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Nuneaton Town v Dartford

 

Dartford travel to Nuneaton Town on Tuesday night to face the Conference North playoff winners of last season.

Both clubs finished in the top five in their respective divisions and on the same day earned promotion. Whilst the Darts defeated Welling United 1-0 in the southern playoff final, Nuneaton Town overcame Gainsborough Trinity by the same scoreline in the northern final.

Seven months on and it’s Dartford coping with top flight non league football better than Tuesday’s opponents. Despite Saturday’s difficult afternoon in Tamworth, the Darts are currently in fifth place and will go to Nuneaton 19 points ahead of their opponents.

Dartford travel to Liberty Way on the back of another 3-2 defeat at the hands of Tamworth. League debutant Semi Ajayi put the Darts in front after 16 minutes with a header. Tom Bonner was sent off for deliberate handball and Scott Barrow scored from the resulting penalty. Ten men Dartford took the lead with twenty minutes remaining when Danny Harris scored his fourth league goal of the season, his first on the road. With five minutes remaining Barrow netted another penalty before former Premier League midfielder Lee Hendrie scored the winner two minutes from time.

It was a frustrating end to Saturday afternoon, Dartford boss Tony Burman spoke to BBC Sport: “Decisions sometimes go for you, sometimes they don’t. I thought it was a bit harsh, the second penalty”, he added: “They’ve got a third goal which is disappointing because we took the lead twice in the game. It was a brave performance, we didn’t play poorly, the work rate was excellent”. Defeat continues Dartford’s recent inconsistencies but the fine form beforehand has kept the side challenging for the playoffs.

Nuneaton Town fans have several reasons to be cheerful since demotion from the Conference North to Southern League Division One Midlands in the summer of 2008. Reverting back to their former name the Borough turned into Town and after restructuring the club has worked its way back to the Conference Premier.

Still known as the Boro the Warwickshire club have become playoff kings winning three finals in four years to propel themselves back to the top non league division. Currently at the foot of the league Nuneaton Town also went down to a one goal margin on the weekend. Substitute James Norwood scored the winner for Forest Green Rovers in the second half, the Boro had Gavin Cowan dismissed two minutes later.

Despite Nuneaton Town’s lowly position they have been a tough nut to crack at Liberty Way with only two league defeats. The Boro have picked up six draws in ten games including five in a row and are currently unbeaten in seven home fixtures in the Conference Premier. A solitary win on their travels leaves the Boro five points from safety.

Dartford last played Nuneaton in their previous guise when the club were known as Nuneaton Borough. The two sides met in the 1987/88 Southern Premier League season with the Darts winning 3-1 at Watling Street and drawing 0-0 away. Dartford finished runners up on goal difference conceding just four more goals than champions Aylesbury United. Nuneaton Borough were relegated in second to last place and had to play the following season in the Southern League Midlands Division. In the previous season Dartford won 3-1 in an F.A Trophy Quarter Final.

Team News

Mark Arber remains out for Dartford with a fractured jaw and Tom Bonner will serve a one match suspension for Saturday’s red card. Elliot Bradbrook picked up his fifth yellow card and will also sit out the fixture against Nuneaton Town.

Gavin Cowan will not be able to take part following his red card on the weekend. Striker Kyle Patterson moved on loan to Conference North side Worcester City and Kevin Malaga’s loan spell has ended after three leagues appearances.

Current League Form

Nuneaton Town (LWLDDL) Dartford (LDWLWD)
Forest Green Rovers A 0-1 Tamworth A 2-3
Stockport County H 2-0 Southport H 2-2
Kidderminster Harriers A 0-1 Luton Town A 2-0
Mansfield Town H 1-1 Forest Green Rovers H 0-1
Barrow H 1-1 Mansfield Town H 2-0
Luton Town A 0-2 Barrow A 0-0

Stats

0 & 2 – Away from Princes Park, Dartford have either not scored or netted twice in every away league match this season.

2 – The number of outfield players with an appearance yet to score for Dartford in the league this campaign. Adam Green and Mark Arber will be hoping to get off the mark by the end of the season. The Darts have the highest ratio of goal scorers against players used.

5 – From 15 September to 6 November 2012 Nuneaton Town’s five consecutive home draws is a club record as Nuneaton Town.

9 – Liberty Way hosted the highest aggregate score this season when the Boro were beaten 5-4 by Ebbsfleet United.

Did you know…

On Saturday, the Darts were up against Tamworth’s Tom Marshall. Stubblemelt’s bassist may back up vocals but Kyle Perry of Nuneaton Town is the lead singer in the band.

As Nuneaton Borough the club went an astonishing 35 home games without defeat from 15 October 1983 to 22 April 1985, a Conference record. During that time Dartford lost 5-1 to the Conference runners up of 1985, the Darts ended up in third place that season.

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