The F.A Trophy returns for Dartford this weekend when they host Chelmsford City in the third meeting between the two sides this season.
Having been drawn against each other in the F.A Cup third qualifying round, the Darts and the Clarets have also played in the National South. The league meeting ended in a 1-1 draw with Luke Wanadio’s header cancelled out by Shaun Jeffers.
Dartford were victors in the F.A Cup when a wind assisted fixture really did turn out to be a ‘game of two halves’. The Darts raced into a three goal half time lead thanks to a Ross Fitzsimons own goal and an Elliot Bradbrook brace. In the second half, Shamir Mullings scored twice to set up a tense finale only for Dartford to hold out.
Tony Burman’s side will enter the F.A Trophy second round full of confidence after thrashing East Thurrock United in their last outing. Their Essex opponents had only lost four all season but were swept aside last weekend as Dartford won 6-1, their biggest victory for five years.
On top of that result six different goalscorers found the net, Tom Bonner headed in the first after two minutes, Alex Brown shortly afterwards and Tom Murphy opened his account in only his second appearance for the club. Tom Wraight pulled a goal back for the visitors before Andy Pugh made it four in the first half. Ryan Hayes and an Elliot Bradbrook penalty added two more before the final whistle to cap off a brilliant afternoon.
Burman praised his squad for an fantastic response to the New Year’s Day defeat to Ebbsfleet United, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “Some of the play was excellent, I’m pleased that each time we’ve had a defeat , we’ve bounced back”, and the Dartford boss didn’t even think the 6-1 mauling of East Thurrock United was the best he’s seen his side play, he added: “It’s the best spell of finishing we’ve had in games, I’m not saying it’s the best we’ve played because we’ve had some good games”.
Meanwhile, Chelmsford City extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to eleven. The Clarets beat a struggling Whitehawk side 1-0 with former Dartford midfielder Max Cornhill scoring the winner ten minutes from time. The Essex club are third in the National South and eleven points behind leaders Maidenhead United and just one point ahead of the Darts.
Rod Stringer’s side beat Southern Premier League’s Hitchin Town in the previous round with a goal after just two minutes, Jeffers netted the winner from close range. The Clarets had to wait far longer in the third qualifying round when they hosted Taunton Town, who play at a tier lower than Hitchin Town. As the tie look set for a replay Anthony Church scored in the 89th minute to send Chelmsford City through.
Dartford upset National League local rivals Dover Athletic in the last round after a replay. Ronnie Vint scored in both matches, the 1-1 draw at Princes Park and the 2-1 victory at the Crabble. In the qualifying round, Dartford ran out 4-2 winners against National South side Weston-super-Mare, with Elliot Bradbrook scoring a hat-trick.
Head to Head
Chelmsford City wins: 50 / Dartford wins: 36 / Draws: 90
Current Form (all competitions)
Won 6-1 v East Thurrock United (H) – National South
Lost 0-1 v Ebbsfleet United (A) – National South
Won 2-1 v Ebbsfleet United (H) – National South
Lost 0-5 v Maidenhead United (A) – National South
Won 1-2 v Dover Athletic (A) – F.A Trophy
Drew 1-1 v Dover Athletic (H) – F.A Trophy
Chelmsford City (WWWDWD)
Won 1-0 v Whitehawk (H) – National South
Won 3-1 v Bishop’s Stortford (A) – National South
Won 4-0 v Bishop’s Stortford (H) – National South
Drew 0-0 v Weston-super-Mare (A) – National South
Won 1-0 v Hitchin Town (H) – F.A Trophy
Drew 3-3 v Hungerford Town (H) – National South
Previous Six Meetings
Chelmsford City 2 Dartford 3 (17/09/2016) – F.A Cup
Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 1 (13/08/2016)
Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 1 (02/01/2016)
Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 1 (26/12/2015)
Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 0 (07/04/2012)
Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0 (27/08/2011)
In cup competition the spoils have been shared with both teams winning five Southern League Cup ties and an F.A Cup fixture each. There has also been four draws, all in the Southern League Cup.
Elliot Bradbrook has scored three goals in three games in this season’s F.A Trophy. In all cup ties, Bradbrook has scored ten in seven starts.
Dartford have gone five home matches without a win against Chelmsford City. The last home victory against the Clarets was in 2000 when Dartford won 3-0 in the Southern League Southern Division.
The Darts are unbeaten in six, home and away against the Clarets with two wins and four draws.
On This Day
Jacob Erskine took home the match ball five years ago in a 4-2 victory over National North side Boston United. In the F.A Trophy second round tie, Erskine back heeled the opener after four minutes and Lee Noble added a second to put the Darts back in front. Erskine stretched the Darts lead before Boston United pulled a goal back, but the hat-trick hero secured victory with Dartford’s fourth. Four other F.A Trophy games have taken place on 14 January in which the Darts have won two and lost two. Merthyr Tydfil won 2-1 in a first round replay fifteen years ago, Dorchester Town were thrashed 4-0 in 1989 on the way to Dartford’s semi-final appearance later that season. Barnet won 3-0 in 1984 and six years earlier Sutton United were defeated 2-0. Saturday will be the Darts seventh game at home on the 14 January in a row.