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Dartford v Braintree Town

The top two go head to head at Princes Park this weekend as the Darts host second place Braintree Town.

Joint leaders on points Dartford have a superior goal difference and only victory will guarantee another weekend at the top of the National South. Braintree Town are level on points but so too are Hampton and Richmond Borough, in fact the top seven are separated by just one win.

Dartford met the Iron earlier in the season back in August. After an uninspiring opening day, the Darts played their first away match of the campaign against the Essex club, who are now looking to bounce back to the National League after relegation last term.

The Darts had to show their fighting spirit over four months ago, to earn a draw from 2-0 down. Braintree Town went in at half-time in the driving seat with goals from Karl Oliyide and Billy Crook. In the second half, Lee Noble’s header back to Tom Murphy pulled a goal back, but the goalscorer was forced off through injury. The equaliser came from captain Elliot Bradbrook who headed home after Tom Bonner nodded the ball back across goal from a corner. On that evening, Warren Mfula made his first start and Richard Sho-Silva his debut.

It’s been over five years since Dartford beat Braintree Town when Tom Bonner and Jacob Erskine scored the only two goals of the game. Since then, the Darts failed to score in the last five meetings against the Iron before the 2-2 draw this season. Dartford’s last two campaigns in the National League saw Braintree Town complete the double against the Darts on both occasions.

Tony Burman will be hoping his side can show the mentality needed by his players to beat a title challenger. In the last league fixture, Dartford lost 1-0 away to lowly Hungerford Town but an improved performance in the F.A Trophy earned them a replay against National League side Boreham Wood.

The replay on Tuesday night turned out to be a long evening for the Darts as they went out of the F.A Trophy on penalties.  A dramatic injury time equaliser from Shaun Jeffers sent the replay into extra time with Dartford agonisingly on the verge of progressing to the second round. The Darts had earlier gone in front when Ryan Hayes curled in the opening goal six minutes into the second half. With just under twenty minutes remaining, Woods top scorer Bruno Andrade levelled the tie. However, minutes later Mills scored his first for the Darts to regain the lead. Shaun Jeffers popped up in stoppage time to keep Boreham Wood in the F.A Trophy and send the match into extra time.

No goals in the extra thirty minutes meant Dartford had to deal with the pressure of spot kicks. Unfortunately it was all too much despite Elliot Bradbrook scoring the first. Tom Murphy, Lyle Della-Verde and Alfie Pavey all missed from 12 yards whilst the hosts scored all their attempts to win 3-1 on penalties.

Nathan Collier could make his first start since returning to the Darts, he has missed the last two matches because he was cup tied. Alex Brown will serve his one match suspension for the red card he received in the F.A Trophy draw with Boreham Wood.

Braintree Town also played their replay on Tuesday night against Brackley Town of the National North, who they drew with 0-0 on the weekend. Like Dartford’s match, the sides still couldn’t break the deadlock going in at half time goalless. Then six minutes into the second half Brackley Town’s Matt Lowe gave the hosts the lead and with just over ten minutes left, Shane Byrne made it 2-0 to knock out the Iron in the first round.

The Irons have been steady all season and expiring defeat just once in their first nine games gave Brad Quinton’s side some foundations to build on. In that time, they won five, drew three and lost once. Whilst the last month has been patchy in form for Braintree Town, like the Darts they have failed to break away from the chasing pack but have put themselves well in contention of promotion.

In their last league outing the Iron beat Eastbourne Borough at home 3-2. Twice the Essex club had to come from behind, Phil Roberts netted his thirteenth and fourteenth of the season to equalise on both occasions, the striker is currently the top scorer in the National South. The winner came from the penalty spot which Bill Crook converted from 12 yards.

Head to Head
Braintree Town wins: 6 / Dartford wins: 2 / Draws: 3

Current League Form

Dartford (LWDWLW) Braintree Town (WLDLWW)
Hungerford Town A 0-1 Eastbourne Borough H 3-2
Poole Town A 1-0 Wealdstone A 1-3
Wealdstone H 3-3 Truro City H 1-1
Gloucester City H 4-1 Weston-super-Mare H 0-1
Truro City A 1-3 Poole Town A 3-0
St Albans City H 2-1 Bognor Regis Town H 3-0

Previous Meetings

08.08.2017 Braintree Town 2 Dartford 2
01.01.2015 Braintree Town 3 Dartford 0
26.12.2014 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
18.04.2014 Braintree Town 1 Dartford 0
24.08.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
11.04.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 0

Stats
Dartford have yet to play any of the current top seven at home this season, on the road against those same teams the Darts have picked up six points from 18.

In contrast Braintree Town have yet to beat a top half team on the road and have conceded 12 goals in three matches against those they have played.

The Darts are the top scorers in the division with 43 goals, Braintree Town are second with 42 goals.

At the half way stage of the season Dartford games have averaged 3.14 goals a game against a league average of 3.01.

On Tuesday night, Ronnie Vint made his 100th appearance in a Darts shirt, his 94th start for the club.

On This Day
Dartford have drawn four of their last five games on 23 December with the most recent coming eleven years ago in the Isthmian Division One South. A 2-2 away draw with Walton casuals was secured with goals by Ryan Hayes and Jay May. Three of those matches, all away from home have ended in 1-1, Histon in 2000 (Southern League Division One East), Hastings United in 1978 and Telford United in 1972 (both Southern Premier League). In the middle of those fixtures the Darts beat Merthyr Tydfil 4-2 at home in a F.A Trophy first round replay back in 1986.

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