Dartford will be in search of three points against bottom of the table side Margate in the National South.
The Darts who are in a strong position to make the playoffs this season, host the Gate who have it all to do to escape relegation. Tony Burman’s side will enter the Kent derby off the back of an entertaining 5-3 victory over Truro City on the weekend, whilst Margate were beaten thanks to a former Dart.
On Saturday, Andy Pugh’s brace helped overcome the White Tigers, but it was the visitors who went in front. Andrew Neal took advantage of Deren Ibrahim’s mistake in the goalkeeper’s last game before joining up with the Gibraltar squad. Pugh equalised with his first of the afternoon made by the endeavour of Duane Ofori-Acheampong. Then Elliot Bradbrook volleyed in the goal of the game from 25 yards to give the Darts a 2-1 lead at half-time.
The Darts struggled to shake off Truro City and they levelled through Neal once more, it wasn’t long until Luke Wanadio put Dartford ahead in a hectic final 25 minutes of the match. Jamie Richards headed the White Tigers level at 3-3, however goals from Pugh and Tom Murphy sealed the three points for Dartford as they recorded five goals against Truro City for a second time this season.
Earlier in the league campaign, the Darts won 2-0 at Hartsdown Park but had to leave it relatively late to secure the three points. Two goals in the closing quarter of an hour gave Dartford victory, the first scored by Andy Pugh from close range. The win was almost guaranteed once Bradbrook netted from the penalty spot two minutes from time.
Dartford drew 1-1 with Margate last time at Princes Park after falling behind to a Freddie Ladapo goal, the striker went on to move to Premier League side Crystal Palace and is now on loan at Shrewsbury Town. Elliot Bradbrook scored the equaliser after good work from Ryan Hayes.
Tony Burman’s side have fell off the pace of the top two over recent weeks, unable to convert draws into victories. The Darts can take heart in their excellent form against other Kent sides, over ninety minutes, this term having recorded six wins and three draws from ten matches played. Against Margate they are unbeaten in their last three meetings securing two victories and a draw.
The last twelve months have been dreadful for the Gate, the coastal club were on the fringes of the playoff places towards the end of February last year. Nikki Bull looked to have found his feet then ten consecutive losses saw Margate slide down the National South. Surviving on the final day of the season, by a goal, off field problems have spilled over into this campaign.
The Gate’s win over Gosport Borough just over a week ago, was their first in 20 matches and Ira Jackson’s double strike were Margate’s first goals in 10 games. Now Steve Watts is in charge and he had guided his team to a draw in the game preceding the victory, against Concord Rangers, which had ended an incredible 18 game losing streak. On the weekend the Gate fell to a 3-2 defeat versus Hemel Hempstead Town with Charlie Sheringham scoring twice for the Tudors.
Michael Thalassitis has rejoined the club from Welling United. The striker had left Hartsdown Park in November for Hemel Hempstead Town, when Margate were forced to slash their wage bil,l and after a short spell at Park View Road is now back at the coastal side.
At the beginning of the month, Watt used his contacts at former club Maidstone United to attract defender Ben Swift to the squad. Up front Pape Gueye also comes in on loan for a month from National League side Sutton United.
The Darts in third place are eleven points clear of sixth place and hope to edge closer to a playoff spot, whilst Margate are thirteen points adrift from safety.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 46 / Margate wins: 42 / Draws: 29
Current League Form
Won 5-3 v Truro City (H)
Drew 1-1 v Concord Rangers (A)
Won 2-0 v Bath City (H)
Drew 0-0 v Welling United (A)
Drew 1-1 v Oxford City (A)
Lost 0-1 v Chelmsford City (H)
Lost 2-3 v Hemel Hempstead Town (A)
Won 2-0 v Gosport Borough (H)
Drew 0-0 v Concord Rangers (A)
Lost 2-3 v Chelmsford City (H)
Lost 0-2 v Whitehawk (H)
Lost 0-1 v East Thurrock United (A)
Margate 0 Dartford 2 (13/09/2016 – National South)
Dartford 1 Margate 1 (28/12/2015 – National South)
Margate 0 Dartford 2 (29/08/2015 – National South)
Dartford 0 Margate 1 (23/03/2010 – Isthmian Premier League)
Margate 0 Dartford 4 (18/08/2009 – Isthmian Premier League)
Margate 2 Dartford 2 (07/03/2009 – Isthmian Premier League)
The last time a home side won this fixture in 2008 when the Darts progressed in the Isthmian League Cup with a 3-2 victory.
In a league meeting, the last home by either club in this fixture was in 1997, Dartford recorded a 1-0 win in the Southern League Southern Division.
On This Day
Dartford have just won once in their last nine games on 21 March and that was 25 years ago. The Darts beat Moor Green 3-1 in the Southern Premier League. Since then the Darts have tasted three defeats in a row and celebrated just one goal, against Folkestone Invicta in a 4-1 loss 17 years ago. AFC Hornchurch in 2009’s Isthmian Premier League meeting and Southport in 2015’s National League fixture both won 2-0 against Dartford.