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Eastbourne Borough v Dartford

Dartford have three games to prove they are worthy of a playoff place with the first away to Eastbourne Borough on Easter weekend.

The Darts travel to Priory Lane on Saturday at a time when a lack of form and injuries are testing management duo Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle. Dartford had looked comfortable in the top seven a month ago, but two points out of the last fifteen available has seen them drop out of the playoffs.

Four of the last five league games have been against teams in the lower half of the table, two of which are in a relegation scrap. This weekend will be no different as Eastbourne Borough are above the drop zone by a single point and have not tasted victory in their last fourteen league outings.

However, Adam Flanagan feels a win in Sussex will turn the season around, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We just need to get a win, if we get a win then I think we will be settled. We’ve got a group where they are confident they can beat any team in this league. But we’re on a negative run at the moment and we need to flip that round as quickly as we can”.

Dartford have also been hit by the news that former captain Elliot Bradbrook will retire at the end of the season. The midfielder started last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at home to Chippenham Town as centre back before leaving the pitch with a calf injury inside the first twenty minutes. Bradbrook will be a huge miss especially as he’s the second highest scorer in the club’s history with 142 goals in 444 appearances. Flanagan also confirmed that striker Phil Roberts will no longer play for the club, Charlie Sheringham is not available for all the remaining fixtures, whilst Billy Crook and Mark Onyemah have been out injured.

On a positive note, Andy Pugh returned to first team action with a substitute appearance against Chippenham Town. The striker has been recovery from pre-season’s leg break and managed to complete fifteen minutes. Flanagan commented on Pugh’s return, he said: “Ideally if everyone was fit and we had a bench full of players then you’d give him the season off and get him back for pre-season”, he added: “It’s good to have him back and we’ll work closely to make sure we don’t force too much out of him. If he can come on and score a goal or two then great and if his leg isn’t ready or there is any doubt, then we’re not going to push him”.

Defeat against Chippenham Town was only Dartford’s third at home this season and with one more to play at Princes Park they will need to make their away games count too. Flanagan reflected after the loss: “I actually think we’ve played worse and won. In possession we were quite good, moved the ball quite well and got lots of opportunities to get balls into the box. We didn’t test their keeper as much as we wanted. I thought it was an assured performance apart from not scoring”.

Back in September, the Darts had Bradbrook to thank in the reverse fixture against Eastbourne Borough when his last-minute equaliser salvaged a point. Twice Dartford had to come from behind, first when former Dartford winger Dave Martin scored for the Sports, Charlie Sheringham levelled the contest. Then early in the second-half Emmanuel Odubade put Eastbourne Borough ahead before Bradbrook netted at the end.

It’s been a year since the Darts last visited Priory Lane in the league when they were battling for the National South title. A sixth consecutive win was secured by a Danny Mills header to keep Dartford top of the table on goal difference with three games to go.

This season the two sides met in the F.A Trophy at the third qualifying round stage. At Priory Lane, Kudus Oyenuga’s late equaliser forced a replay cancelling out Dean Cox’s goal. In the rematch, the tie ended in dramatic fashion with three goals in the closing minutes. Dean Cox’s brace for the Sports had the Sussex side cruising until the 89th minute when Andre Coker pulled a goal back. Academy product, Taylor Fisher equalised two minutes into injury time and with the tie heading for another thirty minutes former Dart, Tom Gardiner headed the winner knocking Dartford out at the first hurdle.

Three former players could be involved on the weekend wearing the Eastbourne Borough colours, Gardiner appeared 75 times, Martin made 71 starting appearances and scored 16 goals and Marvin Hamilton made just one substitute appearance. The Sports have been on a dismal run that is threatening eight year run in the National South. The Sussex side have started to struggle in front of goal with Charlie Walker responsible for the Sports last three goals, scored over the last five games. In fact, in their 14 game winless streak they have failed to net on nine occasions.

The experienced Mark McGhee is now in charge at Priory Lane taking over from Jamie Howell in February. The Glaswegian has plenty of Football League managerial experience winning promotion with Reading, Millwall and Brighton and Hove Albion, the 61 year-old has also managed in the Scottish Premiership with Motherwell and Aberdeen. Whether McGhee will be in the same role next season remains to be seen as the club are looking for applicants for the position.

Eastbourne Borough have lost their last three league games helping Torquay United to the title last weekend. The Sports lost 2-0 to the champions which followed a 2-1 loss to relegation rivals Gloucester City and 3-2 at Hemel Hempstead Town. Their six game unbeaten run at the start of the campaign seems so long ago, now the Sports are in a ‘mini-league’ at the bottom of the table.

Head to Head

Eastbourne Borough wins: 5 / Dartford wins: 10 / Draws: 4

Current League Form

Eastbourne Borough (LLLDLD) Dartford (LLDDLW)
Torquay United A 0-2 Chippenham Town H 0-1
Gloucester City H 1-2 Weston-super-Mare A 1-3
Hemel Hempstead Town A 2-3 Truro City H 1-1
Bath City H 0-0 Hampton & Richmond H 2-2
Hungerford Town A 0-2 Torquay United A 0-2
Chelmsford City H 1-1 Gloucester City H 2-0

Previous Six Meetings

27.11.2018 Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 3
24.11.2018 Eastbourne Borough 1 Dartford 1
08.09.2018 Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 2
14.04.2018 Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 1
12.09.2017 Dartford 4 Eastbourne Borough 2
08.04.2017 Dartford 4 Eastbourne Borough 3

Stats 

Dartford have gone nine league games unbeaten against Eastbourne Borough (W7, D2).

Eastbourne Borough’s F.A Trophy win in November was the Sports first win against the Darts in 13 attempts.

The Darts are unbeaten in five games at Priory Lane in all competitions, last losing an away match against the Sussex club in 2002.

Five games without a win is the longest winless streak under Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle.

On This Day

Six years ago Dartford were officially crowned the best part time team in the country. The final game of the season may have ended 1-0 to Nuneaton Borough when Wesley York scored the only goal of the game, but the Darts enjoyed a fantastic campaign finishing eighth in the National League. Lee Noble scored nine years ago in a 1-1 draw at Wealdstone. Already crowned Isthmian Premier League champions, the Darts were held for a second game in a row.

Dartford v Chippenham Town

Dartford have been hit by a lack of form at a crucial part of the season and now they have to pick themselves up for the visit of Chippenham Town this weekend.

The Darts were in a strong position in the race for a playoff place, but in the space of a month they are now battling to remain in the top seven. On a positive note, Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle are still leading a side that are in sixth with just four National South games to go. Two of those remaining fixtures are at Princes Park starting with this weekend’s clash against an out of form Chippenham Town.

In the three previous meetings versus the Wiltshire club, Dartford have won twice and drawn once with the corresponding fixture last term ending in a 3-0 home win. Ryan Hayes had one of his inspiring days and his two assists and goal made sure the winger put in a ‘man of the match’ performance. Hayes put in the crosses to set up Alfie Pavey and Andy Pugh to give the Darts a two goal advantage. Hayes wrapped up the three points with a calm finish curling the ball into the far corner of the Chippenham Town net.

Earlier this season, back in October, the fixture will be remembered for what is normally a rare footballing moment. If Deren Ibrahim, Dartford’s former goalkeeper, had not already had a career goal to his name then his winning goal at Hardenhuish Park would have come as a surprise. The Darts took the lead when Jamie Philpot turned and hooked the ball into the goal at the near post, however the hosts were level just before the break through Nat Jarvis. In the second half, Ibrahim took a free-kick from midway inside his own half which sailed over the Bluebirds goalkeeper Brad House and straight in for the winner.

Last season, the Darts frustratingly came back from Hardenhuish Park with a point. Dartford who were sitting top of the National League were looking to extend their lead, but twice they went ahead only for Chippenham Town to fight back. Alfie Pavey made sure the Darts were in front at the interval only for Dean Evans to equalise early in the second half. Pavey completed a brace to make it 2-1, but once again the Bluebirds levelled, this time through Nick McCootie.

Dartford have taken just two points from their last twelve games drawing their last two matches they have played at Princes Park. Whilst the Darts can be excused for defeat down at league leaders Torquay United on 16th March, performances in their last three outings have been below par. At home Dartford recorded back to back draws against a mediocre Hampton and Richmond Borough team and Truro City who are fighting to stay up.

Last weekend, the Darts travelled to the West Country and lost 3-1 to almost relegated Weston-super-Mare, who are bottom of the National South. Callum Driver returned to the starting eleven as Ronnie Vint was named on the bench, whilst Ben Greenhalgh, Tom Murphy and Darren McQueen all started instead of Billy Crook, Phil Roberts and Charlie Sheringham. Full back Mark Onyemah remains injured and Andy Pugh is still making his recovery from his pre-season leg break. Weston-super-Mare raced into a 3-0 first half lead with goals from George Nurse and a Marlon Jackson brace. Although Hayes scored in the second half, the hosts recorded only their second home league win all season.

It’s unlikely that Roberts will feature again this season claimed joint boss Adam Flanagan, Roberts has netted eight goals in 17 games this season. Sheringham will not be available for all the remaining games whilst a few players are suffering injuries. Vint was named on the bench last weekend despite a knee problem, Onyemah has fluid on his knee and Crook suffered a knock against Truro City leading to his ankle swelling up. Pugh took a positive step towards his recovery from a double leg break, the striker scored in a behind closed doors game against Tonbridge Angels Academy team.

Chippenham Town are currently sitting where they finished last season in thirteenth. Guaranteed National South football for a third consecutive campaign, the Bluebirds have too much to do to reach the top seven. Mark Collier has built a squad who are comfortable in the division although they arrive at Princes Park having taken a solitary point from their last eighteen.

A draw with St Albans City was sandwiched between defeats against Oxford City, Woking, Wealdstone and East Thurrock United before their latest loss last weekend. Dulwich Hamlet became the last team to inflict misery on the Wiltshire club despite almost falling behind to a goal that was ruled out for offside. Hamlet did take the lead in the first half when Nyren Clunis won a penalty and Dipo Akinyemi scored it. Akinyemi stretched the deficit for Chippenham Town by volleying home his second, leaving Nick McCootie’s goal a consolation late on.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Chippenham Town wins: 0 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

Dartford (LDDLWW) Chippenham Town (LLLDLL)
Weston-super-Mare A 1-3 Dulwich Hamlet H 1-2
Truro City H 1-1 East Thurrock United A 1-2
Hampton & Richmond Borough H 2-2 Wealdstone A 0-1
Torquay United A 0-2 St Albans City H 0-0
Gloucester City H 2-0 Woking A 0-2
Hemel Hempstead Town A 2-1 Oxford City H 0-1

Previous Meetings

13.10.2018 Chippenham Town 1 Dartford 2
20.01.2018 Chippenham Town 2 Dartford 2
09.09.2017 Dartford 3 Chippenham Town 0

League Stats

With two home games to go, Dartford have the third best home record picking up 39 points (W11, D6, L2). Only Welling United (43) and Torquay United have recorded more points at home this season.

The Darts also have the fourth best defence at home conceding just 19 times, only Bath City (15), Concord Rangers (17) and Slough Town (18) have let in more home goals.

Over the last six games, Dartford’s next two home opponents Chippenham Town and Billericay Town are the worst two teams in the form table. Both opponents have picked up just one point from their last eighteen available.

On This Day

Nine years ago, Dartford started their aftershow party with a 1-0 away win at Harrow Borough. Having clinched the Isthmian Premier League title just three days before in a scintillating performance at Kingstonian, the Darts celebrated by recording victory over Harrow Borough on this day, Allan Tait scoring the winner. Dartford have won their last three games on 13 April with the most recent victory coming in 2013. Charlie Sheringham’s strike was the decider at Stockport County in a 1-0 win. Sheringham should have put the Darts ahead in the first half when he got onto the end of a James Rogers cross, only to somehow miss from two yards. But the forward redeemed himself when he nodded home Ryan Hayes’s delivery. Ten year ago, Dartford won their last home match played on 13 April beating Canvey Island 4-0. Lee Noble, Adam Flanagan, Rob Haworth and Ryan Hayes chipped in with the goals.

Weston-super-Mare v Dartford

Dartford know victory at bottom of the table side Weston-super-Mare on the weekend will move them closer to securing a playoff place.

The Darts have taken just two points from their last three National South games, drawing their last two against Hampton and Richmond Borough, then relegation battlers Truro City. Consecutive draws followed defeat at league leaders Torquay United leaving Dartford in sixth place.

With five matches remaining Dartford will need to find form again to establish themselves in the top seven. At the moment they have a three-point cushion with Billericay Town and Concord Rangers hot on their heels. Joint Manager, Jamie Coyle spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk this week and said: “If we are going to maintain a play-off position, we need more from the whole team. I don’t think we’re under pressure because it’s still in our hands and we’ve got, on paper, winnable games. But they mean nothing unless we turn up and outwork the opposition. At times, in the last two home games, we haven’t done that and that’s where we’ve come unstuck”.

Last weekend Dartford had the chance to notch an eighteenth league victory when they took on Truro City at Princes Park, the visitors started the day a point above the relegation zone. Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle welcomed back Daniel Johnson to the starting line up at the expense of Mark Onyemah, whilst Elliot Bradbrook returned from suspension with Ben Greenhalgh taking a place on the bench. Nick Grimes who scored against the Darts earlier in the season gave Truro City the lead after 33 minutes. However, Bradbrook netted his seventh league goal of the campaign to earn a point.

Victory for Dartford will complete a double over Weston-super-Mare after winning 2-1 at Princes Park back in September. Both sides hit the woodwork before Lee Noble headed the opener from Greenhalgh’s cross. The visitors equalised in injury time when Gethyn Hill scored from 30 yards, the striker also scored two against Dartford this term. Weston-super-Mare hit the crossbar just after the hour mark and minutes later the Darts had their winner, Bradbrook set up Jamie Philpot to clinch the three points.

Coyle is confident his squad’s quality along with the required work rate should bring the desired result, he commented: “We’ve got an opportunity on Saturday to go to a team that are fighting for their lives. With the quality we’ve got in our squad, if we do turn up and put in that effort and real desire we’ve shown recently to get us where we are, we should have enough to win the game”, he continued: “But there’s no given in this league and all the teams we’re playing are fighting for something, whether it’s trying to get in the play-offs or staying away from the relegation zone”.

Dartford’s last visit to Woodspring Stadium ended in a dismal 3-0 defeat with Hill claiming a brace and Archie Collins scorer the other goal. However, in 2016 the Darts recorded two wins at the Woodspring Stadium beating the Seagulls 2-1 in the National South and 4-2 in the F.A Trophy, Bradbrook bagged a hat-trick. A third win at Princes Park in January 2017 completed the treble over the Somerset club that season.

Unless Weston-super-Mare perform the greatest of escapes, the Seagulls will be playing in the Southern Premier League South next season. The Somerset club are eight points adrift at the foot of the league and eleven points from safety. Relegation can be confirmed on the weekend if Weston-super-Mare lose, Truro City beat Concord Rangers and Hungerford Town avoid defeat against Slough Town. Relegation will see the end of their 15 year stay in the National South since the restructuring of the non-league pyramid in 2004.

Weston-super-Mare’s league position led to former manager Marc McGregor leaving the club by mutual consent just over three weeks ago. The Somerset side are looking for a change of direction by appointing a full-time manager, for now Mark McKeever in charge on an interim basis.

McKeever has only been at the helm for three league games and in his first earned a credible 2-2 away draw with Chelmsford City. The Seagulls showed the fighting spirit they need to survive by coming back from two goals down. In their last home match Weston-super-Mare fell to a late Welling United penalty in a 1-0 defeat and on Saturday they were beaten 3-0 by Concord Rangers.

Despite the league predicament the Seagulls are in, they do have something to cheer and could claim some silverware. Almost two weeks ago, Weston-super-Mare won their Somerset Premier Cup semi-final to give themselves a chance to retain the cup.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 9 / Weston-super-Mare wins: 3 / Draws: 4

Current League Form

Weston-super-Mare (LLDLLL) Dartford (DDLWWL)
Concord Rangers A 0-3 Truro City H 1-1
Welling United H 0-1 Hampton & Richmond H 2-2
Chelmsford City A 2-2 Torquay United A 0-2
St Albans City A 0-2 Gloucester City H 2-0
Hungerford Town H 0-2 Hemel Hempstead Town A 2-1
Wealdstone H 0-5 Dulwich Hamlet A 0-2

Previous Six Meetings

29.09.2018 Dartford 2 Weston Super Mare 1
07.04.2018 Dartford 3 Weston Super Mare 1
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

Stats 

Dartford have won 8 of their last 11 games against Weston-super-Mare (W8, D1, L2)

Lee Noble started his 350th game for the club on the weekend and Tom Bonner has now made 300 starts.

If featured, Charlie Sheringham will make his 100 appearance for the Darts, the striker has made 83 starts and 16 substitute appearances so far, scoring 53 goals.

Dartford have conceded the most goals (14) in the 15 minutes before the break, whilst Weston-super-Mare have conceded the most goals (14) in the opening 15 minutes of the second half.

Only Truro City have conceded more second half goals (43) than Weston-super-Mare (40).

On This Day

Dartford booked their place at Wembley 45 years ago with a 0-0 draw against Macclesfield Town at Watling Street. The second leg stalemate gave the Darts a 2-1 aggregate victory to claim a spot in the F.A Trophy final against Morecambe. Dartford lost their last fixture on this day at home to Barnet in the National League, Curtis Weston scored the only goal of the game in 2015 in the Bees title winning campaign. Dartford’s last away trip on 6 April came in 2013 when they beat AFC Telford United in the National League, Jason Prior and Charlie Sheringham scored in a 2-0 win.