Dartford have the chance to equal a club record, when they take on Sutton United in the F.A Cup first round this weekend.
Entering the cup tie on the back of nine consecutive wins, another victory will not only see the Darts in the hat for round two, it will also see the club match the ten game winning run last set in 1996. Despite their excellent form, Dartford will be slight underdogs against a Sutton United team who went up as National South champions last term.
The U’s in the division above have a proud history in the F.A Cup causing a famous upset 27 years ago by beating top flight former F.A Cup winners Coventry City. Both sides will believe this season’s first round tie is winnable but if history is anything to go by then it could well be a closely run contest.
Last season, during a period where both Dartford and Sutton United were still finding their feet, the two sides drew for the first time ever. Tom Bradbrook opened the scoring with a diving header, Micky Spillane levelled for the visitors before Tom Bradbrook put the Darts back in front, when Ross Worner’s clearance hit Bradbrook’s face. Jamie Collins scored a late equaliser in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Princes Park. The reverse fixture saw Sutton United outclass Dartford 2-0 as they marched on towards the National South title.
Dartford, unbeaten for two months in all competitions spanning 12 games last reached the F.A Cup second round just two years ago, the first time they achieved that feat since 1984. However reaching the top two flights has improved the Darts cup runs having made it to the first round four times in the last seven campaigns.
This term, Tony Burman’s side have been drawn away in all three of the previous qualifying rounds. Overcoming Chelmsford City and Slough Town 3-2, they then went on to defeat Tonbridge Angels 3-0 in what has been a tricky run to round one.
Sutton United have only needed to negotiate the fourth qualifying round, however they did beat National League leaders Forest Green Rovers 2-1 with a last minute winner from Roarie Deacon. The U’s came from behind at home, Ross Stearn scoring the equaliser.
The Surrey club, unbeaten in five have been far beater on their own 3G pitch then on their travels. In the National League they sit in a respectable thirteenth winning six out of nine at Gander Green Lane. Away from the Borough Sports Ground, the U’s have won just once and that was on the second weekend of the season.
Paul Doswell’s squad has tones of Eastleigh influences, his former club. Defender, Jamie Collins is amongst Sutton United’s top scorer this term, Dean Beckwith is a regular at the back whilst Dan Spence and Craig McAllister also played for the Spitfires.
Nicky Bailey is one of two former Football League players to watch, the former Charlton Athletic and Middlesbrough midfielder has scored five times this season and is the U’s playmaker. Signing a new contract extension last month along with Bailey, Kevin Amankwaah continues to impress for the Surrey club in defence.
Dartford and Sutton United have met in the F.A Cup once before back in 1978. The Darts ran out 2-0 winners and reached the first round.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 5 / Sutton United wins: 5 / Draws: 1
Current Form (all competitions)
Won 1-0 v Oxford City (H) – National South
Won 1-0 v Bath City (A) – National South
Won 3-0 v Tonbridge Angels (A) – F.A Cup
Won 5-0 v Truro City (A) – National South
Won 2-1 v Cray Wanderers (A) – Kent Senior Cup
Won 3-2 v Slough Town (A) – F.A Cup
Sutton United (DDDWWL)
Drew 2-2 v York City (A) – National League
Drew 2-2 v Maidstone United (H) – National League
Drew 1-1 v Southport (A) – National League
Won 2-1 v Forest Green Rovers (H) – F.A Cup
Won 4-1 v Woking (H) – National League
Lost 1-3 v Dover Athletic (H) – National League
Last Six Meetings
Sutton United 2 Dartford 0 (23/01/2016 – National South)
Dartford 2 Sutton United 2 (15/08/2016 – National South)
Sutton United 0 Dartford 1 (14/04/2012 – National South)
Dartford 6 Sutton United 1 (20/03/2012 – National South)
Dartford 0 Sutton United 2 (06/02/2010 – Isthmian Premier)
Sutton United 0 Dartford 3 (22/09/2009 – Isthmian Premier)
4 – Dartford have gone four games without conceding a goal. The last time Dartford managed this feat was from 16 February 2008 to 1 March 2008 on the way to the Isthmian Premier League title.
5 – Elliot Bradbrook has scored in every round this season, netting two against Chelmsford City and Slough Town and once versus Tonbridge Angels.
11 – The Darts have scored in their last eleven consecutive games in all competitions.
On This Day
It’s been five years since the Darts played on Guy Fawkes Day when they beat Salisbury City in the National South. Dartford were behind after just 80 seconds but fought back to win 2-1. Jon Wallis scored from a free kick and Jacob Erskine won a header colliding with the on rushing goalkeeper Conor Gough who was stretchered off. A decade ago, Dartford thrashed Aveley 5-1 in the Southern League Division One East. In 1994, the Darts had a mini striker crisis as Micky Collins left and replacements Ricky Bennett and Dean Bowey were cup tied. However, that didn’t put youngsters Nicky Knight and Darren Skey off, helping Dartford romp to a 6-2 Kent League Cup triumph over Greenwich Borough.