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Dartford v Havant and Waterlooville

Dartford take on Isthmian Premier League champions Havant and Waterlooville this weekend in a top of the table clash at Princes Park. 

The top two go head to head with only goal difference separating the teams. Dartford boast the best home record and are the league’s top scorers this term. Havant and Waterlooville are the most productive away from home with nine wins, three draws and a defeat, accruing the most away points in the National South. The Darts are two goals better off but the Hawks have a game in hand.

Both squads have plenty of attacking options amongst their squads, so when the two battled out a 0-0 draw in the third game of the season back in August it came as a surprise. At the time, it felt like Dartford had dropped two points against a newly promoted side, but knowing how well the Hawks have performed this term in a tight division the away point could turn out useful come the end of April.

The lack of goals five months ago, contrasted with the last time Havant and Waterlooville visited Princes Park in December 2015. Dartford ran out 4-2 winners in a game which saw the Darts let slip a two-goal lead. Elliot Bradbrook’s penalty and Danny Harris’ strike on half-time put Dartford two up at the interval. Within eight minutes of the restart the scores were level when Havant and Waterlooville’s Dan Strugnell halved the deficit then Matt Paterson equalised. Bradbrook scored another before Ebou Adams netted his only goal for the club to secure victory.

It’s debatable at this stage of the season if Dartford dropped points last weekend at Concord Rangers. The Darts drew 1-1 against the Essex side who are now 13 unbeaten in the National South, however Elliot Bradbrook missed a penalty and Deren Ibrahim’s mistake for Steve Cawley’s goal almost proved costly. Ryan Hayes levelled the match with a well taken strike past former Dartford goalkeeper Louis Wells to earn an away point.

Tony Burman spoke to www.dartfordfc.com after the game and was pleased with his player’s application, he said: “Concord is always a difficult place to go and get a result and with our opponents undefeated in the last 12 league games, it did not make things any easier. I warned the players that you had to go there with the right attitude and I have to say I thought that they were spot on with this”.

Burman added: “Overall we played some excellent football throughout the whole game and created enough chances to win the match. Ryan got us back on level terms and if I am honest I felt we would go on to get three points”, he continued: “For where we want to be at the end of the season I suppose its two points dropped, but fair play to Concord who were a tough nut to crack. We have come away with a point which at the end of the season might be a valuable one”.

Since the start of December there has been much talk on whether top goalscorer Alfie Pavey should be starting. The striker has netted 18 times this term but his last start was at Poole Town on 2 December. Pavey, who had a spell out with a chest infection before the subsequent substitute appearances is being managed closely by Burman.

Another striker returning to fitness is Duane Ofori-Acheampong who has managed some game time from off the bench in the last few games, another appearance will make it number 50 for the striker. Lee Noble and Alex Brown have been out recently with Noble’s last start coming before Christmas and Brown’s last appearance was in the F.A Trophy replay at Boreham Wood.

Havant and Waterlooville’s options include two former Dartford players, Jason Prior and Bradley Tarbuck. Prior is the Hawks top scorer with 13 league goals an accolade he won last term. For the Darts Prior played 24 times scoring just twice. Tarbuck has netted just one in 18 appearances for the Hawks this season. There is also experience that can be drawn from Matt Tubbs and James Hayter, with the pair often making substitute appearances. The duo both scored in the New Year’s Day victory at Bognor Regis Town.

Tubbs continued his good form with two more goals on Tuesday night as the Hawks defeated Oxford City 3-2 to move second in the table. The former Crawley Town, AFC Bournemouth and Portsmouth striker has now netted eight in his last eight games. Victory extended Havant and Waterlooville’s unbeaten run in the National South to twelve, they last tasted defeat in the league on 23 September against Welling United.

Lee Bradbury has orchestrated the Hawks return to the National South, although he unexpectedly took the club down he helped the club bounce back at the first time of asking. Much of this season’s success has come on their travels with the Hawks undefeated in their last six away league fixtures.

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

Current League Form

Dartford (DWWDLW) Havant & Waterlooville (WWDWWD)
Concord Rangers H 1-1 Oxford City H 3-2
Welling United H 4-1 Bognor Regis Town A 3-0
Welling United A 3-2 Bognor Regis Town H 0-0
Braintree Town H 1-1 Eastbourne Borough A 4-1
Hungerford Town A 0-1 Chippenham Town H 4-0
Poole Town A 1-0 Chelmsford City H 1-1

Previous Meetings

12.08.2017 Dartford 0 Havant and Waterlooville 0
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

Stats
Danny Harris failed to score for the first time against Havant and Waterlooville in August, the full back had previously netted five goals versus the Hawks in four appearances.

Dartford are unbeaten in their last five games against Havant and Waterlooville (W4, D1) which included league doubles in 2011-2012 and 2015-2016.

The Darts have never lost to the Hawks at Princes Park in three attempts (W2, D1). However, Havant and Waterlooville did win the first two matches at Dartford in 1999 (2-0 in the Southern League Southern Division) and 2000 (4-0 in the F.A Trophy third qualifying round)..

On This Day
Dave Martin scored a wonder goal and Brendon Cass a hat-trick eleven years ago when the Darts thrashed Burgess Hill Town 7-2. Martin’s long range drive into the top corner was the pick of the bunch on a memorable afternoon at Princes Park. The winger did add a second goal to his name with John Guest and Ryan Hayes scoring the other two. That is Dartford’s only win on 13 January in the last five attempts, losing the remaining four, most recently a 2-1 home loss against FC Halifax Town in 2015.

Concord Rangers v Dartford

Dartford look to extend their unbeaten run to four in the league when they travel to Concord Rangers this weekend.

The Darts maintained their position at the top of the National South over the festive period and have a two point cushion. Tony Burman led his side to double victory over local rivals Welling United, but will face a stern test against a Concord Rangers side unbeaten in their last twelve league outings.

In what will be the seventh meeting between Dartford and the Beachboys, the Darts kept up their good record against the Essex club back in August with a 2-0 win at Princes Park. Searching for the maiden win of the campaign, Dartford entered the match on the back of three consecutive draws. A goal in either half by Elliot Bradbrook and Lyle Della-Verde gave the Darts their first three point haul of the season.

On Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, Andy Pugh and Alfie Pavey came back to haunt their former club Welling United in both sets of fixtures. In the 3-2 Boxing Day victory, Pavey’s last minute scissor kick won the match in style, Pugh had earlier put Dartford two up. In the return fixture, Ryan Hayes opened the scoring and after conceding an equaliser the Darts could rely on Pugh to put them back ahead. Pavey came off the substitutes bench once more and this time netted a brace, taking his tally to 18 for the season. Dartford’s performance drew praise from former Dartford defender Jamie Coyle, now in charge at Welling United. Coyle tips the Darts for the title.

Much has been made of whether Alfie Pavey should start instead of Danny Mills, considering Pavey’s recent form from off the bench since returning to action. Burman backs Mills who is on loan from Ebbsfleet United, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “I’d like to have him here rather than being at another club,” said Burman. “The whole division wants to sign him so we can’t be wrong, can we? I’d like him to stay”. To add further competition to the front line, Duane Ofori-Acheampong managed to get some minutes on the pitch after a long term injury.

Concord Rangers had their Boxing Day game abandoned at 1-1 with East Thurrock United, but the two sides managed to finish the New Year’s Day meeting. Former Dartford play Femi Akinwande scored twice in a 3-2 win that stretched the Beachboys unbeaten run and move them into sixteenth. The Beachboys recent run of a dozen unbeaten matches only includes four wins, which have come in the last five outings in the National South.

Head to Head
Concord Rangers wins: 1 / Dartford wins: 4 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

Concord Rangers (WDWWWD) Dartford (WWDLWD)
East Thurrock United A 3-2 Welling United H 4-1
Hemel Hempstead Town A 1-1 Welling United A 3-2
Wealdstone H 3-1 Braintree Town H 1-1
Bognor Regis Town A 2-1 Hungerford Town A 0-1
Chippenham Town H 4-2 Poole Town A 1-0
Welling United A 3-3 Wealdstone H 3-3

Previous Meetings

15.08.2017 Dartford 2 Concord Rangers 0
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
Alfie Pavey has now scored 14 league goals this season in just 16 starts and three substitute appearances. The striker has scored three in his last two appearances both off the bench.

Andy Pugh has scored four in his last three league appearances and has eight league goals from nine starts and seven substitute appearances. Pugh also made his 100th start for the club on New Year’s Day to go with the 42 substitute appearances, in that time Pugh has managed 45 goals for the Darts.

On This Day
For the first time in 22 years Dartford play on 6 January, a date in which they have been unbeaten for 56 years over six games. Greenwich Borough were the only side to take points off the Darts during that time, in a 0-0 Kent League draw back in 1996. Before then, Dartford won five in a row beating Moor Green 4-1 (Southern Premier League in 1990), Fisher Athletic 1-0 (Southern League Cup in 1987), Nuneaton Borough 1-0 (Southern League Cup in 1975), Dover Athletic 2-1 (Southern Premier League in 1973) and Folkestone Town 1-0 (Southern League First Division in 1968). The last defeat on this day was a 1-0 loss in 1962 against Ramsgate Athletic.

Dartford v Welling United

Dartford begin the New Year top of the National South and will look to maintain their position in the league when they host Welling United.

The New Year’s Day clash comes just six days after the Darts recorded a dramatic victory against the Wings in the reverse fixture. A spectacular injury time winner by former Welling United striker, Alfie Pavey decided the local derby in style.

In fact, the 3-2 victory was full of ex-players coming back to haunt their club. The scoring was opened on just three minutes by an unmarked Andy Pugh, after a cross from Ryan Hayes. The former Welling United frontman then made it 2-0 ten minutes into the second half, again Hayes supplying the cross for Pugh to tap home.

Welling United hit back with thirteen minutes to go when former Dart, Callum Driver scored a free-kick from just outside the area. Then Dartford threw their two-goal advantage away when captain Elliot Bradbrook upended brother Tom, another ex-Dart, to concede a penalty. Up stepped Jeffrey Monakana to level the score with just three minutes on the clock. In the third minute of injury time Pavey produced a moment to saviour as he scissor-kicked the winner in front of the jubilant away following.

Dartford’s first win against the Wings at Park View Road since 1983 secured top spot at the end of 2017. Victory ensured the Darts have a two-point cushion over Havant and Waterlooville and Chelmsford City, although both sides have a game in hand.

After the Boxing Day fixture, both managers spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk to give their reaction, Tony Burman commented: “I think we deserved to win the game. When we went 2-0 up we had a couple of other opportunities to increase the lead”, he added: “We were dead and buried when it went 2-2. We gave away two silly fouls and they’ve scored from a free-kick and a penalty. Defensively I thought we were reasonable but something like that changes things”.

Burman also justified his recent team selections specifically the games that top scorer and match winner Alfie Pavey has missed through a chest infection, he commented: “Believe you me, I will make him a lot better than what he is doing. He has got my belief and regardless of whether he has been playing or not, I’ve got to manage him in the way I think is right”, he added: “He is a young, good lad who has done ever so well for us. He has had some problems in the last month and I’m going to manage them problems the best way I can”.

Welling United player manager, Jamie Coyle was disappointed with defeat but pleased with the character shown by his players, and the improvement made after the 4-1 loss against Chelmsford City, he said: “After what happened on Saturday, we could have crumbled after going 1-0 down so early”, he continued: “We stuck at it, and I thought all over the pitch we more than competed and were the better team for the majority of the game. In both boxes, they defended really well and put their chances away”.

Coyle, another former Dart was unable to play due to illness despite looking forward to the fixture. Meanwhile, Bradley Goldberg was substituted at half-time due to an injury to his hamstring.

With Dartford in pole position going into the New Year, Burman feels his squad can kick on after decent performances against Boreham Wood, Braintree Town and now Welling United, he said: “We’re pleased with where we are. We realise we want to kick-start the season and we might just do that with what happened at the end of the Welling United game, he continued: “We know we’ve got to be professional and consistent and get four or five wins on the bounce. If we do that then that group (at the top of the league) will get smaller and it will help us hopefully to pull away from them”.

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

Current League Form

Dartford (WDLWDW) Welling United (LLLDDW)
Welling United A 3-2 Dartford H 2-3
Braintree Town H 1-1 Chelmsford City A 1-4
Hungerford Town A 0-1 East Thurrock United H 0-3
Poole Town A 1-0 Hemel Hempstead Town A 2-2
Wealdstone H 3-3 Concord Rangers H 3-3
Gloucester City H 4-1 St Albans City A 2-1

Previous Meetings

26.12.2017 Welling United 2 Dartford 3
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

Stats
It’s been 16 years since the Darts won on New Year’s Day when they beat Sittingbourne 5-2 in the Southern League Division One East. Since then, Dartford have lost five out of six and drew the other, including the defeat to Welling United in 2011.

Dartford have won four of the last five matches against the Wings at Princes Park.

If selected, Andy Pugh will make his 100th start for Dartford.

In 2017, Dartford collected 85 points in 44 games averaging at 1.93 points per game. Only on one occasion would that points average be enough to win the National South. Bromley won the title in 2014/15 with 77 points from 40 games.

On This Day
Dartford have won one New Year’s Day fixture since reforming and that was the 5-2 victory against Sittingbourne in 2001. That was the start of seven away days in a row on this day which has resulted in one draw and five defeats. The draw came in 2013 against Ebbsfleet United when the Darts conceded a last minute equaliser. Jon Wallis scored a free kick before Harry Crawford doubled the lead, Nathan Elder netted both goals for the Fleet. The last home match at home on the 1 January was in 1999, which saw Dartford draw 0-0 with Margate in the Southern League South Division and five years before that the Darts lost 3-2 at home to Alma Swanley.