Dartford v Eastbourne Borough

Dartford are finally back in action at Princes Park in their first home game of the season welcoming Eastbourne Borough.

Over the summer the Princes Park pitch was relaid and so the wait for a home fixture has lasted longer than anticipated.

The Darts won three out four against their visitors, during their last spell in the National South. A double in the league was added to the F.A Trophy replay victory.

Tony Burman’s side won both fixtures at Princes Park just under four years ago by the same result. In the F.A Trophy replay, second half goals from Tom Champion and Danny Harris were enough for the hosts. Former Dartford striker Carl Rook inevitably scored for Eastbourne Borough as the game ended 2-1.

Like this campaign, four years ago the Sports were Dartford’s first home opponents of the season then. Back then the match ended in a second successive victory for the Darts to maintain a perfect winning start. Charlie Sheringham scored his third in the opening two fixtures and Adam Green made it 2-0. Ethan Strevett’s corner was fumbled into his own net by Dartford goalkeeper Andrew Young in the final minute.

At the turn of the millennium the two clubs met over three seasons in the Southern League Division One East. When Eastbourne Borough were known as Langney Sports, the Darts won both encounters. In the following two season’s the Sports won all four in the league.

After a three year absence from the second tier of non-league, the Darts opened their campaign away at Hemel Hempstead Town on the weekend. A defeat by a solitary goal left Burman’s side with no points t show from the opening match. Oliver Hawkins headed the winner just after half an hour past the new Dartford number one Deren Ibrahim.

Despite a loss on Saturday, the build up to the new season was successful for the Darts with five wins and a draw. Dartford only conceded one goal providing Ibrahim plenty of optimism. The 24 year old, has been long involved in the Dartford set up coming through the youth system and has finally been given the opportunity to shine.

For the first time new faces will taste matchday at Princes Park with seven new signings over the summer. Burman has had to rebuild his squad following relegation from the National League. On the weekend Mark Onyemah, Tom Gardiner, Callum McNaughton and Jack Simmons all started their débuts. George Sykes and Barry Cogan were also débutantes coming off the bench to feature.

One opponent adding familiarity around Princes Park will be former Dart, Nathan Collier. Whilst at Princes Park the utility player made over 100 appearances for the Darts with nearly half from off the substitutes bench. Former loanee, Jack Evans is also at Eastbourne Borough having been part of Burman’s 2012/13 squad making 15 league appearances.

Collier made his first start for the Sports on Saturday in their 2-1 defeat at home to Maidenhead United. Evans was a used substitute was unable to make an impact to earn his side any points. Ryan Worrall had the hosts in front scoring from the spot, the penalty was won by Nat Pinney. The lead lasted just three minutes when it was Josh Huggins’ turn to be upheld in the box, Ben Wright equalised. Eastbourne Borough threw away the points with four minutes to go when Jake Reid finished a rebound.

Tommy Widdrington guided the Sussex club to eleventh last term and has stabilised his team since being appointed in February 2012. Over the summer, the 45 year old has added former Gillingham, Ebbsfleet United and Maidstone United player Craig Stone from Dover Athletic. Striker, Elliot Romain has also joined the Sports from local rivals Lewes.

Head to Head (includes Langney Sports)

Dartford wins: 5 / Eastbourne Borough wins: 4 / Draws: 1

Last Meeting at Princes Park

29 November 2011 – Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1 – Att: 611

Goalscorers: Champion, Harris

Dartford Lineup: Wells, Jones, Green, Bonner, Goodacre, Champion, Hayes, Wallis, Harris, Burns, Rogers

Previous Meetings (* = F.A Trophy)

03.04.2012 Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 1
29.11.2011* Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1
26.11.2011* Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 0
16.08.2011 Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1
04.03.2003 Dartford 0 Eastbourne Borough 1
20.08.2002 Eastbourne Borough 4 Dartford 0
30.10.2001 Eastbourne Borough 1 Dartford 0
11.09.2001 Dartford 1 Eastbourne Borough 2
23.04.2001 Langney Sports 1 Dartford 2
24.02.2001 Dartford 1 Langney Sports 0

On This Day (since reforming)

Dartford returned to the top flight of non-league for the first time in 26 years. In their opening fixture Tamworth visited Princes Park and won 3-2 to give the Darts something to ponder.

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