Dartford will attempt to atone for their defeat against Wealdstone in October, with a first win over the Stones in 25 years.
The Darts have failed to beat the Middlesex club in seven games stretching back to 1991. Both teams have been evenly matched since, with five draws in a row. However, it’s Wealdstone who have notched up the last two victories, the most recent almost four months ago.
When Tony Burman’s side lost at the Vale Stadium 2-1, pressure to ‘lift the dark cloud’ mounted. Having suffered a fourth competitive defeat in a row, Dartford have since put together a run to turn them in to playoff contenders.
Back in October, goals either side of half time by Tom Hamblin and Shaun Lucien gave Wealdstone a two goal advantage. Tom Bradbrook headed a consolation in off the crossbar but Dartford were unable to fight back.
After the game, the board decided to back Burman and highlight the transition required for the younger players, from the academy to senior team. An unbeaten run lasting three months has seen Ebou Adams and Ronnie Vint blossom and the rest of the squad grow in confidence, Dartford’s season has transformed.
On the weekend, the Darts unbeaten run of 11 games came to an end at Sutton United. Dan Fitchett and Craig McAllister scored within six second half minutes to put the game beyond Dartford’s reach. Depsite defeat the Darts still remain in the playoffs clinging on to the final by a point.
Burman will pit his wits against Stones manager Gordon Bartlett, who has been boss at Wealdstone for the last 20 years. Bartlett’s side finished twelfth last term and struggled at the start of this campaign. A seven match unbeaten run steadied the ship and in the ten games since they have become trickier to beat.
However, three draws and Saturday’s defeat against Eastbourne Borough has dragged the Stones into a relegation battle. The Middlesex club are now two points above the drop zone but they do have games in hand over the bottom two.
The Stones have visited Princes Park on three occasions and each time came away with a draw. Almost four years ago, Dartford were pegged back twice against lower league opposition in the F.A Trophy. Danny Harris and Lee Noble scored for the Darts but Wealdstone’s Richard Jolly and Chris O’Leary equalised respectively. The Stones upset the Darts in the replay and ended up semi-finalists.
In the Isthmian Premier League between 2008 and 2010, Lee Burns rescued a point in the title winning campaign. In the season before, Danny Dafter and Rob Haworth scored in a 2-2 stalemate.
Head to Head
Wealdstone wins: 12 / Dartford wins: 11 / Draws: 11
Current League Form
|Dartford (LWDDWW)||Wealdstone (LDDDWL)|
|Sutton United||A||0-2||Eastbourne Borough||A||0-3|
|Bath City||H||4-1||Gosport Borough||H||1-1|
|Chelmsford City||H||1-1||Gosport Borough||A||1-1|
|Margate||H||1-1||Hemel Hempstead Town||A||2-2|
|Chelmsford City||A||1-0||Chelmsford City||A||2-0|
Last League Meeting at Princes Park
29 August 2009 – Dartford 1 Wealdstone 1 – att 1150
Goalscorer: Lee Burns
The Darts Lineup: Andrew Young, Billy Burgess, Adam Gross, Adam Flanagan, Jamie Coyle, James White, Ryan Hayes, Jamie Day, Allan Tait, Lee Burns, Elliot Bradbrook (subs used: Rob Haworth, Lee Noble, Jay May)
Previous Six Meetings (* – F.A Trophy)
3 – Wealdstone have gone three games without an away win in the National South.
7 – the Darts are unbeaten in their last seven home league games, winning three and drawing four.
11 – Dartford’s unbeaten run of eleven games, which ended on the weekend, matches that of Ebbsfleet United, Truro City and Oxford City as the longest in this season’s National South.
Dartford have not claimed maximum home points in any of their eight games against teams in the top 14. However, they have won all five against those currently 15th or below, Wealdstone are 17th in the league.
Before Saturday’s loss at Sutton United, the Darts last away defeat in the league came against Wealdstone.
On This Day
Six years ago, on their way to the Isthmian Division One North title, the Darts beat Arlesey Town by a single goal scored by Adam Flanagan. Two years later, Welling United were the last team to play Dartford on 26 January. The 2006 Kent Senior Cup first round tie ended 3-1 to the Wings. The Darts final game on this day, pre reforming, came in 1991 when Dartford brushed aside Crawley Town 6-1 in the Southern Premier League. Bob Makin’s side pulled out a top performance with Colin Sowerby scoring a hat-trick and Simon Quail making his debut. All was well; as Dartford had an open meeting with fans that afternoon, good job they pulled that performance out of the bag.