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Aldershot Town v Dartford

Dartford’s opening away day arrives on Tuesday night with a trip to Aldershot Town for the first time in 45 years.

It’s been almost half a century since the Darts last face the Shots in a F.A Cup first round tie. Then of the Southern Premier League, Dartford caused an upset to win 3-1 at Watling Street and progress to the second round.  Aldershot were an established Football League side back then, where they remained until 1992 when the club resigned on financial grounds.

Birchall scored an opening day winner

Birchall netted the winner

A new look Darts warmed up by getting off to the perfect start on the weekend dispatching their visitors Alfreton Town by a single goal. Adam Birchall’s craft three minutes before half time was enough to earn Dartford their first three point haul of the campaign. The striker on loan from Gillingham hassled the Alfreton Town defence putting former Wrexham defender Chris Westwood under pressure, before sneaking down the byline and slotting the ball through Ross Atkins’s legs. Apart from a scare immediately after Birchall’s winner Dartford held on to victory. Alfreton Town’s best effort was ruled out for offside when the assistant referee flagged Paul Clayton who put the ball beyond Julian.

Tony Burman handed out competitive débuts to Alan Julian, Kenny Clark, Mat Mitchel-King and Matt Fry, who marked their first starts together at the back with a clean sheet. Fry was forced to withdraw on 51 minutes through injury and was replaced by James Rogers. Max Cornhill was the only other débutant to play the full ninety minutes and Alex Woodyard made an appearance in the closing stages. Jason Prior and Birchall linked up well, both had previously played for the Darts on loan last season.

The Shots almost saw history repeat itself, this time relegated from League Two the Hampshire side were close to going out of business again. At the beginning of the month a consortium led by former chairman Shahid Azeem became the new owners. Three months ago, the Shots reported debts of £1.4 million and the summer uncertainty has left the phoenix club with a ten point deduction.

Aldershot Town's Recreation Ground

Aldershot Town’s Recreation Ground

Manager, Andy Scott is confident the ten point deficit will galvanise his new look squad which has only just been assembled. In August alone the Aldershot Town boss has signed a teamful of players and included no fewer than seven of them in Saturday’s opener. Returning midfielder Mark Molesley made his third début for the club, Jake Goodman, Adam Webster and former Republic of Ireland international Martin Rowlands also started. Matt Patterson and Chris Barker were other newbies along with Brett Williams who spent time with Woking on loan last season.

The Shots were denied an opening day win by Grimsby Town’s Ross Hannah, the substitute put away a spot kick nine minutes from time. Aldershot Town took the lead at Blundell Park when new signing Joe Oastler put the Hampshire side ahead just before the hour. Scott spoke to BBC Radio Surrey and said: “With what we’ve gone through, and the fact that we’re here with a team on the pitch, is testament to everybody; the fans, the players, the staff, the new consortium”, he added: “We had some very young players on the pitch and I think the two centre-halves were outstanding. The performance was outstanding and we dominated large parts of the game.”

Team News

Tyrone Sterling has struggled through pre season with an ankle injury and was unavailable against Alfreton Town. New signing Matt Fry was substituted early in the second half on the weekend cutting his first match for the Darts short.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 / Aldershot Town wins: 5 / Draws 5

Last Five Meetings (*F.A Cup)

16.11.1968* Dartford 3 Aldershot Town 1
18.11.1964* Aldershot Town 1 Dartford 0
14.11.1964* Dartford 1 Aldershot Town 1
07.04.1939 Dartford 3 Aldershot Town 2
04.09.1937 Dartford 1 Aldershot Town 1

Stats

14 – Dartford had the second most attempts at goal on the opening day of the season joint with Kidderminster Harriers. Still that’s nine shots behind Forest Green Rovers who thumped Hyde 8-0. Cambridge United played the following day and recorded three more than Rovers.

4037 – The biggest crowd of matchday one was at Blundell Park where Aldershot Town visited Grimsby Town to witness a 1-1 draw

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