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Dartford v Sutton United

Dartford were back to winning ways on Saturday and hope to keep the momentum going at home against Sutton United on Tuesday night.

Winter weather disturbed the fixture last month and so it will be take two this time round. The Darts have found the Surrey club a difficult proposition over the two seasons spent in the Isthmian Premier League losing three of the last four meetings between the sides.

Dartford last met Sutton United at Princes Park two years ago on their way to the Isthmian Premier League title. Approaching half time James Norwood gave the visitors a lead by sticking a low shot beyond Andrew Young. With 11 minutes remaining Sam Gargan made sure the away side went home with all three points. Despite defeat Dartford went on to win the league ahead of The U’s by a staggering 18 points.

Danny Dafter craftily flicks in an attempt from a Ryan Hayes corner

In November 2008 the visitors triumphed again in an entertaining five goal affair. David Hughes scored Sutton’s first and The U’s went into the break two up thanks to Chukki Eribenne’s turn and shot. The Darts started the second half well and pulled a goal back from a Danny Dafter flick at the near post. Sutton won a controversial penalty even though the foul took place outside the box, nonetheless Eribenne converted the spot kick to score the eventual winner. Rob Haworth nodded a consolation late on as The U’s ended up 3-2 winners.

Dartford did their bit on the weekend by defeating Havant and Waterlooville 3-1 at Princes Park. With Woking winning as well The Darts have kept within eight points of the league leaders and have a game in hand. The victory also helped Tony Burman’s team look more likely to cement a playoff position as they have a 15 point cushion going into the last nine games.

However it wasn’t all plain sailing against The Hawks when the visitors took an early lead. Sam Pearce neatly finished a move that started from a corner in the eighth minute. To make matters worse the away side broke from goalkeeper Dan Thomas to win a penalty at the other end. Scott Jones got the better of Tom Bonner to give The Hawks the opportunity to double the advantage. Luckily Steve Ramsey failed to take his chance just after 15 minutes and blasted the spot kick over Louis Wells goal.

Mid way through the first half The Darts were back on level terms with a flowing move that started with Jon Wallis in midfield. Wallis kept possession releasing Danny Harris who found Jacob Erskine. The striker put in a low cross and Lee Noble was on the end of a well worked equaliser.

Luke Wilkinson powers in a header for his first ever Dartford goal

It wasn’t until the final ten minutes of the league encounter that Dartford could think about the three points. Ryan Hayes made an impression having come off the subs bench, his toe poked cross was flicked towards goal by fellow substitute Tony Garrod but Harris got the final touch from close range. With three minutes remaining the games was settled by defender Luke Wilkinson, the loanee from Dagenham and Redbridge towered above everyone to head home a Hayes corner for his first goal in a Darts shirt.

The Darts have yet to face Sutton this season who have made great progress in both league and cup. The U’s suffered a baptism of fire in their opening fixture of the season with a crushing 5-0 defeat at home to Woking. Undeterred by their loss they put an excellent run together.

Sutton United entered the playoffs on 10 September 2011 and have not dropped out since. A run of one defeat in fourteen after the opening game has helped Paul Doswell’s side accumulate enough points to maintain in a top five position. So far the Surrey club have adapted well to the Conference South. To add to the early season successes they have also excelled in this years F.A Cup reaching the second round. The U’s knocked out Conference Premier side Kettering Town before bowing out to League One club Notts County.

The U’s are in outstanding form having been beaten in the league just once in 16 matches. A tough side to beat on the road they are making good use of their home fixtures. Winning just twice in their last eight away fixtures from Gander Green Lane they have drawn four and have kept successive clean sheets in their last two games on their travels.

On the weekend they completed the double over playoff rivals Chelmsford City winning 3-2 against The Clarets for the second time this season. Craig Dundas opened the scoring after just 36 seconds which was cancelled out by Chelmsford’s Warren Whitely. Craig Watkins missed a penalty for Sutton and so former Southampton midfielder Paul Telfer took the next spot kick to give The U’s a 2-1 lead. Leroy Griffiths netted a third before a consolation goal was scored by Dave Rainford.

Manager Paul Doswell has had a successful first term in the Conference South with Sutton United. The Isthmian Premier League champions last season are aided by striker Craig Watkins who has scored 13 Conference South goals this season and midfielder Harry Beautyman who has netted ten times in the league.

It should be a tough match for The Darts considering recent form against The U’s. Between the two clubs only two league defeats have been suffered in 2012.

Team News

Tom Bonner will make his 100th Dartford start if he is selected by Tony Burman on Tuesday night. Signed from Ilkeston Town in the summer of 2010 the defender has scored eight goals for The Darts.

James Rogers will be available after serving his three match ban for his red card in the F.A Trophy replay at Wealdstone. Elliot Bradbrook is still waiting to play a full ninety minutes since returning from injury and Richard Graham will be out for approximately two more weeks with minor ligament damage.

Sutton United’s new signing Craig Braham-Barrett from Havant and Waterlooville is suspended after his sending off on 6 March 2012 against his former club.

Statistics (league only)

Dartford (2nd) v Sutton United (4th)

Current Form

Last five Dartford matches at home Last five Sutton United matches away
Won 3-1 v Havant and Waterlooville Drew 0-0 v Eastbourne Borough
Won 3-0  v Farnborough Won 1-0 v Thurrock
Won 4-1 v Basingstoke Town Lost 0-4 v Eastleigh
Won 2-0 v Salisbury City Drew 1-1 v Maidenhead United
Won 6-0 v Thurrock Won 3-2 v Chelmsford City

Attendances

Dartford average home attendance: 1244

Highest home attendance: 2559 v Welling United/ Lowest: 783 v Basingstoke Town

Sutton United average away attendance: 643

Highest away attendance: 1730 v Woking / Lowest: 232 v Boreham Wood

Did you know…

The Darts equalled their longest winning league streak at Princes Park this season with Saturday’s victory. Dartford have now won six in a row at home in the Conference South. The record has not been matched or bettered by any other team in the 2011/2012 campaign.

Dartford have conceded just two goals in their last six home league games.

When it comes to scoring goals in the last fifteen minutes only Tonbridge Angels have scored more than Dartford and Sutton United. The Darts have scored 19 times in the last fifteen minutes and The U’s have netted 18.

 


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