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Dartford v Whitehawk

Dartford’s first ever meeting with Whitehawk comes three weeks earlier than anticipated, in the F.A Trophy third qualifying round.

The two clubs enter the competition from the final qualifying stage, a win will earn them a first round place in a fortnight. After exiting the F.A Cup, the Darts will be hoping the trophy will provide them with a successful cup run.

Over the last two weeks controversy on and off the pitch has generated discussion. Firstly, Dartford continued their decent form with a well-deserved 1-1 draw with local rivals Maidstone United. A cagey first half was cancelled out by a second half with a major talking point. The Stones went ahead with Alex Flisher’s fortuitous goal to lead at half time. With eight minutes remaining captain Elliot Bradbrook struck from 12 yards, only for his effort to have been ‘ruled out’ before the referee awarded Bradbrook his fifth goal of the campaign, his third in his last four appearances.

Burman was pleased the goal was awarded, he told kentonline.co.uk: “There was a bit of controversy with it being offside or not offside but for once, there was a brave referee in front of a crowd who’s gone up to his linesman and asked for the decision”, he added: “I was pleased that he kept the decision right and after that, we could have gone on and won the game. It wasn’t to be but I thought we played well and we definitely deserved something out of the game – if not all three points”.

Dartford’s unbeaten run in all competitions was then extended to six matches just two days later. Drawn at home to League One high fliers Gillingham in the Kent Senior Cup, the Darts upset the odds with a 2-1 victory. The Gills fielded a strong side and went in front through Brennan Dickenson. Dartford got back into the game when Tom Wynter headed in the equaliser and Jack Simmons netted the winner to send the Darts into the next round.

The turnaround in form has been attributed to the change in formation. Captain Elliot Bradbrook commented: “Very rarely any more do people play 4-4-2, most teams crowd out the midfield”, he continued: “If you’re playing two in there, like we have been doing, it is difficult to get around. Teams have got one or two more players inside you and it’s difficult to get on top of games”, he added: “That’s where the game’s won, in the middle of the park and if you’re outnumbered in there it becomes difficult. The system’s got to adapt”.

Off the field there has been controversy of a different kind, Tony Burman was left ‘fuming’ when last weekend’s scheduled away trip to Maidenhead United was postponed. With the Berkshire club’s involvement in the F.A Cup first round replay on Thursday night, the Magpies requested to call off the game against Dartford on the Saturday, which was granted by the National South.

It is no secret that Whitehawk have ambition, last season’s National South playoff runners up came so close to a fourth promotion in six years. This term, the Hawks are sitting in fourth where they finished 2014/15.

The Hawks could be excused for their F.A Cup distraction having beaten Lincoln City in an entertaining 5-3 win. Either side of that result, the Hawks have won one in five National South games including their only away defeat of the campaign, to bottom club Basingstoke Town. The Hawks have travelled well otherwise winning the other four and drawing three.

After a 2-0 reverse at home to Concord Rangers, Whitehawk drew 2-2 with Wealdstone. Having turned around a goal deficit, the Hawks conceded four minutes into injury time.

The fixture saw the return of Paul Lorraine in defence after a long term injury. The  31 year old could well have been lining up for the Darts against his current side having signed for Tony Burman over a year ago. In the same summer, Lorraine left without making an appearance. Due to Dartford’s reprieve in the National League, the defender’s personal circumstances affected his decision to leave the Darts.

The Sussex club have been potent up front, with only Oxford City scoring more times in the league this term. Danny Mills has notched 17 goals in 23 appearances, including a brace on Monday night and Sam Deering ten goals in 21 appearances, whilst Scott Neilson and Jake Robinson are one goal away from double figures.

In midfield, the Darts will face former favourite Dave Martin who made 71 starting appearances for Dartford scoring 16 times. The 30 year old caught the eye of Crystal Palace and has further experience with Stevanage, Millwall, Southend United and Luton Town. Martin is remembered fondly at Princes Park for some of his stunning goals notably against Burgess Hill Town.

Football League experience doesn’t stop there, Sergio Torres played for Crawley Town during their rise to League One. In defence, Dean Leacock has nine Premier League starts to his name and over 250 appearances in the Football League with Derby County, Fulham, Crawley Town and Notts County. Whitehawk have also used the loan market by bringing in Craig Braham-Barrett who will be available for selection.

Manager, Steve King leads the Sussex club and has been successful in non-league. He took Lewes from Isthmian League Division One South to the Football Conference with three titles, won the Isthmian Premier with Farnborough and led Whitehawk to last season’s playoff final.

The Hawks are relatively new to the F.A Trophy following their rise up the non- league ladder. The Sussex club first took part just five years ago and have only got through the qualifying rounds once.

Team News

Mark Onyemah has impressed at Dartford since joining on loan from Luton Town, he’s had his loan spell extended to 2 January 2016. Kaka Dembele departs Princes Park on loan to Leatherhead whilst Lee Burns has been nursing an ankle injury.

Current Form (* – County Cup / + – F.A Cup)

Dartford (WDWWWD) Whitehawk (DLLWWWL)
Gillingham*  H  2-1 Wealdstone  A  2-2
Maidstone United  H  1-1 Concord Rangers  H  0-2
Hayes & Yeading  H  2-0 Littlehampton Town*  H  0-3
Bishop’s Stortford  A  2-1 Margate  A  6-2
Welling United*  H  3-1 Lancing*  A  4-1
Hemel Hempstead Town  H  2-2 Lincoln City+  H  5-3

Stats

The Darts are unbeaten in their last six games in all competitions

Dartford have yet to beat a team above them in the National South at home, drawing three and losing three

Princes Park hosts its 250th competitive Dartford first team game this weekend (includes Kent Senior Cup). The Darts have notched up 123 wins, 59 draws and suffered 67 defeats.

On This Day

Since reforming, Dartford have failed to score on 28 November in only two attempts. Ashford Town’s defence couldn’t be breached in a 0-0 draw back in 1998. Six years ago, AFC Hornchurch got the better of the Darts with a 1-0 win in the Isthmian Premier League.

Last Ten Years in the F.A Trophy

Season Dartford Whitehawk
2014/15 Third Round Third Qualifying Round
2013/14 First Round Second Round
2012/13 Semi-Final Third Qualifying Round
2011/12 Third Round First Qualifying Round
2010/11 Third Round First Qualifying Round
2009/10 Third Qualifying Round Did not participate
2008/09 Third Qualifying Round Did not participate
2007/08 First Qualifying Round Did not participate
2006/07 Second Qualifying Round Did not participate
2005/06 Third Qualifying Round Did not participate
2004/05 First Round Did not participate

 

Dartford v Gillingham

Dartford aim to avenge last season’s heavy defeat to Gillingham,when they meet in the Kent Senior Cup second round.

The Darts were thrashed 7-3 in the competition eleven months ago at the very same stage. Gillingham went on to reach the final losing to Charlton Athletic.

The Darts have already beaten opponents from a higher division in round one. Goals by George Sykes (now on loan at Canvey Island), Callum McNaughton and academy striker Dajon Golding earned a 3-1 win of National League side Welling United.

Gillingham have yet to play in this season’s Kent Senior Cup having received a bye in round one. Entering the second round stage, Justin Edinburgh is expected to field a side full of youngsters and fringe players.

With a National South fixture on the weekend, Burman is likely to follow suit and the second round tie could be a chance to see some of the academy players breaking through. Already this campaign the likes of Deren Ibrahim, Ronnie Vint, Kaka Dembele, Ebou Adams and Ben Francis have featured in the league having represented the club at academy level.

Gillingham returned to the competition in 2012 after a 13 year absence. Last season was the furthest they reached since making their come back. Previously, the Gills had been eliminated after only one match before making the final last term.

Under the guidance of former Newport County manager Justin Edinburgh, the highest ranked Kent side are top of League One.

Dartford v Maidstone United

Dartford aim to stretch their unbeaten run to five games this weekend when they take on in form local rivals Maidstone United.

There is plenty of history, familiarity and parallels between the two clubs who meet for the first time in five years.

The Darts have the upper hand over Maidstone United since both clubs reformed winning five out of six, including the last four. The most recent victory was at Princes Park in March 2010, when Dartford triumphed 3-0 in the Isthmian Premier League. Danny Dafter, Lee Burns and a trademark Ryan Hayes curler made victory convincing.

Two weeks earlier Tony Burman’s side won 1-0 at Central Park with Burns scoring the winner. It became the second successive season in which Dartford completed the double over the Stones, having beaten them 1-0 at home and 2-1 away the season before.

If the early nineties represent the dark days at both clubs then the last decade have been far brighter. Dartford and Maidstone United have risen through the non-league pyramid from the Kent League after reforming. Now nine years old, Princes Park may have been a catalyst for Dartford’s three promotions accelerating progress. Similarly, the Stones new Gallagher Stadium, now three years old has taken them to another level with two promotions and currently occupying third spot in their debut National South campaign.

After four defeats in a row there has been an upturn in fortune for Burman and company. Fighting back from two down against Hemel Hempstead Town to draw 2-2 was followed up with three wins in a row. Welling United were knocked out of the Kent Senior Cup before Bishop’s Stortford and Hayes and Yeading United were beaten in the National South, leaving Dartford in thirteenth place and five points off the top five.

Burman has kept belief with his squad and accepts he needs to take the ‘rough’ comments with the ‘smooth’. The Dartford boss feels recent victories have moved the club in the right direction and changed the atmosphere around Princes Park.

Lee Noble is available for selection again having been suspended for Dartford’s last league fixture. The midfielder missed out of the 2-0 win over Hayes and Yeading United after picking up five cautions this term. George Sykes has had limited opportunities since joining in the summer, the striker has joined Isthmian Premier League side Canvey Island on loan.

Standing in the way of Dartford and an extension of their unbeaten run could be six former Darts.  Winners of two Isthmian League titles Jamie Coyle and Jay May now ply their trade at the Gallagher Stadium. The two players made 257 appearances for the Darts with May scoring 51 times. The 29 year old striker hit form last term for the Stones earning the club’s golden boot.

James Rogers was part of the squad that helped Dartford into the National League three and half years ago, the midfielder made over 100 appearances and won a Conference South playoff winners medal under Burman.

The loan system welcomed former Dover Athletic and Gillingham striker, Adam Birchall to Princes Park with much promise; however the striker averaged around a goal every ten games. Whilst another loanee, Matt Bodkin made little impact in a Dartford shirt but is very much at home at Maidstone United. More recently, Callum Driver switched from Princes Park to the Gallagher Stadium after appearing 26 times for the Darts last season.

Goals have been scarce in games involving Maidstone United this term, the Stones have average a goal a game but conceded just seven. In their last league fixture, against Concord Rangers, they let in their first goal in 635 minutes of football. Yet it didn’t stop Jay Saunders’ side clinching a sixth consecutive victory in the National South, James Rogers scoring the winner.

The Stones have two games in hand over league leaders Ebbsfleet United, who they beat 1-0 recently. Victory in those matches will take Maidstone United two points behind the Fleet.

Last weekend the Stones were in F.A Cup first round action at home against League Two strugglers Yeovil Town. Despite the visitors being reduced to nine men, the Glovers won with a solitary goal to knock Maidstone United out of the cup.

Current League Form

Dartford (WWDLLL) Maidstone United (WWWWWW)
Hayes & Yeading United  H  2-0  Concord Rangers  A  2-1
Bishop’s Stortford  A  2-1  St Albans City  H  1-0
Hemel Hempstead Town  H  2-2  Ebbsfleet United  A  1-0
Wealdstone  A  1-2  Bath City  H  1-0
Truro City  H  0-1  Maidenhead United  A  2-0
Oxford City  A  1-2  Havant & Waterlooville  H  1-0

Stats

1 – Maidstone United have the tightest defence in the league conceding just seven. However, at the other end of the pitch only St Albans City have scored fewer

6 – The Stones have won their last six league games, one more will beat last season’s six game winning streak from 30 August 2014 to 20 September 2014

19 – months since Dartford won three consecutive league matches. In February 2014, the Darts beat Wrexham, Woking and Hereford United but it wasn’t enough to save their season.

37 – the last time Dartford lost at home to Maidstone United in a league match was in 1978 making it 37 years. The Darts have won four of the last six home matches in the league and drew two.

On This Day

Dartford’s second ever match at Princes Park took place in an Isthmian League Cup match against Boreham Wood. The Darts were knocked out at the third round stage losing 3-0 to a side playing in the division above.