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Dartford v Poole Town

Only ten games remain in Dartford’s pursuit of the National South title and next up is the home fixture against Poole Town.

The Darts won 1-0 in the previous encounter back in December with Richard Sho-Silva’s winning header. The defender is currently out of action after an injury he picked up whilst playing for VCD Athletic. Last time at Princes Park, Dartford scored two first half goals in quick succession, Duane Ofori-Acheampong and Luke Wanadio put the Darts in the driving seat before Luke Parker pulled a late goal back for the Dolphins.

Dartford build up this weekend’s game on the back of consecutive wins and a week off. Following two straight defeats, the Darts bounced back coming from a goal down to triumph 2-1 away at Wealdstone, then followed that up with more success against Truro City. A week later, the snowy weather conditions gave every team in the division a break, as the National South fixture list was completely wiped out last weekend.

After manager, Tony Burman urged players and supporters to ‘pull in the right direction’ the Darts recorded their eleventh home league win this season a fortnight ago. Victory over Truro City extended Dartford’s lead at the top of the National South to four points after closest rivals Havant and Waterlooville drew 0-0 with Hemel Hempstead Town. The deficit was then cut last Tuesday when the Hawks beat Gloucester City to overtake Hampton and Richmond Borough in the table into second, three points behind the Darts.

Burman missed the 4-1 triumph over Truro City on Saturday through illness leaving assistant manager Paul Sawyer in charge. Danny Harris made his 300th start for the club and Elliot Bradbrook became only the ninth player to reach 400 appearances. An achievement the Dartford captain is proud of, he told www.kentishfootball.co.uk: “I have been lucky enough to have been part of the most exciting and successful periods in the club’s history and it’s honestly been a great privilege”, he added: “Dartford is my home-town club and it’s very special to me, so it’s been great to have spent the majority of my career here and most of it as team captain”.

Lee Noble, Ronnie Vint missed out on a starting place as the Darts lined up in a positive 4-3-3 formation, Alfie Pavey, Danny Mills and Andy Pugh up front. Meanwhile, Ofori-Acheampong has struggled with a tight hamstring but is hopeful to be back in contention this weekend.

Pugh scored in the first half with a superb volley from the edge of the box and in the second half three more goals were added. Alex Brown scored within a minute of the restart and Danny Mills added another a minute later. A fortuitous own goal added number four, but Darts goalkeeper Berti Schotterl was denied his first clean sheet when Niall Thompson scored a stunner in stoppage time.

Sawyer was pleased with the performance and the confidence the players showed, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “I thought we played extremely well, especially in the second half”, he continued: “In the first half we had to dig in because the wind was really strong…We got a great goal from Pughy and the hope at half-time is that you’ll come out second half and take advantage of those conditions – and we did. I thought we should have scored more goals but we played some lovely football”.

The teams chasing Dartford at the summit have games in hand but Sawyer remains focus on what his club has to do, he commented: “We can’t do a lot about what happens elsewhere. It’s for Havant to lose at the moment. They’ve got the games in hand and all we can do is look after our own performances”.

Striker, Danny Mills has scored twice in his last two games and he told www.kentonline.co.uk that the result versus Truro City has given the Darts confidence, he said: “I think we showed on Saturday that we’re definitely title contenders,” he added: “That was definitely a message. We’ve beaten a team who are in the play-offs and we’ve shown how good we can be on the day”, he continued: “There’s no doubt in my mind that we can go and win this league”.

Poole Town have followed up last season’s surprise performance, when they finished in a playoff spot, with a campaign of struggle. The Dolphins missed out on taking part in the playoffs last term due to ground grading and this time they find themselves in the bottom three fighting relegation. The Dorset club are four points from safety but still have three of the bottom six to play.

The Dolphins have lost their last three league games without scoring in their last two outings. Poole Town’s last victory came at the end of January against their closest relegation rivals Chippenham Town. Tom Killick’s side have heavily relied on the goals of Warren Bentley to keep them in touch, the striker was signed from Hungerford Town and was a prolific scorer for his former side Winchester City, where he scored 113 goals in two seasons, Bentley has netted 16 times this term.

For a team in the bottom three, the Dolphins away record reads like a mid-table side, but they have only taken two points from teams in the top six all season, scoring just three times and conceding 12.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 17 / Poole Town wins: 15 / Draws: 5

Current League Form

Dartford (WWLLWD) Poole Town (LLLDWW)
Truro City H 4-1 Braintree Town A 0-1
Wealdstone A 2-1 Eastbourne Borough H 0-4
Chelmsford City H 1-2 Havant & Waterlooville H 1-3
St Albans City A 0-4 Gloucester City A 2-2
Whitehawk H 3-1 Chippenham Town H 2-0
Chippenham Town A 2-2 Hemel Hempstead Town A 1-0

Previous Meetings

02.12.2017 Poole Town 1 Dartford 2
29.04.2017 Poole Town 2 Dartford 3
03.12.2016 Dartford 2 Poole Town 1
14.03.1992 Dartford 4 Poole Town 0
02.11.1991 Poole Town 0 Dartford 0
06.04.1991 Poole Town 1 Dartford 0

Stats
Dartford have won their last four matches against Poole Town scoring 10 and conceding 3. The previous four meetings ended with the Darts failing to score when they drew two and lost two.

The Darts have lost one of the last six home games against the Dolphins and just two in the last 13 home and away (W8, D3, L2).

Tom Bonner will make his 250th start for Dartford if selected in the first eleven.

If Ryan Hayes is a used substitute he will make his 150th appearance from off the bench.

On This Day
Ryan Hayes scored a Princes Park hat-trick against Croydon Athletic in the Isthmian Division One South fixture. The wingers first came from the penalty spot but his next strike was pure quality. On the corner of the 18 yard box, Hayes flicked the ball behind his standing leg before curling a shot in trademark fashion. His hat-trick was completed when he tucked away a one on one chance to clinch a 3-0 win for the Darts. Five years later, Jacob Erskine helped Dartford overcome an in form Farnborough at Princes Park. Still in the title race with Woking, the Darts hosted a Boro side who had one six on the bounce. Yet it took 18 minutes to break the deadlock when Erskine rounded the goalkeeper for his first. The striker repeated the trick early in the second half and a last minute third by Tony Garrod, against his former side made it 3-0.

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