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Dartford v Alfreton Town

A long awaited second season in the Conference Premier begins for the Darts at home to Alfreton Town on Saturday.

Almost a year ago, Harry Crawford’s hat trick ensured Dartford recorded their joint biggest win in the top non league division for 27 years.

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Harry Crawford’s low drive hits the back of the net

Crawford, who top scored for the Darts in 2012/13 started the goal rush with a low drive from the edge of the box. Jacob Erskine’s strength played a part in the second, the striker shrugged off Adam Quinn before neatly finishing. On the stroke of half time Elliot Bradbrook headed Dartford into a 3-0 half time lead, arriving at the far post the captain nodded home a Ryan Hayes corner.

Hayes began the second half setting up the fourth with a clever free kick. The wingers chip into the box was met by a looping Bradbrook header, however Crawford stole the last touch before the ball crossed the line. Alfreton Town pulled a late goal back with ten  minutes on the clock, Daniel Meadows tidily placed his shot in the corner of the Dartford net. Searching for his hat trick, Crawford found a third to secure a 5-1 victory. The now Barnet striker pounced on Darren Kempson’s error and needed two attempts to take the match ball home.

Tony Burman has had to rebuild part of his squad for the forthcoming campaign after some major departures in defence and attack. Lee Burns is the only defender remaining at the club whilst up front Burman has signed two loanee’s from last season. Adam Birchall impressed in only six games during September and October scoring one goal, the 28 year old joins from League One side Gillingham. Prior is likely to partner Birchall in attack, the former AFC Wimbledon striker was with the Darts in March and April featuring nine times scoring once.

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Dartford squad numbers for 2013/2014

Local lad Matt Fry comes to Princes Park with Football League experience, the 22 year old defender helped Concord Rangers into the Conference South last season but has played for West Ham United, Charlton Athletic, Gillingham and Bradford City. Burman also raided Conference South side Chelmsford City for defender Kenny Clark and midfielder Max Cornhill, Dover Athletic for full back Tyrone Sterling and promoted Newport County for goalkeeper Alan Julian.

Burman used pre season wisely to assess a number of trialists and academy players. Tom Wellham, Jay Porter, George Monger, Ronnie Vint and Mohamed Eisa were all given squad numbers whilst Alex Woodyard, Uche Ibemere and Mat Mitchel-King also impressed boosting the senior squad for this season to twenty three.

Woodyard had been with Southend United since the age of sixteen and spent time on loan at Braintee Town last term. Mitchel-King also has Football League experience with Crewe Alexandra and AFC Wimbledon. Meanwhile Uche Ibemere will not feature on Saturday as the former VCD Athletic player has joined Cray Wanderers on loan.

Over pre season the senior team have failed to pick up a win, losing four matches and drawing with AFC Wimbledon, Dagenham and Redbridge, Ebbsfleet United and on Saturday a Fulham XI. The Cottagers included goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli who was on loan with the Darts last season, however his presence couldn’t stop Lee Noble from scoring the equaliser in a 1-1 stalemate.

Alfreton Town ended in thirteenth spot last term and missed out on an F.A Cup third round appearance after defeat at Leyton Orient. The Reds have reverted back to part time football in order to cut their cloth accordingly. The Derbyshire club’s mid table finish was their highest final position achieved in a 54 year history.

Manager, Nicky Law has been highly praised by Alfreton Town’s chairman Wayne Bradley who believes the 51 year old is ‘worth four places in the league table’. Law’s first summer job was to keep Paul Clayton, the Reds top scorer from last season who totalled 17 league goals. Arrivals at the Impact Arena include former Wrexham defender Chris Westwood and ex Cambridge United midfielder Tom Shaw. John McGrath has also moved in at the Impact Arena, the experienced midfielder was released by Burton Albion at the end of last season. A notable departure from Alfreton Town includes the impressive Nathan Arnold who has moved to Shaw’s old club where former Darts, Tom Bonner and Tom Champion will feature.

The Reds were also without a victory during pre season as they took on a number of Football League teams. Loses at home to Birmingham City, Walsall, Sheffield United and Port Vale were accompanied with defeat at Worksop Parramore and draws against Burton Albion and Matlock Town.

Last five season openers

5 seasonopener

Last Meeting at Princes Park

1 September 2012 – Dartford 5 Alfreton Town 1- Att: 1145

Goalscorers: Crawford (11), Erskine (37), Bradbrook (45), Crawford (48), Meadows (80), Crawford (82)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Burns, Bonner, Arber, Rose, Champion, Hayes, Rogers, Erskine, Crawford, Bradbrook (subs used: Noble, Collier, Wallis)

The Reds Lineup: Stewart, Law, Kempson, Quinn, Franks, Taylor, Bradley, Brown Russell, Clayton, Tomlinson, (subs used: Arnold, Meadows, Worsfold)

Match Stats

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