January Review

What a start to 2012 for The Darts winning all five Conference South fixtures, moving up to second position and progressing to the third round of the F.A Trophy.

A successful January has left Dartford closer to league leaders Woking than at the end of the year and it all started in the Kent derby on second day of 2012. The Darts hosted a Welling United side who were occupying second place at the time and who drew with Dartford on Boxing Day. Although the sides were even at the interval, The Wings came out the better side in the second half keeping the excellent Louis Wells busy. But a Ryan Hayes corner headed back into danger by Tom Bonner and flicked in by Danny Harris earned an important win for The Darts.

Bradbrook opens up the Havant defence and scores

Havant and Waterlooville awaited Tony Burman’s team five days later and the journey down to Hampshire was worth it. Burman was delighted with the result and said: ““It was a really good performance, all the team was excellent, it was a good all round performance”. Elliot Bradbrook commenced his January scoring spree with a well taken opener, the hard working Harris put away a fantastic lob. The Hawks grabbed a goal back via Scott Jones in the second half, however Harris and Bradbrook netted again in a 4-1 victory.

Jason Lee’s Boston United visited Princes Park in the second round of the F.A Trophy. Jacob Erskine decided to take the cup tie into his own hands and his audacious back heel opened the scoring early on. The lead was cancelled out when Spencer Weir-Daley nodded in from a corner. The second half came to life when the Boston United fans decided to stay put on the terrace standing next to The Darts following. The fans were rewarded for their lively support when Erskine somehow flicked in number two. Lee Noble reacted the quickest to make it three before Leon Constantine pulled back a goal for The Pilgrims. It was Erskine completing a well deserved hat trick which sealed the tie and the striker took home the match ball.

The unbeaten run continued with three more wins in the Conference South. Approaching the first of the fixtures against bottom four teams Burman warned his side of complacency. The manager expressed his view that the next eight days were going to be tough and crucial. The players went about their job ‘professionally’ and added a further nine points to their total becoming the leagues top scorers in the process.

Hampton and Richmond who took the lead through James Simmonds on eight minutes were the first of the three clubs to suffer. Bradbrook equalised with a looping header but the best was yet to come. Bradbrook scored a goal of the season contender when his stunning long range volley put The Darts ahead. To rub salt into Hampton’s wound Erskine, a former player of theirs scored the third.

Three days later, for a second match in a row Dartford found themselves a goal down when Staines Town striker Ali Chaaban gave The Swans an advantage. Tom Bonner’s brave header on the stroke of half time ensured the sides were level at the break. Loanee Connor Essam scored his first Dartford goal in the second half with a powerful header and later on in the week his spell with The Darts was extended. Harris found the net with eighteen minutes to play and Adam Green’s deflection rounded up the triumph.

Ryan Hayes has now made 300 appearances for The darts

On Saturday Dartford became the leagues top scorers in some style. Hosting bottom club Thurrock who had not won in nine league matches The Darts took full advantage recording their biggest win in the Conference South. Bradbrook celebrated his 27th birthday by opening and closing the goalscoring. In between Harris blasted the ball into the net and James Rogers made it 3-0 inside the first forty five minutes. Lee Burns rifled in the fourth goal in the second half and on Ryan Hayes 300th appearance he set up Tony Garrod who scored his first for the club. The Darts demolished Thurrock 6-0 to record their biggest Conference South win.

It took 120 minutes of football for Dartford to stave off Tonbridge Angels in the Kent Senior Cup on Tuesday and complete a perfect start to 2012. The Angels led at half time when Chris Piper opened the scoring. Nathan Koranteng scored against Dartford for Boreham Wood earlier in the season and he was at it again for his new club to put Tonbridge two up. The cup holders looked down and out but were given a crucial lifeline when Hayes crossed for Jack Pallen to half the deficit. To complete the comeback Richard Graham equalised to send the tie into extra time and during the additional thirty minutes he netted his second of the night. The comeback was completed when Lee Burns netted the fourth to earn a semi final clash with Charlton Athletic.

All in all, January was an excellent month for The Darts. The club moved up two places and closed the gap on Woking. Bradbrook scored six goals in four games, Harris netted five goals in five appearances and Erskine claimed a hat trick. Essam continued to impress at the back and stays with The Darts for February and the club has progressed in league, F.A Trophy and Kent Senior Cup. To cap of a super month Tony Burman was awarded with Manager of the Month and Elliot Bradbrook won Player of the Month.

At the end of 2011, The Darts were seventeen point adrift of league leaders Woking. By the end of January the lead has been cut to eleven with The Darts having a game in hand. The deficit has been reduced making the fixture between the two sides on 18 February very important.

The reason Dartford have made ground is because Woking inexplicably slipped up first against Staines Town then versus Salisbury City. The Cards went down 1-0 to Staines who kept their first clean sheet of the season and inflicted Woking’s first home defeat, the result is probably the surprise result of the season so far. In losses came in between three victories for The Cards so they still have a cushion at the top for the time being.

Ali Chaaban scored a shock winner against Woking

Welling United and Chelmsford City who drew with each other Saturday occupy third and fourth. The Wings highlight of the month was a 5-1 home win against Truro City to keep them unbeaten at Park View Road. Chelmsford City were also shocked by Staines Town when they lost by a solitary goal but two wins keeps them in the playoff spot. The final team in the playoff zone is Sutton United who defeated Chelmsford City in a five goal thriller with a one goal margin.

The biggest movers in January were Dorchester Town who moved up five positions. New manager Alan Knight has started to see his team gel, the Dorset club has lost just once in fourteen league fixtures, keeping clean sheets in half of those matches. The Magpies are a win away from the play offs and only Weston Super-Mare stand between them in the league standings. Another big mover in the league were Maidenhead United. Also known as The Magpies the Berkshire club climbed four places to give them breathing space at the wrong end of the table.

One team on the slide is Eastbourne Borough dropping three places to eighteenth. The Sports picked up a solitary point in January out of a possible fifteen losing 4-1 and 5-1 in successive weeks. Their poor form has seen the Sussex club part company with manager Garry Wilson in an attempt to stop the rot.

Bromley did stop their rot winning for the first time in the league since 8 October 2011. A dreadful run of fifteen winless games left the club in the bottom three. The 3-0 victory over Weston Super-Mare lifted the Kent club from the drop zone leaving the bottom three the same as it was at the end of 2012.

Hampton and Richmond and Staines Town traded places numerous times in January both occupying the final relegation place during Bromley’s poor form. The Beavers beat The Swans on New Years Day to swap places and leap out of danger before a defeat against Dartford left them back in relegation. The Swans shocked Woking and Chelmsford City to capitalise on Hampton’s set backs but they then lost to Dartford as well to slip back into the bottom three.

One constant from the teams at the bottom is Thurrock who are having a torrid season. The Fleet are now seven points adrift and nine points from safety. The Essex club picked up some promising draws against Salisbury City, Sutton United and Havant and Waterlooville after wholesale changes from new manager Lee Goodwin. A trip to Princes Park compounded further misery for the club when they were demolished 6-0 to suffer the heaviest defeat this season.

Did you know…

3.09 – The average amount of goals per Conference South match this season

17 – The amount of different goalscorers Hampton and Richmond have had in the Conference South this season (including an own goal). The highest amount by any club this season, Dartford have had 16 different goalscorers also including one goal.

156 – The lowest recorded attendance so far this season in the league when Thurrock played Weston Super-Mare at Ship Lane on 20 August 2011.

3014 – The Woking versus Farnborough derby attracted the biggest attendance so far this season on Boxing Day


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