Archives for : April2018

National South Playoff Preview

Six clubs will compete in the new National South playoff format aiming to earn a place in the top flight of non league. Pure DFC takes a look at the contenders in this season’s showdown and the build up to the final on Sunday 13th May.


The Darts will need to get over their last minute heartbreak quickly, which denied them the championship on goal difference. For a few minutes Dartford were up until champions Havant and Waterlooville cruelly snatched the trophy away with a last minute winner against Concord Rangers. On a positive note, Dartford’s last foray in the National South playoffs ended in promotion six years ago, they have home advantage and they are on the verge of a record breaking run. The Darts ended the campaign with a nine game winning streak and if they win the playoffs will break their club record on ten victories in a row. Finishing the league’s top scorers thanks to the attacking prowess in the early parts of the campaign, the Darts have been solid at the back recently too with six clean sheets in the last eight games.

Player to watch – Alfie Pavey

The National South’s Player of the Year didn’t know where his career was going in the summer. Pavey joined Welling United, but that failed to work out. The 22 year old was picked up by Tony Burman a couple of weeks into the campaign and 23 goals later he finished the second highest goalscorer in the league.

Record vs playoff contenders (W4, D3, L3, F18 A14)

Dartford will be pleased to have avoided Chelmsford City in the semi-final considering the Clarets did the double over the Darts. The Essex club also beat Dartford in last season’s playoff semi-final. At home Dartford took ten points off their playoff rivals out of 15 (W3, D1, L1).

Next fixture

The Darts will be at home in the semi-final on 6th May 2018 against the winners of the Hemel Hempstead Town versus Braintree Town match.

Chelmsford City

Starting the campaign as joint favourites with Dartford, last season’s playoff runners up have been eyeing up the National League for some time now. Since their return to the National South ten years ago, the Clarets have reached the playoffs five times losing two finals, one of those against Hampton and Richmond Borough in 2009 and three semi-finals. Along with St Albans City, the Essex club set the early season pace, but a cluster of draws in September and lack of form in the New Year left Chelmsford City playing catch up. Rod Stringer’s side are the form team heading into the end of season lottery having won seven out of the last eight league matches. With an identical home and away record the Clarets will always be tough opponents whoever they come up against.

Player to watch – Chris Dickson

A former Charlton Athletic striker who made his way through non league with Erith and Belvedere then Dulwich Hamlet. Dickson’s experience could be vital in the playoffs, the 33 year old managed to score 14 times this term for the Clarets.

Record vs playoff contenders (W3, D4, L3, F15, A16)

Chelmsford City will be relishing a chance to make up for their final defeat a year ago. They will have home advantage in the semi-final, only Hampton and Richmond Borough beat then on their own patch. The only team they will face away will be Dartford, if these two make the final and they did the double over the Darts.

Next fixture

The Clarets will be at home in the semi-final on 6th May 2018 against the winners of the Hampton and Richmond Borough versus Truro City match.

Hampton and Richmond Borough

The Beavers were title contenders up until Dartford practically ruled them out on a muddy Good Friday. A last-minute Alfie Pavey goal opened up a gap between the Darts and two draws and a defeat later it was game over. However, they have recovered lately winning two in a row before drawing their final game with Truro City. The Beavers have playoff experience from last season despite finishing seventh, losing to eventual winners Ebbsfleet United in the semi-final. The Middlesex club were only promoted to the National South two years ago as Isthmian Premier League champions and have performed consistently since then. Between the final game of August through to the end of January the Beavers went 21 games unbeaten, including an eight-match winning streak. Alan Dowson’s men will be a force at home where they have lost just once this term.

Player to watch – Max Kretzschmar

A goalscoring midfielder and dead ball specialist, Max Kretzschmar started his career at Wycombe Wanderers where he spent three years before joining Woking. The 24 year old joined Hampton and Richmond Borough in the summer and a sound return of 14 goals from midfield has helped the Beavers finish fourth in the National South.

Record vs playoff contenders (W1, D6, L3, F9, A11)

The Beavers seem to keep games tight against those in the playoff places, but they have managed just one win against Chelmsford City away. Hampton and Richmond Borough drew all five home matches versus teams in the playoffs and whether they win or lose the margin has just been by one.

Next fixture

The Beavers play their first match on Wednesday 2nd May at home to Truro City. If Hampton and Richmond win then they will face Chelmsford City away in the semi-final on Sunday 6th May.

Hemel Hempstead Town

It took until October for Hemel Hempstead Town to get going, the Tudors couldn’t string a sequence together for the first two months and then they went 12 games unbeaten. At one point they topped the table, but that was a very brief moment. The Tudors have been on a solid run during the final stretch of the campaign, the loss against Dartford their only loss in 12 attempts before a final day defeat at Weston-super-Mare. Hemel Hempstead Town have collected the second most points at home this term, seven less than the Darts. Dean Brennan took the Hertfordshire club up four years ago winning the Southern Premier League in style. This season the Tudors have reached a new milestone in setting their highest ever league finish and will take part in the National South playoffs for the first time.

Player to watch – Jordan Parkes

The Tudors seem to be a good fit for Jordan Parkes, now in his second spell for the club. The attacking midfielder scored 42 times in 112 appearances between 2012-2015 before joining Ebbsfleet United. It didn’t quite work out for the 28 year old at Stonebridge Road so he returned to Hemel Hempstead Town where his scoring a goal every other game.

Record vs playoff contenders (W4, D3, L3, F19, A19) 

Hemel Hempstead Town will be pleased to play Braintree Town who they beat twice, they will be keen to avoid Dartford who inflicted two defeats on them. The Tudors won three at home and were involved in some high scoring matches including a 4-3 victory over Braintree Town and a pair of 3-3 draws against Chelmsford City and Truro City respectively.

Next fixture

The Tudors play their first match on Wednesday 2nd May at home to Braintree Town. If Hemel Hempstead Town win then they will face Dartford away in the semi-final on Sunday 6th May.

Braintree Town

Set the task of rebuilding in the summer, Braintree Town boss Brad Quinton hasn’t done a bad job by getting the Iron into the top seven with a final day 3-0 victory versus Gloucester City. The Essex club were relegated last term from the National League, a stark contrast to the campaign before when they lost to Grimsby Town in the playoff semi-final. Braintree Town spent six seasons in the National League often punching above their weight and now they have a shot of returning to the top non-league division after one season. The Iron have been within a shout of promotion all campaign by being amongst the early pace setters before the New Year slump in January and February. Quinton’s side are now another one of the playoff contenders hitting form at the right time winning five of their last six games.

Player to watch – Billy Crook

The Supporters Player of the Year adds to his accolades he won at Enfield Town the season before, whilst under manager Brad Quinton. Another goalscoring midfielder to feature in this season’s playoffs, Billy Crook started as youngster at Crystal Palace and was part of the Glenn Hoddle Academy in Spain.

Record vs playoff contenders (W2, D6, L2, F17, A17)

The Iron drew all four games against the highest ranked teams Dartford and Chelmsford City, they lost twice to their next opponents Hemel Hempstead Town and beat Hampton and Richmond Borough at home and Truro City away. Each game has had no more than a one goal winning margin so expect a tough ride against the Iron.

Next fixture

The Iron play their first match on Wednesday 2nd May at away to Hemel Hempstead Town. If Braintree Town win then they will face Dartford away in the semi-final on Sunday 6th May.

Truro City

The White Tigers had to wait to the final day of the season to book their place in the top seven. A draw with Hampton and Richmond Borough coupled with St Albans City’s defeat got them over the line. It will be the third time in four years the Cornwall club has reached the playoffs, their last attempt to win promotion to the National League ended in a semi-final loss to eventual winners Maidstone United. The campaign before their return to the National South, the White Tigers went up through the playoffs in 2015 from the Southern League they beat St Neots Town 1-0 in the final. Since Lee Hodges returned has manager, Truro City have got back to the level of expectancy. This term has been a vast improvement to the relegation threatened side of last season, however their form in April tailed off but the White Tigers managed to hang on.

Player to watch – Cody Cooke

Popular amongst the fans and players, last season’s Player of the Year top scored for the White Tigers this term. Cody Cooke joined the Cornwall club in 2010 so has been through the ups and downs with Truro City. The 34 year old knows where the goal is and gives his side experience.

Record vs playoff contenders (W3, D4, L3, F15, A16)

Truro City have a better home record than away which is hardly surprising considering the amount of travelling needed. The problem then is that Truro City, the lowest ranked team will have to play their matches away from Treyew Road. So with that in mind they did manage to beat Hemel Hempstead Town on their travels, picked up two draws and lost to the two highest ranked clubs.

Next fixture

The White Tigers play their first match on Wednesday 2nd May at away to Hampton and Richmond Borough. If Truro City win then they will face Chelmsford City away in the semi-final on Sunday 6th May.


Bognor Regis Town v Dartford

Dartford can win the National South title and promotion this weekend when they travel to already relegated Bognor Regis Town.

Nyewood Lane holds fond memories for the Darts, a venue where they celebrated at the end of the 2009/2010 campaign when Dartford went up as Isthmian Premier League champions. This time the circumstances are so much different.

Havant and Waterlooville’s 6-1 mid-week win over East Thurrock United on Wednesday night has left the Darts needing a bundle of goals. Dartford need to better Havant and Waterlooville’s result against Concord Rangers, or if both teams win the Darts’ winning margin needs to be greater than three goals more than Havant and Waterlooville’s winning margin.

Despite the three-goal deficit Dartford manager, Tony Burman remains positive, he told “We’re in with a massive shout, the target was to be challenging for the league title and we’re still in prime position at the moment”.

He added: “Against Bognor we’ve got to think about ourselves and what we can do. Bognor is going to be hit with a lot of people from Dartford, it’s going to be a good day and hopefully it goes well for us”.

The Darts have won their last eight league games and another victory will mean the clubs longest winning streak in the league for nine years, when they ended up as Isthmian Premier League winners.

Over those last eight games Dartford have been less free scoring than earlier in the season, Burman commented: “I realise we haven’t played brilliant football over those games but we’re at the nitty gritty end of the season”, he continued: “It’s about work-rate and just winning games. We’ve got to get on with it and do what we can do. Hopefully it swings our way”.

Dartford’s defence has been formidable over the last month, conceding just one goal in the last seven games has kept them in with a chance of claiming a first league title in eight years. They are also the league’s top scorers with 79 and have Alfie Pavey who has netted 22 times, three behind the National South’s top scorer. Recently, Danny Mills has scored three in his last three appearances helping the Darts to vital points.

Earlier in the season, the Darts beat Bognor Regis Town at Princes Park. Alfie Pavey put the Darts ahead, but the visitors quickly levelled before the break. Elliot Bradbrook’s penalty restored Dartford’s lead and the points were secured when Andy Pugh’s header made it 3-1.

Bognor Regis Town will be leaving the National South through the relegation trapdoor, the Rocks were promoted last term through the Isthmian Premier League playoffs. Guaranteed to finish in last place after their 1-0 defeat to Chelmsford City on Tuesday night, the Sussex club have managed just five league wins all season.

With Dartford needing goals they will be hoping that former defender Keaton Wood doesn’t make too much of an impact. Wood made 74 appearances for the Darts and represented the England C Team during his spell at Princes Park, the 22-year-old left the club for Bognor Regis Town in November.

The Rocks have lost nine of their last ten games with the only success at home to St Albans City on 10 April. It’s been a season of struggle for Jack Pearce’s side who will bow out of the National South potentially having a say in where the league title will end up.

Head to Head
Bognor Regis Town wins: 1 / Dartford wins: 4 / Draws: 4

Current League Form

Bognor Regis Town (LLLLWL) Dartford (WWWWWW)
Chelmsford City H 0-1 Bath City H 2-0
Oxford City City A 0-4 East Thurrock United A 1-0
Concord Rangers A 1-2 Eastbourne Borough A 1-0
Hemel Hempstead Town H 2-3 Gloucester City A 1-0
St Albans City H 2-1 Weston-super-Mare H 3-1
Gloucester City A 2-3 Hampton and Richmond H 1-0

Previous Meetings

07.10.2017 Dartford 3 Bognor Regis Town 1
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
06.04.1976 Bognor Regis Town 2 Dartford 2
06.09.1975 Dartford 3 Bognor Regis Town 1

The Darts have won eight league games in a row, a feat that was achieved in 1996 leading up to the final game of the season. Needing a win on the last day against Furness to clinch the title, the Darts drew 1-1 losing out to their opponents on goal difference.

Dartford’s run of six clean sheets in the last seven games is their best defensive display since they kept six clean sheets in a row in 2009. That was part of the last time Dartford won eight consecutive league games and won a championship.

The Darts have won five away games on a spin their best run since the 2009/2010 season when they recorded nine straight wins.

Dartford are two victories away from equalling a club record ten consecutive wins in all competitions last achieved in 1996. The Darts have won ten in a row in all competitions on six occasions in their history.

On This Day
Dartford had already secured second place in the National South six years ago when they played their final match of the season down at Truro City. The White Tigers took the lead through veteran striker and former Premier League player Barry Hayles, in the final minute Jacob Erskine equalised. Dartford were promoted that season through the playoffs beating local rivals Welling United in the final. Eleven years ago, the Darts also finished their 2006/2007 campaign in an entertaining defeat, Brendon Cass scored two and Ryan Hayes the pther in a 4-3 loss at Metropolitan Police.

Dartford v Bath City

Dartford will head into their final home game of the season against playoff hopefuls Bath City with a clear lead at the top of the National South.

The Darts recorded their third 1-0 victory in a week on Tuesday night to give themselves a three point advantage over title rivals Havant and Waterlooville, shifting the pressure onto the Hawks for their final three games of the season.

Leading up to the East Thurrock United game, Tony Burman gave an interview with and is feeling a positive vibe, he said: “We’re in a real good place. I’ll tell you now, the group are really together and they’re believing. They’ve worked really hard all season and that work now has got to be carried out in the right manner. Also, the supporters are behind them and there’s a feelgood factor, which is nice, but all we do is take it into the next game”.

Now that vibe is getting stronger thanks to Danny Mills’ 78th minute header on Tuesday night earning Dartford their seventh straight victory. Although the Darts have not been as free scoring as earlier in the campaign, they have now recorded four clean sheets in a row on their travels and five in the last six outings home and away. If the Darts can take their winning streak to eight this weekend then potentially they could lead by six points going into the final week of the season.

Earlier this term Dartford won at Twerton Park and could repeat last season’s double over Bath City with victory at Princes Park. Back in October, the Darts ended up with ten men when Andy Pugh was red carded with the scores at 1-1, but Alfie Pavey pounced to score the decisive goal. The game started with Ryan Hayes trying his luck straight from kick-off and hitting the crossbar and with just over half hour played Pavey opened the scoring. Before the break Bath City’s Tom Smith equalised before Pavey netted the winner with almost ten minutes remaining. The last meeting at Princes Park was just over a year ago when Elliot Bradbrook scored a penalty and Duane Ofori-Acheampong added a second.

Bath City have hopes of their own in trying to reach the National South playoffs. A top seven place will qualify the Romans for a chance to return to the National League after a six-year absence.

Last weekend, the Romans pulled of a comprehensive 5-0 home win over Hungerford Town. Matt Richards scored from the spot early on and Opi Edwards made it 2-0 before the break. Second half goals from Andy Watkins, Jack Batten and Nat Jarvis secured back to back five goal hauls at home.

Manager, Jerry Gill spoke to after the game, he said: “Once we got into the game and scored the first goal I thought we were massively in the ascendancy”. The Bath City boss still believes a playoff place is possible, he commented: “It keeps us in the hunt, doesn’t it? In the race. A few results have gone with us, people will be getting twitchy at this stage of the season and we might be the ones that come late”, before adding: “”We really believe in this dressing room, as a staff and players, we can make it”.

Sandwiched between the 5-1 win against Gloucester City and the rout over Hungerford Town, the Somerset club lost on the road to Wealdstone. Gill’s side threw away the lead given to them by Richards, his first goal for the club. The Stones left it late to overturn the deficit and take three points from Bath City.

The Somerset club have been on the fringes of the playoffs all season, but have been unable to take the leap above that dotted line. Gill looked back to a number of good performances specifically picking out the narrow defeats to the Darts back in October and the losses to Braintree Town and Havant and Waterlooville in February and March respectively.

One player who caused Dartford some problems in the 6-3 F.A Cup defeat to Sutton United last term was Kevin Amankwaah, the full back joined Bath City in September and returned to action on Saturday, coming off the bench to replace the influential Dan Ball, who was substituted as a precaution due to a minor ankle injury. The Romans have also missed other key players like Frankie Artus and Sean Rigg to injuries.

On Tuesday night, the Romans went out of the Somerset Premier Cup on penalties against Weston-super-Mare. Bath City fielded a first team, but Andy Watkins’ brace only helped Bath City to a 2-2 draw. Their opponents went through to the final with a 4-3 shoot-out win.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 30 / Bath City wins: 40 / Draws: 19

Current League Form

Dartford (WWWWWW) Bath City (WLWDLW)
East Thurrock United A 1-0 Hungerford Town H 5-0
Eastbourne Borough A 1-0 Wealdstone A 1-2
Gloucester City A 1-0 Gloucester City H 5-1
Weston-super-Mare H 3-1 Hemel Hempstead A 1-1
Hampton & Richmond H 1-0 Havant & Waterlooville H 1-2
Oxford City A 2-0 Poole Town A 4-0

Previous Meetings

24.10.2017 Bath City 1 Dartford 2
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 o
07.04.1990 Dartford 0 Bath City 1

Dartford have won the last four meetings against Bath City and are unbeaten against the Romans since returning to the National South in 2015 (W4, D1).

The Darts have kept five clean sheets in the last eight outings against the Romans conceding just three times.

At home, Dartford have won six, drew one and lost one against teams in the top ten.

The last time Bath City scored more than one goal against the Darts was in 1988, when the Romans won 4-2 in the Southern Premier League.

On This Day
The Darts will be playing their eighth home game in a row on 21 April, the previous seven has seen four Dartford victories, two draws and a defeat. The last outing on this day four years ago sealed the Darts relegation to the National South with a 3-2 loss at home to Tamworth, Elliot Bradbrook scored both Dartford’s goals. Six years ago, the Darts drew 2-2 after conceding a last minute equaliser against Boreham Wood, Tony Garrod and Jacob Erskine found the net that day. Lee Noble, Jay May, Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle all scored in Dartford’s final game of the 2008/09 campaign securing a 4-2 home win over Ashford Town (Middlesex). The Darts recorded the same score six years earlier beating St Leonards in the Southern League Eastern Division, and in 2007 drew 0-0 with Walton Casuals in the Isthmian Division One South.

East Thurrock United v Dartford

Dartford will have the chance to increase their slender lead at the top of the National South on Tuesday when they visit East Thurrock United.

The Darts have just three games remaining and are just one goal ahead of second place Havant and Waterlooville. Going into the match against East Thurrock United, the Darts have put a great run together of eight wins from their last nine outings. Victory will put Dartford three points clear to put pressure on their title rivals, who will be in Hampshire senior cup action.

On the weekend Dartford recorded back to back 1-0 victories and their fourth clean sheet in five games. Danny Mills’ low diving header at the far post was enough to clinch another vital three points against Eastbourne Borough. Manager, Tony Burman spoke to, he said: “I’m obviously delighted that we’ve got three points,” Burman added: “Although it was 1-0, like Gloucester the other night, we had a couple of chances to kill the game off in the second half. It didn’t happen but we still managed the game”.

Burman commented after the game and praised the fans, especially after he asked supporters to back his side after defeat at home to Poole Town, he said: “Back then, I was really disappointed with certain aspects of what was going on around the club”, he continued: “We needed to pull together because when we do, we’re excellent. That’s what we’re about and today we had fantastic support. It started from the first whistle and that’s all we were asking”, he added: “In all fairness, the supporters have reacted and I think they’ve been excellent in the games since then and they can see what the players have done”.

When Dartford met East Thurrock United in August it was the Rocks who grabbed a 1-0 win as they started their National South campaign exceeding expectations. On loan goalkeeper, Jordan Beeney could only tip Reece Harris’ free kick onto the crossbar for Sam Higgins to score the rebound, it was Dartford’s first home defeat of the campaign.

The Essex club lost on Saturday at home to county rivals Chelmsford City, Scott Fenwick scored all four goals for the Clarets as the hosts fell 4-2, Lewis Smith who once signed for the Darts but never played a match for the Darts scored for East Thurrock United. Sam Higgins, the National South’s top scorer with 26 goals scored the Rocks first of the afternoon. Currently five goals behind, Dartford striker Alfie Pavey will want to make up some ground on Higgins for the Golden Boot award.

Defeat for John Coventry’s side ended a run of consecutive wins after they had beaten Truro City and Concord Rangers. Now in thirteenth place with five games remaining, the Rocks will be aiming to finish as high up the table as possible and still could have a huge say in the title race. East Thurrock United will be taking on Havant and Waterlooville in their penultimate game.

In their ranks East Thurrock United have former Dartford favourite Lee Burns. The striker turned right back made 272 appearances for the Darts scoring 33 times. Midfielder, Max Cornhill also represented the Darts 66 times scoring nine goals. James White is also part of the East Thurrock United squad but has found appearances limited this season.

The Essex club started the campaign on a ten match unbeaten run winning six and drawing four, including the 1-0 victory at Princes Park. The Rocks went on to record eight matches without a win and since then have tasted victory just seven times in the last nineteen.

Head to Head
East Thurrock United wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 1 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

East Thurrock United (LWWLDW) Dartford (WWWWWW)
Chelmsford City H 2-4 Eastbourne Borough A 1-0
Truro City A 2-1 Gloucester City A 1-0
Concord Rangers A 4-1 Weston-super-Mare H 3-1
Chippenham Town H 0-2 Hampton & Richmond H 1-0
Poole Town H 2-2 Oxford City A 2-0
Bognor Regis Town A 2-0 Hemel Hempstead H 3-2

Previous Meetings

28.08.2017 Dartford 0 East Thurrock United 1
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

Dartford’s run of eight wins from nine matches the sequence set last season between 13 September 2016 and 3 December 2016.

The Darts sixth victory in a row also matches the run between 7 January 2017 and 11 February 2017. The last time Dartford won seven on the spin was in 2009 when they won the Isthmian Premier League, in that sequence the Darts ended up recording eight straight victories.

Only Dartford have scored more goals than East Thurrock United this season, the Darts have netted 76 times whilst the Rocks have scored 66, joint with Hemel Hempstead Town.

The Rocks have failed to win a home game against any of the current top seven this season (D2, L4)

On This Day
A year ago Dartford beat Hampton and Richmond Borough 3-1 at Princes Park with goals from Elliot Bradbrook, Alex Brown and Ronnie Vint. The goalscorer for the Beavers that day was Nathan Collier, now back at the Darts. That was victory was the first win on this day since 1981, a run of six games which ended in three draws and three losses, including the 5-0 reverse at home to Histon in 2004. The Darts last away triumph on 17 April was back in 1980 when they beat Fareham Town 2-1 in the Southern League Southern Division.

Eastbourne Borough v Dartford

Dartford are back at the top of the National South and are hoping to maintain their position against Eastbourne Borough this weekend.

The Darts travelled to Evesham on Tuesday night to take on Gloucester City. A hard fought victory was earned thanks to Alfie Pavey’s 21st league goal of the campaign. Dartford’s win against Gloucester City moved them level on points with Havant and Waterlooville, Pavey’s goal edged the Darts ahead on goal difference, the two sides are now seperated by a single goal.

Dartford now face the challenge of two more away games before the penultimate fixture at home then the final day of the season at Bognor Regis Town. Next up though is Eastbourne Borough and the Darts have hit form at the right moment. Tuesday’s triumph extended Dartford’s winning streak to five meaning they have now won seven of their last eight games. Defensively, Tony Burman’s side have also improved having conceded just once in their last four outings.

When Dartford last played Eastbourne Borough in September they ended up moving to the top of the National South back then. The Princes Park crowd witnessed six goals as the free scoring Darts claimed victory. Tony Burman’s side dominated the first half and opened the scoring when Alex Brown scored from just inside the penalty area. In the second half, Alfie Pavey headed in Ryan Hayes’s corner then Elliot Bradbrook nodded in a third. The Sports pulled a goal back through Jamie Taylor before the Darts scored a controversial fourth. The visitors took a quick free kick which was blocked by the grounded Hayes from close range, presumably to get the winger booked. However, the match official played on as Tom Murphy went through on goal to score. Lee Noble’s own goal took the gloss off the 4-2 leaving Burman disappointed at his side conceding two sloppy goals.

Last season, Dartford completed the double over Eastbourne Borough by a one goal margin. Twelve goals were scored over the two fixtures. The Darts won 3-2 in their last visit to Priory Lane on a foggy Tuesday night. In a game that could well have been abandoned, Kaka Dembele scored the winner after goals from Luke Wanadio and Andy Pugh. The return fixture at Princes Park ended 4-3 with Pugh and Wanadio finding the net again. Hayes and Bradbrook added two more to make it 4-1, but the Sports rallied to reduce the arrears late on. In the season before current Dartford defender Nathan Collier was wearing the Eastbourne Borough shirt having left the Darts that summer to move to the Sussex club.

Since the start of March, the Sports run of form has been inconsistent alternating wins and losses for the last seven games. However, it was their victory in the Sussex derby against Bognor Regis Town on Easter Monday which virtually assured them another campaign in the National South.

Last weekend, Eastbourne Borough were beaten by Oxford City when two early second half goals left the Sussex club too much to overturn. Matt Pickering turned the ball into his own net and Matt Paterson scored a penalty, conceded by former Crawley Town and Wycombe Wanderers midfielder Sergio Torres. The Sports set up a nervy finish for the hosts when Yemi Obudabe scored four minutes from time.

At Priory Lane, the Sports have won just twice in the National South in 14 attempts and only five times all season. Defensively, up until last weekend’s fixtures only Whitehawk had conceded more in total. The leaky defence has been a weakness for the Sussex club, who have managed to score 57 times at the right end, a similar figure to three of the top four and the majority of mid-table sides.

Head to Head
Eastbourne Borough wins: 4 / Dartford wins: 9 / Draws: 2

Current League Form

Eastbourne Borough (LWLWLW) Dartford (WWWWWL)
Oxford City A 1-2 Gloucester City A 1-0
Bognor Regis Town H 3-0 Weston-super-Mare H 3-1
Chippenham Town A 0-4 Hampton & Richmond H 1-0
Wealdstone A 3-2 Oxford City A 2-0
Truro City H 1-3 Hemel Hempstead Town H 3-2
Bath City A 1-0 Poole Town H 0-1

Previous Meetings

12.09.2017 Dartford 4 Eastbourne Borough 2
08.04.2017 Dartford 4 Eastbourne Borough 3
16.08.2016 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

Andy Pugh has scored in his last three appearances against Eastbourne Borough.

Dartford have gone nine games unbeaten against the Sports stretching back to 2011. The Darts have won seven and drawn two in that time.

If the Darts win against Eastbourne Borough it will be the third time the Darts have completed a league double against the Sussex club, in the last four campaigns they have been in the same division.

Before that, the Sports won the first four meetings in the Southern Division One East to complete the double over the Darts in successive seasons.

On This Day
Dartford secured a place in the Southern League Cup final thirty years ago in comprehensive fashion. Leading the first leg over Wealdstone 4-0, the Darts won the return fixture 4-1 to record an impressive 8-1 aggregate victory. Dartford went on to turn around a 3-1 first leg loss to Bromsgrove Rovers by winning the second leg 3-0 to lift the cup. The last three games on 14 April have all been away from home, the most recent just a year ago when the Darts lost 2-0 to Hungerford Town. Before that defeat Dartford had gone eight matches unbeaten on this day which included a 4-3 win over Wealdstone in 1979, a 2-1 victory against Ashford United in 1990. In 2007, Carl Bruce and Brendon Cass scored in a 2-1 triumph over Hastings United and in 2012 a Tony Garrod goal helped the Darts beat Sutton United.

Gloucester City v Dartford

Dartford start a run of away games with a visit to Evesham to face Gloucester City on Tuesday night.

Aiming for promotion to the National League, the Darts are just three points off top spot with a game in hand. Whilst they travel across the country, league leaders Havant and Waterlooville will be preparing to host East Thurrock United.

Dartford build up to the away trip on the back of four consecutive wins, a feat last achieved in September. The last time the Darts won four in a row in the league was at the start of last year.

The latest victory came on the weekend at home to Weston-super-Mare where an early Alex Brown goal settled any nerves. The midfielder was labelled Dartford’s ‘unsung hero’ by manager Tony Burman for his work rate and was rewarded in the seventh minute. Andy Pugh’s vision picked out Alfie Pavey and when Brown combined with Duane Ofori-Acheampong he finished the move with the opener. After half hour it was 2-0 when captain Elliot Bradbrook turned home Lee Noble’s corner from close range. The Darts went three up in the second half when top scorer Alfie Pavey rounded the goalkeeper. The visitors grabbed a consolation in the last minute affecting Dartford’s goal difference, which could be crucial come the end of the season.

Burman spoke after the game, he said: “We’ve played against a team that play a lot of football and try and keep possession of the ball for long periods of time. When you try and chase to get it back it’s hard work. We looked a little bit lethargic, but the main thing was we won the game”.

With Havant and Waterlooville also winning Burman continued: “It’s still the same, we’ve got five games to go they have got four. We’ve got to just do our job think about ourselves, it’s a lot closer now than what we thought it was going to be a few weeks back”, he added: “We’ve recovered now from the defeat against Poole, that’s six out of seven games which we’ve won and that is decent. We will push again to reach our target which is to try and win the league”.

Victory has followed triumphs over Hampton and Richmond Borough, Oxford City and Hemel Hempstead Town. Next up is a run of four away games in the last five fixtures, including the next three in a row on the road against Gloucester City, Eastbourne Borough the East Thurrock United.

The Darts won the previous encounter versus Gloucester City back in November when the two sides met for the first time at Princes Park. Despite the 4-1 victory, Dartford were made to work for the result and goals from Warren Mfula, Alfie Pavey and a brace from Lyle Della-Verde provided a clinical performance.

The Tigers moved across to the National South in the summer and are currently in thirteenth place. In February, Gloucester City started moving away from trouble with a good run of form. The Tigers went unbeaten in six before a narrow defeat to league leaders Havant and Waterlooville. Last month saw a mixture of results with plenty of goals of late. Following consecutive 1-0 wins, the Tigers hit four at home to Hungerford Town before going down 3-1 to Hemel Hempstead Town. In the two games this month, the Tigers were thrashed 5-1 away to Bath City and beat Bognor Regis Town on the weekend.

Marc Richards guided his side to a 3-2 win over Bognor Regis Town, but made hard work of it in the closing stages. Taking a three goal lead thanks to a brace from Joseph Parker and the third from Matthew Williams, the Tigers conceded twice in the final five minutes, former Dart, Keaton Wood scoring for Bognor Regis Town. Gloucester City are five games unbeaten at home stretching back to the beginning of January.

Head to Head
Gloucester City wins: 12 / Dartford wins: 26 / Draws: 10

Current League Form

Gloucester City (WLLWWW) Dartford (WWWWLW)
Bognor Regis Town H 3-2 Weston-super-Mare H 3-1
Bath City A 1-5 Hampton & Richmond H 1-0
Hemel Hempstead Town A 1-3 Oxford City A 2-0
Hungerford Town H 4-0 Hemel Hempstead Town H 3-2
Eastbourne Borough A 1-0 Poole Town H 0-1
Chippenham Town H 1-0 Truro City H 4-1

Previous Meetings

18.11.2017 Dartford 4 Gloucester City 1
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

Dartford last beat Gloucester City away from home 28 years ago when they won 4-0 in the Southern Premier League.

An away defeat to the Tigers, the season after, is Dartford’s only loss against their opponents in the last seven meetings. The Darts have won five and drawn once of the other six games versus Gloucester City.

Dartford have failed to score in their last two away games against Gloucester City, losing 2-0 in 1990 and drawing 0-0 in 1992.

Ryan Hayes’ substitute appearance on Saturday was his 150th appearance from off the bench.

On This Day
Eight years ago Dartford clinched the Isthmian Premier League title destroying second place Kingstonian 6-2 on their own patch. The Darts celebrated in style starting with a well worked goal from Elliot Bradbrook. Ryan Hayes added a second from 25 yards before the hosts halved the deficit. Danny Harris headed in a third, Bradbrook scored his second of the afternoon then the K’s grabbed their second. Hayes netted another and to round up a memorable day Lee Burns made it 6-2. The Darts are unbeaten in six games on 10 April and recorded a famous 1-0 win over Grimsby Town in 2014. At Princes Park, the Darts beat the former Championship club with Max Cornhill heading the winner with 15 minutes to go.

Dartford v Weston-super-Mare

Dartford’s title push continues on Saturday when they host Weston-Super-Mare at Princes Park in the National South.

The Darts have just six games remaining to overturn a three point deficit, although they now have a game in hand. With the Easter Monday fixture against East Thurrock United postponed, Tony Burman’s side have had a few extra days rest, much needed after the difficult conditions on Good Friday.

In their last match, Dartford pulled out a superb result against third place Hampton and Richmond Borough with a last gasp Alfie Pavey winner. Victory kept the Darts two points behind league leaders Havant and Waterlooville, who had won their fixture 2-0 against Weston-super-Mare. The Hawks then dropped points on Monday, but managed a 0-0 draw with Whitehawk to leave the Darts three points behind.

Against Hampton and Richmond Borough, Burman named an unchanged side from the 2-0 away win at Oxford City. With the Princes Park pitch waterlogged in patches Burman praised the ground staff for getting the game on. As the top of the table clash progressed the weather conditions worsened turning the pitch into a mud bath. It looked like both sides were about to drop points in a goalless draw until Pavey’s calm dink over the Hampton and Richmond Borough goalkeeper sent the Darts fans wild in the final minute.

Burman spoke to after the game and said: “I thought on chances we deserved to get a result from the game, I’m delighted we’ve come away from the first game of the Easter period with three points”. The Darts boss applauded match winner Pavey and his teammates, he added: “He’s still learning, he’s a young lad, he’s not been the number one striker at other clubs and we’ve given him a opportunity here to learn from people and try and be a number one striker. He’s scoring goals which is great and if he’s scoring goals that means he’s happy. We’ve got a great strike force here, which I’m pleased and proud of”.

After defeat to Poole Town, Burman questioned his players desire but now he feels the tide has turned, he commented: “I mentioned back at the Poole game about desire, we can’t fault the last three games the desire has been back in the side”. Added to the fans pulling togther, the Dartford manager feels there is every chance to overturn the two point deficit, he added: “A little bit of belief has come back, we’ve had some words said on and off the field, but I have to say the support that the lads got was how it should be, they were the twelfth man and I can’t thank them enough for that and we need that especially at this stage of the season”.

Weston-super-Mare could complete a double over the Darts as they won the reverse fixture at the Woodspring Stadium back in September. The Seagulls toppled Burman’s side who were heading the National South standings at the time. Gethyn Hill’s double and a second half strike from Archie Collins completed a miserable afternoon for the Darts.

Last season Dartford completed a treble against the Seagulls winning both National South fixtures and the F.A Trophy tie. In the league at Princes Park the match ended 3-2 on an entertaining evening.  Alex Brown scored from twenty yards out to claim the winner but the Darts had to come from behind. Hill opened the scoring for the visitors who stayed in front at the interval. Tom Wynter scored and then Danny Harris gave Dartford the advantage, but the lead was cancelled out by Lloyd Humphries. With seven minutes remaining Brown’s effort found the back of the net to clinch victory. At the Woodspring Stadium in the league, the Darts won 2-1 with goals from Luke Wanadio and Ryan Hayes.

Weston-super-Mare are comfortably mid-table with the playoffs seven points away with only five games remaining. Their chances have taken a major dip along with their form, the Seagulls have lost six of their last eight matches only managing wins away to Eastbourne Borough and home to Bognor Regis Town.

The Darts will already know about the Seagulls top scorer, Hill who has managed 16 league goals this term. The striker is level with former Weston-super-Mare midfielder Dayle Grubb, who left in January to join Forest Green Rovers in League Two. Manager, Marc McGregor feels his team has been deserving of more positive results but admits his side need to be more ruthless in front of goal. The Seagulls boss is still confident he can guide them to a top seven finish and into the playoffs.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 7 / Weston-super-Mare wins: 3 / Draws: 4

Current League Form

Weston-super-Mare (LLWLLL) Dartford (WWWLWW)
Havant & Waterlooville A 0-2 Hampton & Richmond H 1-0
Braintree Town H 1-2 Oxford City A 2-0
Bognor Regis Town H 1-0 Hemel Hempstead H 3-2
St Albans City H 0-2 Poole Town H 0-1
Chippenham Town A 0-2 Truro City H 4-1
Hampton & Richmond A 1-3 Wealdstone A 2-1

Previous Meetings

23.09.2017 Weston-super-Mare 3 Dartford 0
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

Dartford have won five of their last six National South games.

Alfie Pavey’s goal on Good Friday was his third last minute winner, earning the Darts nine crucial points.

The Darts have never lost to the Seagulls at home (W3, D3).

Weston-super-Mare have failed to score in three of their last five games netting just two goals.

The Seagulls win over Dartford in September was their only victory against top five opposition this season, they have lost the other seven.

On This Day
Dartford have won one of their last eight games on 7 April and that was back in 1984 when they beat Welling United 2-1 in the Southern League Premier. The most recent match on this day was hardly memorable as they battled out a 0-0 draw with Chelmsford City six years ago in the National South. In 2007, Eddie McClements scored in a 1-1 draw with Kingstonian and in 1990 the Darts lost 1-0 to Bath City. Thirty eight years ago, Dartford lost 1-0 in the Kent Senior Cup final to rivals Maidstone United.