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Dartford v Dover Athletic

After a three year absence the Kent derby between Dartford and Dover Athletic returns to Princes Park with both sides needing points.

In what has been dubbed a crucial period in this season’s calendar, Dartford face the fourth newly promoted side in 18 days. This time it will be the first time these two Kent rivals have faced each other in the top flight of non league football.

On the weekend with Dartford searching for their first ever goal up at Gateshead they failed to find the net once more. Although this time the performance was far more encouraging than previous years. Tony Burman opted to play a different system going with three at the back and wing backs. Peter Sweeney’s early injury saw Max Cornhill return to action after missing last Tuesday’s mid week draw against Eastleigh. The Darts dominated the first half and Gateshead relied on goalkeeper Adam Bartlett to keep them in the game. The Heed took an early second half lead through Danny Wright which turned out to be the winner, Dartford still managed to create chances but couldn’t find that elusive goal.

The last one and and half matches have shown Dartford in a better light on the pitch. At 2-0 down versus Eastleigh a week ago Burman admitted his side ‘hit rock bottom’. After clawing that match back to 2-2 and a decent showing on the weekend has left the Darts hoping they can go one further against rivals Dover Athletic.

To add extra spice to the occasion Dover Athletic are likely to line up with three former Dartford defenders. Tyrone Sterling is in his second spell with the Whites after rejoining the club in the summer from the Darts. Sterling made 34 Conference Premier appearances last term including four alongside Connor Essam, who spent time on loan at Princes Park. Essam has spent two loan spells for Dartford and in total has played 14 league matches for the club. Tom Bonner makes up the trio of former Darts, the Cambridge United defender is at the Crabble on loan and made 167 starting appearances between 2010 and 2013 scoring 11 goals.

The Whites were also unfortunate on the weekend losing 1-0 at The Crabble against Macclesfield Town. The result leaves Dover Athletic ahead of Dartford by a point with the relegation line separating the two. For Chris Kinnear it was a third successive home defeat without scoring and were it not for a 4-1 away win at struggling AFC Telford United, Dover Athletic’s only other win came two weeks into the campaign against Eastleigh.

Kinnear previously enjoyed success at The Crabble in the late eighties and early nineties taking the club from the Southern League to the Conference Premier. Whilst times have changed with the increase of professional teams in the league, the 60 year old will be hoping to keep Dover Athletic in the top non league division.

During Dartford’s rise from the Isthmian Division One to the Conference Premier, a rivalry has blossomed with The Whites since the 2006/07 season. The last league meeting between to the two clubs was back in December 2011 when Dartford triumphed 3-1.

Adam Green scored from the spot before Agustin Battipiedi equalised for the visitors. It took until just past the hour for the Darts to edge back in front, Ryan Hayes whipped in a dangerous free kick which eluded everyone and ended up in the back of the net. As Dover Athletic pushed for a leveller they were caught out with three minutes remaining, Bradbrook’s neat control was expertly finished with a 25 yard curling effort leaving Mikhael Jamiez-Ruiz stranded.

Four goals were also recorded in the previous two meetings. A 2-2 draw in the same season saw Dover Athletic come from behind twice. Charlie Sheringham’s quick fire opener was cancelled out by former Dart loanee, George Purcell’s equaliser. Bradbrook’s header put Dartford ahead until Billy Bricknell levelled the match. In the campaign before, the Darts claimed a convincing 4-0 victory at Princes Park with two goals from Sheringham and a goal each for Tom Champion and Danny Harris. Last season, Dover Athletic knocked Dartford out of the Kent Senior Cup at the Quarter Final stage.

Head to Head 

Dartford wins: 31 / Dover Athletic wins: 34 / Draws: 23

Current Form

Dartford (LDLWLD) Dover Athletic (LLWLLW)
Gateshead A 0-1 Macclesfield Town H 0-1
Eastleigh H 2-2 Barnet H 0-3
Altrincham A 1-2 AFC Telford United A 4-1
AFC Telford United H 2-1 Kidderminster Harriers H 0-1
Barnet A 0-3 Woking A 1-6
Torquay United H 0-0 Eastleigh H 2-1

Last League Meeting at Princes Park

3 December 2011 – Dartford 3 Dover Athletic 1 – Att: 1558

Goalscorer: Green (6 pen), Battipiedi (13), Hayes (62), Bradbrook (87)

Dartford Lineup: Wells, Jones, Green, Bonner, Goodacre, Champion, Hayes, Wallis, Burns, Bradbrook, Rogers (subs used: Harris, Noble, Graham)

Dover Athletic Lineup: Jamiez-Ruiz, Starkey, Wynter, Battipiedi, Schulz, Huke, Cogan, Southam, Walker, Purcell, Redwood (subs used: Baker, Bricknell)

Previous Five Meetings (* Kent Senior Cup)

04.03.2014* Dartford 0 Dover Athletic 3
03.12.2011 Dartford 3 Dover Athletic 1
23.08.2011 Dover Athletic 2 Dartford 2
25.04.2011 Dartford 4 Dover Athletic 0
09.11.2010 Dover Athletic 0 Dartford 2

Stats & Facts

1 – number of times Dartford have been in front this season, a total of 42 minutes

11 – goals conceded by Dover Athletic away from home at an average of 2.75 a game, the second highest average in the division this term

12 – number of goals scored in Dover Athletic’s last two away games. The Whites beat AFC Telford United 4-1. A fortnight before their second win of the season they lost 6-1 to Woking

89 – percentage of games in which games involving Dartford have finished with a one goal margin or less

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