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Dartford v Southport

 

Dartford take on last season’s surprise package Southport for the first time in the clubs history at Princes Park on Saturday.

Whilst the Darts have taken well deserved plaudits in the first three months of 2012/13 campaign, a year ago their opponents were about to leap into third place in their return to the Conference Premier.

The two sides are experiencing inconsistent form over the last six league matches but the Darts will be full of confidence following another scalp on Saturday. Another visit to a former football league side ended in a Dartford victory adding Luton Town to the ever growing list.

Lee Noble scored direct from a free kick after six minutes at Kenilworth Road, his second league goal of the season. Tom Bonner doubled his season’s tally with a close range header to put Tony Burman’s side two up before half time.  Yet again the back five managed a clean sheet, their fourth consecutive away from home.

Victory lifted Dartford back into the play off places as they replaced Luton Town, Burman spoke to BBC Radio Kent: “I am absolutely delighted. It was a good away performance against a top, top club. It’s one of the best results I’ve had so far”. Despite a better home record this season the Dartford boss feels less pressure on the road, he added: “First half we were excellent, our passing was good. It’s easier playing away. The expectation is not high and it is on our opponents Luton, but it was a great performance from us”.

On the weekend of Princes Park’s sixth birthday the progress the club was summed up by last weekend’s attendance at Kenilworth Road, Burman commented: “I’m just delighted Dartford are playing at this level, in front of six-and-a-half thousand people. It’s a dream come true”.

The Darts approach their fixture with Southport without top scorer Harry Crawford who has netted all six of his goals at home. It is likely Jacob Erskine and Danny Harris will partner each other up front. The duo have only started once together at home on the opening day of the season. At the back the defence picks itself, after 16 consecutive league games the back five have been unchanged keeping clean sheets in almost half of those matches.

Southport travel down from the north west and went down to a early goal last weekend when they lost to a second minute strike by Mansfield Town’s Ben Hutchinson. Defeat leaves the Sandgrounders one place above the relegation zone two points ahead of our Kent rivals Ebbsfleet United.

It will be the second consecutive away fixture for Southport and of late they have one just once in six attempts on the road. Defensively, only three teams have conceded more goals than the Sandgrounders who have not kept a clean sheet for nine league matches. Part of that defence includes the ever present goalkeeper Tony McMIllan and defender Simon Grand, midfielder Andy Parry has also started every league game of 2012/13. Up front the club have struggled for a regular striker and have had to rely on defender Chris Lever to top score with five league goals, all penalties.

Now managed by Liam Watson, the Merseysiders have bounced between the top two tiers of non league football since the turn of the millennium. The club are in their third spell in non league’s top division having been relegated in 2003 and 2007. Up until 1978 Southport were an established football league club reaching Division Three North, today’s equivalent of League One.

Team News

Harry Crawford will serve his second match of his three game ban after his sending off against Forest Green Rovers. Elliot Bradbrook was cautioned in Saturday’s win and is one yellow card from a suspension.

Steve Akrigg remains sidelined with a long term injury caused by a dislocated shoulder. The centre half has managed just six league appearances for the Sandgrounders. Steve Grand and Godfrey Poku have both currently amassed four cautions this season, Poku has just returned from suspension after his red card against Wrexham.

Current League Form

Dartford (WLWDLW) Southport (LLDWLW)
Luton Town A 2-0 Mansfield Town A 0-1
Forest Green Rovers H 0-1 Wrexham H 1-4
Mansfield Town H 2-0 Hereford United H 2-2
Barrow A 0-0 Woking A 3-2
AFC Telford United H 1-4 Barrow A 2-3
Grimsby Town A 2-0 Nuneaton H 3-1

Dartford failed to score in their last home match for the first time in the league this season and have yet to record a league draw at Princes Park

Southport have lost four of their last five away fixtures

Stats

Dartford seem to struggle to find the net in the second third of each half, see below the times in which the Darts have scored.

Defensively Dartford keep things tight at the back in the opening half hour of each half.

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