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Dartford v Hemel Hempstead Town

Dartford return to action this weekend by hosting Hemel Hempstead Town for the first time in their history.

On the opening day of the season, a 1-0 reverse at Vauxhall Road was inflicted on the Darts when Oliver Hawkins powered a first half header beyond Deren Ibrahim. Dartford were unable to find the equaliser on a day where six players made their first competitive appearances.

Three weeks ago, an unexpected early F.A Cup exit has given the Darts a week to rest from their 2-1 defeat at Wealdstone. Dartford entered their last fixture having lost to Oxford City, Truro City in National South and Uxbridge in the cup, who play two levels below the Darts.

The away trip to Wealdstone ended in more disappointment with the Darts finding themselves two down. Goals either side of half time by Tom Hamblin and Shaun Lucien made the afternoon difficult for Burman’s side. Tom Bradbrook headed a consolation in off the crossbar to net his seventh of the season.

The loss has increased the pressure on Tony Burman after four straight defeats in all competitions; however the board continue to back their man.

The management team are desperate to lift the ‘dark cloud’ which has gathered over the club over the last two seasons. Burman told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We’re all frustrated and unhappy with the results but we’ve got to come through this hard time.”

With a focus on bringing through academy players, the board and Burman know this season will be one of transition, he commented: “We’ve got to understand where we are at the moment and we’ve got to get behind people. There are young players in the team and they’re a bit shot at the moment because of what they might have heard around the place. They’re under a little bit of pressure”.

He continued: “They get confidence from training and the dressing room but they’ve got to learn about the bigger picture and get used to playing in front of bigger crowds. There is pressure that comes with that and I’m sure they will get past this stage”.

To add insult to what has already been a difficult campaign, the Darts defensive line has been hit by injuries and suspensions. Lee Burns damaged ankle ligaments in training, Ronnie Vint was admitted to hospital and missed the Wealdstone match with a suspected stomach ulcer and Tom Gardiner is suspended following his red card in the shock F.A Cup defeat against Uxbridge. The lack of options could see captain Elliot Bradbrook be part of the back four alongside Callum McNaughton, Mark Onyemah and Tom Wynter.

Hemel Hempstead Town visit Princes Park after back to back fixtures against Sutton United. The Tudors kept their unbeaten away record in the National South with a 2-2 draw against the U’s.

With a delayed kickoff, Hemel Hempstead Town were made to work for another league point. Dan Fitchett put Sutton United in front and doubled the lead before half time. The Tudors fought back with a goal from James Potton then the equaliser came from the spot, Ben Herd making the scores level.

Last weekend the two teams met again in the F.A Cup third qualifying round which also ended in a draw. Potton scored again but his strike was cancelled out by Ross Stearn’s. The Tudors lost the replay 2-1 missing out on a fourth qualifying round tie with National League side Aldershot Town.

The Tudors finished ninth last term and are currently one place higher, three points behind the playoff places. The Hertfordshire club have lost once in their last six National South fixtures but have only picked up one victory.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Hemel Hempstead Town wins: 1 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

Dartford (LLLWDL) Hemel Hempstead (DLWDDD)
Wealdstone  A  1-2 Sutton United  A  2-2
Truro City  H  0-1 Bishop’s Stortford  H  1-2
Oxford City  A  1-2 Hayes & Yeading United  H  4-0
Weston-Super-Mare  H  2-1 Bath City  A  1-1
Bath City  A  0-0 Basingstoke Town  H  2-2
Ebbsfleet United  H  0-1 St Albans City  A  2-2

Previous Meetings (* – F.A Cup)

08.08.2015 Hemel Hempstead Town 1 Dartford 0
16.09.1972* Hemel Hempstead Town 2 Dartford 9

Stats

8 – Hemel Hempstead Town are unbeaten away from home in eight games in all competitions, equalling their best away record of each of the last two seasons.

13 – number of away goals scored by Hemel Hempstead Town in the National South this term, only Oxford City have netted more.

58 – Tom Bradbrook has scored 58% of Dartford’s goals in all competitions this season, scoring 7 in thirteen appearances.

138 – Dean Brennan and Stuart Maynard have now led the Tudors for 138 league games since their appointment, the longest serving Tudors management in the last 30 years.

1098 – Dartford’s average home attendance after six games is five supporters more at the same stage last season.

On This Day

Dartford’s last fixtures on 17 October were away from home. In 2009, the Darts beat Sittingbourne 1-0 in the F.A Trophy first qualifying round with a goal from Alan Tait. A gentleman’s agreement prevented Deren Ibrahim from guarding the Sittingbourne goal, the side Dartford loaned him out to. Three years earlier the Darts lost 2-1 to Tooting and Mitcham United in the Isthmian Division One South and in 1998 Andover were beaten 3-1 at home in the Southern League Southern Division. There has been some big victories on this day, notably a 7-0 F.A Cup second qualifying round win over Harrow Borough in 1970. The biggest of all was in a friendly when the Darts beat Old Wilkinson 18-0 way back in 1891.

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