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AFC Telford United v Dartford

There will be no love lost on Valentine’s Day when Dartford face fellow relegation battlers AFC Telford United this weekend.

Victory for the Darts will not only complete a rare double it could help close a seven point deficit on Southport, who are placed above the dreaded drop zone. AFC Telford United are one place and point below Tony Burman’s side and have recently shown signs of life, the Conference North champions are keen to avoid a return to the second tier of non league football.

Throughout this month starting this weekend, Dartford will be up against three sides in the bottom section of the league standings. A home match versus mid-table Gateshead follows this weekend’s clash with AFC Telford United. Then two away days at Alfreton Town, currently level with Southport and Aldershot Town, who are just two points above safety, awaits the Darts.

Burman may not feel the fixture against the Bucks is the be all and end all this campaign, but the Darts boss knows closing the deficit over Southport is important for the club, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We’ve got to close the gap, if we can win our next two or three games, it could be a different picture. But if we lose those games, it becomes more drastic and it will be difficult”.

Earlier this season Dartford finished August with a home win against the Bucks but had to come from behind. With ten minutes remaining of the first half Tony Gray put the visitors in front. Fortunes turn around with Luke Daley scoring his first goal for the Darts, and his only so far, the midfielder struck a precise equaliser from twenty yards out. Andy Pugh netted what turned out to be the winner leading to plenty of praise from his boss after the match.

Pugh has struggled this term scoring just two league goals in only 16 appearances. The former Cambridge United striker first suffered an achilles injury followed by a torn testicle. Returning at the end of January, the 26 year old has made two consecutive substitute appearances and added his third of the season in the F.A Trophy against FC Halifax Town. The Darts may have been knocked out in a 3-1 defeat but at least they can concentrate on the league. Burman knows the value of having Pugh back, especially when it’s proven difficult to bring more fire-power to Princes Park, he likened Pugh to a new signing and feels the striker is looking sharp, aided by the fact he is training with the academy during the day.

After a demoralising 6-1 loss at Kent rivals Dover Athletic, Dartford recorded back to back 2-2 draws with FC Halifax Town in the trophy then respectably with Bristol Rovers. Ryan Hayes has taken most of the plaudits of late with three goals in as many games, the creative winger added to his goal scored from a corner against Kidderminster Harriers by repeating the feat versus FC Halifax Town and Bristol Rovers.

For a side who had to wait a dozen games to record their first win back in the Conference Premier signs of recovery are appearing. AFC Telford United will move above Dartford if they can record a win and are now under the guidance of Steve Kittrick. The former Guiseley boss replaced Liam Watson who led the Bucks back to the Conference Premier last term. Kittrick has moved the Shropshire club up one place and has only tasted defeat once in the league. Two wins, three draws and a loss is mid-table form since the 57 year old took over in December.

During the January transfer window, Kittrick has been trying to make his mark signing Ben McLaughlin on loan from Everton, John Disney from Chester, midfielder Danny Ventre and defender Glenn Matthews. Tony Gray remains the biggest threat up front with 11 goals this season, a quarter of the amount scored by the Bucks.

Last time at the New Bucks Head, the Darts avenged a 4-1 home defeat with a 2-0 triumph. Charlie Sheringham made the difference against an already relegated Bucks, who at the time stretched their winless streak to 30 games. The on loan striker scored one and made an assist setting up Jason Prior. The Darts went ahead when Prior netted his first goal for the Darts, Sheringham doubled the lead early in the second half.

Team News

Nathan Green is likely to return after being cup tied against FC Halifax Town. Latest signing Jamie Richards will also be availble after missing the F.A Trophy loss. Mat Mitchel-King left the club and has signed for St Neots Town. Andy Pugh continues to get match fit and will hopefully add more minutes to his recovery.

AFC Telford United’s new defensive signing Ian Sharps will be pressing for a competitive start having come through ninety minutes in the 2-0 win over a Birmingham City Under 21s’ side on Wednesday evening.

Head to Head

AFC Telford United wins: 14 / Dartford wins: 16 / Draws: 8

Current League Form

AFC Telford United (DLWWDD) Dartford (DLLLLL)
Eastleigh A 3-3 Bristol Rovers H 2-2
FC Halifax Town H 0-1 Dover Athletic A 1-6
Wrexham A 4-0 FC Halifax Town H 1-2
Aldershot Town A 2-1 Kidderminster Harriers H 1-2
Nuneaton Town A 0-0 Braintree Town A 0-3
Nuneaton Town H 4-4 Braintree Town H 0-2

Last Meeting at the New Bucks Head

13 April 2013 – AFC Telford United 0 Dartford 2 – Att: 1375

Goalscorers: Prior (11), Sheringham (49)

AFC Telford United Lineup: Young, Salmon, Briscoe, Rooney, Trainer, Leslie, Smith, Spray, Williams, O’Neil, Adaggio (subs used: Bradley, Meechan, Ford)

Dartford Lineup: Somogyi, Rose, Arber, Bonner, Burns, Wallis, Bradbrook, Noble, Hayes, Prior, Sheringham (subs used: Rogers, Evans, Collier)

Match Stats

afctu v dfc stats

Previous Six Meetings

30.08.2014 Dartford 2 AFC Telford United 1
06.04.2013 AFC Telford United 0 Dartford 2
07.10.2012 Dartford 1 AFC Telford United 4
02.11.1985 Telford United 2 Dartford 1
07.09.1985 Dartford 2 Telford United 1
30.04.1985 Telford United 1 Dartford 2

Stats

0:25 – the quickest goal scored in the league this season by Dartford’s Ryan Hayes against Kidderminster Harriers

6 – games since the Bucks recorded a home win in the Conference Premier

10 – points obtained by AFC Telford United at home, the lowest total in this season’s Conference Premier

27 – league matches since Dartford’s last clean sheet on 23 August 2014 versus Torquay United, the longest streak in the Conference Premier this term

96:17 – the latest goal scored in the league this season by AFC Telford United’s Kyle Perry against Altrincham

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