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Dartford v Maidstone United

Dartford aim to stretch their unbeaten run to five games this weekend when they take on in form local rivals Maidstone United.

There is plenty of history, familiarity and parallels between the two clubs who meet for the first time in five years.

The Darts have the upper hand over Maidstone United since both clubs reformed winning five out of six, including the last four. The most recent victory was at Princes Park in March 2010, when Dartford triumphed 3-0 in the Isthmian Premier League. Danny Dafter, Lee Burns and a trademark Ryan Hayes curler made victory convincing.

Two weeks earlier Tony Burman’s side won 1-0 at Central Park with Burns scoring the winner. It became the second successive season in which Dartford completed the double over the Stones, having beaten them 1-0 at home and 2-1 away the season before.

If the early nineties represent the dark days at both clubs then the last decade have been far brighter. Dartford and Maidstone United have risen through the non-league pyramid from the Kent League after reforming. Now nine years old, Princes Park may have been a catalyst for Dartford’s three promotions accelerating progress. Similarly, the Stones new Gallagher Stadium, now three years old has taken them to another level with two promotions and currently occupying third spot in their debut National South campaign.

After four defeats in a row there has been an upturn in fortune for Burman and company. Fighting back from two down against Hemel Hempstead Town to draw 2-2 was followed up with three wins in a row. Welling United were knocked out of the Kent Senior Cup before Bishop’s Stortford and Hayes and Yeading United were beaten in the National South, leaving Dartford in thirteenth place and five points off the top five.

Burman has kept belief with his squad and accepts he needs to take the ‘rough’ comments with the ‘smooth’. The Dartford boss feels recent victories have moved the club in the right direction and changed the atmosphere around Princes Park.

Lee Noble is available for selection again having been suspended for Dartford’s last league fixture. The midfielder missed out of the 2-0 win over Hayes and Yeading United after picking up five cautions this term. George Sykes has had limited opportunities since joining in the summer, the striker has joined Isthmian Premier League side Canvey Island on loan.

Standing in the way of Dartford and an extension of their unbeaten run could be six former Darts.  Winners of two Isthmian League titles Jamie Coyle and Jay May now ply their trade at the Gallagher Stadium. The two players made 257 appearances for the Darts with May scoring 51 times. The 29 year old striker hit form last term for the Stones earning the club’s golden boot.

James Rogers was part of the squad that helped Dartford into the National League three and half years ago, the midfielder made over 100 appearances and won a Conference South playoff winners medal under Burman.

The loan system welcomed former Dover Athletic and Gillingham striker, Adam Birchall to Princes Park with much promise; however the striker averaged around a goal every ten games. Whilst another loanee, Matt Bodkin made little impact in a Dartford shirt but is very much at home at Maidstone United. More recently, Callum Driver switched from Princes Park to the Gallagher Stadium after appearing 26 times for the Darts last season.

Goals have been scarce in games involving Maidstone United this term, the Stones have average a goal a game but conceded just seven. In their last league fixture, against Concord Rangers, they let in their first goal in 635 minutes of football. Yet it didn’t stop Jay Saunders’ side clinching a sixth consecutive victory in the National South, James Rogers scoring the winner.

The Stones have two games in hand over league leaders Ebbsfleet United, who they beat 1-0 recently. Victory in those matches will take Maidstone United two points behind the Fleet.

Last weekend the Stones were in F.A Cup first round action at home against League Two strugglers Yeovil Town. Despite the visitors being reduced to nine men, the Glovers won with a solitary goal to knock Maidstone United out of the cup.

Current League Form

Dartford (WWDLLL) Maidstone United (WWWWWW)
Hayes & Yeading United  H  2-0  Concord Rangers  A  2-1
Bishop’s Stortford  A  2-1  St Albans City  H  1-0
Hemel Hempstead Town  H  2-2  Ebbsfleet United  A  1-0
Wealdstone  A  1-2  Bath City  H  1-0
Truro City  H  0-1  Maidenhead United  A  2-0
Oxford City  A  1-2  Havant & Waterlooville  H  1-0

Stats

1 – Maidstone United have the tightest defence in the league conceding just seven. However, at the other end of the pitch only St Albans City have scored fewer

6 – The Stones have won their last six league games, one more will beat last season’s six game winning streak from 30 August 2014 to 20 September 2014

19 – months since Dartford won three consecutive league matches. In February 2014, the Darts beat Wrexham, Woking and Hereford United but it wasn’t enough to save their season.

37 – the last time Dartford lost at home to Maidstone United in a league match was in 1978 making it 37 years. The Darts have won four of the last six home matches in the league and drew two.

On This Day

Dartford’s second ever match at Princes Park took place in an Isthmian League Cup match against Boreham Wood. The Darts were knocked out at the third round stage losing 3-0 to a side playing in the division above.

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