Dartford v Ebbsfleet United

Dartford will not be meeting local rivals Ebbsfleet United in the Conference Premier this season but the sides meet in a friendly on Tuesday night.

League meetings last term resulted in the Darts feeling the festive spirit with a 3-1 win at Princes Park and a 2-2 stalemate at Stonebridge Road. In the first meeting Fleet top scorer Liam Enveer-Marum opened the scoring just after half time. A Harry Crawford double had Dartford ahead and the win was sealed by captain Elliot Bradbrook.

On New Years Day the honours were even thanks to last gasp equaliser by Ebbsfleet United’s Nathan Elder. Jon Wallis and Crawford put the Darts two up but Elder’s double ensured the points were shared.


Ryan Hayes celebrates against the Fleet

The Darts remain winless during their warm up to their second season in the Conference Premier. After two draws the club has suffered two defeats with the latest at Bromley. Former Dartford striker Jay May, brother of Ben scored the winner at Hayes Lane to give the hosts a 1-0 victory. Pacey winger Lanre Azeez has featured for Tony Burman’s side in pre season having been part of Fleet’s youth team and senior squads. The 20 year old played in 30 of Ebbsfleet United’s matches last season starting 11 times.

Most of the summer football news in Kent has revolved around Ebbsfleet United’s survival and subsequent takeover. The MyFootballClub experiment finally succumbed and a group of Kuwati investors saved the Fleet. Advised by former Charlton Athletic Chief Executive Peter Varney,  KEH Sports Limited took over the club.

Ebbsfleet United have a new look management team with strong Charlton Athletic connections, former player Steve Brown is now in charge and his number two is Steve Gritt who managed the Addicks. Brown has raided Dover Athletic for Ben May, Shane Huke, Dean Rance, Daryl McMahon and Billy Bricknell with the majority of players familiar to Dartford’s time in the Conference South. Stacy Long returns to Stonebridge Road, his last spell ended with a F.A Trophy winners medal. The Fleet have also added Osei Sankofa, Michael Thalassitis, Aiden Palmer, Brandon Hall and Michael Corcoran to their ranks.


Azeez in action for the Fleet last season

Stepping in to replace Southend United on Tuesday night, the Fleet will be amongst the favourites in the Conference South following relegation last season. Last time Ebbsfleet United participated in the Conference South it was they who had the edge over Dartford, drawing 1-1 in August 2010 before winning 2-1 at home in December that year.

Ebbsfleet United have played just twice so far during pre season starting off against Isthmian Premier League side Thamesmead Town. Two goals each from Long and May with Rance getting on the score sheet as well handed the Fleet a 5-1 triumph. On Saturday they took on Maidstone United at the Gallagher Stadium and this time the Fleet were beaten 3-0.

East Thurrock United v Dartford XI

Also this week, a Dartford XI travel to Rookery Hill to face East Thurrock United on Wednesday night. The Essex club finished fifth in last season’s Isthmian Premier League having been promoted to the division two years ago. The Rocks have played Dartford six times and although they have never won a friendly against the Darts they have been victorious in their only two competitive matches.

Back in 2004/05, East Thurrock United did the double over Dartford with 4-0 and 3-0 wins in the Southern League East division. The Rocks ended up runners up behind Fisher Athletic that season with the Darts finishing 16th. In the four friendlies since, the Darts have won three and drawn one.

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