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Lincoln City v Dartford

Dartford will make another attempt to escape the drop zone on the weekend when they travel to Lincoln City’s Sincil Bank.

The Darts are still looking for their first points against the Imps having failed in their previous three attempts. Last season a penalty in the final minute completed Lincoln City’s double over Dartford.

Colin Larkin kept his cool to earn the Imps a home win despite playing the majority of the match with ten men. Vadaine Oliver took  advantage of some slack marking in the sixth minute to put the hosts in front and when Lee Noble was clattered by Jake Sheridan the referee brandished a red card. In the second half, Noble levelled the match but a controversial penalty handed Larkin his spot kick winner.

Luckily, the Darts will not have to deal with Larkin who moved to Gateshead in the summer, the 31 year old striker took home the match ball earlier last season, with his hat-trick at Princes Park in a 4-2 victory.

Earlier this term the Darts suffered a 2-1 defeat at home, with the Imps racing to a two goal lead. Ben Tomlinson gave the visitors the lead on 21 minutes and after half an hour Andrew Boyce scored the second. Dartford halved the deficit on the hour through Elliot Bradbrook’s header. The Darts suffered more penalty controversy against Lincoln City when referee Lee Swabey claimed to have seen a penalty incident but not award Dartford a spot kick.

Performances from the Darts have been spirited over the last two league games. Coming from behind to beat Macclesfield Town was followed by a gutsy defeat to champions elect Luton Town. On Tuesday, Tony Burman was once more left bemused by an official whose decision to send off Kenny Clark turned the match. Mikel Suarez, making his first start in a Dartford shirt gave his side a shock lead heading in from a corner. With Clark stepping in for the unavailable Jim Stevenson in an unfamiliar midfield role, the former Chelmsford City defender was sent off.

Burman told www.kentonline.co.uk: “I’m really disappointed with the decision. The referee is in the centre of the field and the ball was down this side”, he added: “There’s absolutely no way he can see that’s a sending-off. It’s a foul, I agree, but a lot of people went round him and I think he reacted to that. I don’t think it’s a sending-off”.

The Hatters turned the screw, taking advantage of the extra man, Luton Town edged closer to the title with two late goals. Pelly Ruddock hit a  20-yard strike which drew John Still’s side level and Andre Gray headed the winner from Ronnie Henry’s cross. Defeat has left the Darts in the relegation with a two point deficit over Hereford United in 20th. A win would have taken the club up to 19th and two points above safety.

Dartford’s hosts had a tough Winter pre New Year but have since boosted their striking options seeing improvements to their league position. Ending 2013 with a 5-1 loss at FC Halifax Town left the Imps hovering over the relegation candidates. However, fourteen games without failing to score and just four defeats in that time has steadied the club.

Occupying 16th position, Lincoln City could be officially safe this season if results go their way this weekend. Since dropping into the Conference Premier, the Imps have been consistent in their league standing finishing 17th and 16th. Gary Simpson was put in charge in February last year and fortunes have neither improved or worsened.

Team News

Kenny Clark will miss Saturday’s game through suspension following his red card on Tuesday.  Clark, who took on Jim Stevenson’s usual role was unlikely to start with Stevenson returning. Alex Wall is has been recalled by Luton Town, the striker scored six goals in 11 matches for the Darts. Both Wall and Stevenson were illegible to play against their parent club Luton Town in midweek. Ryan Hayes remains out of action having not featured since mid November.

Lincoln City have suspension concerns of their own meaning Thierry Audel and 16 goal top scorer Ben Tomlinson will miss out. Central defender Audel was dismissed in the 3-1 at Gateshead and serves his second of a three game ban. Tomlinson, who scored against the Darts this season has accumulated 15 cautions. The most booked player in the Conference Premier this campaign is also banned for three fixtures. New Zealand international Kris Bright returns having served a ban for the red card he received. Todd Jordan only managed half an hour on Saturday and was forced off with an injury.

Head to Head

Lincoln City wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 0 / Draws: 0

Current League Form

Lincoln City (DLLLDL) Dartford (LWWDLL)
Tamworth A 0-0 Luton Town H 1-2
Gateshead A 1-3 Macclesfield Town H 2-1
Braintree Town A 2-0 Hyde A 2-0
Braintree Town H 2-0 Cambridge United A 1-1
Welling United H 1-2 Chester H 0-1
Alfreton Town A 1-1 Southport A 0-3

Last Meeting at Sincil Bank

9 February 2013 – Lincoln City 2 Dartford 0 – Att: 1789

Goalscorers: Oliver (6), Noble (76), Larkin (89 pen)

The Imps Lineup: Preece, Boyce, Garner, Miller, Gilbert, Power, Sheridan, Turnbull, Smith, Oliver, Larkin (subs used: Jones, Hobson, Gray)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Rose, Arber, Bonner, Burns, Champion, Bradbrook, Hayes, Noble, Harris, Erskine (subs used: D. Green, Evans, Collier)

Match Stats

ltfc v dfc stats2
Previous Meetings

19.10.2013 Dartford 1 Lincoln City 2
16.03.2013 Lincoln City 2 Dartford 1
29.09.2012 Dartford 2 Lincoln City 4

Stats & Facts

16 – Number of away goals in the league scored by the Darts this season, only Tamworth, Aldershot Town and Southport have scored fewer

33 – The number of players each club has used in the Conference Premier this season

42 – Number of league goals at Sincil Bank this season, the fewest for any Conference Premier venue along with Braintree Town’s Cressing Road.

238 – Lincoln City have won the most corners in the league this term

Lincoln City’s Kris Bright is well travelled in the football world, he has played in his home country, Hungary, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Greece and Malta. The 27 year old striker made an appearance in FIFA’s Confederation Cup in 2008 but missed out on New Zealand’s 2010 World Cup squad. His father, Dave played in the 1982 World Cup for New Zealand.

The ‘traditional’ Imp is set to return to Lincoln City’s shirt next season as the club changes its logo. The symbol of the city emblazoned the shirt in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

*stats taken from www.bbc.co.uk

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