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Hungerford Town v Dartford

Dartford begin December at the top of the National South and will visit Hungerford Town this weekend in an attempt to keep a three-point lead.

The Darts have spent almost three weeks in pole position with just six points separating the top eight. Looking for back to back away victories in the league for the first time this season, Dartford take on the Crusaders who themselves are desperate for a win.

Hungerford Town have picked up just one point from their last five National South fixtures, however they did manage to draw 0-0 with Dartford on the opening day of the campaign. Last term, the Berkshire club beat the Darts at Bulpit Lane 2-0 with goals from Louie Soares and Stefan Brown.

Tony Burman has made his intent clear with two signings in the last week. Danny Mills has joined the strike force from local rivals Ebbsfleet United and Nathan Collier returns to the club from Hampton and Richmond Borough. Mills was prolific in his spell at Whitehawk at this level scoring almost a goal every other game over a five year period. At Ebbsfleet United he has had limited chances to shine making just ten appearances and scoring once.

Mills spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and said: “Going from playing 250 games in five years to not knowing if I’ll be in the squad has been really difficult”, he added: “But there comes a time when you have to make a decision. I want to go out and play football and after being used to playing so much, I wanted that feeling again. I wanted that excitement of looking forward to a game on a Saturday, knowing that you’re going to go out and play”.

He continued: “I wanted to go to a team that was challenging, up there at the top of the table, fighting for promotion. I want to play for something every week, I didn’t want to go to a team that was mid-table so when the opportunity to go to Dartford came up, it was a no-brainer”.

Mills went straight into the starting eleven last weekend as Dartford beat nine men Poole Town 1-0 in Dorset. A good defensive display and Richard Sho-Silva’s early winning goal was enough to earn three vital points. The result made even better considering the absentees of Ronnie Vint, Tom Bonner (who became a father this week) and Danny Harris, midfielder Alex Brown slotted into right back to replace Harris. In midfield, Lee Noble was also missing through suspension but he will return from his ban this weekend.

Manager Tony Burman told www.dartfordfc.com: “After Saturdays win, I felt we have played a lot better in previous games and lost but on a positive note we defended really well and looked organised defensively throughout the game. After conceding quite a few goals over the last month it was nice to keep a clean sheet and once again from a good defensive display”.

He commented: “When Richard scored our goal early in the game we had quite a few chances throughout the rest of the game to finish our opponents off, but good goalkeeping kept Poole in the game I felt. Overall with Tom Bonner, Danny Harris, Lee Noble all missing and with Alfie Pavey trying to play not feeling 100% all in all I’m delighted we gained three points”.

The signing of Collier adds further depth to the squad as well as versatility, he previously played 117 times for the Darts between 2012 and 2015. Collier has had spells with Eastbourne Borough and Hampton and Richmond Borough since leaving Princes Park.

Hungerford Town were one of the surprise packages last season but have had to deal with the departure of former boss Bobby Wilkinson, who joined Wealdstone in early in the campaign. Jon Boardman and Ian Herring are now in charge of a team sitting 18th in the National South table.

Last weekend the Crusaders ended a run of six consecutive defeat in all competitions with a 1-1 draw against Chelmsford City. Tom Meechan opened his Hungerford Town account in his first game back from a loan spell with St Neots Town, where he scored six goals in 14 appearances. Meechan’s strike was the first in five games for the Crusaders in a spell where they have netted just three times in their last eight outings.

Struggling with injuries and suspensions Hungerford Town had four academy players on the bench against the Clarets. Former Dartford loanee Alex Wall will continue his suspension for his red card in the F.A Trophy defeat versus Billericay Town, the same side that beat them 6-1 in the F.A Cup. Riak John is also unavailable whilst co-manager Ian Herring returned from his two-game ban in their last league match. Matt Williams has been signed from Evesham United to bolster the defence meaning Darnell Smith’s loan spell from Barnet has not been renewed.

Head to Head

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

Previous Meetings

05.08.2017 Dartford 0 Hungerford Town 0
14.04.2017 Hungerford Town 2 Dartford 0
27.08.2016 Dartford 2 Hungerford Town 0

Current League Form

Hungerford Town (LLWDLW) Dartford (WDWLWW)
Chelmsford City A 1-1 Poole Town A 1-0
Truro City H 0-1 Wealdstone H 3-3
Wealdstone A 0-1 Gloucester City H 4-1
Havant & Waterlooville H 0-1 Truro City A 1-3
Eastbourne Borough H 0-1 St Albans City H 2-1
St Albans City H 0-0 Bath City A 2-1

Stats
In the three encounters that have taken place between Dartford and Hungerford Town, the away side has never scored.

In the last six league games featuring Hungerford Town there has only been six goals scored at a goal a game. By contrast Dartford have seen a total of 22 goals scored at an average of 3.66 per game.

In all competitions, if Dartford win on the weekend they will record their longest winning away run this season of three consecutive victories.

On This Day
Dartford last won on the 9 December back in 1995 when they beat Ramsgate 3-0 in the Kent League First Division. A year later they were beaten 3-1 in a F.A Trophy third qualifying round replay against Dulwich Hamlet. In 2006, the Darts drew 1-1 with Dover Athletic, Brendon Cass scoring for Dartford at Princes Park. Nine years ago was the last time the Darts played on this day in a 4-2 Kent Senior Cup first round defeat to Bromley.

Poole Town v Dartford

Dartford travel to the Jurassic coast this weekend starting the day top of the National South when they visit Poole Town.

If their last trip to Tatnam Road is anything to go by, then it should be an entertaining afternoon. The Darts played their final game of last season against the Dolphins needing a win to clinch third place. Andy Pugh’s ninth minute tap in set Dartford on their way. However, Poole Town came from behind with a headed goal by Marvin Brooks and a second from Steve Devlin before half time. The game swung in second half injury time when Tom Murphy hooked the ball over his head from close range, then six minutes into stoppage time Lee Noble lashed home a winner.

Despite leading the National South table, Dartford’s advantage is minimal with the top eight separated by just four points. Recent form has been patchy with the last four results showing the Darts inconsistencies at the moment. Last weekend a late 2-1 F.A Trophy victory versus Brentwood Town masked the performance, Lee Noble scoring the winner against his former club who play two divisions below. The midfielder, who was sent off in the last league match, a 3-3 draw with Wealdstone, is suspended this weekend.

The two previous fixtures saw Dartford beat Gloucester City 4-1 at home but lose 3-1 down at Truro City. During the week manager, Tony Burman spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and said: “The league is crying out for someone to go on a run. Each week, the results become stranger for the teams in the top few places and I’ve got to really start to look at it”, he added: “We’ve got to start trying to be consistent. We’ve done all right but I want better than all right and the players know that”, he continued: “Some of the performances have been below-par and you have to go through that in a season. Hopefully, you put things right and I’m sure we’ll be able to do that and have a run where we’re picking up wins instead of draws”.

Poole Town would have made the playoffs last season, but ground grading prevented them from participating. After winning the Southern League the year before, a fifth place finish was a great achievement for the club. This season they have failed to win at home picking up just three points out of 27 available. The opportunity for Dartford to improve their away form is their for the taking but Burman remains cautious, he commented: “Poole are a good side and they’re playing a lot better than their league position suggests. It’s a big pitch down there and I’m expecting a tough game. We’ve got to go to these away games and start picking up more points. Rather than drawing, we’ve got to try to win the games”.

The Dolphins went out of the F.A Trophy last weekend losing 3-1 to St Albans City and on Tuesday they won a Dorset Senior Cup game 10-2 against Hamworthy United. Manager Tom Killick, now in his thirteenth year can look towards the 4-0 away win at Eastbourne Borough at the start of the month for inspiration, however his side have lost their last two league games without scoring.

Warren Bentley signed for Poole Town this term and is their main goal threat, scoring 11 goals in 15 games in all competitions. The striker was prolific at Winchester City before joining Gosport Borough and then Hungerford Town. Bentley is only one league goal behind Dartford’s top scorer Alfie Pavey who has netted 11 National South goals this campaign.

The recent run of results has led to Poole Town chairman, Chris Reeves urging fans to turn up this weekend. In a statement published on www.pooletownfc.co.uk, he said: “If on Saturday against league leaders Dartford there is a bumper turnout of fans, all showing absolute backing and encouragement for a group of players who in the last few seasons have given us so much, that could be the very thing that makes the difference”.

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

Current League Form

Poole Town (LLWDLW) Dartford (DWLWWL)
Hampton & Richmond A 0-1 Wealdstone H 3-3
Braintree Town H 0-3 Gloucester City H 4-1
Eastbourne Borough A 4-0 Truro City A 1-3
Concord Rangers H 1-1 St Albans City H 2-1
Gloucester City H 0-3 Bath City A 2-1
Havant & Waterlooville A 2-2 Chelmsford City A 0-1

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

Stats
Dartford have lost three of their last four away games in the National South

The Darts have won four of the last six away matches against Poole Town (D1, L1)

Dartford have conceded in each of their last four away games in the league

The Darts have played only three teams currently in the bottom half of the table away from home this season. Whitehawk and Bath City were beaten but Dartford lost to Weston-super-Mare.

On This Day
A second round Kent Senior Trophy win against Folkestone Invicta took place 22 years ago. The Darts won the second round tie 1-0 against one of the favourites. Dean Bowey scored the winner in front of a crowd of 327. Victory kick started Dartford’s run to the final after beating Whitstable Town 2-1, Furness 1-0 then claim the trophy with a 3-0 win over Chatham Town. Since then, in 2006 Dartford have beaten Fleet Town 3-0 thanks to a Brendon Cass hat-trick. Two years later Dartford beat Margate 3-2 in the Isthmian League Cup second round, Sean Eferakorho, Rob Haworth and Ryan Hayes all getting a goal. The last match on 2 December was in 2014 when the Darts lost 2-0 in the National League against Eastleigh.