Dartford v Forest Green Rovers

Familiar opponents return to Princes Park this weekend with the arrival of Forest Green Rovers in the Conference Premier.

Dartford have faced the Nailsworth based club eight times in the last two season’s and have found it difficult to beat them. The Darts only ever victory against Rovers came 17 months ago when the 2012/13 campaign was nearing its end.

Since the 3-2 triumph there has been very little goalscoring action between the two sides. In three of the last four meetings Forest Green Rovers have edged out as 1-0 winners, the other result was a 1-1 draw forcing a F.A Trophy tie into a replay.

Former Wrexham striker, Danny Wright scored the match winner in last season’s Princes Park meeting for Rovers. Once again he was the Darts nemesis last weekend netting the only goal for Gateshead. At the same ground the two teams were drawn together in the F.A Trophy first round with Danny Harris putting the hosts in front before Yan Klukowski forced a replay. Klukowski, Forest Green Rovers top Conference goalscorer of all time has had success in front of goal against the Darts but moved on in the summer to join Newport County.

The Darts approach this weekend’s fixture off the back of a 2-1 win over Kent rivals Dover Athletic. The victory ensured that Dartford climbed out of the bottom four at the expense of their opponents. Goalkeeper Jason Brown made a heroic last minute penalty save to secure the three points in a tense evening. Dover Athletic led after eight minutes when Ricky Miller’s free kick deflected and wrong footed Brown, the Whites looked good for a win. Once again Dartford’s character showed when Harry Crawford scored at the third attempt with just under twenty minutes remaining. In the process of Crawford’s second goal of the season, Dover Athletic’s goalkeeper Mitchell Walker was substituted with an arm injury and relaced by defender Sean Raggett. The visitors kept the hosts at bay until five minutes from time when Tom Bradbrook thumped in a header to steal the three points.

Tony Burman admits his side were fortunate but feels in other games the Darts have been less so. He told “We’ve been unfortunate in a lot of games this season and football does turn itself round sometimes. It probably did for us on Tuesday night”, he added: “The guys have come back from a goal down on Tuesday and they came back from two goals down last Tuesday (against Eastleigh). When you’ve got that in the side, if you get that character, that’ll win you a lot of points”.

As the season has panned out so far it looks like Burman and company will need to make the most of home advantage. Still waiting for their maiden away victory this campaign, the Darts have struggled on their travels since the second half of the  2012/13 season. Aside from the 1-1 draw at Woking just over a month ago, all of Dartford’s points have been gained at home.

Forest Green Rovers have experienced a mixture of results reflective of their current position. Managed by former Gillingham defender Adrian Pennock, Rovers are hoping to finally break into the playoff spots. Not only have Dartford benefited from Salisbury City’s demise, Pennock was able to bring in three former Whites. Clovis Kamdjo, Elliot Frear and Rob Sinclair all ply their trade at the New Lawn.

One player to usually keep a watchful eye on is the experienced striker Lee Hughes. The 38 year old recorded his 300th career goal a month ago scoring against Alfreton Town. Wherever he has played he has been amongst the goals including West Bromwich Albion, Coventry City, Oldham Athletic and more recently Notts County and Port Vale. At Forest Green Rovers his decent strike rate has continued but he hasn’t featured this month.

In Hughes’s absence Jon Parkin and James Norwood have been amongst the goals. Over the last week Rovers ended their five match winless run by beating high flying FC Halifax Town 2-0 and drawing 2-2 with Eastleigh. In both games it was Parkin and Norwood who found the net to help Forest Green Rovers to four points from the last six.

Former Gillingham defender, Adrian Pennock is now in charge of the Rovers and he felt his side deserved something from Tuesday’s draw. He told BBC Radio Gloucestershire: “We conceded two goals, but showed a lot of character to nick a point. If we’d have gone home with nothing it would have been an injustice”, he added: “We played well and it’s a good point away from home”.

Forest Green Rovers start the weekend in twelfth place, the position they have finished for the last three season’s.

Team News

Lee Burns who has already missed some of the campaign with a rib injury picked up a hamstring starin on Tuesday night. Andy Pugh has also missed a couple of fixtures due to an Achilles problem. Meanwhile, Tuesday night’s goalscorer Tom Bradbrook has revealed he has been playing with a slight groin injury over the last three weeks. Peter Sweeney returned to action after completing just 11 minutes of Dartford’s fixture last weekend against Gateshead.

Head to Head 

Dartford wins: 1 / Forest Green Rovers wins: 4 / Draws: 5

Current Form

Dartford (WLDLWL) Forest Green Rovers (DWLLDD)
Dover Athletic H 2-1 Eastleigh A 2-2
Gateshead A 0-1 FC Halifax Town H 2-0
Eastleigh H 2-2 Nuneaton Town A 0-1
Altrincham A 1-2 Wrexham H 0-1
AFC Telford United H 2-1 Welling United A 1-1
Barnet A 0-4 Bristol Rovers H 1-1

Last League Meeting at Princes Park

3 December 2011 – Dartford 0 Forest Green Rovers 1 – Att: 1061

Goalscorer: Wright (83)

Dartford Lineup: Julian, Mitchel-King, McAuley, Sterling, Stevenson, Cornhill, Noble, Swallow, Burns, Suarez, Harris (subs used: Woodyard, Collier, Akinwande)

Forest Green Rovers Lineup: Russell, Oshodi, Oliver, Green, Hodgkiss, Bennett, Bangura, Jordan, Klukowski, Norwood, Taylor (subs used: Wright, Hughes)

Previous Five Meetings (* F.A Trophy)

12.04.2014 Dartford 0 Forest Green Rovers 1
03.12.2013* Forest Green Rovers 1 Dartford 0
30.11.2013* Dartford 1 Forest Green Rovers 1
02.11.2013 Forest Green Rovers 1 Dartford 0
16.04.2013 Forest Green Rovers 2 Dartford 3

Stats & Facts

0 – Dartford are yet to score in the first half this season, the only Conference Premier side waiting to find the net in the first 45 minutes

3 – The Darts have conceded the most penalties this campaign, along with Chester

4 – games since Forest Green Rovers won away from the New Lawn

17 – games since Dartford won consecutive matches, last achieved in March when they beat Hyde 2-0 and Macclesfield Town 2-1 last season.

37 – Forest Green Rovers have been caught offside more than any other Conference Premier club this term

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