Dartford v Truro City

Dartford end a tough February with a home fixture against playoff chasing Truro City in the National South this weekend.

The Darts currently have a three point cushion at the top of the table, but having played more games than anyone in the top seven they are being put under pressure by the chasing pack. One of those on the fringes of chasing are Truro City, who sit in seventh place and ten points behind Tony Burman’s men with two games in hand.

This fixture has brought with it plenty of goals over the last four meetings, the last time at Princes Park an eight goal thriller ended with the Darts winning 5-3. The visitors went in front when Andrew Neal took advantage of Deren Ibrahim’s mistake, but Andy Pugh equalised with his first of the afternoon. Elliot Bradbrook volleyed in the goal of the game from 25 yards to give the Darts a 2-1 half-time lead. In the second half Neal equalised for the White Tigers, but it wasn’t long until Luke Wanadio put Dartford ahead in a hectic final 25 minutes. Jamie Richards headed the White Tigers level at 3-3, however goals from Pugh and Tom Murphy sealed the win for Dartford.

That victory completed a double over the White Tigers last term after Dartford’s 5-0 demolition of the Cornwall club five months earlier. Keaton Wood, Andy Pugh, Duane Ofori-Acheampong’s brace and Alex Brown all helped Dartford to their first ever victory over Truro City.

However, it was Truro City who recorded their fourth victory in seven meetings against Dartford back in November. A disastrous start for the Darts saw them three down inside nineteen minutes. Within a six minute spell Tyler Harvey scored from the penalty spot and Cody Cooke netted twice. Ronnie Vint pulled a goal back mid-way through the first half in the 3-1 loss. Lee Hodges’ side also came away with wins at Princes Park in 2011 and 2015 and notched up a home win in 2016.

After consecutive defeats for the first time in almost two years, the Darts put an end to the losing streak last weekend. A trip to Wealdstone ended with a late comeback to keep Dartford in pole position at the top. The Stones had Iffy Allen sent off just before the break but still managed to take the lead with ten men. Dan Fitchett’s header was cancelled out by Danny Mills, only his second goal in 14 appearances. Minutes later top scorer Alfie Pavey scored the winner after coming off the substitutes bench, the striker is now second in the National South scoring charts on 17 goals.

Burman was pleased with the result and told after the game: “Football’s a strange game. We had to take some steps backwards in results over the last couple of weeks and at one stage today.  I thought in the first half we were excellent and maybe should’ve took the lead but we’ve had to dig deep and the guys have shown why they are where they are”.

One of the surprises of the afternoon was the exclusion of goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim from the starting eleven. Instead new signing Berti Schotterl made his debut, the 23 year old left German side Inter Leipzig in January and had been training with Fulham, who recommended him to the Dartford boss.

Burman feels that adding another goalkeeper to the squad will provide cover and competition in that position. Ibrahim, who has made 164 appearances for the Darts has been advised to ‘recharge his batteries’, Burman explained to “Deren has been in goal on his own for a long time and, in my opinion, he’s had some situations over the last couple of months where he could have done better”, he added: “Deren knew all about what I was deciding to do but it was a difficult situation”. By the sound of things the squad could be strengthened even more, Burman also commented: “I’ve got one who’s come in now and I’ve got some irons in the fire as well in case anything happens”.

Truro City have spent some of the campaign top of the National South, but their spell was brief and a steady season so far has them battling for a playoff spot. The Cornwall club have lost three of their last four matches including last weekend when they let a two goal slip. Captain, Ben Gerring headed the first and Aaron Lamont chipped in a second before half time. Oxford City then staged a second half comeback when Matt Patterson netted from the spot and Samuel Nombe scored twice. Whilst Gerring and Lamont have been scoring the majority of goals for Truro City recently, Cooke is the top scorer for the White Tigers in the league with 11 goals.

Lee Hodges spoke to after the game and said: “That’s two weeks in succession where we’ve worked extremely hard during the first half and then allowed the game to slip away after the break”, he added: “It’s hard to take; we rode our luck a little bit during the first half but we were compact and solid and when you’re 2-0 up at half-time at home, you expect to see the game out”.

Despite defeat Hodges remains confident that his side can prepare well enough to give the Darts something to think about, he commented: “I will go away and analyse what went wrong after the break; we’re all hurting but we’ll be ready for the challenge that Dartford will present to us in our next game”. he continued: “They are a good side and flying high at the top of the table, but I will be looking for us to go there and compete”.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 2 /Truro City wins: 4 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

Dartford (WLLWDW) Truro City (LLWLDW)
Wealdstone A 2-1 Oxford City H 2-3
Chelmsford City H 1-2 Wealdstone H 1-3
St Albans City A 0-4 Bognor Regis Town A 2-0
Whitehawk H 3-1 Whitehawk A 2-3
Chippenham Town A 2-2 Bath City A 0-0
Havant & Waterlooville H 1-0 Poole Town H 3-1

Previous Meetings

11.11.2017 Truro City 3 Dartford 1
18.03.2017 Dartford 5 Truro  City 3
08.10.2016 Truro  City 0 Dartford 5
05.04.2016 Truro City 3 Dartford 0
19.09.2015 Dartford 0 Truro City 1
28.04.2012 Truro  City 1 Dartford 1
22.10.2011 Dartford 1 Truro  City 2

It’s been two years since Dartford last suffered consecutive home defeats in the league. On 27 February 2016, the Darts lost 2-1 against Concord Rangers and on 12 March 2016 lost 4-2 versus Whitehawk.

There has been 20 goals in the last four meetings between these two sides, an average of 2.5 goals a game.

Dartford have scored in eleven consecutive home matches in the National South.

The Darts have the best home record in the division, whilst Havant and Waterlooville and Hampton and Richmond are the only two clubs to have accrued more away points than Truro City this term.

On This Day
Mark Green scored on his debut for the Darts in a 2-2 draw with Kent rivals Dover Athletic at the Crabble. Signed from Tonbridge Angels in 2007, Green made an excellent start to his Dartford career opening the scoring. The hosts went ahead with goals either side of the break only for Brendon Cass to equalise with thirteen minutes remaining. Green went on to make 37 starting appearances and 14 substitute appearances for Dartford scoring twice and picked up an Isthmian Division One North winners medal. The last home match for the Darts on this day was back in 2004 when they were thrashed 6-1 by Folkestone Invicta in the Southern League Eastern Division. In 2001, Dartford beat Langley Sports at home 1-0 and in the Kent League back in 1996, the Darts won 2-0 when they hosted Whitstable Town.

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