Dover Athletic v Dartford

The Darts travel to Dover on Tuesday night keen to maintain their stay at the top of the Conference South.

A victory against Hampton and Richmond on Saturday courtesy of Elliot Bradbrook’s second of the season and Charlie Sheringham’s penalty saw Dartford climb to the top of the table. Coincidentally The Darts replaced their next opponents who were defeated 1-0 by newcomers Truro City.

The Darts celebrate a 4-0 win against Dover

Tony Burman’s side picked up their first Conference South away win in the corresponding fixture last season when Ryan Hayes opened the scoring in the first half and Ollie Berquez netted the second eight minutes from time. To compound Dover’s misery Dartford completed the double in April romping away with a 4-0 win at Princes Park. The match on Tuesday night has a sub plot with the return of Dartford midfielder Jon Wallis to The Crabble.

The start of the season could not have got any better for The Darts, Burman spoke to PURE DFC and said: “We started last Saturday and before the kick off we said it is about winning games, it doesn’t matter how you do it but it’s about winning and we’ve won the first three seven days later. We’ve got nine points and obviously I’m delighted”.

Similar to the Eastbourne Borough game in mid week Dartford had the opportunities to score more goals against Hampton and Richmond. Although Burman noted Hampton and Richmond posed more of a threat, he commented: “We felt the goals let us down a bit today, it knocked us and it killed the tempo what we wanted to play at. The two lads upfront for Hampton were causing problems with their height and play. Having said that we feel we had enough chances in the first half or we were unlucky not to go in more than 2-1 up…it wasn’t the prettiest in the second half but we felt we had enough chances”.

Charlie Sheringham doubles the lead

Charlie Sheringham scored his fourth in three games as well as missing a penalty on Saturday but Burman is happy with the strikers progress, he added: “He’s done two games in preseason, he’s been injured for most of pre season He had come back and has done ever so well because he had a sticky patch when he first come here. The supporters had their opinion and probably felt he wasn’t working hard enough and me myself probably did as well. You’ve got to give the lad credit, from mid January onwards he was excellent and this year he is going to benefit from the players we’ve brought in. They are players who will play and have a little bit more quality on the ball. He has done well and I’m pleased for him”.

After a tough but successful opening week games could get harder in the following seven days, Burman said: “We’ve won our first three games and now we go to Dover, Chelmsford, Bromley that is another tough week and lot of things can happen in football”.

However the Dartford boss is looking forward to Tuesday nights match at The Crabble and wants the two sides to give the fans a good show, he said: “It’s always a tough game against Dover but they are the games you want to be involved with. Supporters want to be involved with it, players want to be involved with it and it’s who stays calm on the night. We should hopefully put on a real good game which is what the supporters want. They want to be cheering their side on, both sets of supporters that is, they’ve been good games in recent years I don’t see that Tuesday should be any different”.

Dartford’s opponents on Tuesday night opened the season with two resounding 4-0 victories against Dorchester Town and Thurrock. The Whites led the Conference South on goal difference until Saturday when they went down by a single goal against Truro City having had Tom Wynter dismissed in the first half. The Whites have now dropped to fifth spot where Dartford started on Saturday.

Dover Athletic have been busy over the summer after disappointingly missing the playoffs last season. The leagues top scorer Adam Birchall was signed by Gillingham after his F.A Cup exploits attracted attention from various Football League clubs. The F.A Cup run to the third round will give Martin Hayes plenty of confidence his side can make at least the playoffs this time round.

Hayes is still trying to win over some Dover fans after he allegedly fell out with crowd favourite Wallis. In the last week another player Ollie Schulz has been transfer listed as expectations at The Crabble remain high. However, Hayes has secured the services of many experienced players from higher divisions and recently captured Barnet’s captain from last season Glen Southam.

Along with Southam, Dover have signed six players with Conference Premier experience.  Shane Huke, Michael Corcoran and Matt Johnson all came in from Rushden & Diamonds, Ed Harris (AFC Wimbledon), George Purcell (York City) and Steve Watt from Grimsby Town. Hayes also added championship winner Phil Starkey from Braintree Town, Ross Kitteridge (Bishop’s Stortford), Billy Bricknall (Chelmsford City) and James Walker (Woking). The release of five players plus the departures of Birchall, Wallis and Ben Hunt (now Weston Super-Mare) means it has been a busy summer for The Whites.

George Purcell in action for The Darts

The Darts will be keeping an eye on George Purcell who has managed three goals so far and will be determined to score against his former side. Purcell was only on loan with Dartford last season and scored just twice. Purcell’s pearler against Woking and winner against Ashford Town (Middlesex) showed Dartford fans a glimpse of what he is capable of. Billy Bricknall has also scored three times this season and netted in both victories against The Darts last season when he played for Chelmsford City.

In recent years the rivalry between Dartford and Dover has had a revival due to the success of both clubs reaching the Conference South. Both players and fans will be desperate to earn bragging rights as both sides look to improve their positive starts to the season.

Did you know…

A win for Dartford will match their four game winning streak at the start of the 2009/10 when promotion to the Conference South was achieved

The Darts have won their last five Conference South fixtures, a run which started against Dover Athletic on 25 April 2011. Last season Dartford’s longest winning sequence was four from 22 January 2011 to 8 February 2011

Dover Athletic scored the most league goals in the last fifteen minutes then any other Conference South club last season

Pictures courtesy of Dave Adkins and Carol White-Griffiths


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