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Sutton United v Dartford

Dartford could climb above Sutton United this weekend if they can claim a victory at Gander Green Lane.

The two in form National South teams go head to head as third meets fourth in the league’s game of the day. The Darts, unbeaten in 11 league matches take on the U’s, unbeaten in seven. Another away win for Tony Burman’s side will make it five in a row on the road and take them a point ahead of their opponents.

During a period where both Dartford and Sutton United were still finding their feet, the two sides drew for the first time ever back in August. In the tenth meeting between the two clubs, Tom Bradbrook opened the scoring with a diving header from Ryan Hayes in-swinging free kick. Micky Spillane levelled for the visitors with a rasping volley ten minutes before the break. Tom Bradbrook put the darts back in front in the second half, his endeavour was rewarded when goalkeeper Ross Worner’s clearance hit the striker in the face rebounding into the net. Dartford were denied all three points with five minutes to go, Jamie Collins equalised for the U’s.

Earlier in the week Burman expressed the need for Dartford to keep picking up the points, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “The next two games are massively tough, two away games and we’ve got to hopefully get something from those two games. We know they’re going to be difficult but we’re moving in the right direction”.

Although the first of the two matches was postponed on Tuesday night, Sutton United will provide a stern test in a busy month. Burman commented: “It will be a real test for us to see how far we’ve come in a short space of time”, he added: “Sutton were one of the clubs tipped for the play-off positions at the start of the season and they’ve been on a similar run to what we’ve been on”, he continued: “They’ve got some experienced players and we know it’s going to be a tough game but these are the games you want to be involved in. We’re just behind Sutton and we’re looking forward to a very good game of football”.

One player Burman is keen to keep fit is in form striker Andy Pugh. The 26 year old has started just 14 times this season and is starting to find the back of the net more often. Pugh vows to keep himself fit rather than setting a goal target, but it was his two goals against Bath City that got the Darts on their way to a 4-1 victory last weekend. Ryan Hayes volleyed in a third before Bath City’s David Pratt grabbed what turned out to be a consolation for the visitors. Callum McNaughton added his name to the score sheet heading home a Barry Cogan corner, his first league goal in a Dartford shirt.

The Darts are aiming for their fifth away win in a row after beating  Chelmsford City, Whitehawk and Basingstoke Town 1-0 and Bishop’s Stortford 2-1. Lee Noble is hoping to be available for selection, however Lee Burns is still overcoming injury.

Sutton United are also in top form, last weekend the U’s impressive run continued in the cup when they battled past National League North side Curzon Aston. A first half Jamie Collins goal was enough to separate the sides and progress the Surrey club into the last 16 of the F.A Trophy. A few days before getting through the trophy tie, Sutton United also reached the quarter final of the Surrey Senior Cup beating Corinthian Casuals 3-1.

In their last National South fixture St Albans City were demolished 5-0 and during the seven match unbeaten run the U’s have scored 20, almost three goals a game and conceded just three.

Paul Doswell has been in charge since 2008 after a spell managing Eastleigh, a club he keeps in close contact with. The Sutton United boss is content with the players available and claims he gets to work with “a very tight knit squad, who for the last three months have improved and gelled as a unit”.

Doswell’s squad is full of Eastleigh influences and has plenty of Football League experience. Defenders, Dean Beckwith, Jamie Collins and Dan Spence have all represented the Spitfires as well as midfielder Dan Wishart, formerly of Alfreton Town. Stuart Fleetwood, ex Charlton Athletic and Craig McAllister former Crawley Town also played for the Hampshire club and have plenty of Football League experience.

Away from the Eastleigh connections, Sutton United have a valuable pair of strikers. Top scorer Dan Fitchett has good pedigree at this level having played for Salisbury City, and crowd favourite Craig Dundas is approaching a century of goals for the club and the 400 appearance mark.

Head to Head

Sutton United wins: 4 / Dartford wins: 5 / Draws 1

Current League Form

Sutton United (WWDWWW) Dartford (WDDWWW)
St Albans City  A  5-0 Bath City  H  4-1
Basingstoke Town  A  2-0 Chelmsford City  H  1-1
Maidenhead United  H  2-2 Margate  H  1-1
Hayes & Yeading Utd  A  3-1 Chelmsford City  A  1-0
Concord Rangers  A  3-0 Whitehawk  A  1-0
Havant & Waterlooville  A  3-0 Basingstoke Town  A  1-0

Last Meeting at Borough Sports Ground

14 April 2012 – Sutton United 0 Dartford 1 – attendance 756

Goalscorers: Tony Garrod (58)

Darts lineup – Louis Wells, Lee Burns, Adam Green, Tom Bonner, Luke Wilkinson, Lee Noble, Ryan Hayes, James Rogers, Jacob Erskine, Elliot Bradbrook, Tony Garrod (Subs used: Jack Pallen, Matthew Jones, Richard Graham)

Previous Meetings (* – F.A Cup / ^ – F.A Trophy / + – Club Call Cup)

15.08.2015 Dartford 2 Sutton United 2
14.04.2012 Sutton United 0 Dartford 1
20.03.2012 Dartford 6 Sutton United 1
06.02.2010 Dartford 0 Sutton United 2
22.09.2009 Sutton United 0 Dartford 3
04.04.2009 Sutton United 1 Dartford 0
15.11.2008 Dartford 2 Sutton United 3
25.10.1988+ Dartford 1 Sutton United 2
04.11.1978* Sutton United 0 Dartford 2
04.01.1978^ Dartford 2 Sutton United 0

Stats

4 – Dartford’s current run of four away wins in a row is the first time they have managed this feat since 2010. The Darts last recorded four consecutive league away victories between 18 March 2010 and 15 April 2010 when they beat Horsham 3-1, Kingstonian 6-2 which clinched the Isthmian Premier League title, Harrow Borough 1-0 then Waltham Abbey 4-0.

12 – If Dartford remain unbeaten then they will be without a loss for 12 games, the longest unbeaten run in this season’s National South.

Dartford have the fourth best away defence and take on Sutton United with the best home attack and second best home defence.

The Darts boast the biggest win in this fixture just under four years ago. On their way to promotion to the National League, Dartford won 6-1 with six different scorers. Lee Noble, Adam Green, Danny Harris, Luke Wilkinson, Elliot Bradbrook and Jacob Erskine all netted for the Darts that day.

On This Day

Dartford have not managed a win in their last six games on 23 January. Most recently in 2010, the Darts drew 1-1 against Carshalton Athletic thanks to a Jamie Coyle goal. In the a division lower, three years earlier Dartford lost 2-1 to Molesley in the Isthmian Division One South. Draws against Margate in 1999 and Yeovil Town in 1971 sandwiched defeats to Dorchester Town in 1988 and Worcester City in 1982. So you have to go back 51 years for the last win, back in the Southern Premier League against Tonbridge, the Darts claimed a 3-1 win.

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