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Weston-super-Mare v Dartford

The Darts play their second cup tie in a week when they travel across to Weston-super-Mare in the F.A Trophy Third Qualifying Round.

It’s the first time Dartford have been drawn against the Seagulls in cup competition and the third time this calendar year they will visit the Woodspring Stadium. The last trip to the West Country ended 2-1 to the Darts just three months ago, to give them their first win of the season. Luke Wanadio expertly gave Dartford the lead curling his shot into the top corner. Shawn McCoulsky levelled the match scoring his spot kick but Ryan Hayes netted the winner late on.

Beating Weston-super-Mare put last season’s visit firmly behind them. The feisty contest ended 2-1 to the Seagulls and saw captain Elliot Bradbrook sent off after a mass brawl. Bradbrook, who was rested in Tuesday night’s Kent Senior Cup defeat to Welling United, is likely to return to the Woodspring Stadium for the first time since his dismissal. The captain missed the National South fixture between the two sides in August through injury.

Duane Ofori-Acheampong was another player rested in midweek, and with his partnership up front with Andy Pugh beginning to bloom he is also expected to return. Deren Ibrahim almost had the night off on Tuesday but a late call up because Bailey Vose wasn’t registered in time meant Ibrahim played instead. Dartford’s number one picked up a neck injury and will be assessed before the F.A Trophy tie. Kaka Dembele, Ben Francis and Ellis Brown started as well to get much needed game time but it remains to be seen if Tony Burman will rotate his squad for the F.A Trophy.

Weston-super-Mare suffered their first defeat of the campaign when they lost 2-1 to Dartford in August. Since then the Seagulls have slid down the National South table and eight consecutive defeats led to Ryan Northmore leaving the managerial post. Now Scott Bartlett is in charge and he has begun rebuilding the squad currently in third from bottom. Tommy Anderson made his debut for Weston-super-Mare on the weekend and the 17 year old impressed Bartlett.

The former Forest Green Rovers academy boss was appointed at the start of October and won his first game last weekend. The Seagulls were involved in an entertaining 4-3 away win against Eastbourne Borough, the club’s first victory in the league since 13 August. During their barren spell, the Seagulls lost ten in a row which came as a surprise considering they won their opening three games to top the table.

Head to Head
Weston-super-Mare wins: 2 / Dartford wins: 5 / Draws: 4

Previous Meetings
Weston-super-Mare 1 Dartford 2 (20/08/2016 – National South)
Weston-super-Mare 2 Dartford 1 (05/03/2016 – National South)
Dartford 2 Weston-super-Mare 1 (13/09/2015 – National League)
Dartford 1 Weston-super-Mare 1 (12/11/2011 – National League)
Weston-super-Mare 0 Dartford 4 (13/08/2011 – National South)
Weston-super-Mare 0 Dartford 1 (08/02/2011 – National South)
Dartford 4 Weston-super-Mare 1 (04/09/2010 – National South)
Dartford 3 Weston-super-Mare 3 (13/12/1997 – Southern League Southern Division)
Weston-super-Mare 0 Dartford 0 (16/08/1997 – Southern League Southern Division)
Dartford 1 Weston-super-Mare 1 (12/04/1997 – Southern League Southern Division)
Weston-super-Mare 2 Dartford 0 (23/11/1996 – Southern League Southern Division)

Current Form (all competitions)
Weston-super-Mare (WDWLLD)
Won 4-3 v Eastbourne Borough (A)
Drew 1-1 v Gosport Borough (H)
Won 4-2 v Larkhall Athletic (A)
Lost 1-2 v Bishop’s Stortford (A)
Lost 1-3 v Hampton and Richmond Borough (H)
Drew 0-0 v Oxford City (A)

Dartford (LWWLLWW)
Lost 2-2 (1-4 on penalties) v Welling United (A) – Kent Senior Cup
Won 3-0 v Bishop’s Stortford (A)
Won 2-0 v Hemel Hempstead Town (H)
Lost 0-2 v St Albans City (H)
Lost 3-6 v Sutton United (H) – F.A Cup
Won 1-0 v Oxford City (H)
Won 1-0 v Bath City (A)

Stats
Dartford went out at the third qualifying round last term for the first time since 2009.

The Darts will play their sixth away cup tie of the season out of seven.

Elliot Bradbrook has scored seven cup goals this term all in the F.A Cup. The captain only made four appearances in the competition.

Weston-super-Mare’s best performance in the F.A Trophy is reaching the fourth round in 1998/99 and 2003/04.

In the last three seasons the Seagulls have made it past the third qualifying round, before that they lost six in a row at this stage.

On This Day
A local derby win over Erith and Belvedere in the Southern League Cup was the last time Dartford tasted victory on 26 November. The 1-0 triumph came in 1991 and 25 years on the Darts are hoping to win another cup tie. Since then, Dartford had a day to forget slumping to a 6-1 defeat to Kent rivals Dover Athletic in the same competition in 2002. Two F.A Trophy ties ended 0-0 against AFC Wimbledon in 2005 and Eastbourne Borough five years ago. The Darts went out against the Dons in the replay but managed to defeat Eastbourne Borough at the second attempt. Barnet were the last team to take on the Darts in the league just three years ago, the Bees winning 2-0. Three games without a goal on 26 November, Dartford will be hoping to make amends this weekend.

Welling United v Dartford

Dartford continue to defend their Kent Senior Cup title and will reach the last eight if they beat Welling United.

For the second year in a row the Darts take on the Wings in the county cup. Last season, Dartford started their run to the final with a 3-1 victory over Welling United in round one. In a dominant display, the Darts were forced to wait until the second half when goals from George Sykes, Callum McNaughton and Dajon Golding helped Dartford progress.

This term Tony Burman has already led his side to all four Kent derby victories and Welling United were one of those teams that suffered. A late Elliot Bradbrook winner, after the captain had earlier missed a penalty secured three points. Alex Brown had put the Darts in front by netting the rebound from the spot kick before Welling United’s Adam Coombes scored a free kick.

In the last round, Dartford overcame Cray Wanderers with Burman admitting his side had not reached fifth gear. Falling behind, the Darts were made to work hard for victory, which they managed thanks to goals by Andy Pugh and Duane Ofori-Acheampong.

The Darts remain on excellent form in the league and on the weekend moved into the playoff places with a comfortable 3-0 win at bottom of the table side Bishop’s Stortford. An own goal got Dartford moving and from that moment they didn’t look back. Pugh notched his fourth league goal of the season and Elliot Bradbrook moved on to 11 in all competitions.

Keaton Wood missed the win against Bishop’s Stortford through illness but goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim returned from international duty. Dartford’s number one set a milestone reaching 100 appearances for the club having graduated from the academy.

Welling United’s first campaign since returning to the National South has been a season of struggle so far. Occupying a relegation place at the moment, the Wings are second from bottom and four points adrift of safety. The Wings have lost their last three league matches with the most recent against Hampton and Richmond Borough.

In the previous round Welling United brushed aside Isthmian Division One South side Chatham Town. The away tie became a formality when Dan Walker scored a hat-trick and further goals by Jonte Smith, Lyle Della-Verde and Josh Jackson secured a 6-1 win.

Head to Head
Welling United wins: 6 / Dartford wins: 17 / Draws: 9

Previous Meetings
Dartford 2 Welling United 1 (06/09/2016 – National South)
Dartford 3 Welling United 1 (19/10/2015 – Kent Senior Cup)
Dartford 2 Welling United 1 (11/11/2014 – National League)
Welling United 2 Dartford 2 (30/09/2014 – National League)
Welling United 1 Dartford 1 (10/01/2014 – National League)
Dartford 1 Welling United 2 (26/12/2013 – National League)

Current Form (all competitions)
Welling United (LLLDLL)
Lost 1-3 v Hampton and Richmond Borough (A)
Lost 0-1 v Hungerford Town (A)
Lost 1-2 v Ebbsfleet United (H)
Drew 1-1 v Gosport Borough (A)
Lost 0-1 v Wealdstone (A)
Lost 1-2 v Whitehawk (H)

Dartford (WWLLWW)
Won 3-0 v Bishop’s Stortford (A)
Won 2-0 v Hemel Hempstead Town (H)
Lost 0-2 v St Albans City (H)
Lost 3-6 v Sutton United (H) – F.A Cup
Won 1-0 v Oxford City (H)
Won 1-0 v Bath City (A)

On This Day
Dartford have to look back 28 years to find their last win on 22 November. In 1988, a Southern League Cup second round tie against Crawley Town ended in a convincing 4-0 victory. Since then, three defeats and two draws later leave Dartford still waiting. A F.A Cup first round replay in 1989 versus Football League side Exeter City ended 4-1, but the Darts pushed them close in the original tie in front of over 3000 supporters. Losses against King’s Lynn (4-1 in 2003) and Lincoln City (1-0 in 2014) came either side of the two draws versus Wivenhoe Town in 2005 and St Albans City in 2008.

Bishop’s Stortford v Dartford

Dartford will be aiming for a fourth National League away win in a row when they visit bottom of the table side Bishop’s Stortford.

The Darts have experienced defeat in the league just once in their last ten matches and on their travels remain unbeaten since the end of August, in all competitions. Sitting in sixth place with a game in hand, Dartford’s success on the road owes a lot to a defence that has kept five clean sheets in their last seven outings.

Last weekend, a 2-0 win over Hemel Hempstead Town returned Tony Burman’s side back to winning ways. Danny Harris, a former Bishop’s Stortford player crowned his 250th start for the Darts with a well taken goal and substitute Luke Wanadio netted his fourth of the campaign. The victory came after consecutive defeats against Sutton United in the F.A Cup and promotion contenders St Albans City.

Victory over Bishop’s Stortford will be the club’s fifth in a row against the Hertfordshire side. Dartford completed a double last season and during the previous spell in the National South back in 2010/11.

The Darts had to take the lead twice just over a year ago to secure a win at Woodside Park. Barry Cogan gave Dartford the early momentum after just 12 minutes but the Blues equalised against the run of play. The winner came from captain Elliot Bradbrook in the second half, who finished coolly with a curling shot into the top corner. Almost five years ago, a Charlie Sheringham goal turned out to be the decider in a 1-0 triumph. At Princes Park, Tony Burman has led the Darts to two more triumphs over Bishop’s Stortford winning 3-1 and 3-0 respectively.

Tony Burman selected from almost a full squad last weekend and the only absentee will return. Goalkeeper, Deren Ibrahim was on international duty with Gibraltar and played in their 3-1 loss at Cyprus. Dartford’s number one earned his second cap for his country and is likely to return, replacing Bailey Vose who stood in last weekend.

Bishop’s Stortford are having their National South status tested this term, playing at this level since the reorganisation of the non league period in 2004, the Blues are a point adrift at the bottom. That gap could have been more had they not won their last home match against Weston-super-Mare, the side above Bishop’s Stortford in the table. Victory versus the Seagulls is the Hertfordshire’s club only home victory, they have lost the other eight.

The Blues started the campaign with Gordon Boateng in charge after former boss Rod Stringer moved to Chelmsford City in the summer. Boateng’s reign didn’t last long and was replaced last month by former Chelmsford City duo Mark Hawkes and Steve Smith. The pair got off to an awful start with their side shipping in eleven goals in their first two matches, a 6-0 defeat against league leaders Maidenhead United was followed up with a 5-1 loss to St Albans City.

In an attempt to turn the fortunes around at Woodside Park, Hawkes and Smith have brought in former Dartford academy player Femi Akinwande. The youngster, on loan from Colchester United is already making an impression for the Blues.

Head to Head
Bishop’s Stortford wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 4 / Draws: 2

Current League Form
Bishop’s Stortford (LWLLLL)
Lost 1-3 v Oxford City (A)
Won 2-1 v Weston-super-Mare (H)
Lost 0-1 v Eastbourne Borough (A)
Lost 1-5 v St Albans City (H)
Lost 0-6 v Maidenhead United (A)
Lost 0-3 v Whitehawk (H)

Dartford (WLWWWW)
Won 2-0 v Hemel Hempstead Town (H)
Lost 0-2 v St Albans City (H)
Won 1-0 v Oxford City (H)
Won 1-0 v Bath City (A)
Won 5-0 v Truro City (A)
Won 2-1 v Concord Rangers (A)

Previous Meetings
Dartford 3 Bishop’s Stortford 1 (25/03/2016 – National South)
Bishop’s Stortford 1 Dartford 2 (24/10/2015 – National South)
Bishop’s Stortford 0 Dartford 1 (29/01/2011 – National South)
Dartford 3 Bishop’s Stortford 0 (24/08/2010 – National South)
Bishop’s Stortford 2 Dartford 1 (11/04/1981 – F.A Trophy)
Dartford 1 Bishop’s Stortford 1 (04/04/1981 – F.A Trophy)
Dartford 1 Bishop’s Stortford 4 (22/11/1975 – F.A Cup)
Bishop’s Stortford 3 Dartford 1 (27/10/1970 – F.A Cup)
Dartford 1 Bishop’s Stortford 2 (24/10/1970 – F.A Cup)

Stats
Dartford have kept five clean sheets in their last seven games.

The Darts have won nine out of ten against teams currently in the bottom half the National South table.

Bishop’s Stortford’s have scored the fewest goals at home in the league this campaign, scoring just four in nine games.

On This Day
Dartford suffered their heaviest defeat at Princes Park three years ago losing 5-1 to Wrexham. The Darts took an early lead through Lee Burns but that just antagonised the Red Devils who hit back with five unanswered goals. It wasn’t too rosy five years ago either, Dartford let a two goal lead slip against ten man Eastleigh. Adam Green scored from the spot before the Spitfires were reduced to ten men and Jon Wallis made it 2-0. The Hampshire club went away with a point when Danny Smith and Tom Jordan scored for Eastleigh. In 1985, Dartford took AFC Bournemouth to a F.A Cup replay for a second year in a row. In the previous season defeat cost the Darts an historic trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United, this time a 2-0 loss prevented the Darts taking on Dagenham.

Ten Years Back Home – Princes Park

A decade ago football proudly came home for Dartford with the opening of a brand new environmentally friendly stadium. Princes Park has been the venue for some memorable moments in the club’s history and so Pure DFC raises a glass for many more to come.

Without the pain and heartbreak it’s really hard to experience the pride and joy Princes Park gave club officials and supporters on 11 November 2006. Exiled for fourteen years after one of the most difficult periods in Dartford’s history the road back home seemed never ending.

End of the Watling Street era
Whilst the eighties and in particular the latter part of the decade was successful on the pitch, the financial situation worsened. When Maidstone United started their groundshare with the Darts, the extra income was welcome. However, further politics turned the thought of bankruptcy into a reality and so Watling Street was finished and the following 1992/93 campaign went unfinished. Mudeford dart, one of over 550 forum members using Pure DFC remembers the day the terrible news broke, “I don’t mind admitting I sat at my desk and cried my heart out the day we went under, that might explain my half full, rose tinted attitude through thick and thin”.

It is with that positive attitude that kept the club going thanks to The Club’s Supporters’ Association. The club was rescued and senior status was kept thanks to the Youth Team. All that was left was to appoint a manager (step forward Tony Burman), find a squad and a venue, so the Darts could start over in the Kent League.

Watling Street: A former home of Dartford Football Club.

Watling Street: A former home of Dartford Football Club.

Dartford on tour
Known as the nomadic days, the fourteen years before Princes Park saw Dartford touring Kent and Essex with false alarms of homecomings along the way. Oxford Road, Sidcup became the first ‘home’ of the new era as the Darts shared with Cray Wanderers, a period Mudeford dart looks back on nostalgically, “from a personal point of view I loved our days at Cray with the iconic “Dave Skinner Stand”. There was a real camaraderie because everyone was so happy to have our Darts run by our supporters. Cray were great landlords and made us feel very welcome”.

Park View, Belverdere had better facilities, but once again drama unfolded and the main stand was burnt down in 1997. Between September and December, Dartford played home fixtures at Purfleet, Slade Green, Northfleet and Barking. The Kent derby against Margate was actually played in Essex.

Unsuitable to host Dartford matches the club were forced to move from Park View and into Ship Lane, Purfleet. With that came new problems, enticing fans across the River Thames, poor public transport links and the M25 to contend with. Attendances declined but the venue would eventually be the last destination of Dartford’s tour.

Before Ship Lane hosted Dartford games again, the club struck a deal with rivals Gravesend and Northfleet to play at Stonebridge Road. It was during this period news broke on 10 April 2004 that funding for a new home was granted by Dartford Borough Council. The words of a former fanzine title was never more apt, finally their was a “Light at the End of the Tunnel”.

So the nomadic times may have been tough but many have fond memories and were delighted the club were back, paulnorwich reflects on those fourteen years, “I never went to Stonebridge Road to watch the Darts. Cray was good, Erith and Belvedere and Welling was handy for me as they were both so local, but because of family commitments I could only really start watching the Darts again more regularly at Purfleet, which I quite liked though. None of them were ever “home” though”.

Oxford Road: A lifeline for the Darts.

Oxford Road: A lifeline for the Darts.

Homecoming
11 November 2006. An emotional day in the history of Dartford Football Club, a celebration of the continuous hard work put in by those that kept the club running, of those that made Princes Park happen. A huge sense of pride and relief to be home again and for new supporters an exciting adventure. In the days leading up to the grand opening, on the morning before kick off, behind the scenes was hectic. In the excellent Princes Among Men: The History of Dartford Football Club, Jeremy Kite MBE recalls the desperation on the eve of the homecoming when the Princes Park lights went out. Luckily it wasn’t a metaphor of fourteen years ago, the venue was ready for the sell out crowd against Horsham YMCA.

A day of entertainment didn’t disappoint on and off the pitch. paulnorwich remembers, “I was talking to everyone I know about the “return” throughout 2006 and it was a day I’ll never forget!”. The team arrived by coach almost cup finalesque with fans waiting for the arrival. Fireworks greeted the two teams out of the players tunnel and finally football would do the talking.

Princes Park erupted when Brendon Cass entered the history books with the first goal. The striker netted another before Eddie McClements struck the goal of the day. Although the visitors pulled two goals back, Nick Barnes scored Dartford’s fourth in a 4-2 victory. The win was the icing on the homecoming cake.

Another Pure DFC user, El Kebabus of Arabia sums up the journey from homelessness to Princes Park, “all those years of following the Darts around during our nomadic days. Putting hard earned cash into the Warbler, holding ebay sales to raise funds, whip rounds and signing other people up for the Warbler. Boy was it worth it”.

Jeremy Kite’s chapter in Princes Among Men looks back at the long road back home and how much it meant to the community and on a personal level, “in the years since opening day, Princes Park has certainly fulfilled its promise as a catalyst for change and I couldn’t be more proud of it”.

Homecoming: Dartford take to the Princes Park pitch for the first time. Photo courtesy of Tony Jaglo.

Dartford take to the Princes Park pitch for the first time. Photo courtesy of Tony Jaglo.

Ten years of history and memories
Three promotions, two county cup wins, becoming the best part time team in the country and many more wonderful moments, the last decade at Princes Park has without doubt changed Dartford Football Club. Attendances have risen, an academy is beginning to blossom and the reputation of the club has improved.

In the early days, the venue helped attract players to pull on a white shirt and some of those players, Dave Martin, Cody McDonald, Charlie Sheringham, Ebou Adams, Tom Champion and current centre half Tom Bonner went on to play higher up the football chain. The core of today’s squad Elliot Bradbrook, Ryan Hayes, Lee Noble and Danny Harris have all provided brilliant moments, whilst a former core member Lee Burns added his imaginative and humorous goal celebrations. Title winning captains, Adam Flanagan and Alex O’Brien embodied the character and spirit manager Tony Burman works so hard to create, the type of spirit provided by current captain Elliot Bradbrook, Princes Park’s top goalscorer.

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Wingers such as Hayes and Martin have produced some special goals and creativity, in particular Hayes’ trademark curler in front of the television cameras against Mansfield Town, Martin’s wonder strike against Burgess Hill Town. There have been a fair share of important goals, like Lee Noble’s in the National South playoff final against local rivals Welling United and the one that goes down in history as the first scored at Princes Park, Brendon Cass’ effort versus Horsham YMCA.

As team performances go, the Darts have blown opponents away at times, twice they have won 7-2 against Burgess Hill Town and then Witham Town. Through the leagues Enfield Town, Canvey Island, Ilford, Tilbury, Kingstonian, Thurrock, Sutton United, Alfreton Town and Woking have all been put to the sword. Dartford have shocked and conquered bigger sides such as Crawley Town in the F.A Trophy, Luton Town, Mansfield Town, Macclesfield Town, Grimsby Town, Newport County, Hereford United and Wrexham in the league. Port Vale were so close to being put on the list in the heroic F.A Cup first round 1-1 draw.

paulnorwich picks his favourite moments, “beating Welling United in the playoff final cannot be beaten in front of over 4000 and what a goal from Lee Noble to do it. So many great memories in ten years and so many goals but the performance versus Port Vale was excellent, as was the one against Mansfield Town on television when Ryno’s goal must be in the top five at Princes Park”.

Dartford have got used to celebrating whether it was the homecoming, the two league titles, the playoff win or the two Kent Senior Cup’s. Here’s to more glories, to ten brilliant years and many more fond memories. Cheers.

Thank you to Pure DFC forum users paulnorwich, El Kebabus of Arabia and Mudeford dart. Thank you sonytino for all the youtube highlights over the years, Tony Jaglo for the excellent photographs on homecoming day (to view them all go to http://imgbox.com/g/E0nCwQ0wUK). Credit to John Anthony, Mike Brett-Smith, Tony Brown, Gary Clark and Steve Irving for the excellent Princes Among Men: The History of Dartford Football Club book, available in the club shop.

Dartford v Hemel Hempstead Town

Dartford are back in home action when they host Hemel Hempstead Town for only the second time in the clubs history.

After a steady start to their campaign, the Darts have been in good form over the last couple months and continue to challenge for the playoffs. Their opponents, who like Dartford missed out on a top five finish last season on the final day of the campaign, have struggled to reach the same heights this term.

It’s been over a year since the sides last me with the Darts earning a 2-2 draw Princes Park, in one of the turning points of Dartford’s season. Tony Burman’s side had just lost four games in a row and with questions being asked over the poor and inconsistent form a result was needed. Ryan Hayes’s dramatic injury time equaliser salvaged a point from two goals down. Tom Bradbrook had started the come back after Hemel Hempstead Town were reduced to ten men. The Darts went on an eleven game unbeaten run in the league, their best sequence from last season.

On the opening day of last season, a 1-0 reverse at Vauxhall Road was inflicted on the Darts when Oliver Hawkins powered a first half header beyond Deren Ibrahim. Dartford were unable to find the equaliser on a day where six players made their first competitive appearances.

The Tudors have had a week off to recover from their 3-1 defeat at home to Wealdstone, the Hertfordshire club have lost their last two. Meanwhile, Dartford’s F.A Cup run to the first round meant they had a rearranged fixture on Tuesday against St Albans City.

Dean Brennan’s side have struggled on the road with just one win in eight attempts, they also have the worst defensice record away from home in the National South. However, they have picked up draws against three of the top six on their travels including the 4-4 goal fest at Chelmsford City.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Hemel Hempstead Town wins: 1 / Draws: 1

Current League Form
Dartford (LWWWWW)
Lost 0-2 v St Albans City (H)
Won 1-0 v Oxford City (H)
Won 1-0 v Bath City (A)
Won 5-0 v Truro City (A)
Won 2-1 v Concord Rangers (H)
Won 2-0 v Margate (A)

Hemel Hempstead Town (LLWDLW)
Lost 1-3 v Wealdstone (H)
Lost 1-2 v Gosport Borough (H)
Won 2-1 v Concord Rangers (H)
Drew 4-4 v Chelmsford City (A)
Lost 1-2 v Margate (A)
Won 2-0 v Whitehawk (H)

Previous Meetings
Dartford 2 Hemel Hempstead Town 2 (17/10/2015 – National South)
Hemel Hempstead Town 1 Dartford 0 (08/08/2015 – National South)
Dartford 9 Hemel Hempstead Town 2 (16/09/1972 – F.A Cup)

Stats
68 – number of goals in games involving Hemel Heampstead Town at an average of four a match, the highest in the National South this season.

36 – the Darts have seen the second fewest goals behind Whitehawk (33) in matches they have played in this term.

On This Day
Dartford last won at home on 12 November back in 1974 when they beat Boston United 3-1 in an Inter League Challenge Match. The annual fixture between the Southern and Northern League champions was contested over two legs, there was no Conference in those days. The away match took place almost a month later and finished 2-2 securing a 5-3 victory for the Darts. Since the first leg triumph, Dartford have drawn three of their four home games on 12 November which included a 0-0 stalemate with Bedworth United (1983 – Southern Premier League), a 1-1 draw with Canterbury City (1994 – Kent League) and five years ago, they shared the points with Weston-Super-Mare in the National South with the game ending 1-1.

Dartford v St Albans City

Dartford may have missed out on equalling a club record on Saturday but they have a chance to extend their unbeaten league run as they host St Albans City.

The Darts have had the extraordinary run of nine straight wins halted, yet in the National South they have won six of their last eight, drawing two in a run spanning two months. St Albans City have also hit form over the three matches taking maximum points and scoring ten goals in their last two league fixtures.

Last season Dartford struggled to break down a St Albans City side bottom of the table. Andy Pugh turned out to be the match winner with both goals in a 2-0, the last coming in stoppage time to calm any nerves around Princes Park. On the final day of the campaign, the Saints went on to record their first ever victory in normal time against the Darts in a commanding 4-0 win.

On the weekend, The Darts crashed out of the F.A Cup against last year’s National South champions Sutton United in a topsy-turvy affair. Dartford fell behind three times, the first after just 41 seconds but on each occassion pegged the U’s back. In a crazy opening 23 minutes Dartford found themselves 3-2 down. Elliot Bradbrook scored from the edge of the box and from the spot whilst Duane Ofori-Acheampong fired into the roof of the net. Maxime Biamou, Roary Deacon and Ross Stearn all notched a brace for the visitors in an entertaining 6-3 cup tie.

One of four teams yet to lost at home this term, Dartford know three points will take them above thri opponents and potentially into the playoff places. Tony Burman had a full squad to select from on the weekend with Tom Bonner returning, who slipped back into the first team.

Since February and a change in manager St Albans City have vastly improved. From bottom when they played Dartford last time at Princes Park to sixth this term, the Saints have the best record over the last nine months of the teams in the National South.

Ian Allinson, who led Boreham Wood to promotion to the National League in 2014/15 continues to work wonders in Hertfordshire. St Albans City have netted five in their last two league games beating Truro City 5-0 and Bishop’s Stortford 5-1. Whilst the Saints were commanding from the start against Truro City they had to wait an hour to break the deadlock against Bishop’s Stortford, courtesy of former Dartford defender Tom Bender, the left back made 20 appearances for the Darts in 2014/15.

Another familiar face at Clarence Park is Josh Hill, who had a short spell under Tony Burman in 2013/14 making just five appearances. Dartford will have to keep an eye on Louie Theophanous, the division’s third top scorer with 13 goals behind Wealdstone’s Elliot Benyon and Maidenhead United’s Dave Tarpey.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 6 / St Albans City wins: 1 / Draws: 4

Current League Form
Dartford (WWWWWD)
Won 1-0 v Oxford City (H)
Won 1-0 v Bath City (A)
Won 5-0 v Truro City (A)
Won 2-1 v Concord Rangers (H)
Won 2-0 v Margate (A)
Drew 1-1 v East Thurrock United (A)

St Albans City (WWWDLL)
Won 5-1 v Truro City (H)
Won 5-0 v Bishop’s Stortford (A)
Won 2-1 v Gosport Borough (H)
Lost 1-3 v Ebbsfleet United (A)
Drew 2-2 v Hemel Hempstead Town (H)
Drew 1-1 v Maidenhead United (A)

Last Six Meetings
St Albans City 4 Dartford 0 (30/04/2016 – National South)
Dartford 2 St Albans City 0 (06/02/2016 – National South)
St Albans City 1 Dartford 2 (02/04/2011 – National South)
Dartford 2 St Albans City 2 (22/03/2011 – National South)
Dartford 1 St Albans City 1 (25/11/2008 – F.A Trophy)
St Albans City 0 Dartford 0 (22/09/2009 – F.A Trophy)

Stats
Dartford conceded six goals for the first time at Princes Park on Saturday. The F.A Cup tie was the highest aggregate score matching the 7-2 wins against Witham Town and Burgess Hill Town and the 5-4  loss versus Aveley.

In the National South, the Darts went the whole of October without conceding a goal. The Dartford defence have kept three clean sheets in a row.

Elliot Bradbrook ended the F.A Cup campaign with seven goals in four games.

Last season St Albans City were bottom after 30 games but the last 12 fixtures saw a dramatic turnaround with eight wins, two draws and 2 defeats. During that run of form the Saints had the second highest points average (2.17) behind champions Sutton United (2.71). This term St Albans City have averaged two points a game.

On This Day
Dartford’s last league win on 8 November came in 1986 when they beat Gosport Borough in the Southern League Premier Division. Since then the Darts drew with Cambridge City 1-1 in the F.A Trophy and Banbury United 2-2 in the Southern League Division One East. A 2-1 defeat to Harrow Borough eight years ago in the Isthmian Premier League was followed by a F.A Cup win over Bromley in 2014, the match ended 4-3 in the first round.

Dartford v Sutton United

Dartford have the chance to equal a club record, when they take on Sutton United in the F.A Cup first round this weekend.

Entering the cup tie on the back of nine consecutive wins, another victory will not only see the Darts in the hat for round two, it will also see the club match the ten game winning run last set in 1996. Despite their excellent form, Dartford will be slight underdogs against a Sutton United team who went up as National South champions last term.

The U’s in the division above have a proud history in the F.A Cup causing a famous upset 27 years ago by beating top flight former F.A Cup winners Coventry City. Both sides will believe this season’s first round tie is winnable but if history is anything to go by then it could well be a closely run contest.

Last season, during a period where both Dartford and Sutton United were still finding their feet, the two sides drew for the first time ever. Tom Bradbrook opened the scoring with a diving header, Micky Spillane levelled for the visitors before Tom Bradbrook put the Darts back in front, when Ross Worner’s clearance hit Bradbrook’s face. Jamie Collins scored a late equaliser in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Princes Park. The reverse fixture saw Sutton United outclass Dartford 2-0 as they marched on towards the National South title.

Dartford, unbeaten for two months in all competitions spanning 12 games last reached the F.A Cup second round just two years ago, the first time they achieved that feat since 1984. However reaching the top two flights has improved the Darts cup runs having made it to the first round four times in the last seven campaigns.

This term, Tony Burman’s side have been drawn away in all three of the previous qualifying rounds. Overcoming Chelmsford City and Slough Town 3-2, they then went on to defeat Tonbridge Angels 3-0 in what has been a tricky run to round one.

Sutton United have only needed to negotiate the fourth qualifying round, however they did beat National League leaders Forest Green Rovers 2-1 with a last minute winner from Roarie Deacon. The U’s came from behind at home, Ross Stearn scoring the equaliser.

The Surrey club, unbeaten in five have been far beater on their own 3G pitch then on their travels. In the National League they sit in a respectable thirteenth winning six out of nine at Gander Green Lane. Away from the Borough Sports Ground, the U’s have won just once and that was on the second weekend of the season.

Paul Doswell’s squad has tones of Eastleigh influences, his former club. Defender, Jamie Collins is amongst Sutton United’s top scorer this term, Dean Beckwith is a regular at the back whilst Dan Spence and Craig McAllister also played for the Spitfires.

Nicky Bailey is one of two former Football League players to watch, the former Charlton Athletic and Middlesbrough midfielder has scored five times this season and is the U’s playmaker. Signing a new contract extension last month along with Bailey, Kevin Amankwaah continues to impress for the Surrey club in defence.

Dartford and Sutton United have met in the F.A Cup once before back in 1978. The Darts ran out 2-0 winners and reached the first round.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 5 / Sutton United wins: 5 / Draws: 1

Current Form (all competitions)
Dartford (WWWWWW)
Won 1-0 v Oxford City (H) – National South
Won 1-0 v Bath City (A) – National South
Won 3-0 v Tonbridge Angels (A) – F.A Cup
Won 5-0 v Truro City (A) – National South
Won 2-1 v Cray Wanderers (A) – Kent Senior Cup
Won 3-2 v Slough Town (A) – F.A Cup

Sutton United (DDDWWL)
Drew 2-2 v York City (A) – National League
Drew 2-2 v Maidstone United (H) – National League
Drew 1-1 v Southport (A) – National League
Won 2-1 v Forest Green Rovers (H) – F.A Cup
Won 4-1 v Woking (H) – National League
Lost 1-3 v Dover Athletic (H) – National League

Last Six Meetings
Sutton United 2 Dartford 0 (23/01/2016 – National South)
Dartford 2 Sutton United 2 (15/08/2016 – National South)
Sutton United 0 Dartford 1 (14/04/2012 – National South)
Dartford 6 Sutton United 1 (20/03/2012 – National South)
Dartford 0 Sutton United 2 (06/02/2010 – Isthmian Premier)
Sutton United 0 Dartford 3 (22/09/2009 – Isthmian Premier)

Stats
4 – Dartford have gone four games without conceding a goal. The last time Dartford managed this feat was from 16 February 2008 to 1 March 2008 on the way to the Isthmian Premier League title.

5 – Elliot Bradbrook has scored in every round this season, netting two against Chelmsford City and Slough Town and once versus Tonbridge Angels.

11 – The Darts have scored in their last eleven consecutive games in all competitions.

On This Day
It’s been five years since the Darts played on Guy Fawkes Day when they beat Salisbury City in the National South. Dartford were behind after just 80 seconds but fought back to win 2-1. Jon Wallis scored from a free kick and Jacob Erskine won a header colliding with the on rushing goalkeeper Conor Gough who was stretchered off.  A decade ago, Dartford thrashed Aveley 5-1 in the Southern League Division One East. In 1994, the Darts had a mini striker crisis as Micky Collins left and replacements Ricky Bennett and Dean Bowey were cup tied. However, that didn’t put youngsters Nicky Knight and Darren Skey off, helping Dartford romp to a 6-2 Kent League Cup triumph over Greenwich  Borough.