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Conference South Playoff Previews

Dartford v Basingstoke Town (1-0 on aggregate)

Dartford take a slender lead going into Sunday’s Conference South Playoff Second Leg at Princes Park.

On Wednesday night Lee Noble’s fine strike on the stroke of half time ensured The Darts gained what could be a crucial advantage.

Danny Harris celebrates his hat trick goal in February

James Rogers had a shot tipped over by the experienced Ashley Bayes and the Basingstoke Town goalkeeper also denied Danny Harris from close range. Louis Wells pulled off a stunning save to keep the scores level until Noble put The Darts in front with an excellent drilled shot from the edge of the box.

Basingstoke Town controlled the second half and a resilient display from Dartford’s defence ensured they went home with a clean sheet. Wells continued to make important saves and after a number of goal line clearances by The Darts, Basingstoke’s Shaun McAuley missed an open goal. The Darts managed to hold on and will hope to make home advantage in the second leg on Sunday count.

Tony Burman spoke to PURE DFC after the first leg, he said: “You want to get something from the away game whether it’s a draw or a win. We’ve managed to win the game”, he added: “I thought we were organised and I felt the players did excellent. We know it’s half time and it’s not done by a long way”.

Earlier in the season Danny Harris put in a fantastic performance netting a hat trick in a win 4-1.  Harris opened the scoring two minutes before the break with a great finish drilled low into the net. In the second half The Darts upped their game and Harris doubled his goal tally for the night by following up Tom Champion’s header with one of his own. Three minutes later a Basingstoke Town free kick was bundled over the line by Stuart Lake to half the deficit. With twelve minutes remaining substitute Tony Garrod sealed the match thanks to some hard work from Harris. The icing was on the cake nine minutes from time when Harris completed a hat trick with a curling effort into the bottom corner.

Dartford also won the meeting at Princes Park last season when a calamitous own goal by Callum Reynolds separated the two sides. After Lee Noble’s deflected shot hit the cross bar the ball hit Reynolds on the way down and over the line.

The Darts will be hoping to add to their home successes in 2012 and progress to the final which will be staged on their own turf.

Did you know…

Dartford finished the season with the best home record in the Conference South amassing 49 points the same as Woking. The Darts finished with a better goal difference of +33 to Woking’s +25

The Darts recorded 8 consecutive home wins from 2 January 2012 to 31 March 2012 the best home run by any Conference South club this season, In 2012 they only dropped four points at Princes Park when they drew their last two home matches

Basingstoke Town are currently on their best league run away from The Camrose. The Dragons are unbeaten in six having won five and drawing the final game of the season which clinched a playoff spot.

The Dragons suffered the heaviest away defeat of the season when they last played Dartford at Princes Park on 27 February 2012

Welling United v Sutton United (2-1 on aggregate)

Welling United also won there away fixture on Wednesday night to take a goal lead into the second leg.

Lee Clarke will miss the second leg through suspension but he made amends with the opening goal after 24 minutes. Dean Cracknell’s cross was finished by Clarke’s diving header to give The Wings the lead.

Sutton United levelled in the second half after 66 minutes when The U’s top scorer Craig Watkins sent in a cross which deflected and wrong footed goalkeeper Craig Holloway.

The Wings grabbed a winner just four minutes later when tricky Loick Pires picked out Joe Healy who flicked the ball beyond Kevin Scriven to make it 2-1.

Jamie Day knows his side still has a job to do and urges his side to finish off the job. The player manager hopes to guide The Wings to the top flight of non league football for the first time since 1999/2000.

Paul Doswell hopes his side overturns a 2-1 deficit

Sutton United manager Paul Doswell believes the first goal is important and his side is still in with a chance. The U’s manager aims for the same approach as Wednesday and does not want to ‘go gung-ho’ from the start.

Last time the two sides met at Park View Road the fixture ended 0-0.  The Wings will be encouraged by almost going unbeaten at home for the entire season. The only league defeat suffered happened three weeks ago when Eastleigh got the better of Welling United. The U’s have had a patchy season away from home and since the turn of the year they have scored just nine times on the road winning on three occasions.

Did you know…

Welling United went an incredible 19 games without defeat at home this season and ended up with the third best home record. The Wings were two games away before their only defeat from going unbeaten all season at home. Only Newport County AFC managed to go unbeaten at home in the Conference South in 2009/10.

On two occasions Sutton United managed three consecutive clean sheets on the road in the league. Only Boreham Wood went longer without conceding an away goal.

The U’s lost their final away fixture but have not been defeated in successive away league games this season.

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