out of the Football League. Progress was made up to 2007 when they won a place in the Isthmian Premier League with three promotions. A relegation followed after three campaigns and progress stalled until their new Gallagher Stadium opened in 2012. Crowds flocked back and the club flourished ever since, an average attendance of 200 fifteen years ago is now just under 2000. One of two sides to have installed a 3G pitch, the Stones were the first to host an F.A Cup proper match on that particular surface.

maidstoneLast Season

Isthmian Premier: 1st

F.A Cup: 2nd Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Jay May (22 goals)

Average Attendance: 1846

The Manager – Jay Saunders

Entering a fifth full season in charge Jay Saunders was appointed caretaker manager in March 2011. The former Gillingham midfielder made the most of his opportunity and at the end of the 2010/11 campaign he was given the role permanently. Over the last three seasons the Saunders has added three honours to his list. The Isthmian Division One South playoff was won followed by the Isthmian League Cup . Last term the 35 year old guided Maidstone United to the Isthmian Premier League title after a close contest with runners up Hendon. If he continues the good work at the Gallagher Stadium then come the end of the campaign Saunders will have guided the new look Stones to their highest position since reforming.

The Summer

A host of former Dartford players will be at the Gallagher next season. Jamie Coyle will remain part of the managerial team, the former Darts defender made 140 appearances for the club. On the pitch, Callum Driver left Princes Park in the summer in favour of the Stones. James Rogers impressed last season and signed a new contract to stay at the Gallagher Stadium, he also won the Supporters Player of the Year award. Former loanee Matt Bodkin has also agreed to remain with Maidstone United. One impressive capture over the break is former Welling United midfielder Joe Healy he joins Mitchell Pinnock from Bromley, Manny Parry from Grays Athletic, Simon Johnson from Eastbourne Borough and Bobby-Joe Taylor from Cambridge United.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

20 March 2010 – Dartford 3 Maidstone United 0 – view highlights

The double over Kent rivals was completed a fortnight later  by the champions elect. Danny Dafter finished at the far post to give the Darts the lead. Lee Burns tapped in late in the first half and a trademark Ryan Hayes curler made victory convincing in the second half.

7 March 2010 – Maidstone United 0 Dartford 1 – view highlights

It took ten minutes for Dartford to get their noses in front when Ryan Hayes crossed for Lee Burns to score. In difficult conditions where the pitch was sandy and the ball bobbling about, the Darts held on to the slender lead to take all three points.

Next Meetings

Saturday 14 November 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 9 April 2016 at the Gallagher Stadium

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Margate

Founded: 1896 / Ground: Hartsdown Park

The Seaside town of Margate peaked at the turn of the millennium when they won the Southern Premier League under Chris Kinnear. The Gate had their place in the top flight of non league which lasted three season’s without finishing in the bottom four. Reaching eighth place in their first campaign, two years later they were demoted to the Conference South because of ground grading issues. Whilst Hartsdown Park was being redeveloped the Gate suffered another relegation the following season. The Kent club returned to their home in 2005 and spent the next ten years in the Isthmian Premier League. Margate rarely threatened to leave the division they were in until last term when they beat an in form Hendon to clinch victory in the Playoff final.

MargateFCLast Season

Isthmian Premier: 3rd

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: Frederick Ladapo and Ryan Moss (22 goals)

Average Attendance: 682

The Manager – Terry Brown

Promotion was a must for Terry Brown last season and winning the playoffs may have kept him in the job. Seems harsh ater finishing third but high expectations have been set by Margate by appointing a successful manager. Starting out at Hayes, where he began hi playing career, Brown was in charge for nine years taking the Middlesex club from relegation candidates in the Isthmian Premier League to third in the Conference Premier. Frustrated with the budget he moved to Aldershot Town where he won promotion to the Conference Premier at the first attempt. The following campaign saw the Shots lose the playoff final. Most notably, Brown led AFC Wimbledon into the Football League and kept the Dons in League Two in his final full season at the club.

The Summer

During a short spell with Dartford, Nathan Green impressed on the wing but decided to move to the coast joining the Gate. Soloman Taiwo switches his allegiance from another Kent club moving from Dover Athletic making Margate his sixteenth club. Christian Jolley helped Newport County to Football League promotion two years ago and will be part of Margate’s strike force. Terry Brown made a double signing from Maidenhead United by capturing David Hunt and Danny Green. Former Aldershot Town defender Glenn Wilson will add experience at the back and is joined by Millwall’s Jake Goodman. Last season’s top scorers Frederick Ladapo and Ryan Moss also signed new contacts to remain at Hartsdown Park.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

23 March 2010 – Dartford 0 Margate 1 – view highlights

Princes Park was left stunned when the league leaders were undone by Margate. James Pinnock capitalised on a defensive mishap and netted the winner just after the hour. The visitors stayed organised and desperate for points at the other end of the table grabbed them.

18 August 2009 – Margate 0 Dartford 4 – view highlights

A training ground free kick routine had Dartford one up after seven minutes. A Ryan Hayes faked to cross but slid the ball through to Jamie Day who finished the move. Margate couldn’t cope with John Beales’ long throw in’s and twice the Darts benefited through Rob Haworth then Lee Burns. Alan Tait came on as a substitute and added to the scoreline.

Next Meetings

Saturday 29 August 2015 at Hartsdown Park

Monday 28 December 2015 at Princes Park

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Oxford City

Founded: 1882 / Ground: Marsh Lane

Over the last ten years Oxford City have steadily moved up the non league pyramid. Champions of the Spartan South Midland League in 2005/06 set City on their way. That campaign finished in dramatic circumstances with Oxford City taking the title on goal difference. After two attempts the club were promoted again this time via the playoffs to the Southern Premier League. A runners up place and another playoff triumph three years ago completed their journey to the second tier of non league. In the Conference North results have been mixed, a tenth place finish was followed up with surviving relegation. Last season City narrowly missed out on the top five to remain in the second tier of non league, making a début in the National League South.

OCFCLast Season

Conference North: 6th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Quarter-Final

League Top Scorer: Adi Yussuf (26 goals)

Average Attendance: 321

The Manager – Justin Merrit

A second spell in charge of City having guided the Oxfordshire club to the Southern Premier League via the playoffs. With business interests on the side, Justin Merritt resigned just two matches into the 2009/10 campaign to concentrate on a sports coaching company. The 40 year old returned to Marsh Lane last summer replacing Mike Ford, who took Merritt’s place after his first spell. The difference this time is that Merritt will have to work with Enrique Guillen, the Spaniard who has been promoted to head coach. The current Oxford City boss has also won honours with Oxford City Nomads and managed Witney Town.

The Summer

The Spanish connections remain strong with a trio of Spaniards joining up with those already at the club. Jon Arzamendi moves from Real Union, Carlos Pifarre from Olimpic de Xativa and Julen Fafuente from Deportivo Alaves. Experienced player at this level, Bradley Bubb has signed from Havant and Waterlooville having had spells with various Hampshire clubs. Midfielder at Solihull Moors last term, Reece Fleet will be at Marsh Lance this season. Craig Hill will give Laurie Walker competition in goal both players signing from Aston Villa and Hemel Hempstead Town respectively. Cheltenham Town duo Omari Sterling-James and Jamal Lawrence agreed a loan deal, Mark Bell joins from Chesham United and Kynan Isaac from Luton Town.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

4 November 2008 –  Oxford City 2 Dartford 4 – view highlights

Another six goals but this time Dartford came out on top. City’s Jon Gardner put the hosts in the lead which was cancelled out by Cody McDonald’s fourth of the tie. Steve Butterworth, Lee Noble and once more McDonald again increased the Darts advantage. James Saulsbury’s spot kick halved the deficit for Oxford City as the match ended 4-2.

1 November 2008 – Dartford 3 Oxford City 3 – view highlights

In a set of entertaining F.A Trophy Second Qualifying ties, Dartford’s Cody McDonald poached the opener after two minutes. The visitors levelled with a superb curling effort from Jon Gardner. McDonald headed the Darts back in front and completed a hat trick after half time. The visitors forced a replay with goals from Andy Gunn and a last minute header by Steve Jackman.

Next Meetings

Tuesday 15 September 2015 at Marsh Lane

Saturday 23 April 2016 at Princes Park

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St Albans City

Founded: 1908 / Ground: Clarence Park

The Hertfordshire clubs finest moment came nine years ago, a playoff victory earned St Albans City a place in the Conference Premier. The Saints only managed one season in non league’s top division finishing bottom of the table. Four years in the Conference South ended with relegation to the Southern Premier League and a ten point deduction. Financial concerns worried the faithful at Clarence Park prior dropping out of the Conference, however the club enjoyed better league positions in the Southern League. Rewarded with another playoff triumph just a year ago returned St Albans City to the Conference South where they finished mid table last term.

stalbansLast Season

Conference South: 13th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi-Final

League Top Scorer: John Frendo (11 goals)

Average Attendance: 570

The Managers – John Gray & Graham Golds

The only managerial joint partnership in the National League South, John Gray and Graham Golds have worked together in the managers role for two and half years. The pair have guided St Albans City to promotion to the Conference South and appearances in the first and second rounds of the F.A Cup and F.A Trophy. Gray and Golds were appointed after a successful spell as caretaker managers, the duo replaced David Howell who was dismissed after a poor run of results. Over the last two and half years, Gray and Golds have guided the club through better days.

The Summer

New signings have been sparse for St Albans City over the summer, Jack Lampe has joined from Concord Rangers, Billy Medlock from Sutton United and Lewis Hilliard from St Neots Town. Defender, Ben Martin returns to the club having previously left for Boreham Wood.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

2 April 2011 –  St Albans City 1 Dartford 2 – view highlights

Lee Burns scored his first goal of the campaign when his hopeful long ranged header looped over the City defence and into the net. Relegated, St Albans City pegged the Darts back through Tony Battersby and almost went in front from the spot. Jack Pallen came off the bench to score the winner with four minutes remaining.

22 March 2011 – Dartford 2 St Albans City 2 – view highlights

A late penalty miss denied the Darts all three points when Ryan Hayes hit the woodwork in the final minute. The visitor led through Inih Effiong and led until Charlie Sheringham equalised. Sheringham completed his brace before Dartford had James White sent off. Ollie Kelly grabbed a point for St Albans City in an unexpected draw.

Next Meetings

Saturday 6 February 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 30 April 2016 at Clarence Park

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National League South Season Preview 2015/2016 – Part Three

Gosport Borough | Havant and Waterlooville | Hayes and Yeading | Hemel Hempstead Town

Gosport Borough

Founded: 1944 / Ground: Privett Park

The last two seasons have seen Gosport Borough excel after a second rise from the Wessex League. The Borough had previously worked their way up the non league pyramid in the eighties before returning to their regional division in 1992. The Hampshire club had to do it all again and were rewarded with a sixth place finish setting a club record. Last season, the Borough also made their first appearance in the F.A Cup first round bowing out in an entertaining 6-3 defeat against League One Colchester United. In the season before Gosport Borough were award with Non League Newspaper’s Cup Run of the Year, the Hampshire club reached Wembley for the first time losing the F.A Trophy final to Cambridge United.

Gosport_BoroughLast Season

Conference South: 6th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Justin Bennett (24 goals)

Average Attendance: 532

The Manager – Alex Pike

At a local level and now beyond the Wessex League, Alex Pike has been successful. He became the youngest manager to win the F.A Vase when he guided Wimborne to victory, in the same season he won Wessex League and Dorset Senior Cup, not bad for a first full season as a boss. Spells at Bournemouth F.C, AFC Lymington and Hamworthy United took Pike through twenty years in football management. Over the last ten he has been at Gosport Borough winning the Wessex League in 2006/07. Five years later, the Borough were promoted to the Southern Premier League via the playoffs and repeated the feat again to reach the Conference South the following season. Pike led Gosport Borough to the F.A Trophy final in 2013/14 losing to non league double winners Cambridge United.

The Summer

Hampshire has been a happy hunting ground for new recruits. Pike has taken two from Havant and Waterlooville by signing Perry Ryan and Ryan Woodford. Relegated from the Conference South last term Adam Brice joins from Farnborough, whilst TJ Cuthbertson comes in from 2013/2014 F.A Vase winners AFC Sholing. Pike has also persuaded Bradey Norton from Fareham Town and Ryan Scott from AFC Totton. Outside of Hampshire, Jamie White has signed from Sutton United and Dean Stow from Hungerford Town. Last season’s top goalscorer Justin Bennett remains at Privett Park.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

24 October 1989 – Gosport Borough 0 Dartford 1
Three days before Gosport Borough, the Darts lost their first league game of the season at home to Burton Albion. In a month full of cup fixtures, this rare Southern Premier League affair got the Darts back on track with a single goal victory.

22 August 1989 – Dartford 5  Gosport Borough 1
Having finished the last two season’s as runners up Dartford were amongst the favourites for promotion. Peter Taylor’s late eighties squad won their second home match of the campaign in style, keeping their perfect start to 1989/90 going.

Next Meetings

Saturday 22 August 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 30 January 2016 at Privett Park

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Havant and Waterlooville

Founded: 1998 / Ground: Westleigh Park

Merged in 1998 when Havant Town and Waterlooville joined forces, the Hawks won promotion under their new guise at the first attempt. Since then Havant and Waterlooville have played at the same level making the upcoming campaign their seventeenth consecutive season. Three years ago their status was under threat and an injury time winner on the final day ensured the Hawks avoided relegation. Since the Hampshire club’s scare, results on the pitch have improved with an F.A Trophy semi final appearance followed by last season’s semi final Playoff defeat to eventual winners Boreham Wood. The Hawks will be eyeing up a top five finish in this seasons National League South campaign.

Last Season

Conference South: 5th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: 3rd Round

League Top Scorer: Scott Donnelly (15 goals)

Average Attendance: 628

The Manager – Lee Bradbury

One of the most high profile managers in this season’s National League South, Lee Bradbury is only four years into his managerial career. His playing career spanned sixteen years most notably at Portsmouth, Manchester City and Crystal Palace. The former striker replaced Eddie Howe at AFC Bournemouth as caretaker manager in January 2011 and at that point choose to retire from playing. Although Bradbury reached the playoffs he was dismissed the following campaign after a poor run of results. Since October 2012, the 40 year old has been in charge at Westleigh Park and in his two full season’s the Hawks have finished sixth and fifth and reached the F.A Trophy semi-final.

The Summer

James Hayter adds experience to the Hawks forward line this season, the 36 year old has won three Football League playoff finals and made over 700 appearances in the Championship down to League Two. The former AFC Bornemouth, Doncaster Rovers and Yeovil Town striker also holds the record for the fastest Football League hat-trick. Hayter could be partnered by 32 year old up front Marvin Morgan, the former Shrewsbury Town and Plymouth Argyle man returns to non league after early career appearances with Wealdstone, Yeading and Woking. Adrian Clifton left the rebuilding at Maidenhead United to join Havant and Waterlooville and ex Gosport Borough duo Matthew Patterson and Lee Molyneaux also join the club. Former Dartford winger Ben Swallow signed a new contract and along with another experienced midfielder Brain Stock, formerly of Doncaster Rovers.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

17 March 2012 – Dartford 3 Havant and Waterlooville 1 – view highlights

Sam Pearce put the visitors ahead and Scott Jones missed a penalty, which only served to stir the home side into action. Dartford bounced back with three goals without reply with the first coming from Lee Noble. With nine minutes remaining Danny Harris bundled in the second and to seal victory Luke Wilkinson scored his first for the Darts.

7 January 2012 – Havant and Waterlooville 1 Dartford 4 – view highlights

A convincing away triumph started when Elliot Bradbrook’s surging run through the middle of the pitch gave Dartford the lead. Before half time that lead had doubled with a cheeky Danny Harris lob. The same two added a further two but not before Scott Jones temporarily put the Hawks back in the game.

Next Meetings

Saturday 5 December 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 19 March 2016 at Westleigh Park

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Hayes and Yeading

Founded: 2007 / Ground: York Road

Another club formed by a merger, Hayes and Yeading United are currently groundsharing with Maidenhead United. In their second campaign as Hayes and Yeading United they won promotion to the Conference Premier via the playoffs. Tipped to get relegated United held their own surviving comfortably. Three seasons at the top of non league ended in 2012 and since returning to the Conference South the Middlesex club has continued to struggle. Reprieved two years ago, due to the demise of Hereford United in the division above, Hayes and Yeading United battled against relegation last term as well. Once the new stand has been built at Beaconsfield Road, moving back home could lead to much needed optimism.

Hayes_&_Yeading_United_FC.svgLast Season

Conference South: 19th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: Pat Cox (6 goals)

Average Attendance: 271

The Manager – Tristan Lewis

Appointed interim manager last season after Phil Babb left by mutual consent, Tristan Lewis has been given his opportunity. Lewis arrived at Hayes and Yeading in 2011 as an Assistant Manager from Reading. With a background in youth development he has won National titles as well as the Conference Youth Alliance. Guiding United to safety last term, on a limited budget, was an achievement in itself and with the development of their new home the task will be made just as challenging for Lewis for the forthcoming campaign. A rookie manager with an honest and hands on approach is hoping he can quickly gain support from the York Road terraces for now.

The Summer

United have had a thin squad for most of the summer break but Lewis wasted no time in making his first signing. Max Worsfold joined from relegated Staines Town as well as Harry Grant from fellow relegated side Farnborough. Former Ebbsfleet United and Boreham Wood striker Michael Thalassitis had a spell with Hayes and Yeading on loan three years ago and returns to the Middlesex club. Yado Mambo signed from Chelmsford City along with 19 year old goalkeeper Magnus Norman on loan from Fulham and Jhai Dillon from Stevenage.

Next Meetings

Saturday 31 October 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 9 January 2016 at York Road

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Hemel Hempstead Town

Founded: 1885 / Ground: Vauxhall Road

Eight years in the Southern Premier League ended in style when the Tudors breezed to the title. The near misses of two playoff semi finals and a final as well as relegation battles, including one reprieve, Hemel Hempstead Town were always in the thick of the action. When the Hertfordshire club did win the Southern Premier League they dominated the division racking up an impressive 102 points and scoring an incredible 128 goals. Now playing at the highest level the club has ever been, the Tudors were guaranteed to set their highest ever finish last term. Respectably they finished in a healthy ninth place to secure another campaign in the National League South.

Hemel_Hempstead_Town_F.CLast Season

Conference South: 9th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Jordan Parkes (21 goals)

Average Attendance: 574

The Manager – Dean Brennan

Seventeen clubs in a playing career and only one club as manager, Dean Brennan is just 35 years old and has been in charge at Vauxhall Road since May 2012. The Irishman has turned Hemel Hempstead Town’s fortunes around. In the three season’s before he joined the club finished no higher than fifteenth which included two successive reprieves from the Southern Premier League. In his first full season with the Tudors, Brennan helped the club to their highest ever finish losing the playoff final after coming fourth. Hemel Hempstead Town went a step further the following season taking the Southern Premier League title with an astonishing 128 goals and 102 points.

The Summer

Replacing last season’s top scorer Jordan Parkes has been the top priority in the summer. Jamie Slabber has a reasonable goalscoring record at this level with Eastleigh, Chelmsford City, Sutton United and recently champions Bromley, he will be at Vauxhall Road hoping to continue his record. John Frendo netted eleven times for St Albans City last term and also bolsters the Tudors front line. Matthew Spring won promotion with Watford to the Premier League nine years ago and will provide creativity in midfield having spent last term at St Neots Town. Central defender Terrell Forbes will add experience having played for Queens Park Rangers and Yeovil Town, making over 100 appearances at both clubs. Ben Herd comes in from promotion winners Boreham Wood, Herd was part of the Wood team that won last season’s playoffs. England C representative Jamie Butler joins from Concord Rangers and Jamal Lowe follows Frendo from St Albans City.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

16 September 1972 – Hemel Hempstead 2 Dartford 9 

In the F.A Cup First Qualifying Round, Dartford were drawn out against Athenian Division Two side Hemel Hempstead. The Darts of the Southern Premier League had a new boss at the helm in Doug Holden. After a slow start to the campaign a comprehensive away win ensured progression in the cup.

Next Meetings

Saturday 8 August 2015 at Vauxhall Road

Saturday 17 October 2015 at Princes Park

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