Dartford will make the short trip across the River Thames when they visit East Thurrock United this weekend.
Determined to put a run together, the Darts responded well to the 4-1 defeat at Hampton and Richmond Borough over the Bank Holiday period. Dartford held league leaders Maidenhead United to a goalless draw then went on to beat local rivals Welling United 2-1.
Tuesday night’s grafted victory over the Wings lifted Dartford up the National South table. Although Elliot Bradbrook missed a penalty which Alex Brown benefited from its rebound, the captain notched the winner from Ryan Hayes’ excellent cross. The Darts did have their lead cancelled out earlier when Adam Coombes scored a superb free-kick.
Manager, Tony Burman is pleased with the points return since the Bank Holiday set back but feels there is room for improvement, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We’re playing games in third gear and not getting out of that gear. It could be because the guys who have been injured are coming back and doing another pre-season”, he continued: “It’s frustrating again because I feel we can do better. We don’t want little spurts of good play; we want to be more consistent”.
One of those looking for fitness is Bradbrook, he said: “I’m playing catch-up at the moment. I’m two or three weeks behind the rest of the lads who have got some games in”. Bradbrook scored on the opening day and in the same game he injured his ankle, Tuesday’s match winner still admits to struggling for full fitness, he added: “I was blowing a bit, I felt tight and sore at half-time after playing the whole game on Saturday. It takes it out of you. You can’t be making all those runs when you’re not as fit as you can be, but luckily I got in there when it mattered”.
As well as Bradbrook, the injury list has been a problem for the Dartford squad. Lee Noble has suffered with a groin issue, Keaton Wood failed a fitness test and Ronnie Vint still has his broken wrist in a cast. Striker’s Andy Pugh and Duane Ofori-Acheampong also had time out and as a result are still trying to strike up a decent partnership up front.
One point and one place below the Darts, East Thurrock United have won three, drew three and lost three. On Tuesday night they were beaten 2-1 by Margate at Hartsdown Park. Michael Clark equalised for the Rocks after the Essex club conceded an own goal in the first half, but Margate’s Daniel Akindayini but the Kent club back in front.
John Coventry guided the Rocks to promotion last term wining the Isthmian Premier League playoffs. In that campaign they scored the most in the division and already this season they have showed some signs of attacking intent. East Thurrock United notched five against Gosport Borough three weeks ago and six away to Truro City last weekend. The Rocks sit third in the goal scoring charts behind Hampton and Richmond Borough who they beat last month.
The first competitive meeting between Dartford and East Thurrock United in over ten years could also be the first time the Darts reunite with former favourite Lee Burns, who missed the Rocks loss at Margate through injury. The versatile player started his Dartford career as striker scoring 23 goals during the Isthmian Premier winning campaign. Adding a further promotion, Burns went on to play over 450 times for the club filling in at right back, midfield and even in goal before leaving Princes Park for Rookery Hill this summer.
Dartford have only ever faced East Thurrock United twice in competitive matches and lost them both. Twelve years ago, the Rocks won 2-1 at home and eight months later they completed the double with a 3-1 victory.
Head to Head
East Thurrock United wins 2 / Dartford wins: 0 / Draws: 0
Current League Form (last six games)
Won 2-1 v Welling United (H)
Drew 0-0 v Maidenhead United (H)
Lost 1-4 v Hampton and Richmond Borough (A)
Won 2-0 v Hungerford Town (H)
Won 2-1 v Weston-super-Mare (A)
Drew 0-0 v Gosport Borough (H)
East Thurrock United (LWDLWD)
Lost 1-2 v Margate (A)
Won 6-0 v Truro City (A)
Drew 1-1 v Eastbourne Borough (H)
Lost 1-2 v Bath City (A)
Won 5-1 v Gosport Borough (H)
Drew 1-1 v Welling United (H)
Dartford 0 East Thurrock United 3 (30/04/2005)
East Thurrock United 2 Dartford 1 (28/08/2004)
The club with the second highest average attendance plays the club with the second lowest this weekend. Dartford’s average from their five home games is 966 compared to East Thurrock United’s 259.
Dartford have lost the lead on five occasions this season and have only fallen behind in their two defeats.
The Rocks top scorer Tom Wraight has only scored in two games, he netted four against Truro City and one against Eastbourne Borough.
Out of the current National South clubs, only Hampton and Richmond Borough (129) have scored more than East Thurrock United (125) since the start of last season.
On This Day
In the three matches since reforming, 19 goals have been scored in just three games on 10 September. Dartford thrashed Cray Wanderers 6-1 in 1994 but left it until the last 23 minutes. After going a goal down, Micky Collins scored four completing a hat-trick in just 16 minutes. Eight years later it was Dartford’s turn to concede six against Chatham Town, the Darts did manage three goals of their own but were well beaten. The most recent fixture came five years ago when the Darts beat Eastleigh 3-0 in a rare victory against the Hampshire club, Charlie Sheringham scored a brace.