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Oxford City v Dartford

In what looks like a three way race to the National South title, Dartford face another crucial match when they take on Oxford City this weekend at Marsh Lane.

Dartford’s late showing at Princes Park last weekend heaped some pressure on league leaders Havant and Waterlooville, and with the Hawks dropping points Hampton and Richmond Borough have become serious contenders too.

The dramatic week started with the Darts four points behind the league leaders, who had a game in hand. However, Tony Burman led his side to an important three points even though it was far from comfortable. In the Princes Park snow, Dartford scored twice in the final ten minutes to win 3-2 against Hemel Hempstead Town, who themselves were looking to edge into the playoffs.

Danny Harris was out injured with a hamstring, Alfie Pavey and Danny Mills were named as substitutes and in came Ronnie Vint, Duane Ofori-Acheampong and Lee Noble. Just passed the half hour mark Andy Pugh put the Darts in front with a curling strike from outside the box which took a slight deflection. Hemel Hempstead Town were quickly level through former Ebbsfleet United striker Jordan Parkes and by half-time they were ahead when David Moyo scored moments before the interval. With Havant and Waterlooville and Hampton and Richmond Borough level at 0-0, and that’s how it stayed, it looked like a wasted opportunity for Burman’s side, until the final ten minutes. Pugh chipped in a wonderful equaliser and in the final minute, super sub and top scorer Alfie Pavey nodded home the dramatic winner.

Burman celebrated the last gasp winner on Saturday with a touchline sprint and after the game he spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and said: “We’ve won with a bit of character and desire and shown again that we’re back in the mix”. Looking forward he added: “It’s one game at a time but it’s the business end of the season and we’ve got to win as many as we can”.

In mid-week Havant and Waterlooville lost to Truro City leaving Dartford just two points behind their title rivals level on games played. On the same evening Hampton and Richmond Borough won 3-1 versus Weston-super-Mare to move onto 62 points with Dartford.

Dartford’s last three games at Marsh Lane have produced mix results conceding late just over year ago in 1-1 draw, Ryan Hayes scored his 99th goal for the club but Ezra Forde equalised. In 2015, the Darts lost 2-1 after Pugh had put Dartford ahead and just under a decade ago, the Darts won 4-2 in a F.A Trophy second qualifying round replay.

But it’s the home fixture this term in August that captures the attention of Dartford fans. Warren Mfula scored a hat-trick in a 7-1 triumph, the striker scoring the last three Dartford goals in the game. Before Mfula’s treble in 19 second half minutes, Richard Sho-Silva, Lyle Della-Verde, Alfie Pavey and Lee Noble all found the back of the Oxford City net.

Oxford City have improved since then and are currently on 41 points in 15th place. Mark Jones’ side have an even home record winning five, drawing five and losing six. Nine points above relegation and twelve behind the playoffs, it looks like City will stay in the National South for a fourth consecutive campaign and at this level for the seventh.

The Oxfordshire are started to take some notable scalps lately with a 2-0 home win over Chelmsford City, a 3-2 away victory against Truro City and a 4-1 triumph at home to Hemel Hempstead Town, all playoff hopefuls this season. Even when they did fall to defeat it was narrow and against the league leaders Havant and Waterlooville. Oxford City also beat Oxford United 1-0 to reach the Oxfordshire Senior Cup final this month.

Matt Paterson has provided the goals scoring 17 times in the National South, one less than Dartford’s Alfie Pavey. However, Paterson has scored just once in the last two months, but the pressure on the striker to find the net has been alleviated with the arrival of Samuel Nombe. The loanee from Milton Keynes Dons has managed five goals in as many games.

Jones has strengthened his squad since the defeat to Concord Rangers by looking towards Luton Town, most recently right sided midfielder Kavan Cotter joined on loan from the Hatters. Cotter teams back up with central defender Frankie Musonda who also came in from the Bedfordshire club.

Victory will be vital for the Darts as Havant and Waterlooville travel to Bath City and Hampton and Richmond Borough host Braintree Town. Dartford then face Hampton and Richmond Borough at home on Good Friday.

Head to Head
Oxford City wins: 1 / Dartford wins: 3 / Draws: 3

Current League Form

Oxford City (WLWWWL) Dartford (WLWWLL)
Welling United A 3-1 Hemel Hempstead Town H 3-2
Havant & Waterlooville H 0-1 Poole Town H 0-1
Chelmsford City H 2-0 Truro City H 4-1
Truro City A 3-2 Wealdstone A 2-1
Hemel Hempstead Town H 4-1 Chelmsford City H 1-2
Concord Rangers A 1-2 St Albans City A 0-4

Previous Meetings

19.08.2017 Dartford 7 Oxford City 1
25.02.2017 Oxford City 1 Dartford 1
29.10.2016 Dartford 1 Oxford City 0
23.04.2016 Dartford 2 Oxford City 2
15.09.2015 Oxford City 2 Dartford 1
04.11.2008 Oxford City 2 Dartford 4
01.11.2008 Dartford 3 Oxford City 3

Stats
Dartford have won just two of their last seven away matches over 90 minutes matching their first seven away games of the season (W2, D3, L2).

The Darts have gone eight games without a clean sheet, the last time they achieved a clean sheet was in January against Havant and Waterlooville.

Andy Pugh has reached 150 appearances for the Darts starting 108 games and appearing 42 times as a substitute. Pugh also netted his 50th goal for the club thanks to his brace against Hemel Hempstead Town.

Only Elliot Bradbrook (131 goals), Ryan Hayes (108) and Danny Harris (75) have scored more goals for Dartford in the current squad than Pugh.

According to the BBC Sport website, out of the top 20 National South goalscorers Alfie Pavey has the best goals per minutes ratio (111 minutes per goal) and Pugh is third with 120 minutes per goal.

On This Day
Jay May scored a hat-trick in a victory against Corinthian Casuals. The 2007 Isthmian Division One South fixture ended up 4-0 to the Darts with Brendon Cass scoring the other. A year later Cass netted the winner and Dartford’s last away goal on this day in a 1-0 win over Canvey Island, the three points helping Dartford to the Isthmian Division One North title. Dartford have only produced one away goal in their last four away fixtures on this day. In 2015, the Darts took home a point drawing 0-0 with Alfreton Town in the National League and three years earlier, Dartford lost 1-0 at Dorchester Town. Way back in the Southern Premier League, another notable result was Dartford’s 6-2 victory over Weymouth.

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