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Dartford v Nuneaton Town

Dartford have no choice but to beat Nuneaton Town this weekend if they are to avoid or even delay relegation to the Conference South.

Odds are stacked heavily against the Darts who need to win their last three fixtures and hope Alfreton Town fail to pick up a point. Even if that unlikely scenario does happen Tony Burman’s side still need to surpass the points totals set by Welling United and this weekend’s opponents.

The Boro are scraping for every inch in a bid to remain in the Conference Premier for a fourth successive campaign. With a seven point deficit to make up over the next three matches there is a strong possibility both Dartford and Nuneaton Town will head in different directions. Even still whilst hope is still flickering a tense afternoon is likely at Princes Park.

Over Easter, Dartford managed to pick up one point from six and are looking to pick up a rare home victory, last achieved five months ago spanning 11 games. On Good Friday, what would normally have been a decent away result at Torquay United was devalued by Dartford’s current situation. A 1-1 draw may not be enough but the performance was rewarded with something when Jordan Chiedozie equalised with eight minutes remaining. The home side led through James McQuilkin’s second half strike until Chiedozie scored his second goal in three games on loan from Cambridge United.

On Easter Monday, the Darts hosted league leaders Barnet and the visitors stayed on top of the Conference Premier pile with a 1-0 win. In front of the television cameras, the Bees were too strong for Burman’s men and led through Curtis Weston’s first half strike. Earlier, Ryan Hayes hit both shots with his trademark curling shot but that was a rare opportunity for the Darts.

When Dartford last met Nuneaton Town at Liberty Way there was cause for optimism when the Darts picked up their twelfth point of the campaign. A first away win of the season was completed the hard way by coming from a goal down. Boro took the lead under a new boss, Liam Daish, just past the half hour mark, Craig Curran giving the hosts an advantage. In the space of two second half minutes captain Elliot Bradbrook scored from the penalty spot and Danny Harris netted a winner. Victory was the first time Dartford had beaten Nuneaton Town in 27 years when their opponents were known as Nuneaton Borough back then.

Form against the Warwickshire club doesn’t make for pleasant reading prior this season’s triumph. In the four previous meetings the Boro came out on top on every occasion. Last term at Princes Park, two early goals by Louis Moult set Boro up to take three points, although Elliot Bradbrook halved the deficit the Darts lost 2-1. On the final day of the last season, with a bottom four place already confirmed Rory McAuley put Dartford ahead but once again Moult scored all of Boro’s goals with a hat-trick. The two meetings the season before both ended 1-0 to Nuneaton Town.

Former Ebbsfleet United manager Liam Daish remains in charge of Nuneaton Town. Since February he has seen an upturn in fortune to give his squad hope of survival. At the end of January, Boro were second from bottom, eight points from safety and had played the most games out of the handful of teams at the bottom, relegation looked certain. Over the next two months Boro won four and drew three keeping six consecutive clean sheets.

However, Nuneaton Town’s Easter yielded no points to extend their losing streak to three. Defeats at home to FC Halifax Town and more recently Braintree Town with Barnet sandwiched between has seen Daish’s side lose momentum. Against Braintree Town on Monday they fell to a late Dan Sparkes goal and on Friday the prolific John Akinde won the match for Barnet as the Bees also won 1-0.

Team News

On loan striker, Jordan Chiedozie was replaced against Barnet just after half time with an injury he picked up in the warm up. Elliot Bradbrook missed a second successive match through injury whilst brother Tom continues his recovery from a groin injury, the striker has managed some game time by coming on as a substitute in the last two fixtures. Nathan Green has also spent time on the treatment table after his injury against Altrincham.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 14 / Nuneaton Town wins: 12 / Draws: 12

Current League Form

Dartford (LDDLDL) Nuneaton Town(LLLWWD)
Barnet  H  0-1 Braintree Town  H  0-1
Torquay United  A  1-1 Barnet  A  0-1
Gateshead  H  1-1 FC Halifax Town  H  1-2
Altrincham  H  1-2 Wrexham  H  2-0
Alfreton Town  A  0-0 Macclesfield Town  A  1-0
Southport  A  0-2 Torquay United  H  0-0

Last Meeting at Princes Park

14 September 2013 – Dartford 1 Nuneaton Town 2 – Att: 1155

Goalscorer: Moult (4, 8), Bradbrook (28)

Dartford Lineup: Julian, Burns, Clark, Fry, Collier, Bradbrook, Noble,, Woodyard, Hayes, Harris, Birchall (sub used: Ibemere, Prior, Sterling)

Nuneaton Town Lineup: Belshaw, Bell, Cowan, Dean, Walker, Armson, Streete, Sleath, Moult, Brown, York (subs used: Taylor, Pearson, Richens)

Match Stats

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Previous Six Meetings

27.09.2014 Nuneaton Town 1 Dartford 2
26.04.2014 Nuneaton Town 3 Dartford 1
14.09.2013 Dartford 1 Nuneaton Town 2
20.04.2013 Dartford 0 Nuneaton Town 1
04.12.2012 Nuneaton Town 1 Dartford 0
05.12.1987 Nuneaton Borough 0 Dartford 0

Stats

6 – Boro’s run of six consecutive clean sheet looks set to be the longest period without conceding this term by any Conference Premier club.

13 – Barnet became the thirteenth team to beat Dartford by a single goal this term, only Braintree Town (14) and AFC Telford United (16) have lost by one goal more frequently

33 – Nuneaton Town are the least potent in front of goal with the lowest goal tally of 33, they also have the highest shots per goal ratio. Away from home the Boro have yet to reach double figures in the goals for column with nine so far.

300 – Lee Noble is one match away from making his 300th Dartford appearance. The midfielder who scored the winning goal in the Conference South playoff final has started 218 times and scored 37 goals for the club. Out of the current squad only Ryan Hayes has made more appearances.

200 – If selected in the starting line up, Danny Harris will start a match for the 200th time in a Dartford shirt. Harris is also heading for his 300th appearance in total with just over 20 games to go. Only Ryan Hayes and Elliot Bradbrook have scored more Dartford career goals than Harris out of the current squad.

On This Day

Dartford have drawn all three matches played on 11th April since reforming in 1993. Across different leagues the Darts have picked up a point on each occasion with the first in 2001 against Grantham Town. With the game ending 2-2, Dartford went on to finish 16th in the Southern League Division One East. Eight years later, the Darts held a tough Wealdstone side to a 0-0 draw at Grosvenor Vale in the Isthmian Premier League. Just two years ago, another goalless stalemate means it’s been 14 years since a goal on 11th April, this time the Darts drew with Braintree Town in the Conference Premier.

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