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St Albans City v Dartford

Dartford look a strong bet to secure a playoff spot and hope to increase their chances and winning streak this weekend against St Albans City.

On current form Dartford have a great opportunity to make it three victories in a row and record a seventh away game without defeat. The Darts should approach the fixture with confidence after scoring nine in their last two outings. On Tuesday night, a 4-0 victory over basement boys Margate was secured when Elliot Bradbrook scored twice taking his tally to 20 for the campaign, Luke Wanadio and loanee Alfie Pavey added to the scoreline. Bradbrook, who scored a stunning volley in the 5-3 triumph versus Truro City scored the goal of the night with another long range effort.

Before Tuesday’s win Tony Burman managed to sign Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Billy Collings on loan. The debutante kept a clean sheet in the absence of Gibraltar international Deren Ibrahim. Andy Pugh picked up an injury against the Gate and was replaced with Dartford’s other loan signing Pavey.

The Darts will be keen to erase the memory of last season’s disappointing 4-0 final day defeat at Clarence Park. Chasing an unlikely playoff place, Dartford capitulated to finish the campaign in eighth place. Earlier this term, Dartford failed to score again against the Saints in a 2-0 loss at Princes Park.

St Albans City began December in second place but have since claimed one win in their last 15 outings, losing their last six in the National South. The Hertfordshire club are now eleventh and desperate to halt their slide down the standings. Manager, Ian Allinson who guided the Saints to safety last term now faces a different challenge in renewing the early season promise.

Two particular defeats will come as a concern to the Saints, on the weekend they went down 4-0 to struggling Gosport Borough and before the 3-0 reverse to Ebbsfleet United, they lost 1-0 to relegation candidates Bishop’s Stortford. With no goals scored this month, the problem worsened when top striker Louie Theophanous moved to Dartford’s playoff rivals Chelmsford City, the forward scored 41 goals in his Saints career in 94 appearances. That leaves Merson, the current top scorer this term partnering veteran Jamie Cureton or Charlie Walker. From midfield, Shaun Lucien has scored seven times since his summer move from Weladstone, but the success rate in front of goal has dried up.

When Allinson signed Tom Gardiner from Dartford to boost the defence back in January, it looked like the Saints had made a statement of intent. However, form has turned and Gardiner who had played 76 matches for the Darts in his career has lost in a St Albans City shirt in nine of his 14 appearances so far. Tom Bender, another ex Dartford defender has been out of action this month after injuring shoulder at the end of February, the 24 year old scored at Princes Park earlier in the campaign in the Saints 2-0 win back in November, Merson scored the other.

To aid stopping the rot, St Albans City have made some on field changes by signing Solomon Sambou, Kieran Monlouis and Christopher Haigh from lower league clubs. It looks like mid-table this term for the Saints, a vast improvement on last campaign’s relegation battle but falling short of their early season promise.

Head to Head
St Albans City wins: 2 / Dartford wins: 6 / Draws: 4

Current League Form
St Albans City (LLLLLL)
Lost 0-4 v Gosport Borough (A)
Lost 0-3 v Ebbsfleet United (H)
Lost 0-1 v Bishop’s Stortford (A)
Lost 0-3 v Wealdstone (H)
Lost 2-3 v Truro City (A)
Lost 1-4 v Bath City (H)

Dartford (WWDWDD)
Won 4-0 v Margate (H)
Won 5-3 v Truro City (H)
Drew 1-1 v Concord Rangers (A)
Won 2-0 v Bath City (H)
Drew 0-0 v Welling United (A)
Drew 1-1 v Oxford City (A)

Previous Meetings
Dartford 0 St Albans City 2 (08/11/2016 – National South)
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 – Lost 2-4 on penalties)

Stats
3 – the last three league victories have completed league doubles over Bath City, Truro City and Margate.

15 – the number of times Dartford have scored three or more goals in a game in all competitions. Ten of which have been in the National League and eight of those in 2017.

31 – Number of goals scored by Elliot Bradbrook and Luke Wanadio in all competitions this term, more than the combined number of goals scored by recognised strikers Andy Pugh, Duane Ofori-Acheampong, Ben Francis, Tom Murphy and Alfie Pavey (27 between them).

360 – St Albans City have gone over 360 minutes without scoring in the National South. The Saints worst run since August 2015.

On This Day
he Darts are unbeaten in their last five matches on 25 March with the most recent victory a year ago. Danny Harris scored early on, Keaton Wood put Dartford ahead again and Tom Bradbrook secured a 3-1 win at Princes Park. The previous two games on this day were home and away versus Corby Town. In 2006, the Darts drew 1-1 in the Southern Division One East and six years earlier won 1-0 in the southern section. Fareham Town were beaten 3-1 in 1998 and in 1995, Dartford were held at home to a goalless draw with Herne Bay in the Kent League.

Dartford v Margate

Dartford will be in search of three points against bottom of the table side Margate in the National South.

The Darts who are in a strong position to make the playoffs this season, host the Gate who have it all to do to escape relegation. Tony Burman’s side will enter the Kent derby off the back of an entertaining 5-3 victory over Truro City on the weekend, whilst Margate were beaten thanks to a former Dart.

On Saturday, Andy Pugh’s brace helped overcome the White Tigers, but it was the visitors who went in front. Andrew Neal took advantage of Deren Ibrahim’s mistake in the goalkeeper’s last game before joining up with the Gibraltar squad. Pugh equalised with his first of the afternoon made by the endeavour of Duane Ofori-Acheampong. Then Elliot Bradbrook volleyed in the goal of the game from 25 yards to give the Darts a 2-1 lead at half-time.

The Darts struggled to shake off Truro City and they levelled through Neal once more, it wasn’t long until Luke Wanadio put Dartford ahead in a hectic final 25 minutes of the match. Jamie Richards headed the White Tigers level at 3-3, however goals from Pugh and Tom Murphy sealed the three points for Dartford as they recorded five goals against Truro City for a second time this season.

Earlier in the league campaign, the Darts won 2-0 at Hartsdown Park but had to leave it relatively late to secure the three points. Two goals in the closing quarter of an hour gave Dartford victory, the first scored by Andy Pugh from close range. The win was almost guaranteed once Bradbrook netted from the penalty spot two minutes from time.

Dartford drew 1-1 with Margate last time at Princes Park after falling behind to a Freddie Ladapo goal, the striker went on to move to Premier League side Crystal Palace and is now on loan at Shrewsbury Town. Elliot Bradbrook scored the equaliser after good work from Ryan Hayes.

Tony Burman’s side have fell off the pace of the top two over recent weeks, unable to convert draws into victories. The Darts can take heart in their excellent form against other Kent sides, over ninety minutes, this term having recorded six wins and three draws from ten matches played. Against Margate they are unbeaten in their last three meetings securing two victories and a draw.

The last twelve months have been dreadful for the Gate, the coastal club were on the fringes of the playoff places towards the end of February last year. Nikki Bull looked to have found his feet then ten consecutive losses saw Margate slide down the National South. Surviving on the final day of the season, by a goal, off field problems have spilled over into this campaign.

The Gate’s win over Gosport Borough just over a week ago, was their first in 20 matches and Ira Jackson’s double strike were Margate’s first goals in 10 games. Now Steve Watts is in charge and he had guided his team to a draw in the game preceding the victory, against Concord Rangers, which had ended an incredible 18 game losing streak. On the weekend the Gate fell to a 3-2 defeat versus Hemel Hempstead Town with Charlie Sheringham scoring twice for the Tudors.

Michael Thalassitis has rejoined the club from Welling United. The striker had left Hartsdown Park in November for Hemel Hempstead Town, when Margate were forced to slash their wage bil,l and after a short spell at Park View Road is now back at the coastal side.

At the beginning of the month, Watt used his contacts at former club Maidstone United to attract defender Ben Swift to the squad. Up front Pape Gueye also comes in on loan for a month from National League side Sutton United.

The Darts in third place are eleven points clear of sixth place and hope to edge closer to a playoff spot, whilst Margate are thirteen points adrift from safety.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 46 / Margate wins: 42 / Draws: 29

Current League Form
Dartford (WDWDDL)
Won 5-3 v Truro City (H)
Drew 1-1 v Concord Rangers (A)
Won 2-0 v Bath City (H)
Drew 0-0 v Welling United (A)
Drew 1-1 v Oxford City (A)
Lost 0-1 v Chelmsford City (H)

Margate (DLWWLW)
Lost 2-3 v Hemel Hempstead Town (A)
Won 2-0 v Gosport Borough (H)
Drew 0-0 v Concord Rangers (A)
Lost 2-3 v Chelmsford City (H)
Lost 0-2 v Whitehawk (H)
Lost 0-1 v East Thurrock United (A)

Previous Meetings
Margate 0 Dartford 2 (13/09/2016 – National South)
Dartford 1 Margate 1 (28/12/2015 – National South)
Margate 0 Dartford 2 (29/08/2015 – National South)
Dartford 0 Margate 1 (23/03/2010 – Isthmian Premier League)
Margate 0 Dartford 4 (18/08/2009 – Isthmian Premier League)
Margate 2 Dartford 2 (07/03/2009 – Isthmian Premier League)

Stats
The last time a home side won this fixture in 2008 when the Darts progressed in the Isthmian League Cup with a 3-2 victory.

In a league meeting, the last home by either club in this fixture was in 1997, Dartford recorded a 1-0 win in the Southern League Southern Division.

On This Day
Dartford have just won once in their last nine games on 21 March and that was 25 years ago. The Darts beat Moor Green 3-1 in the Southern Premier League. Since then the Darts have tasted three defeats in a row and celebrated just one goal, against Folkestone Invicta in a 4-1 loss 17 years ago. AFC Hornchurch in 2009’s Isthmian Premier League meeting and Southport in 2015’s National League fixture both won 2-0 against Dartford.

Dartford v Truro City

Dartford will hope to win a second home game in a row to keep the playoff chasing pack at bay, when they host Truro City.

With just one win in five league matches, the gap on the Darts’ third place spot is closing. Completing a double over Truro City will help alleviate some pressure going into the final run in. If the previous fixture between the two clubs is anything to go by, then Dartford should be in for a good afternoon.

Having never beaten the White Tigers at Treyew Road, Dartford took the long trip to Cornwall and came home with all three points. The Darts dominated the affair in their best away performance of this campaign running out 5-0 winners.

Keaton Wood settled any nerves as early as the fourth minute and from then on the goals kept coming. Andy Pugh nodded in a second and Duane Ofori-Acheampong netted a rebound to make it 3-0 at half-time. In the second half, Ofori-Acheampong scored again and Alex Brown wrapped up victory. Prior the win at Truro City, the Darts had drawn 1-1 against the White Tigers on the final game of the 2011/12 promotion campaign and lost miserably 3-0 last term.

Last weekend, Ryan Hayes hit the headlines with his 100th goal for the club. The winger opened the scoring against Concord Rangers. It wasn’t enough as a late penalty scored by Beachboys top scorer Steve Cawley meant a third draw in the last four games for the Darts.

Meanwhile, Truro City hosted Wealdstone and found themselves a goal down until Jamie Richards scored just before the interval. The Stones grabbed a winner ten minutes from time to condemn the White Tigers to their second consecutive loss. Defeat left the Cornwall club eight points clear of the relegation zone with manager Lee HOdges asking his players to ‘put their bodies on the line’ over the remaining fixtures.

Hodges has also tapped into the loan market for two defenders. Trying to shore up the back, Ben Gerring comes in from Torquay United, having had two spells with Truro City before. Alex Hartridge has signed from Exeter City after the 18-year-old has emerged for the Grecians academy. Earlier in the month, Cody Cooke returned to action after a hernia problem ruled him out since September. Whilst last month, crowd favourite Stewart Yetton returned to the club on loan from Weymouth until the end of the season.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 1 / Truro City wins: 3 / Draws: 1

Current League Form
Dartford (WDDLWW)
Drew 1-1 v Concord Rangers (A)
Won 2-0 v Bath City (H)
Drew 0-0 v Welling United (A)
Drew 1-1 v Oxford City (A)
Lost 0-1 v Chelmsford City (H)
Won 4-0 v Gosport Borough (A)

Truro City (DLWWLW)
Lost 1-2 v Wealdstone (H)
Lost 0-2 v Eastbourne Borough (A)
Won 3-2 v St Albans City (H)
Won 2-0 v Gosport Borough (H)
Lost 1-2 v Concord Rangers (H)
Lost 0-4 v Bath City City (A)

Previous Meetings
Truro City 0 Dartford 5 (08/10/2016 – National South)
Truro City 3 Dartford 0 (05/04/2016 – National South)
Dartford 1 Truro City 0 (19/09/2015 – National South)
Truro City 1 Dartford 1 (28/04/2012 – National South)
Dartford 1 Truro City 2 (22/10/2011 – National South)

Stats
Ryan Hayes is the second player to notch his 100th career goal for the club this season. Elliot Bradbrook also scored his 100th earlier in the campaign.

Hayes is currently sixth in the all time goalscorers chart for the Darts, behind Tony Burman (159 goals), John Ripley (136), John Mitchell (121), Elliot Bradbrook and Tommy Huckstepp (111).

On This Day
On the way to the Isthmian Premier League title seven years ago, Elliot Brabrook scored twice and Allan Tait once in a 3-1 away win at Horsham. Four years earlier, the Darts came out of the wrong side in a close encounter with Wingate and Finchley, the Southern League Division One East fixture ended 3-2 to the Blues. Dartford suffered a heavy home defeat in 2003 when they lost 4-1 to Salisbury City, but won 1-0 in 1998 against Tonbridge Angels.

Concord Rangers v Dartford

Dartford make the short journey to Essex on the weekend to face a few former players at Concord Rangers.

Managed by Adam Flanagan, Dartford’s Isthmian Premier League title-winning captain, Concord Rangers visited Princes Park back in September propping up the league table at the time. On the stroke of half time Duane Ofori-Acheampong volleyed in his first goal for the Darts in his ninth appearance for the club. The striker was involved in the second just before the hour mark setting up Danny Harris. Dartford had to hold on though when Jay Dowie scored a consolation five minutes from time.

Last term, the Darts had to produce a comeback full of character to overcome the Beachboys. Lewis Taafe opened the scoring for the hosts after just two minutes and doubled the lead on the hour. Andy Pugh’s deflected shot pulled a goal back and with five minutes to go he grabbed the equaliser. In the final minute Tom Bradbrook netted the winner as Dartford won 3-2 from two goals down.

Whatever the result, Dartford will remain third after the weekend but will hope to close the six point gap on rivals Ebbsfleet United in second. The five point advantage over fourth place Chelmsford City gives the Darts some stability for the time being. Unbeaten in their last three matches, Tony Burman has strengthened his strike force by signing Alfie Pavey on loan from Millwall. The 21-year-old has had previous spells on loan with Barnet, Aldershot Town, Bromley and Hampton and Richmond.

Concord Rangers may be in the lower half of the National South yet they have an eight point cushion on Gosport Borough, who occupy the final relegation spot. The Beachboys took a while to warm up this campaign going nine games without a win. The season began to take off after a 5-1 away win at Margate and decent form leading up to the New Year moved them out of the relegation places. Since then the Beachboys’ inconsistencies reflect their position in the National South.

It was just over a year ago when former Dartford midfielder James White scored a stunning decisive goal to give the Beachboys victory at Princes Park, their only ever win versus Dartford. White is still integral to the Concord Rangers team and made 112 appearances for the Darts.

In between the sticks Bailey Vose has made 14 appearances this season for Concord Rangers to add to the three starts he had for Dartford in November. Vose’s short spell included a home defeat to St Albans City and a clean sheet against Hemel Hempstead Town, as well as a Kent Senior Cup win over Cray Wanderers. The 18-year-old goalkeeper is on loan from Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion.

Jordan Chiedozie had a brief spell with Dartford on loan from Cambridge United in 2015 where he scored twice in four games. He returned to the Beachboys this term having previously been part of their 2014/15 squad.

Head to Head
Concord Rangers wins: 1 / Dartford wins: 3 / Draws: 0

Current League Form
Concord Rangers (DLWWLW)
Drew 0-0 v Margate (H)
Lost 3-4 v Chelmsford City (A)
Won 2-1 v Truro City (A)
Won 3-1 v Eastbourne Borough (H)
Lost 0-4 v Ebbsfleet United (A)
Won 3-2 v St Albans City (A)

Dartford (WDDLWW)
Won 2-0 v Bath City (H)
Drew 0-0 v Welling United (A)
Drew 1-1 v Oxford City (A)
Lost 0-1 v Chelmsford City (H)
Won 4-0 v Gosport Borough (A)
Won 3-1 v Whitehawk (H)

Previous Meetings
Dartford 2 Concord Rangers 1 (24/09/2016 – National South)
Dartford 1 Concord Rangers 2 (27/02/2016 – National South)
Concord Rangers 2 Dartford 3 (18/08/2015 – National South)
Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 3 (27/01/2009 – Isthmian League Cup)

Stats
1 – Dartford have conceded once in the last 360 minutes away from home, keeping three clean sheets in thbeir last four outings

2 – A second clean sheet in a row last weekend was the first time Dartford achieved this feat since November

4 – Concord Rangers are unbeaten in their last four home games

5 – The Darts have not lost on their travels since New Years Day spanning five matches

15 – In previous meetings, both sides have scored in every fixture with Dartford netting nine to the Beachboys’ six

293 – Concord Rangers have the second lowest average attendance in the National League, one ahead of Oxford City

On This Day
Steve Robinson was the hero in 1989 when he scored the only goal of the game against Altrincham in the F.A Trophy quarter-final. Dartford’s record appearance maker helped Peter Taylor’s side to a run which ended in the last four against Macclesfield Town. The last away match for the Darts on 11 March was 37 years ago in 1980. A trip South to Hastings United ended in a 2-1 Southern League Cup semi-final first leg loss. The Darts away goal made sure of a narrow 3-2 aggregate victory to reach the final, where Graham Carr’s side fell short to Kidderminster Harriers in the final.

Dartford v Bath City

Dartford aim to create some breathing space in the playoff race, when they host Bath City in the National South this weekend.

Earlier in the season Dartford left it late to beat the Romans in a match with plenty of opportunities for both sides. However, it was Luke Wanadio who made the most of his chance by bending in the winner with six minutes remaining.

The corresponding fixture last term also ended in a Dartford win, this time it was more comfortable. The Darts on an unbeaten run of ten at the time climbed into the playoffs with a 4-1 triumph. Andy Pugh scored two excellent first half goals, Ryan Hayes made it three by half time and Callum McNaughton netted his first for the club.

Over the last three games Dartford have slipped off the pace at the top of the National South. Starting a point behind leaders Ebbsfleet United and Maidenhead United, the Darts were beaten 1-0 at home to Chelmsford City before conceding a last minute equaliser at Oxford City. Ryan Hayes opened the scoring on Saturday netting his 99th goal for the club in the 1-1 draw with the Nomads. After those two matches, the Darts dropped seven points behind the front runners, the pack now hunting Dartford down for a playoff spot now includes Poole Town, Chelmsford City and Hungerford Town.

On Tuesday night, Tony Burman’s side made the short trip to local rivals Welling United. In a first half of few clear cut chances neither team could break the deadlock. Hayes was replaced in the second half by the returning Lee Noble and Ben Francis, recalled to the squad was on the bench for the second consecutive game and was brought on. Still neither side could find the back of the net in a 0-0 draw, leaving Dartford trailing by six points from the top two with eleven games remaining.

Opponents, Bath City lost 1-0 to league leaders Ebbsfleet United last weekend, which halted a run of 14 consecutive games in which the Romans had scored in the National South. The sequence stretched back to October, when the Fleet kept a clean sheet on that day too. A unbeaten run spanning nine matches finished when a solitary mistake was enough for Ebbsfleet United to punish the hosts, condemning them to their first league defeat in 2017, Bradley Bubb headed the winner just after the interval.

Currently in the top ten, Bath City have an outside chance of reaching the playoffs, if they can return to the form which served them well before Saturday’s loss. Up front, Bath City have a trio of attacking players available in Nick McCootie, Marvin Morgan and Andy Watkins. Between them they have scored 25 league goals, just over half of the Romans total.

Bath City have a steady away record, but where they lack goals on their travels they have been tight at the back. Twenty goals scored on the road, the Romans have conceded just eighteen times, only five sides have a better away defence. Yet to beat a team from the National South’s top seven, Bath City have also picked up no points against those in the current top four, but each defeat has only been by a single goal.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 28 / Bath City wins: 40 / Draws: 19

Current League Form
Dartford (DDLWWW)
Drew 0-0 v Welling United (A)
Drew 1-1 v Oxford City (A)
Lost 0-1 v Chelmsford City (H)
Won 4-0 v Gosport Borough (A)
Won 3-1 v Whitehawk (H)
Won 4-0 v Wealdstone (A)

Bath City (DWLWWW)
Lost 0-1 v Ebbsfleet United (H)
Won 4-1 v St Albans City (A)
Drew 1-1 v Oxford City (A)
Won 4-0 v Truro City (H)
Won 2-0 v Margate (H)
Won 2-0 v Bishop’s Stortford (H)

Last Six Meetings
Bath City 0 Dartford 1 (22/10/2016 – National South)
Dartford 4 Bath City 1 (16/01/2016 – National South)
Bath City 0 Dartford 0 (05/09/2015 – National South)
Dartford 0 Bath City 1 (07/04/1990 – Southern Premier League)
Bath City 0 Dartford 0 (09/09/1989 – Southern Premier League)
Dartford 1 Bath City 0 (28/01/1989 – Southern Premier League)

Stats
Dartford’s 1-0 win in October against Bath City was the first time the Darts recorded back to back victories against the Romans since 1971/72.

The Darts have lost just once in their last six meetings with Bath City. Prior this current run, Bath City went 15 matches unbeaten against Dartford between 1977 and 1989.

In the previous six meetings between the two sides Dartford have kept four clean sheets.

On This Day
Dartford last tasted victory on 4 March in 1989 when they travelled to Gosport Borough in the Southern Premier League and won 2-1. The last home win came 37 years ago, Graham Carr’s Darts beat Waterlooville 2-1 at Watling Street. The long wait for another triumph has seen Dartford draw 1-1 with Chelmsford City in 1991 and Tunbridge Wells in 1995 (Kent League Cup semi-final first leg). The Darts are now on a run of three straight defeats by Eastbourne Borough in 2003 and Enfield Town in 2006, both 1-0 losses and three years ago a 3-0 Kent Senior Cup exit to Dover Athletic.