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Needham Market v Dartford

Dartford could move a step closer to the F.A Cup first round this weekend if they manage to avoid an upset against Needham Market.

The Darts travel to Suffolk for their third qualifying round tie knowing victory will put them within one more fixture of reaching the first round proper, which will be the fifth time in eight years. Needham Market, currently playing in the Isthmian Premier League have only progressed beyond this stage once, four years ago.

Tony Burman’s side suffered their second defeat of the season on Saturday, losing 3-0 at Weston-super-Mare. Only central defender Richard Sho-Silva was unavailable for selection, Mark Onyemah returned to the line-up whilst Duane Ofori-Acheampong was named amongst the bench four months after last playing for the Darts.

Critical of conceding two goals against Eastbourne Borough in the previous league game, Burman will be disappointed with conceding three more. Gethyn Hill scored a first half brace and Archie Collins added another as Weston-super-Mare brought the Darts down to earth. Having topped the National South table at the start of the day, the Darts dropped to fourth.

A fortnight ago, Dartford began their F.A Cup journey and although not at their best ran out 3-1 winners to Isthmian Division One North side Barking. Elliot Bradbrook put in a captain’s performance crowning his man of the match display with a hat-trick. Bradbrook twice scored from the penalty spot to help his team come from a goal down in an uncomfortable afternoon. The Essex League champions took the lead after Alfie Pavey scored at the wrong end giving Barking a shock lead.

Dartford last travelled to Suffolk in a F.A Cup fourth qualifying round match back in 2010 and were taken to a reply after a 0-0 draw with Leiston, three divisions below the Darts at the time. That run, seven years ago, ended in the first round at Port Vale, the first time in 21 years Dartford had reached that stage. Since then, Burman has guided the Darts to the first round on two more occasions and the second round almost three years ago, losing away to Bradford City.

Needham Market have yet to concede in this season’s F.A Cup having defeated Clapton and Chesham United on the way. Entering at the first qualifying round stage the Marketmen drew Clapton, two divisions below in the Essex League. The Suffolk side had to wait until just over an hour to break their opponents down through Gareth Heath, then two more followed from Luke Ingram and Callum Harrison in a 3-0 win.

Two weeks ago, Needham Market won at home against Southern Premier League side Chesham United. Harrison scored his second F.A Cup goal of the campaign after half an hour and four minutes into the second half Dan Morphew secured progression into the third qualifying round.

Former Dartford winger Jack Simmons is amongst the Marketmen’s ranks and is currently leading their assists chart. Simmons played for the Darts in 2015/16 making 29 appearances, 11 from the substitutes bench and scored the one goal.

Needham Market managed promotion from the Eastern Counties seven years ago, winning the title by a point. After four years in the Isthmian Division One North where they experienced three playoff defeats including a final, the Marketmen won the title by a single point again amassing 104 points and 101 goals. The Suffolk side finished 20th in the Isthmian Premier two seasons ago and ninth last term.

This season the Marketmen are in 14th in the Isthmian Premier after beating Harlow Town 3-1 on Tuesday night. Morphew, Heath and Sam Nunn all netted in the first half to earn the Suffolk side three points. Victory followed a 2-2 draw with Enfield Town and the F.A Cup win against Chesham United to extend their unbeaten run to three.

Current Form (all competitions)

Needham Market (WDWLDW) Dartford (LLWWWW)
Harlow Town A 3-1 Weston-super-Mare A 0-3
Enfield Town H 2-2 Cray Wanderers A 2-4
Chesham United H 2-0 Barking H 3-1
Lowestoft Town H 0-2 Eastbourne Borough H 4-2
Tooting & Mitcham United A 1-1 Chippenham Town H 3-0
Clapton A 3-0 Whitehawk A 4-0

Stats
Elliot Bradbrook has scored ten goals in his last five F.A Cup appearances.

There has been three or more goals in the last seven Dartford games.

Dartford have won their last three F.A Cup ties away from Princes Park all coming last season. The last time the Darts failed to score on their travels in the F.A Cup was in the 4-0 replay defeat at Port Vale in the first round in 2010.

The Darts last went out to lower league opposition in an away F.A Cup tie 15 years ago. Dartford in the Southern League Eastern Division lost 1-0 in a replay to Carterton Town in the Hellenic League. Since then Dartford have

On This Day
Dartford staged a late comeback to come from behind and beat Hyde in 2-1 at Princes Park. The visitors took the lead when Alex Brown hit a shot in the top corner. The Darts struggled to get going and when Harry Crawford missed a penalty it didn’t look like it would be Dartford’s day. Hyde had Adam Griffin red carded after picking up his second caution of the afternoon and from then on the Darts found some belief. Crawford levelled with a header and in stoppage time Richard Rose calmly chipped the ball into the Hyde net for the winner.

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