Dartford will be guaranteed a National South playoff place if they beat Hungerford Town on Good Friday at Bulpit Lane.
Leading the Crusaders by nine points with four games to go, the Darts will move out of reach with victory and even with a draw they will still be in the driving seat. As Tony Burman’s side try to gather momentum in the remaining games they will hope to come back from Berkshire with the win they need.
Over the last few weeks Burman has admitted that tension is starting to creep into Dartford’s game. Defeat away to St Albans City followed by throwing away the lead twice against Hemel Hempstead Town, the Darts hosted Eastbourne Borough last weekend in another tense affair.
Andy Pugh had Dartford in front on eleven minutes only for the Sports to peg the hosts back through Mark Hughes. The goal of the game came from Luke Wanadio as he curled the Darts ahead before the break. Ryan Hayes, on the other wing put Dartford 3-1 up and a fourth came from Elliot Bradbrook. Just when the match looked settled, Eastbourne Borough staged a fight back with goals from Gavin McCallum and Ryan Worrall, leaving Burman’s side to hold on for an entertaining 4-3 victory.
Whilst the Darts have now won their last four home matches, it’s on the road where points are beginning to be dropped. Four draws in the last five away fixtures, including the defeat to St Albans City, means Dartford last won away from home in the league over two months ago.
The meeting with Hungerford Town will be the second one ever and back in August goalkeeper, Deren Ibrahim hit the headlines scoring the opener from inside his own half. The points were secured when Alex Brown made it 2-0 with a few minutes remaining.
Manager, Bobby Wilkinson has led Hungerford Town to their highest ever level and this term will see them finish in the top ten at least. Last season’s Southern Premier League playoff winners have had a decent campaign taking advantage against teams below them. The Crusaders have however failed to beat any of the top seven, but have managed to draw against the top two at home.
Unbeaten in six league games, Hungerford Town won 2-1 last weekend over Whitehawk. The Berkshire club left it until injury time when Luke Williams scored the winner, the goal completed the turn around from a one goal deficit, Warren Bentley netted the equaliser earlier. At Bulpit Lane, the Crusaders are unbeaten in ten National South matches stretching back to November. Currently in sixth spot, Hungerford Town need the points on Good Friday to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Head to Head
Hungerford Town wins: 0 / Dartford wins: 1 / Draws: 0
Current League Form
Hungerford Town (WDDDWW)
Won 2-1 v Whitehawk (A)
Drew 1-1 v Poole Town (A)
Drew 0-0 v St Albans City (H)
Drew 0-0 v Welling United (A)
Won 2-1 v Weston-super-Mare (H)
Won 2-1 v Concord Rangers (H)
Won 4-3 v Eastbourne Borough (H)
Drew 2-2 v Hemel Hempstead Town (A)
Lost 0-1 v St Albans City (A)
Won 4-0 v Margate (H)
Won 5-3 v Truro City (H)
Drew 1-1 v Concord Rangers (A)
Dartford 2 Hungerford Town 0 (27/08/2016 – National South)
On This Day
Unbeaten in their last eight matches on 14 April, the Darts have won their last two against Sutton United and Hastings United respectively. Five years ago, a goal from Tony Garrod was enough to beat the U’s in the National South. Five years earlier, Dartford won 2-1 against Hastings United with goals from Carl Bruce and Brendon Cass. Sittingbourne held the Darts to a 1-1 draw in 2001 whilst in the Southern League Division One East. In 1990, Ashford Town were beaten at Watling Street 2-1 and two years prior Dartford won their Southern League Cup semi-final second leg encounter with Waterlooville 4-1, recording an 8-1 aggregate victory. Dartford lifted the cup almost a fortnight later beating Bromsgrove Rovers 4-3 over tow legs.