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December Review

Dartford followed up an unbeaten November with progression in two cup competitions and mixed fortunes in the Conference South’s final month of 2011.

December started off in the best possible fashion with a win against Kent rivals Dover Athletic. In the first half the two sides were even and deservedly so. Elliot Bradbrook won a penalty which was finished calmly by Adam Green, the full back opened Dartford’s scoring for a third successive league match. Six minutes later The Whites were level when Agustien Battipiedi headed in a free kick on the right.

Dartford are delighted with Bradbrook's stunning strike

In the second forty five Dartford came out the blocks to earn the bragging rights. Ryan Hayes caused Dover all sorts of problems on the wing and just passed the hour bent home a free kick from a tight angle. The match was sealed in superb style when Bradbrook curled a 25 yard pearler into the top corner with two minutes remaining.

Two cup ties followed which The Darts got through succesfully. In the Kent Senior Cup Folkestone Invicta were comfortably beaten 4-1 with goals coming from Jacob Erskine, Tom Bonner and a brace from Richard Graham. The Darts travel to Tonbridge Angels in the Quarter Finals, a side they beat on their way to winning the cup last season.

In the F.A Trophy first round Brackley Town were eased off with a 3-0 victory. Bradbrook scored from the spot and it was Erskine’s turn to record a brace of goals. The second round will take place on 14 January at home against Conference North side Boston United.

Dartford entered a Tuesday night fixture against league leaders Woking unbeaten in eight competitve matches. The Surrey club stormed into a two goal first half lead with both goals coming from set pieces. Alan Inns opened the scoring after four minutes and Craig Doyle netted three minutes before the break. James Rogers pulled a goal back mid way through the second half and as Dartford pushed for an equaliser a clearance from Louis Wells was punished by the experienced Elvis Hammond with two minutes to play. The Darts refused to lie down and Erskine grabbed a consolation. Woking couldn’t wait for the full time whistle to go and Dartford almost stole a point in injury time.

If The Darts failed to steal a point at home to Woking they managed it the next time at Princes Park for the visit of Dorchester Town. The Magpies hit the target with twenty minutes remaining when Jamie Symes scored a beauty 25 yards from goal. As the Dorset side defended the last frantic minutes substitute Danny Harris popped up from close range to rescue a point.

Boxing Day: Many teams recorded their highest home crowds of the season

Supporters began their Christmas recovery sessions on Boxing Day with a short trip to a former home. Dartford took on second placed Welling United at Park View Road and for second match in row scored a last minute equaliser. Lee Clarke gave The Wings a first half lead from the spot when Loick Pires was upended. Clarke took a second penalty in the final minutes of the Kent derby which was saved by Wells. The Darts went straight down the other end Noble headed in a last gasp equaliser.

Throughout December injuries have began to take its toll on the squad. Noble, Lee Burns, Harris and Paul Goodacre all faced time on the sidelines. Goodacre’s knee injury against Woking being severe enough for Tony Burman to sign Gillingham’s Connor Essam on loan. Essam made his début in the draw with Dorchester Town and has made a promising start. Erskine continues to make steady progress up front often playing as the lone striker. He has now scored six goals in seven starts and three substitute appearances. However The Darts have drawn four of their last six league games but can take heart from their never say die attitude having scored in the last minute in their last three league games.

Woking remain top of the table and in formidable form

Once again, Woking remain a formidable force at the top of the Conference South. The Cards have stretched away at the helm and have a twelve point cushion. Such is the Surrey’s side dominance in 2011 they have won 109 points out of the 144 available this calendar year.

Chelmsford City cemented a play off spot by moving into third behind Welling United. The Clarets have now put a sixteen match unbeaten league run together only matched by the current league leaders. The Essex club also held Macclesfield Town in the F.A Cup second round but bowed out in a replay.

One side who did make the big time third round draw was Salisbury City. The Wiltshire club beat Conference Premier team Grimsby Town in a replay. After a creditable 0-0 draw at The Raymond McEnhill Stadium, Salisbury travelled to Grimsby and took 120 minutes to win a dramatic replay 3-2.

The final play off spot is taken up by Sutton United who have had a superb 2011. The U’s won promotion without losing a home match in the Isthmian Premier and now find themselves in fifth. Like Chelmsford the Conference South newcomers reached the second round of the F.A Cup where they lost 2-0 to Notts County. Striker Harry Beautyman has netted four goals in four league matches top scoring in December joint with Dover’s George Purcell and Truro’s Jake Ash.

Ex Dart loanee George Purcell netted four this month

George Purcell’s hat trick against Bromley and goal versus Staines has helped Dover Athletic keep in touch with the top six. The Whites defeat at Dartford left fans fuming at chairman Jim Parmenter who then had a clear out of the squad. Out went Luke L’Anson, Sam Cutler, Ross Kitteridge and Nathan Ashton and since then the Kent club are unbeaten.

Mid table remains close with no teams really making an impact. However fortunes in Hampshire have turned for two full time clubs. Eastleigh took seven points from nine in December keeping two clean sheets in the process, The Spitfires are now in a  comfortable eleventh place. Farnborough looked doomed in November after seven straight defeats including 8-2 and 5-0 drubbings within a week. The Boro have now won three out of their last five league matches and only lost to Woking. Both Hampshire sides have been busy signing ten new players between them this month.

The Conference South has seen two new managerial changes this month. Alan Knight was appointed Dorchester Town’s boss and he won his first match in charge. The victory against Maidenhead United was The Magpies fourth clean sheet in a row as they went 395 minutes without conceding.

Another former Dart: Robbie Garvey quits Thurrock

Robbie Garvey resigned as the Thurrock manager after their 2-1 defeat at home to relegation rivals Staines Town. The Fleet remain at the foot of the table four points behind The Swans. Since Garvey’s departure Thurrock have re-hauled their squad under caretaker managers Lee Goodwin and Grant Gordon. The management duo have brought in a staggering fourteen players in an attempt to improve the Essex clubs position.

Victory for Staines was coupled with another important triumph over Hampton and Richmond who also remain in the relegation zone. Although The Swans are far from safe they have beaten their closest rivals this month and have kept in touch with Bromley and Maidenhead United, the teams above them.

December in numbers…

0 – Only Staines Town have failed to keep a clean sheet so far in the 2011/2012 campaign

8 – Number of clubs who set a new highest home attendance of the season over the Boxing Day set of fixtures

14 – Amount of own goals registered in the league this season

639 – The average league attendance in the Conference South this season

2011 League Table (includes teams competing in the Conference South for the whole of 2011)

Team Pld W D L F A Points GD % Pts
Woking 48 33 10 5 99 39 109 60 75.69%
Chelmsford City 50 26 14 10 96 51 92 45 61.33%
Welling United 47 27 10 10 94 56 91 38 64.54%
Dartford 47 23 12 12 81 59 81 22 57.45%
Dover Athletic 48 22 13 13 80 53 79 27 54.86%
Eastleigh 48 24 6 18 77 68 78 9 54.17%
Farnborough 46 22 7 17 81 76 73 5 52.90%
Basingstoke Town 47 17 14 16 71 69 65 2 46.10%
Boreham Wood 48 18 11 19 58 66 65 -8 45.14%
Havant and Waterlooville 48 16 13 19 69 67 61 2 42.36%
Weston Super-Mare 43 17 8 18 62 66 59 -4 45.74%
Dorchester Town 51 14 15 22 60 76 57 -16 37.25%
Bromley 46 11 11 24 54 82 44 -28 31.88%
Staines Town 47 10 13 24 48 76 43 -28 30.50%
Hampton and Richmond 47 9 13 25 51 75 40 -24 28.37%
Maidenhead United 47 10 9 28 50 89 39 -39 27.66%
Thurrock 46 9 11 26 50 93 38 -43 27.54%


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