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Dartford v Stockport County

 

Dartford play their second of three games in a week when they host Stockport County on Tuesday night.

The Darts hope to stretch their unbeaten run at Princes Park to six games in all competitions against a struggling former football league club. Stockport County are the only side Dartford have yet to play this season and their opponents are just three points from safety.

Over the last week two cup runs have ended for Tony Burman’s side when they drew 0-0 with Grimsby Town at home, losing 3-0 on aggregate. Towards the end of last week the Darts conceded their place in the Kent Senior Cup as they were unable to fulfil their second round match with Margate. A backlog of fixtures built up by a wet Winter and an excellent F.A Trophy run prevented Dartford reaching a third successive county cup final.

Burman spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Non League Show and stated: “I’m bitterly disappointed with that decision. Myself I’ve always seen the Kent Senior Cup as a very respectable competition. It should have been sorted out in a different way but there you go. We haven’t pulled out we just couldn’t play four or five games in one week and expect to play the Kent Senior Cup game in that week as well”.

Despite the two cup exits Burman’s squad travelled up to Merseyside on the weekend to face Southport. Recently away from home has proven difficult for the club with one point from seven matches on the road prior the match.

Like the fixture earlier in November against the Sandgrounders, Dartford took the lead in the first half. Harry Crawford scored his first goal since returning to the club taking his tally to 12 for the season. Crawford’s stuck in the opener which his first goal outside of Kent in a Dartford shirt. Southport equalised five minutes before the break when Andy Owens found the net taking advantage of the under pressure Marcus Bettinelli, the officials awarded a goal as Bettinelli claimed he was fouled.

For the fourth time this season Dartford took the lead against their hosts, Tom Bonner notched his third league goal of the campaign when he scrambled the ball over the line. Then for the fourth time this season Southport equalised against the Darts courtesy of Shaun Whalley’s spot kick seven minutes from time.

Dartford defender Tom Bonner told BBC Radio Kent “It’s always good to get on the score sheet but it’s disappointing to go in front and lose the lead and to do it twice. We’re gutted today”, he added: “I thought we stood up to them really well. It was a lack of concentration for the penalty and we’re gutted we didn’t get three points today”.

Despite alterations in the back four Dartford have only conceded once at home in 2013. Lee Burns and Mark Arber have had time on the sidelines through injury whilst Adam Green has pushed in front of Richard Rose as first choice left back. What does bode well for the Darts is they have the sixth best home record whilst Stockport County have won just three away from Edgeley Park.

Tuesday’s visitors Stockport County took ten years to fall from the second tier of English football to the Conference Premier. Former Hatters defender Jim Gannon managed the Hatters up until the end of January when he was dismissed 14 months into his second tenure as boss.

Darije Kalezic has been in charge at Edgeley Park and on Saturday he lost to a former Dartford manager John Still. Still’s first game as Luton Town boss inflicted a 1-0 defeat on Stockport County. Stuart Fleetwood missed a penalty for the visitors but his side went into the break a goal up. Jake Howells’ low drive made sure the three points were taken back to Kenilworth Road leaving Stockport County in seventeenth place.

The Lancashire club are without a win in four in which they have scored just twice versus Hereford United a week ago. This season Stockport County have scored the fewest goals away from home but their defensive record rivals those in the playoff spots.

Born in Switzerland, Kalezic has already altered his squad hoping his team will avoid another relegation. The Bosnian has extended Mark Cullen’s loan spell to the end of the season from Hull City, signed midfielder Greg McDermott and Paul Marshall on a non contract basis. McDermott is son of Terry McDermott and joined from Newcastle United whilst Marshall came from FC Halifax Town and played against the Darts in the F.A Trophy Quarter Final. Johan Hammer has came in on a months loan from Everton and has featured in every game since joining. Former Carlisle United and Colchester United midfielder Simon Hackney has signed on a free transfer. The new players have been added to the likes of ever present defender James Tunnicliffe and top scorer Danny Hattersley.

Team News

Lee Noble continues his suspension serving his third of four games for his red card against Grimsby Town in the F.A Trophy first leg.  If selected central midfielder Jon Wallis will make his 50th start for the club in all competitions and Adam Green will make his 50th league start. Mark Arber has missed the last week of action with a virus. Tom Champion is one caution away from a suspension after picking up nine yellow cards so far this season.

Current League Form

Dartford (DWLLWL) Stockport County (LLLDWL)
Southport A 2-2 Luton Town H 0-1
Luton Town H 1-0 Hereford United H 2-3
Lincoln City A 1-2 Tamworth H 0-1
Mansfield Town A 0-5 Ebbsfleet United A 0-0
Macclesfield Town H 2-0 Lincoln City H 2-0
Alfreton Town A 2-3 Wrexham A 1-3

Stats

7 – Stockport County are at their least potent in front of goal in the final 15 minutes, only Gateshead have scored fewer times during this period this season

8 – Dartford have conceded the most goals from spot kicks this season

16 – The Darts have conceded the most goals in the last 15 minutes of matches, joint with Hyde

23 – The number of players Dartford have used in the Conference Premier, the fewest by any club. Stockport County have used 10 more players and are in fourth spot

Stockport County’s large following as seen a decline over the last decade, averaging attendances of 3353 this season compared to Dartford’s 1494 the Greater Manchester club will desperately hope to stop falling down the league pyramid.

 

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