Dartford v Barnet

Tony Burman will pit his wits against a Champions League winner Edgar Davids as Dartford host Barnet in an attempt to end a six game losing streak.

The Darts have been going through a tough time of late leaving Burman reacting and bringing in more players on loan. Over the past week winger Dave Martin has come back to Princes Park after six years away and Connor Essam has returned too. The former Gillingham defender played seven times in his previous loan spell and joins for a month from League One club Crawley Town. With Alan Julian out through injury in recent weeks Phil Smith also arrived on loan from League Two south coast side Portsmouth.

Martin made his second start back in the white shirt, Essam his first since returning and Smith his début. Elliot Bradbrook returned after missing the last five Conference Premier matches with cracked ribs. Top scorer Matthew Godden was ruled out after failing a late fitness test. In an improved defensive display the Darts were just a minute away from a clean sheet until Gateshead’s James Brown scored the winner in the 89th minute. The goal came late on despite midfielder Lee Noble being sent off for violent conduct just passed the hour mark, defeat keeps Burman’s side in the bottom four.

Burman recognises his side are going through a hard period, he told BBC Radio Kent: “There’s been a bit of stick flying about but the crowd was excellent – it’s a really difficult period. It’s tough and today was one of those games we could have got a point out of it”.

The Dartford manager felt aggrieved with the officials decision to dismiss Noble, he commented: “To get a player sent off when things are going OK, it’s a bitter pill to swallow”, he added: “The first glimpse of it on a small screen is the referee has got it wrong. Lee has not elbowed someone, and the ref says he’s hit him in the face”.

Barnet were relegated out of the Football League and returned to the Conference Premier after eight years away. Despite dropping a division the Hertfordshire club have started a new era with a new stadium, The Hive will be visited by the Darts in just over a weeks time.

This month, Barnet have faced three of the top four beating Kidderminster Harriers and drawing with league leaders Cambridge United. Sandwiched between those to fixtures the Bees drew 0-0 with Welling United, at the time keeping a third clean sheet in a row. However, Barnet lost their first league game in nine on the weekend when they travelled to Blundell Park. Grimsby Town’s Ross Hannah scored a decent half volley and Liam Hearn doubles the Mariners money. Dave Stephens pulled a goal back for Barnet from 25 yards but they were unable to salvage any points on the road.

With the exception of September’s blip, where Davids’s side recorded just one win, the Bees have been difficult to beat. Only leaders Cambridge United and third placed Luton Town have lost fewer league fixtures as Barnet have steadily gone about their business. Dartford could see the return of Harry Crawford who managed a goal every other league game before signing for the Bees. The 21 year old top scored in the Darts Conference Premier campaign last season, however time on the field this term has been limited. Crawford has netted two league goals in seven starts and nine substitute appearances.

When the Darts last played the Bees in the league 27 years ago, Burman was part of the squad involved in an entertaining 5-3 victory at Watling Street. The earlier fixture that season, played at Barnet’s former home Underhill ended 2-0 to the hosts.

Team News

Alan Julian,Ryan Hayes and Matthew Godden all missed Saturday’s narrow defeat. Lee Noble will start his suspension for the red card on the weekend.

Barnet top goalscorer Keanu Marsh-Brown returns from a three match ban. The England C international was sent off in the F.A Cup defeat against Preston North End. Marsh-Brown has scored seven times in 16 starts in this season’s Conference Premier but has not scored in the league since 5 October. Jake Hyde, Dani Lopez and Luke Gambin all missed the trip to Blundell Park on Saturday.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 9 / Barnet wins: 12 / Draws: 3

Current League Form

Dartford (LLLLLW) Barnet (LDDWWD)
Gateshead H 0-1 Grimsby Town A 1-2
Wrexham H 1-5 Cambridge United H 2-2
Macclesfield Town A 1-3 Welling United H 0-0
Woking A 0-3 Kidderminster Harriers H 1-0
Forest Green Rovers H 0-1 Hereford United A 1-0
Hyde H 4-3 Wrexham H 1-1

Previous Five Meetings

03.11.1987 Dartford 1 Barnet 3
04.01.1986 Dartford 5 Barnet 3
01.10.1985 Barnet 2 Dartford 0
15.12.1984 Dartford 2 Barnet 0
24.11.1984 Barnet 0 Dartford 1

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