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Dartford v Concord Rangers

Dartford may be unbeaten this season but they are also without a win, Concord Rangers are next up at Princes Park in the Darts second home match of the campaign.

Injury hit Dartford have struggled in front of goal and on the weekend drew another blank, although a second clean sheet earned the Darts an away point at Havant and Waterlooville. The scoreline was a repeat of Dartford’s season opener at Princes Park, when they drew 0-0 with Hungerford Town. Sandwiched between those results, Dartford came from two goals down to earn a point at Braintree Town, with goals from Tom Murphy and Elliot Bradbrook.

The noticeable absentees of strike duo Duane Ofori-Acheampong and Andy Pugh has seen the Darts score just twice in the first three games. At the back, Ronnie Vint is out with injury and Keaton Wood has been recovering. Burman also mentioned knocks taken by Lee Noble, Alex Brown and Tom Bonner, whilst Tom Murphy was taken off at Braintree Town after netting his goal. Down to the ‘bare bones’ an opportunity has opened up for young Alfie Cue who has come through the Dartford academy.

Concord Rangers have managed a win, draw and loss this season starting with a defeat away to Wealdstone. New summer signing Jordan Cox’s equaliser wasn’t enough for the Beachboys to get anything from the game. Stephen Cawley’s winner at home to Hemel Hempstead Town got the Essex club off the mark with a first win, and on the weekend they recorded their first draw in dramatic fashion.

Returning to the club Lewis Taafe put Concord Rangers ahead early in the second half, but the match really took off in the final six minutes. Truro City turned the game on its head with goals from Noah Keats and Stewart Yetton in the 84th and 87th minutes. The Beachboys tried their best to throw the points away but were rescued in the final minutes thanks to Taafe’s second of the day.

When the Darts hosted Concord Rangers nearly a year ago, Duane Ofori-Acheampong’s fledgling Dartford career started to take off. The striker, netted his first for the club and put in an impressive performance. Danny Harris made it 2-0, but the Beachboys pulled a goal back with five minutes on the clock. The result was the exact reverse of the campaign before when Concord Rangers won their only fixture against the Darts, memorable for former Dartford midfielder James White scoring a wonderful goal. The last meeting between the two sides ended 1-1 at Thames Road just five months ago.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 / Concord Rangers wins: 1 / Draws: 1

Previous Meetings

11.03.2017 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 1
24.09.2016 Dartford 2 Concord Rangers 1
27.02.2016 Dartford 1 Concord Rangers 2
18.08.2015 Concord Rangers 2 Dartford 3
27.01.2009 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 3

Stats

Dartford last drew their first three league games of the season back in 1965. The opener at home to Cheltenham Town ended 1-1 and four days later the Darts drew 1-1 at home to Guildford City. The sequence was completed in a 2-2 stalemate away to Hereford United in Southern Premier League.

If the Darts draw a fourth consecutive game it will be the first time they have opened their campaign with four draws since 1965. It will also be a repeat of last term when Dartford drew their first two home games. A year ago, Wealdstone and Gosport Borough went home with a point from Princes Park.

It’s been almost two years since Dartford failed to score in consecutive games. In September 2015, the Darts lost 1-0 at home to Truro City before the shock F.A Cup exit to Uxbridge by the same score.

On This Day

Eight years ago, Elliot Bradbrook started his Dartford career by scoring a brace against Horsham on the opening day of the 2009/10 season. Although the Sussex club took the lead with a well taken free kick, Bradbrook had the Darts level. Now manager of Concord Rangers, Adam Flanagan scored from the spot and Bradbrook increased the lead. Horsham grabbed a consolation in the final few minutes. The Darts went on to win the Isthmian Premier League, eighteen points ahead of Sutton United. Two years ago, Dartford played the U’s in the National South and although it was Sutton United’s turn to turn into champions, the Darts drew 2-2 with both goals from Tom Bradbrook.

Havant and Waterlooville v Dartford

A first win has eluded Dartford so far this season and on the weekend they visit Isthmian Premier League winners Havant and Waterloovile in search for victory.

The Darts have drawn both matches this term and will be up against the Hawks who have yet to taste defeat since their return to the National South.

Opening with an uninspiring goalless draw at home to Hungerford Town, the Darts had to find their fighting spirit on Tuesday night coming from two goals down to earn another draw. Burman explained his tactics for the 0-0 stalemate a week ago and changed them for their visit to Braintree Town.

Warren Mfula made his first start as the only recognised striker. Duane Ofori-Acheampong and Andy Pugh were out injured along with defender Ronnie Vint, who suffered ligament damage in the opening game of the season. New signing, Richard Sho-Silva made his debut replacing Vint.

Braintree Town went in at the half-time break in command leading 2-0 with goals from Karl Oliyide and Billy Crook. In the second half, Lee Noble’s header back to Tom Murphy pulled a goal back, but the goalscorer was forced off through injury to add to the list of Dartford casualties. The equaliser came from captain Elliot Bradbrook who headed home after Tom Bonner nodded the ball back across goal from a corner.

Burman was pleased with the way his team started but a 15 minute spell at the end of the first half saw his side ‘lose all organisation’. The Dartford boss was delighted with the way his players fought back, he told kentonline.co.uk: “They were excellent getting back into the game and we could have won it at the end”, he summarised: “I’m delighted we got something out of the game. Other than a crazy 15 minutes, I was more than happy with the performance”.

Meanwhile, Havant and Waterlooville were involved in the only other fixture without goals on the opening day. The Hawks visited Southern Premier League champions Chippenham Town. Like the Darts, injuries played their part and manager Lee Bradbury naming half fit players on the bench. The Hawks boss was pleased with the result claiming it was a point gained.

On Tuesday night, Havant and Waterlooville endured an enthralling clash at home to Eastbourne Borough. Bradbury was able to name an unchanged side which came away with a 3-2 win. Theo Widdrington scored from long range, Rory Williams made it two with another effort from outside the box and former Dart, Jason Prior made it 3-0. Eastbourne Borough set up a nervy finish even with ten men after Gavin McCallum was dismissed. Two goals in as many minutes at the end of the game from Ryan Worrall and Will Hendon kept the Hawks on their toes.

Dartford’s last visited Westleigh Park in March last year and lost 2-0, two James Hayter headers sealed the win for the Hawks. The Darts only win away to Havant and Waterlooville came in 2012 when the away side dominated in a commanding 4-1 victory. Elliot Bradbrook and Danny Harris both scored a brace that day.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 4 / Havant and Waterlooville wins: 3 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

19.03.2016 Havant and Waterlooville 2 Dartford 0
05.12.2015 Dartford 4 Havant and Waterlooville 2
17.03.2012 Dartford 3 Havant and Waterlooville 1
07.01.2012 Havant and Waterlooville 1 Dartford 4
18.04.2011 Havant and Waterlooville 1 Dartford 0
14.08.2010 Dartford 2 Havant and Waterlooville 2

Stats
Dartford have won three of the last four meetings against the Hawks. In those three wins the Darts netted 11 times.

The last time Dartford drew their opening two league games was in 1995. The season’s opener on 12 August ended 0-0 away to Herne Bay in the Kent League. Four days later the Darts drew 1-1 with Beckenham Town at home.

Danny Harris has scored in every game his featured in against the Hawks, scoring five times in four games with the Darts winning on each occasion.

Former Dart, Jason Prior top scored for the Hawks last season with 17 goals. The striker represented Dartford in 2012/13 as part of the team that finished as the highest part timers. Prior made nine appearances scoring once, he made 15 more appearances the following campaign adding one more goal to his tally.

Dartford’s first ever fixture in the National South was a 2-2 draw against Havant and Waterlooville on 14 August 2010.

On This Day
Dartford last played on 12 August in the National League three years ago, when they drew 1-1 with Woking. An injury time equaliser by Giuseppe Sole denied the Darts all three points after Rory McAuley had scored earlier in the half. The draw was Dartford’s first points of the season after an opening defeat against Wrexham.

Braintree Town v Dartford

Dartford’s first away game of the National South campaign takes place on Tuesday night when they travel to Braintree Town.

The Darts haven’t had the best of times against the Irons, but a first victory in five years against their opponents will earn Dartford their first win of the season.

Just over two and half years ago was the last time the Darts visited Cressing Road, and the end result was disappointing as the hosts ran out 3-0 winners. The New Years Day fixture was all square with twelve minutes remaining until Chez Isaac’s close range effort broke the deadlock. Dartford collapsed and the National League fixture ended with more goals scored by Simeon Akinola and a stoppage time third by Dan Sparkes. Braintree Town also beat the Darts on Boxing Day to complete a festive double. Tony Burman’s side have lost their last four clashes with the Essex side failing to score on each occasion.

On the opening day of this campaign, Dartford secured their first point with a 0-0 draw at home to last season’s surprise package Hungerford Town. However, manager Tony Burman will know that his side will have to vastly improve if they want to live up to the favourites tag given to them by the bookies. The lack of attacking options showed as the Darts couldn’t find the quality in the final third.

Before a ball had been kicked the injury list included strikers Duane Ofori-Acheampong and Andy Pugh, so Danny Harris started up front with Tom Murphy instead of summer signing Warren Mfula. Lyle Della-Verde made his debut for the club and the returning Mark Onyemah was also selected. Mfula had to wait until early on in the second half to make his first appearance replacing Ronnie Vint, who unfortunately joins the injury list. Alfie Cue made an impression with his long throw when he entered the action with 12 minutes to go, the academy graduate made his maiden first team appearance.

Richard Sho-Silva, who has been training with the Darts over the summer has signed for the club. the 25 year old defender impressed in pre-season and has experience with Kidderminster Harriers and Stourbridge. Sho-Silva could well come into the squad as a replacement for Vint, who is out for two to three weeks with ligament damage on his ankle.

In contrast Braintree Town manager Brad Quinton won his first game in charge of the club as the Iron returned to life in the National South. Saturday’s win will provide relief to Braintree Town after winning just once in their final eight National League fixtures, that saw them relegated on the final day to end a five year spell at the top of non-league.

The Essex club, opened their new campaign with a trip to Eastbourne Borough at Priory Lane. The hosts raced into a two goal lead after just twenty minutes through goals by Yemi Odubade and Nathaniel Pinney. Importantly, Scott Shulton started the fightback and when Phil Roberts then Bill Crook scored, Braintree Town completed the come back to win 3-2.

Over the summer there has been plenty of change for the Iron with Quinton raiding his former club Enfield Town. Nathan McDonald, Jonathan Muleba, Scott Schulton, Samir Bihmoutine, Ricky Gabriel, Nigel Neita and Connor Bolton all joined from the Middlesex club. Other signings included Roman Michael-Percil from Metropolitan Police, George Craddock from East Thurrock United and Marc Okoye from Dulwich Hamlet.

Head to Head

Braintree Town wins: 6 / Dartford wins: 2 / Draws: 2

Last Meeting at Cressing Road

1st January 2015 – Braintree Town 3 Dartford 0 – attendance 934

Goalscorers: Isaac (78), Akinola (80), Sparkes (90+5)

Dartford line-up: Ibrahim, Burns, Mitchel-King, McAuley, Bender, Noble, Sweeney, E Bradbrook, Daley, T Bradbrook, Crawford (subs used: Hayes, Harris)

Previous Meetings

01.01.2015 Braintree Town 3 Dartford 0
26.12.2014 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
18.04.2014 Braintree Town 1 Dartford 0
24.08.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
11.04.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 0
25.09.2012 Braintree Town 0 Dartford 2

Stats

Braintree Town have kept five consecutive clean sheets against the Darts, the last time the Irons defence was breached by a Dartford player was in 2012 by Jacob Erskine.

Tom Bonner also scored in that 2-0 win, since then the defender has moved to Cambridge United to Dover Athletic and on to Ebbsfleet United before coming back to the Darts.

Dartford failed to score on the opening day for only the second time in the last nine years. Hemel Hempstead Town shut out the Darts in 2015 and Hendon in 2008.

Unable to contribute to the National South goals scored tally of 33 on matchday one, Dartford were one of six teams that drew a blank on the weekend.

On This Day

Two years ago, Dartford were unexpectedly beaten by newly promoted Hemel Hempstead Town at Vauxhall Road. The Tudors, just promoted to the National South hosted the Darts, who had been relegated from the National League. The opening day ended in disappointment for Dartford as Oliver Hawkins powered a header beyond Deren Ibrahim for the decisive goal.

Dartford v Hungerford Town

High expectations have been set for Dartford as they start their National South campaign at home to Hungerford Town this weekend. 

A third place finish last term has put the Darts amongst the favourites to challenge for the title and to return to the National League after a three-year absence. One of last season’s surprise packages, Hungerford Town will be the first obstacle to overcome as the Darts hope to get out off the mark.

Dartford enjoyed success at Princes Park towards the end of the regular season last term, but seek their first win on the opening day since 2013. Leading up to the playoff semi-final defeat, the Darts won six in a row at home scoring 22 times in the process.

With much of the squad retained the capability to succeed is at Burman’s disposal. Winger, Lyle Della-Verde could make his competitive debut in a Darts shirt and defender, Mark Onyemah may start his first competitive game since returning to the club. The pair replace Bromley winger Luke Wanadio who netted 13 times for the Darts last campaign and the versatile Tom Wynter, who joined relegated Margate.

Also in line for a debut is striker Warren Mfula, scorer of three goals this summer he has taken the step up three divisions from the Southern Countie East. The striker found the net an impressive 44 times last season and Burman believes Mfula’s positive attitude to develop is worth the gamble. The Darts have been without Duane Ofori-Acheampong for a second pre-season running, the striker will miss the start of the new season. Fellow striker, Andy Pugh missed the last two friendly matches due to a heel problem.

Hungerford Town were in touching distance of reaching the playoffs in their first ever season at National South level. Due to ground regulations, the Berkshire club were unable to participate but they still finished in a respectable sixth place.

The Crusaders have already played one competitive fixture, the final of the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup final against National South champions Maidenhead United. Although Hungerford Town were beaten 1-0, the rest of their preparations for the forthcoming campaign has seen them win seven out of their eight friendlies.

One addition to Bobby Wilkinson’s squad is Luke Hopper from Gloucester City. The striker played for the Crusaders before and top scored with his former club last term. Wilkinson, who starts his seventh year as Hungerford Town boss has also brought in the likes of Paul Stonehouse from Slough Town, Callum Willmoth from Newbury. and central defender Matt Partridge from Basingstoke Town.

The corresponding fixture last campaign hit national headlines as the Darts ran out 2-0 winners. With the first ever match between the two sides poised an unlikely scorer turned out to be the game changer. Awarded a free kick inside their own half, Dartford’s number one, Deren Ibrahim hit a long ball which sailed over George Legg in the Hungerford Town goal. The match was settled with two minutes left when Alex Brown’s controlled finish secured the three points. The Crusaders avenged defeat in April by also winning 2-0 on home soil, with goals from Louie Soares and Stefan Brown.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Hungerford Town wins: 1 / Draws: 0

Previous Meetings

14.04.2017 Hungerford Town 2 Dartford 0
27.08.2016 Dartford 2 Hungerford Town 0

Stats

Dartford have won just one of their last five opening day fixtures and two of their last seven at Princes Park on matchday one.

The ‘core’ players left in the Darts squad, Elliot Bradbrook, Danny Harris, Ryan Hayes and Lee Noble will start this season with a combined 1648 Dartford appearances under their belt and 334 goals.

As well as ‘the core’, Tom Bonner (214 appearances), Deren Ibrahim (130) and Andy Pugh (121) have all represented the Darts over 100 times. Ronnie Vint looks set to be the next one in line, the defender has made 84 appearances for the club, just 16 to go!

National League South Season Preview 2017/18 – Part V

 Wealdstone | Welling United | Weston-super-Mare | Whitehawk

Wealdstone

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Vale Stadium

A late surge coupled with Poole Town and Hungerford Town unable to participate in the playoffs, almost saw the Stones sneak a shot at promotion. However, the Middlesex club were unable to nudge past Hampton and Richmond Borough so ended the campaign in a respectable eighth. Wealdstone will feel they have a greater chance this time around as the top seven will take part in the end of season playoffs.

Last Season

National North: 8th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Runners Up

League Top Scorer: Elliot Benyon (16 goals)

Average Attendance: 734 (5th in league / 43rd in non-league)

The Manager – Gordon Bartlett

The longest serving manager in the National South having joined the Stones in the Summer of 1995, playing in the Isthmian Division Three without a home. Bartlett was put under pressure last term but still managed to almost gatecrash the playoffs. An experienced manager with three promotions and an F.A Trophy semi-final appearance whilst with the Middlesex club, Bartlett’s chances of guiding Wealdstone to the National League have increased now finishing seventh is good enough to reach the playoffs.

The Summer

Experienced heads have been retained with the likes of Eddie Oshodi, Elliott Benyon and Ricky Wellard signing for another year. Former Dartford full back, Josh Hill made a switch from Chelmsford City, Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick moved from Hampton and Richmond Borough and Jerome Okimo from Braintree Town. Looking towards the league’s below, Bartlett has also signed Benji Crilley from Chesham United and Abobaker Eisa from Uxbridge. Returning to action after time out from the game will be defender Liam Harwood.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 12 / Wealdstone wins: 13 / Draws: 12

Previous Meetings

28.01.2017 Wealdstone 0 Dartford 4
06.08.2016 Dartford 2 Wealdstone 2
26.01.2016 Dartford 1 Wealdstone 2
03.10.2015 Wealdstone 2 Dartford 1
21.02.2012 Wealdstone 1 Dartford 0
14.02.2012 Dartford 2 Wealdstone 2

Next Meetings

Saturday 4 November 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 17 February 2018 at Vale Stadium

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Welling United

Founded: 1963 / Ground: Park View Road

Relegated to the National South just over a year ago, the Wings were probably expecting to perform better last season considering they gained three years National League experience. The goal scoring form of Adam Coombes who netted 20 times was missed in the latter stages of the campaign. Stability is a word the Wings would welcome after managers have been and gone over the last year.

Last Season

National South: 16th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Runners Up

League Top Scorer: Adam Coombes (20 goals)

Average Attendance: 536 (11th in league / 68th in non-league)

The Manager – Jamie Coyle

A former full back with Dartford, Coyle has been part of successful teams including the Darts title winning campaigns in 2008 and 2010 making 140 appearances under Tony Burman scoring 19 times. He also experienced promotion with Maidstone United and played for Welling United six years ago. Coyle started out coaching whilst with the Darts working with the academy and now he’ll be eager to impress in his first managerial role.

The Summer

Welling United will have a familiar look about them to Dartford fans. Coyle has kept in contact with his former club and signed Alfie Pavey and brought back Tom Bradbrook to the world of football, after his brief retirement. Chairman, Mark Goldberg will be overseeing his son’s progress as Bradley Goldberg joins from Bromley. Returning to Park View Road will be Joe Healey and Jack Parkinson both previously with Dover Athletic. Conor Dymond also joins from Bromley whilst Jack Parter and Ian Gayle come in from Tonbridge Angels. After a spell in Ireland with Cork City, Cristian Nanetti signed to join the Wings squad.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 17 / Welling United wins: 7 / Draws: 10

Previous Meetings

28.02.2017 Welling United 0 Dartford 0
22.11.2016 Welling United 2 Dartford 2
06.09.2016 Dartford 2 Welling United 1
19.10.2015 Dartford 3 Welling United 1
11.11.2014 Dartford 2 Welling United 1
30.09.2014 Welling United 2 Dartford 2

Next Meetings

Tuesday 26 December 2017 at Park View Road

Monday 1 January 2018 at Princes Park

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Weston-super-Mare

Founded: 1887 / Ground: Woodspring Stadium

If there is one team guaranteed to be in the National South, it’s Weston-super-Mare. The only side to have taken part in every National South campaign since its creation in 2004. Apart from being reprieved on two occasions they have rarely threatened to leave the second tier of non-league. Last term they finished strongly rattling in the goals, but still finished in the bottom half.

Last Season

National South: 15th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Runners Up

League Top Scorer: Dayle Grubb (19 goals)

Average Attendance: 435 (15th in league / 91st in non-league)

The Manager – Marc McGregor

Excited by his new role as Seagulls boss, Marc McGregor returns to the Woodspring Stadium having played for the club. He’s been player coach at Worcester City and represented Oxford United and Notts County on the pitch too. After a spell at Forest Green Rovers McGregor earned a move to Queens Park Rangers but injury cut his full-time career short. The new Weston-super-Mare boss managed to have playing spells with Tamworth and Hinckley United before going into coaching.

The Summer

Danny Greenslade will be playing in Weston-super-Mare shirt after joining from Bristol Rovers. The Seagulls will miss Bradley Ash who was on loan from Barnsley last season and has returned to his parent club. It took a while for the summer activity to come to fruition and when it did the Seagulls secured the services of Jarrad Welch, Ben Seymour, Jake Mawford and Tristan Plummer.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 7 / Weston-Super-Mare wins: 2 /  Draws: 4

Previous Meetings

17.01.2017 Dartford 3 Weston-Super-Mare 2
26.11.2016 Weston-Super-Mare 2 Dartford 4
20.08.2016 Weston-Super-Mare 1 Dartford 2
05.03.2016 Weston-Super-Mare 2 Dartford 1
13.09.2015 Dartford 2 Weston-Super-Mare 1
12.11.2011 Dartford 1 Weston-Super-Mare 1

Next Meetings

Saturday 23 September 2017 at Woodspring Stadium

Saturday 7 April 2018 at Princes Park

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Whitehawk

Founded: 1945 / Ground: Enclosed Ground

Tough times have hot the Sussex club highlighted by the managerial merry-go-round last season. The Hawks went through five managers and almost 50 players last term alone. For a club that made F.A Cup headlines just over a year ago, Whitehawk have fallen rapidly with a former club president imprisoned and rumours of cashflow issues. The 2014/15 playoff runners up hit their peak in that season almost making it four promotions in six campaigns, now progress has halted the Sussex club need to find stability.

Last Season

National South: 17th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Danny Mills (16 goals)

Average Attendance: 297 (21st in league / 139th in non-league)

The Manager – Jimmy Dack

A former midfielder who knows his way around the non-league scene, Jimmy Dack spent his playing days in Surry and Hampshire with Sutton United, Carshalton Athletic, Aldershot Town and Farnborough Town. Spells in Sussex with Crawley Town means he has already travelled most of the Southern counties. Dack was appointed in January after being Andy Woodman’s assistant and he will be hoping to last longer than the last four managers of the Hawks.

The Summer

The loss of top striker Danny Mills is a huge blow for Whitehawk, the 26 year old has joined Ebbsfleet United. Experienced midfielder Sergio Torres leaves for Eastbourne Borough and Michael West has gone to Chelmsford City along with Elliot Omozusi. Academy players have been given the opportunity with no less than seven under 18’s joining the senior squad, perhaps a sign of the budget cuts at the Enclosed Ground. Connor Tighe has signed from Brighton and Hove Albion, Alex Tokarczyk from Basingstoke Town and Ed Sanders from Gosport Borough. Boosting the squad number another four signed, defenders Tom Cadnam and Ed Wakley as well as forwards Papa Gueye and Bayan Fenwick joined the list of Hawks players.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 /Whitehawk wins: 3 / Draws: 0

Previous Meetings

04.02.2017 Dartford 3 Whitehawk 1
10.08.2016 Whitehawk 1 Dartford 0
12.03.2016 Dartford 2 Whitehawk 4
19.12.2015 Whitehawk 0 Dartford 1
28.11.2015 Dartford 1 Whitehawk 2
04.09.1982 Dartford 5 Whitehawk 2

Next Meetings

Tuesday 5 September 2017 at Enclosed Ground

Saturday 27 January 2018 at Princes Park

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National League South Season Preview 2017/18 – Part IV

 Oxford City | Poole Town | St Albans City | Truro City

Oxford City

Founded: 1882 / Ground: Marsh Lane

The Nomads had an ordinary campaign last time out and will spend their third season in the National South, following their sideways step from the North in the summer of 2015. Justin Merritt resigned halfway through last term and Mark Jones took over in December to ensure a mid-table finish. This season, Oxford City will be playing on a 3G pitch after their Marsh Lane ground was renovated.

Last Season

National North: 14th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: Jefferson Louis (8 goals)

Average Attendance: 302 (20th in league / 132nd in non-league)

The Manager – Mark Jones

Already on the coaching staff, Jones was promoted from within the club to take on his first managerial role (??). He represented the Nomads over 100 times during his playing days and also played for Aylesbury United, Harrow Borough and Thame United. Jones is hoping the new playing surface can help attract new players as he builds a competitive squad for the National South.

The Summer

Justin Bennett hammered in the goals at this level before with Gosport Borough and after a spell with Salisbury City he’s back. He will partner Matt Paterson who left Havant and Waterlooville, the pair enjoyed a successful spell together at Borough which could be pivotal in Oxford City’s latest campaign. Joe Oastler, formerly Aldershot Town and Gosport Borough will be part of the squad as will David Pearce from Chesham, Eddie Jones from AFC Telford United, Zac McEachran from Banbury United and Horatio Hirst on loan from League One champions Sheffield United. Mamadou Fofana joins as a free agent having played for Barrow. Veteran striker Jefferson Louis has departed the Nomads at the age of 38.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Oxford City wins: 1 / Draws: 3

Previous Meetings

25.02.2017 Oxford City 1 Dartford 1
29.10.2016 Dartford 1 Oxford City 0
23.04.2016 Dartford 2 Oxford City 2
15.09.2015 Oxford City 2 Dartford 1
04.11.2008 Oxford City 2 Dartford 4
01.11.2008 Dartford 3 Oxford City 3

Next Meetings

Saturday 18 August 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 24 March 2018 at Marsh Lane

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Poole Town

Founded: 1880 / Ground: Tatnam Ground

The surprise package of 2016/17 finishing in the top five but denied a playoff place due to required ground improvements. The Dolphins kicked on from their Southern Premier League title campaign with consistency and a decent brand of football. Now the ground grading has been resolved, the Dorset club will be hoping their time comes round again. With the expansion of the playoffs, Poole Town will want to prove last term was no fluke.

Last Season

National South: 5th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Steve Devlin (14 goals)

Average Attendance: 570 (9th in league / 60th in non-league)

The Manager – Tom Killick

Poole Town have been on the up since Tom Killick joined the Dorset club 13 years ago. Although he has won three Wessex League titles in a row, three Southern League Division One South and West championships, promotions and the Southern Premier League, last season was arguably up their with the best as the Dolphins exceeded expectations finishing in fifth.

The Summer

Marvin Brooks will be missed at the Tatnam Ground, the midfielder decided to join Salisbury City and drop two divisions. Tony Lee comes in from AFC Totton, but there has been very little change. Manager Tom Killick put trust in his Southern Premier League squad and will be content in doing so again. With new Chairman, Chris Reeves calling it a massive task to keep up with operational costs, Killick may well have to work with what he already has.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 16 / Poole Town wins: 15 / Draws: 5

Previous Meetings

29.04.2017 Poole Town 2 Dartford 3
03.12.2016 Dartford 2 Poole Town 1
14.03.1992 Dartford 4 Poole Town 0
02.11.1991 Poole Town 0 Dartford 0
06.04.1991 Poole Town 1 Dartford 0
24.11.1990 Dartford 0 Poole Town 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 2 December 2017 at Tatnam Ground

Saturday 10 March 2018 at Princes Park

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St Albans City

Founded: 1908 / Ground: Clarence Park

Two years ago, St Albans City were battling at the wrong end of the table until a tremendous run of form helped them steer to safety. The Saints survived with games to spare and their form continued into last term. The Hertfordshire club became promotion contenders and with Louie Theophanous netting the goals a top five finish looked good. Then, the striker left and the squad struggled in the second half of the campaign sinking down the standings to tenth.

Last Season

National South: 10th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: Louie Theophanous (15 goals)

Average Attendance: 703 (6th in league / 46th in non-league)

The Manager – Ian Allinson

The man responsible for turning the Saints fortunes around last season, Ian Allinson now has a full campaign under his belt with the Hertfordshire club. The former Arsenal player has 28 years managerial experience and was very successful at Boreham Wood, leading them to the National League via two playoff triumphs. In October 2015, work commitments saw Allinson resign and take up a tough role at St Albans City. After guiding the Saints to safety, the 59 year old almost turned his side into title contenders, but early season promise dwindled.

The Summer

Former Dartford defender Tom Gardiner has been retained, the 22 year old moved to St Albans City due to work commitments in January. At the back he will join Tom Bender who also played for the Darts. Zane Banton has turned his loan spell from Luton Town into a permanent place at Clarence Park and former Cambridge City duo, Rhys Murrell Williamson and Dean Snedker have been added to the squad. Looking towards the divisions below, Percy Kiangebeni and Harold Joseph join from Enfield Town and Layne Eadie from Harlow Town.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 6 / St Albans City wins: 3 / Draws: 4

Previous Meetings

25.03.2017 St Albans City 1 Dartford 0
08.11.2016 Dartford 0 St Albans City 2
30.04.2016 St Albans City 4 Dartford 0
06.02.2016 Dartford 2 St Albans City 0
02.04.2011 St Albans City 1 Dartford 2
22.03.2011 Dartford 2 St Albans City 2

Next Meetings

Saturday 28 October 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 3 February 2018 at Clarence Park

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Truro City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Treyew Road

From playoff semi-finalists to a tussle against the drop, the White Tigers have experienced the highs and lows of football in recent seasons. Relegated from the National South in 2013 and promoted as Southern Premier playoff winners in 2016, the Cornwall club have had two more contrasting campaigns since. Last time out they conceded 99 goals and must tighten their defence to avoid looking over their shoulder this time.

Last Season

National South: 19th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

League Top Scorer: Andrew Neal (16 goals)

Average Attendance: 402 (16th in league / 97th in non-league)

The Manager – Lee Hodges

Leading the White Tigers to Southern Premier League glory was a highlight for Hodges seven years ago. Then the club’s financial situation worsened and their grip on National South stability loosened, eventually returning to the Southern Premier. Hodges lost his managerial role as the White Tigers couldn’t afford to keep him. After returning to the National South, the former Plymouth Argyle midfielder came back to Treyew Road reaching the playoffs before last season’s battle with relegation.

The Summer

Truro City welcome back forward Stuart Yetton who played over 300 games for the White Tigers, the 32 year old comes back after a spell with Torquay United. Also coming back to the club, Jordan Copp from Weymouth, Ed Palmer from Taunton Town and Ben Gerring from Bideford Town. Ben Harding switched this summer from Gosport Borough. Finally work begins on a new stadium due to be ready for the 2019/2020 season. Designed to share with rugby club Cornish Pirates, their new home is expected to be completed to Football League standards. Hard working midfielder Aaron Lamont, ‘busy midfielder’ Noah Keats and full back Bill Palfrey also make up the squad numbers. On loan from Exeter City will be defender Alex Hartridge.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Truro City wins: 3 / Draws: 1

Previous Meetings

18.03.2017 Dartford 5 Truro  City 3
08.10.2016 Truro  City 0 Dartford 5
05.04.2016 Truro City 3 Dartford 0
19.09.2015 Dartford 0 Truro City 1
28.04.2012 Truro  City 1 Dartford 1
22.10.2011 Dartford 1 Truro  City 2

Next Meetings

Saturday 11 November 2017 at Treyew Road

Saturday 24 February 2018 at Princes Park

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National League South Season Preview 2017/18 – Part III

 Gloucester City | Hampton and Richmond Borough | Havant and Waterlooville | Hemel Hempstead Town | Hungerford Town

Gloucester City

Founded: 1883 / Ground: Jubilee Stadium

After eight years in the National North and a decade in exile, Gloucester City made a switch to the National South this summer. Consistent mid-table finishers, the Tigers lost their Meadow Park home during the Gloucestershire floods in 2007. Since then they have shared grounds with Forest Green Rovers, Cirencester Town, Cheltenham Town and this year they are homed at Evesham. In October, the Tigers received full planning permission to build a new stadium from the council and hope to build a new legacy.

Last Season

National North: 10th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: 1st Round

League Top Scorer: Luke Hooper (19 goals)

Average Attendance: 483 (19th in league / 76th in non-league)

The Manager – Tim Harris

Returning to Gloucester City as manager in February 2014, Tim Harris has experience of the National South with Newport County. After a playing career with Shrewsbury Town, Cheltenham Town and Redditch United, Harris has also managed Merthyr Tydfil and Forest Green Rovers. Having experienced both the National North and South, he knows the leagues are equally competitive and his side need to be ready for the new challenge.

The Summer

Will Morford is the man to replace 19 goal striker Luke Hopper, who joined Hungerford Town. Morford will work as a player coach having made the move from Shortwood United. George Forsyth couldn’t break into the Kidderminster Harriers side and will now try to impress for the Tigers. Kieran Parselle joins from Newport County and Alex Harris from Hereford. Over pre-season Edji Mbunga a former Birmingham City youth team forward caught Harris’ eye and has also signed to the club.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 25 / Gloucester City wins: 12 / Draws: 10

Previous Meetings

07.03.1992 Gloucester City 0 Dartford 0
26.10.1991 Dartford 2 Gloucester City 0
16.03.1991 Dartford 2 Gloucester City 1
29.09.1990 Gloucester City 2 Dartford 0
21.04.1990 Dartford 6 Gloucester City 2
20.01.1990 Gloucester City 0 Dartford 4

Next Meetings

Saturday 18 November 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 3 March 2018 at Jubilee Stadium

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Hampton and Richmond Borough

Founded: 1921 / Ground: The Beveree

Last season’s pace setters started the campaign scoring for fun until the Beavers lost influential players. Jamal Lowe and Nicke Kabamba moved to League Two champions Portsmouth in January, Hampton and Richmond Borough finished seventh. The disappointment of missing out on the playoffs was short-lived for the 2015/16 Isthmian Premier champions, with Poole Town and Hungerford Town unable to compete, the Beavers were given a second chance losing to Ebbsfleet United in the semi-final.

Last Season

National South: 7th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Nicke Kabamba (16 goals)

Average Attendance: 636 (7th in league / 54th in non-league)

The Manager – Alan Dowson

Most of Alan Dowson’s managerial career has been with Kingstonian where he won the Isthmian Division One South. A former defender as a player he entered the managerial world with Walton and Hersham. Dowson was appointed boss of the Beavers nearly three years ago and was joined by Martin Tyler, who he worked with at Kingstonian. He led Hampton and Richmond Borough to the Isthmian Premier title just over a year ago and last term helped the club reach the playoffs.

The Summer

A key change took place during the break with Chairman Steve McPherson stepping down and being replaced by former Gateshead Chairman Graham Wood. Former Dartford midfielder Nathan Collier will don the Beavers shirt once more; he will team up with ex Dartford striker Harry Crawford who joins from Welling United. The signing that has Hampton and Richmond Borough fans talking though is Max Kretzchmar, the 23 year old has experience with Wycombe Wanderers and Woking. Ryan Moss comes in from Kingstonian, Charlie Wassmer from National South champions Maidenhead United and Claudiu Vilcu from Wingate and Finchley. Looking for a goalkeeper nearly all summer, Sam Howes finally put pen to paper after his loan spell with the Beavers last term.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 4 / Hampton and Richmond Borough wins: 4 / Draws: 0

Previous Meetings

17.04.2017 Dartford 3 Hampton & Richmond Borough 1
29.08.2016 Hampton & Richmond Borough 4 Dartford 1
21.01.2012 Hampton & Richmond Borough 1 Dartford 3
20.08.2011 Dartford 2 Hampton & Richmond Borough 1
19.02.2011 Dartford 0 Hampton & Richmond Borough 4
17.08.2010 Hampton & Richmond Borough 1 Dartford 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 2 September 2017 at The Beveree

Saturday 31 March 2018 at Princes Park

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Havant and Waterlooville

Founded: 1998 / Ground: Westleigh Park

It’s been a roller coaster ride for the Hawks over the last three seasons decided by fine margins. From playoff semi-finalists to unexpected relegation by a single goal, Havant and Waterlooville bounced back by winning the Southern League Premier last term, with help from former Dartford striker Jason Prior who top scored for the Hawks. Havant and Waterlooville have made a swift return to the National South and will be determined to stay up this time round.

Last Season

Southern Premier: 1st

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: Jason Prior (17 goals)

Average Attendance: 713 (2nd in league / 45th in non-league)

The Manager – Lee Bradbury

Lee Bradbury is six 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, he has been in charge at Westleigh Park.

The Summer

Havant and Waterlooville have kept much of the squad that competed in the National South last time. Former Dartford loanee Bradley Tarbuck has been retained along with experienced striker James Hayter. As a former forward himself, Bradbury will know the qualities needed to find the net and this summer he’s signed Matt Tubbs from Eastleigh. The 32 year old made his name with Crawley Town after being spotted at Salisbury City. The striker had successful spells with AFC Wimbledon and Portsmouth before moving around the National League over the last eighteen months.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 4 / Havant and Waterlooville wins: 3 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

19.03.2016 Havant and Waterlooville 0 Dartford 2
05.12.2015 Dartford 4 Havant and Waterlooville 2
17.03.2012 Dartford 3 Havant and Waterlooville 1
07.01.2012 Havant and Waterlooville 1 Dartford 4
18.04.2011 Havant and Waterlooville 1 Dartford 0
14.08.2010 Dartford 2 Havant and Waterlooville 2

Next Meetings

Saturday 12 August 2017 at Westleigh Park

Saturday 13 January 2018 at Princes Park

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Hemel Hempstead Town

Founded: 1885 / Ground: Vauxhall Road

Entering their third successive season in the National South, the Tudors followed up their impressive debut season with a mid-table finish. A year ago, Hemel Hempstead Town ended their campaign one place outside the playoffs, last time out the Hertfordshire side could only manage twelfth. Towards the final stages of last season Hemel Hempstead Town lost their way and whilst they beat teams at the bottom they struggled against those above them.

Last Season

National South: 12th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Jake Robinson (25 goals)

Average Attendance: 486 (13th in league / 75th in non-league)

The Manager – Dean Brennan

Hemel Hempstead Town were struggling before Dean Brennan’s appointment in May 2012. The Tudors were reprieved from the Southern Premier League two seasons in a row and had not finished higher the fifteenth, in the three campaigns before the Irishman joined the Hertfordshire club. Brennan managed to guide the Tudors to their highest ever position in his first full campaign and had improved on this record ever since. A playoff defeat, a storming Southern Premier League title triumph and an eighth place finish in the National South was bettered by last term’s sixth spot.

The Summer

Dean Brennan is building a squad and must be quietly confident to challenge for the title. Former Dartford striker Charlie Sheringham had a good spell with the Tudors towards the end of last season and he joins permanently to link up with Jordan Parkes again, the pair were together at Ebbsfleet United. Another former Dart, Callum Driver has signed from Maidstone United, the club the Tudors have got Phil Walsh and Laurie Walker from as well. Ismail Yakubu will provide experience after joining from Woking, Tom Hamblin will provide creativity coming in from Wealdstone. The Tudors have also signed Joe Howe from Leatherhead, Taylor Miles from National League champions Lincoln City, Alex Osborn from Whitehawk and David Moyo from Brackley Town. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Hemel Hempstead Town wins: 1 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

01.04.2017 Hemel Hempstead Town 2 Dartford 2
12.11.2016 Dartford 2 Hemel Hempstead Town 0
17.10.2015 Dartford 2 Hemel Hempstead Town 2
08.08.2015 Hemel Hempstead Town 1 Dartford 0
16.09.1972 Hemel Hempstead 2 Dartford 9

Next Meetings

Saturday 26 August 2017 at Vauxhall Road

Saturday 17 March 2018 at Princes Park

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Hungerford Town

Founded: 1886 / Ground: Bulpit Lane

Winners of the Southern Premier League playoffs in 2015/16, the Crusaders had an excellent debut season in the National South last term. The surprise package almost gate crashed the playoffs finishing in sixth, but the Berkshire club took a blow when informed that they couldn’t participate in the end of season lottery. Ground grading was below the required standard and like Poole Town, the Crusaders missed out on buying a ticket.

Last Season

National South: 6th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Runners Up

League Top Scorer: Stefan Brown (11 goals)

Average Attendance: 318 (18th in league / 125th in non-league)

The Manager – Bobby Wilkinson

In his seventh year as Hungerford Town manager, Bobby Wilkinson has taken the Crusaders to the highest level of football they have competed in. Two playoff victories got Hungerford Town to the National South and in their debut season came so close to another playoff spot. Wilkinson’s foundations in the management trade were put down at a young age when injury cut his playing career short. The Crusaders boss coached and gained experience from the likes of Mark McGhee, Brendan Rogers and Brian McDermott whilst at Reading.

The Summer

Bobby Wilkinson feels that his squad doesn’t need much change claiming they are 95% there. His biggest job was to replace Nat Jarvis who joined Bath City and to do that Wilkinson looked towards Luke Hopper, signing him from Gloucester City. Paul Stonehouse also moves to the Crusaders from Slough Town and Callum Willmoth from Newbury. Most recently, central defender Matt Partridge signed from Basingstoke Town

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Hungerford Town wins: 1 / Draws: 0

Previous Meetings

14.04.2017 Hungerford Town 2 Dartford 0
27.08.2016 Dartford 2 Hungerford Town 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 5 August 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 9 December 2017 at Bulpit Lane

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National League South Season Preview 2017/18 – Part II

 Chippenham Town | Concord Rangers | Dartford | Eastbourne Borough | East Thurrock United

Chippenham Town

Founded: 1873 / Ground: Hardenhuish Park

A new entry into the National South, Chippenham Town are the Southern League champions and set their highest ever points tally last season, with an impressive 103, a league record. The Bluebirds spent 15 years in the Southern Premier League reaching the playoffs on four occasions and suffering heartbreak in the final three times. So when the Wiltshire club took all the glory last term, the long wait was certainly worth it for club officials and supporters.

Last Season

Southern Premier: 1st

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Qualifying Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: Andrew Sandell (27 goals)

Average Attendance: 459 (8th in league / 86th in non-league)

The Manager – Mark Collier

Responsible for guiding Chippenham Town to thee highest level they have ever played, Collier gained experience at Swindon Supermarine. He led the Marine to the F.A Cup second round seven years ago and three months later left the club. Since then Collier has been learning his coaching trade at Wootton Bassett and Abingdon United. The current Bluebirds boss has a championship winning side to work with and hopes his team can repay the trust he is giving the players.

The Summer

Not too much action in the transfer marker and that is because Collier has retained 16 players believing his squad will be competitive. The three signings he has made, Dean Evans, Mark Cooper and Jason Matthews have all come from Weymouth. Most importantly the Bluebirds have kept hold of Andrew Sandell, the Southern Premier League top scorer for the last two season’s. The striker used to play for Bristol Rovers and Newport County. On loan for the season, Chelsea teenager Jared Thompson could gain experience between the sticks. Jake Andrews has been added on a two month loan from Bristol City. Attacking midfielder, Scott Donnelly will provide more experience having played for numerous clubs at Football League and National South level.

Next Meetings

Saturday 9 September 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 20 January 2018 at Hardenhuish Park

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Concord Rangers

Founded: 1967 / Ground: Thames Road

A well run club who have moved up the divisions from the Essex League in a short space of time. Despite small crowds the Beachboys continue to hold their own in the National South and will now participate at this level for a fourth consecutive year. Last term was their lowest finish since promotion to the National South as the Essex club started poorly, but a decent recovery lifted them away from the drop zone to safety.

Last Season

National South: 18th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: 3rd Round

League Top Scorer: Steve Cawley (18 goals)

Average Attendance: 287 (22nd in league / 140th in non-league)

The Manager – Adam Flanagan

Former Dartford defender Adam Flanagan impressed in his first two season’s as Concord Rangers manager. He had replaced Danny Cowley who guided the Beachboys up the non league pyramid so had big shoes to fill. The 38 year old previously managed Brentwood Town where he won promotion to the Isthmian Premier League via the playoffs. As a player he captained the Dartford side who clinched the Isthmian Premier League title five years ago, making a total of 145 appearances for the Darts and scoring 14 goals.

The Summer

Steve Cawley has been the club’s top scorer regularly and will get help from Jordan Cox, who signed from National South champions Maidenhead United. Lewis Taafe returns to Thames Road and Khale Da Costa will be a Beachboy too. Flanagan has returned to a former club in Maldon and Tiptree to sign up Jordan Sanderson and Billy Roast. From Southend United, Jason Williams joins Concord Rangers and Jordan Brown from Welling United. Last season their were a fair few former Dartford players around Thames Road, now that has been cut down with the departures of James White and Jordan Chiedozie.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 / Concord Rangers wins: 1 / Draws: 1

Previous Meetings

11.03.2017 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 1
24.09.2016 Dartford 2 Concord Rangers 1
27.02.2016 Dartford 1 Concord Rangers 2
18.08.2015 Concord Rangers 2 Dartford 3
27.01.2009 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 3

Next Meetings

Tuesday 15 August 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 6 January 2018 at Thames Road

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Dartford

Founded: 1888 / Ground: Princes Park

After a season of consolidation, the Darts went a step further by reaching the playoffs losing out to their season’s nemesis Chelmsford City in the semi final. Considering the budget available to the top two Maidenhead United and local rivals Ebbsfleet United, Dartford finished the best of the rest pipping the Clarets on the final day. Once again, captain Elliot Bradbrook led by example in midfield top scoring, but a small, solid and flexible squad had the togetherness to almost challenge for the title in February. However the strength of the top two left the Darts behind in a respectable third place.

Last Season

National South: 3rd

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: Elliot Bradbrook (14 goals)

Average Attendance: 998 (3rd in league / 37th in non-league)

The Manager – Tony Burman

It seemed like Tony Burman rediscovered the Dartford spirit of old last season. Overseeing title winning sides in the Isthmian Leagues and a triumphant National South playoff team, Burman guided the Darts to eighth in the National League back in 2014/15. From then on Dartford spiralled downwards with a reprieve then relegation leaving supporters in the doldrums. Consolidation has now been followed by optimism again and with Burman’s experience, the Darts are eyeing up promotion again.

The Summer

The nucleus of last season were tied down early doors largely due to the team spirit Burman has once again created. The ‘core’ of Elliot Bradbrook, Ryan Hayes, Danny Harris and Lee Noble have stayed on. The hole left by goal scoring winger Luke Wanadio to Bromley has been filled by Lyle Della Verde from Concord Rangers. Full back, Tom Wynter who moved down a division to relegated Margate has been replaced by Mark Onyemah from Thurrock, who played 24 times whilst on loan at Princes Park from Luton Town back in 2015/16. Scorer of 44 goals last term for AFC Croydon Athletic in the Southern Counties East League, Warren Mfula impressed enough for Burman to take a gamble.

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Eastbourne Borough

Founded: 1964 / Ground: Priory Lane

It’s time for Eastbourne Borough to show some progression after Tommy Widdrington’s five year tenure. The Sports finished between 10th and 17th during Widdrington’s spell in charge and are only on their fifth manager in 34 years. Stability is a word Eastbourne Borough are used to but the new boss wants more. Last term the Sussex club ended in a predictable mid-table spot and will continue life in the National South once more.

Last Season

National South: 11th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: Elliot Romain (20 goals)

Average Attendance: 541 (10th in league / 67th in non-league)

The Manager – Jamie Howell

After ten years as a player at Bognor Regis Town and seven years as a manager, Howell shocked the Rocks with his switch to Sussex rivals Eastbourne Borough. The 40 year old played over 400 games for last season’s Isthmian Premier playoff winners taking his former side to their highest ever level. Howell now wants to take Eastbourne Borough back to the National League by playing attractive football and in the long term have a team of local players from the county.

The Summer

Sergio Torres is the main signing this summer joining the Sports from Whitehawk. The 35 year old Argentinian made his name at Wycombe Wanderers and Peterborough before being part of Crawley Town’s rise. Jamie Howell, also went back to a former club to get Leon Redwood to sign from Burgess Hill Town. Replacing Josh Hare at full back will be ex Wothing player Will Hendon and Matt Drage comes in from Dulwich Hamlet. Yemi Odubade returns to the Sports after spells with Oxford United and Maidstone United.

Head To Head

Dartford wins: 8 / Eastbourne Borough wins: 4 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

08.04.2017 Dartford 4 Eastbourne Borough 3
16.08.2011 Eastbourne Borough 2 Dartford 3
20.02.2016 Eastbourne Borough 1 Dartford 1
11.08.2015 Dartford 1 Eastbourne Borough 0
03.04.2012 Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 1
29.11.2011 Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1

Next Meetings

Tuesday 12 September 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 14 April 2018 at Priory Lane

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East Thurrock United

Founded: 1969 / Ground: Rookery Hill

The Rocks had a fine season last time out consolidating in the National South in their first ever campaign at this level. The Essex club will be one of four representing the county and they have their fair share of former Darts in their squad. A similar season to last term will be the aim for the club and success will be signs of improvement at this level.

Last Season

National South: 13th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: Second Round

County Cup: Runners up

League Top Scorer: Tom Wraight (19 goals)

Average Attendance: 305 (19th in league / 129th in non-league)

The Manager – John Coventry

East Thurrock United needed rebuilding following relegation to the Isthmian Division One in 2008. The astuteness and coaching experience of John Coventry has had a large part to play in the Rocks rise to the National South. Four years ago, the Essex club won the playoffs to reach the Isthmian Premier League. Last term provided consolidation after winning promotion via the Isthmian Premier playoffs.

The Summer

Three former Dartford players join East Thurrock United and will team up with ex Dart Lee Burns, who was signed a year ago. Max Cornhill left Chelmsford City and James White moved on from Concord Rangers. The Rocks have also signed Lewis Smith, who Dartford gambled on a few years ago only for the striker to move out to Australia shortly after agreeing to sign for the Darts, he was later banned for 17 months by the F.A which ends next month. George Allen also joins East Thurrock United from fellow Essex side Canvey Island. Leaving Rookery Hill this summer wsa top scorer Tom Wraight who secured a move to Maidstone United.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / East Thurrock United wins: 2 / Draws: 1

Previous Meetings

07.01.2016 Dartford 6 East Thurrock United 1
10.09.2016 East Thurrock United 1 Dartford 1
30.04.2005 Dartford 0 East Thurrock United 3
28.08.2004 East Thurrock United 2 Dartford 1

Next Meetings

Monday 28 August 2017 at Princes Park

Monday 2 Monday 2018 at Rookery Hill

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National League South Season Preview 2017/18 – Part I

 Bath City | Bognor Regis Town | Braintree Town | Chelmsford City

Bath City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Twerton Park

The Romans achieved their highest finish in three years last term to finish in the top ten. Decent form from mid-November to mid-February helped the cause as Bath City tasted league defeat just once in that period. This season will mark the Romans sixth consecutive campaign in the National South as they push for a playoff place and a hopeful return to the National League, which they exited five years ago.

Last Season

National South: 9th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Andy Watkins (14 goals)

Average Attendance: 612 (8th in league / 59th in non-league)

The Manager – Gary Owers

Former Sunderland, Bristol City and Notts County midfielder last managed Bath City over ten years ago in the Southern Premier League. The 47 year old, went on to manage Forest Green Rovers and Weston-Super-Mare prior assistant manager roles at Aldershot Town, Plymouth Argyle and his hometown club Gateshead. Owers enjoyed his first full campaign last season and this time is aiming for the top five. The Romans boss committed to the club this summer for the next two years and hopes the community buy out off the field will reap its rewards.

The Summer

Shaun McClousky returns to his parent club Bristol City, which allows Jamie Lucas from Bristol Rovers and Nat Jarvis from Hungerford Town to try and replace his goals. Owers has opted for experience at the back signing Grenadian international Anthony Straker from Aldershot Town and Darren Jones from Newport County, adding a little youthfulness in the defence will be Miles Welch-Hayes from Oxford United. Top scorer Andy Watkins was retained after picking up last season’s Player of the Year for the Romans. Turning his loan spell last season to a permanent deal, Marvin Morgan signs from Havant and Waterlooville. Triallists, Matt Cafer and Ryan Case impressed enough in pre-season to earn deals.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 29 / Bath City wins: 40 / Draws: 19

Previous Meetings

04.03.2017 Dartford 2 Bath City 0
22.10.2016 Bath City 0 Dartford 1
16.01.2016 Dartford 4 Bath City 1
05.09.2015 Bath City 0 Dartford 0
07.04.1990 Dartford 1 Bath City 0
09.09.1989 Bath City 0 Dartford 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 14 October 2017 at Twerton Park

Saturday 21 April 2018 at Princes Park

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Bognor Regis Town

Founded: 1883 / Ground: Nyewood Lane

Isthmian Premier League runners up two years in a row, the Rocks return to the National South after an eight year absence. In that time the sank to the Isthmian Division One South where again they finished second in consecutive seasons, going up in the playoffs. The Sussex club managed to overcome a strong Dulwich Hamlet side in April’s playoff final and deservedly earned promotion.

Last Season

Isthmian Premier: 2nd

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: James Fraser (22 goals)

Average Attendance: 550 (5th in league / 64th in non-league)

The Manager – Vacant

The search for a new boss took some time only for the hard work to be undone. Sami El-Abd agreed to combine the manager’s post with a full time coaching role at Brighton and Hove Albion, only for the defender to step down. General Manager, Jack Pearce praised El-Abd’s honesty and believes any disruptions won’t be a problem for the Rocks.

The Summer

Bognor Regis Town suffered a double blow, after losing manager Jamie Howell, top scorer James Fraser departed Nyewood Lane for Worthing. Corey Heath, once a youth team player with the Rocks will now be part of the senior squad. Goalkeeper, Dan Lincoln and midfield trio Joe Lea, Pat Suraci and Tommy Scutt have all signed on but attracting new players has proved challenging without a manager for most of the summer.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 / Bognor Regis Town wins: 1 / Draws: 4

Previous Meetings

24.04.2010 Bognor Regis Town 0 Dartford 2
07.11.2009 Dartford 3 Bognor Regis Town 3
02.05.1981 Dartford 1 Bognor Regis Town 1
13.12.1980 Bognor Regis Town 2 Dartford 2
01.05.1980 Bognor Regis Town 2 Dartford 0
10.11.1979 Dartford 2 Bognor Regis Town 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 7 October 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 28 April 2018 at Nyewood Lane

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Braintree Town

Founded: 1898 / Ground: Cressing Road

The Irons six year stay amongst the elite of non league ended in relegation last season. In that time the Essex club kept defying the odds starting with mid-table finishes and in 2014 were three points from a playoff spot. A couple of years later, Braintree Town achieved their best ever campaign finishing third, losing the playoff semi final against Grimsby Town. Perhaps victims of their own success, the Iron never recovered and were relegated last term on the final day. At least they reached the F.A cup second round for the first time.

Last Season

National League: 22nd

F.A Cup: 2nd Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Michael Cheek (17 goals)

Average Attendance: 725 (22nd in league / 44th in non-league)

The Manager – Brad Quinton

The club’s record appearance maker after twelve successful seasons with the Iron, Brad Quinton re-joins the Essex club to take charge. Winner of the Isthmian Premier and National South as a player with Braintree Town, he has had a lot of rebuilding to do and his new look squad will be hoping to consolidate in the National South. Quinton has set his sights on the top half of the table by the festive period and then see where he can take them from there. Being a crowd favourite on the pitch may well help him in the dug out.

The Summer

The Irons have signed a teams worth of new players alone including former Dartford striker George Sykes from Canvey Island. Quinton also raided resources at Enfield Town, his former club to work with players he knows and trusts. Nathan McDonald, Jonathan Muleba, Scott Schulton, Samir Bihmoutine, Ricky Gabriel, Nigel Neita and Connor Bolton all join from the Middlesex club. Xavier Vidal has been brought in from Mertsham, Roman Michael-Percil from Metropolitan Police, George Craddock from East Thurrock United and Marc Okoye from Dulwich Hamlet.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Braintree Town wins: 6 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

01.01.2015 Braintree Town 3 Dartford 0
26.12.2014 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
18.04.2014 Braintree Town 1 Dartford 0
24.08.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
11.04.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 0
25.09.2012 Braintree Town 0 Dartford 2

Next Meetings

Tuesday 8 August 2017 at Cressing Road

Saturday 23 December 2018 at Princes Park

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Chelmsford City

Founded: 1878 / Ground: Melbourne Stadium

A solid reliable outfit last season, the Clarets failed at the final hurdle in the playoffs, this time against ten men Ebbsfleet United. Chelmsford City will be aiming for promotion after their fourth place finish last term was a vast improvement on the three campaigns before. Like local rivals Braintree Town, the Clarets have been busy in the summer transfer window and have overhauled their squad in an attempt to mount a challenge.

Last Season

National South: 4th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Shaun Jeffers (21 goals)

Average Attendance: 912 (4th in league / 38th in non-league)

The Manager – Rod Stringer

The Chelmsford City boss ensured the club finished in their best league position since 2011. Stringer’s reputation has been built on two league titles, first with Aveley’s triumph in the Isthmian League Division One North then with Braintree Town in the National South. He will come up against his former club Braintree Town this season after controversially walking away. Last summer he made the move back to Essex from Bishop’s Stortford and has the Clarets believing again.

The Summer

Capitalising on players leaving rivals Braintree Town, the former Irons boss Rod Stringer grabbed the opportunity by signing former Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur forward Lee Barnard. Ex AFC Wimbledon goalkeeper Sam Beasant joins from the Clarets rivals as does Harry Lee. Chelmsford City are amongst the busiest teams in the transfer window capturing the likes of Michael West and Elliott Omozusi from Whitehawk, Craig Braham-Barrett from Welling United and former Dartford loanee Jim Stevenson from Dover Athletic. Former Peterborough United, Millwall and Leyton Orient striker, Shaun Batt was signed from Barnet with the help of the Clarets ’12th man’ fund. Scott Davies (Oxford City), Paul Rodgers (Bishop’s Stortford), Kudus Oyenuga (Greenock Morton), Matt Johnson (Billericay Town) and Aaron Greene (Bishop’s Stortford) have also signed for the Clarets. Former Darts, Max Cornhill and Josh Hill have left the club.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 36 / Chelmsford City wins: 53 / Draws: 91

Previous Meetings

07.05.2017 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2
03.05.2017 Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0
18.02.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
14.01.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
17.09.2016 Chelmsford City 2 Dartford 3
13.08.2016 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 1

Next Meetings

Saturday 21 October 2017 at Melbourne Stadium

Saturday 10 February 2018 at Princes Park

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