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Dartford v Wrexham

New and familiar faces will begin their campaigns against Wrexham at Princes Park this weekend.

The Darts finished in the relegation zone last time out but were saved when Hereford United and Salisbury City failed to secure a place in this season’s competition.

Tony Burman had prepared for life in the Conference South until news of the reprieve. The Dartford boss was ‘devastated’ when relegation was confirmed on Easter Monday, however by June those emotions turned to excitement when it was confirmed the Darts will remain in the Conference Premier.

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Crawford is one of many to return to Princes Park this summer

Over the summer the club has signed Tom Bradbrook, bringing the striker back to the club he left six years ago. Brother of captain Elliot, the 27 year old impressed Burman at Leatherhead. Adam Green, Rory McAuley, Andy Pugh and more recently Harry Crawford have also returned to Princes Park. The only players to have not played for the Darts before is goalkeeper Jason Brown and midfielder’s Luke Daley and Peter Sweeney.

Crawford spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk in the build up to the season opener, he said: “I like it here. I’ve had good times here, I like the club, I like the set-up, I know how it works and the fans have been brilliant here. I just feel happy here”.

Sweeney only signed this week and has had no pre season with the club. The 29 year old played in a F.A Cup final with Millwall when the Lions lost to Manchester United. He has also been promoted twice, once with Stoke City and once with Bury.

Wrexham will have fond memories of their last visit to Princes Park when they came from a goal down to win 5-1. Lee Burns opened the scoring after just three minutes when he overlapped onto Lee Noble’s pass. Wrexham then outclassed the Darts hitting four goals before half time. Brett Ormerod scored two, Joe Clarke and Rob Ogleby all found the net all within a twenty minute spell. In the second half, Dartford kept the score down but the visitors still had time to add a fifth when Johnny Hunt netted in the 76th minute.

The Welsh club disappointingly finished the campaign in 17th place and a change of manager at the tail end of the season has seen some player movement this summer. New boss Kevin Wilkin has replaced last season’s top scorer Johnny Hunt with Louis Moult and Connor Jennings.

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Moult enjoying his hat trick against the Darts

Moult scored five against the Darts last term for Wilkin’s former club Nuneaton Town, including a hat trick on the final day of the season. Whilst Jennings is another to watch, the striker scored 16 goals in 16 games on loan at Macclesfield Town last season, including a brace against Dartford in November.

Wilkin also bolstered his squad by linking back up with former Nuenaton Town winger Wes York. Blaine Hudson who spent time in Kent last term at Welling United has been brought in to strengthen the defence.

In preparation for 2014/15, Dartford started pre season against former landlords Thurrock. McAuley celebrated a new deal with the winner against the Isthmian Division One North side. A host of Football League clubs tested Dartford’s fitness levels, Millwall, Leyton Orient and Gillingham all visited Princes Park and won. Another defeat to Isthmian Division One North champions VCD Athletic followed with Tom Bradbrook scoring for the Darts.

Meanwhile, Wrexham started with a win against Swansea under 21’s although defender Neil Ashton suffered a nasty head injury. Colwyn Bay were defeated 2-0 with the two former Nuneaton Town boys York and Moult scoring. A young squad lost to Prestatyn before the Welsh side notched another victory over AFC Flyde and a draw versus Rhyl.

Two years ago, Dartford dented Wrexham’s title hopes at Princes Park in a 2-1 win. After falling behind to Danny Wright’s shot from just inside the box, the Darts left it late to claim three points. On loan Jack Evans equalised and as the game headed to a close Elliot Bradbrook headed a dramatic last minute winner.

Team News

Captain Elliot Bradbrook has struggled with injury during pre season getting limited match time. Last season’s top scorer damaged his ankle in training and has since played just 135 minutes of football.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Wrexham wins: 1 / Draws: 1

Last Five Season Openers

Dartford Wrexham
Alfreton Town H 1-0 Welling United H 2-1
Tamworth H 2-3 Woking H 3-1
Weston Super-Mare A 4-0 Cambridge United H 1-1
Havant & Waterlooville H 2-2 Cambridge United H 1-0
Horsham H 3-2 Eastbourne Borough H 3-0
Hendon A 0-3 Stevenage H 5-0

Last Meeting at Princes Park

19 November 2013 – Dartford 1 Wrexham 5 – Att:816

Goalscorers: Burns (3), Ormerod (15, 34), Clarke (23), Ogleby (31), Hunt (76)

Dartford Lineup: Forecast, Mitchel-King, Fry, Clark, Burns, Martin, Woodyard, Collier, Noble, Birchall, Godden (subs used: Sterling, Cornhill, Harris)

Wrexham Lineup: Coughlin, Wright, Ashton, Artell, Harris, Hunt, Carrington, Clarke, Keates, Ogleby, Ormerod (subs used: Morrell, Cieslewicz, Bailey-Jones)

Match Stats

dfc v wfc match stats
Previous Meetings

08.02.2014 Wrexham 1 Dartford 2
19.11.2013 Dartford 1 Wrexham 5
09.03.2013 Dartford 2 Wrexham 1
22.09.2012 Wrexham 2 Dartford 2

 

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