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Eastbourne Borough v Dartford

The F.A Trophy gets underway for Dartford this weekend when they visit fellow National South side Eastbourne Borough at Priory Lane. 

Dartford have already hosted the Sports this season when they met in the league at Princes Park. Playing his first game back at Dartford’s home since returning to the club, Charlie Sheringham scored then later got sent off on a dramatic afternoon. The Darts needed to come from behind twice in September having conceded when ex Dart, Dave Martin opened the scoring on twelve minutes. Sheringham levelled the match converting from the penalty spot, but just after half-time Eastbourne Borough regained the lead through Emmanuel Odubade. Sheringham received his second yellow card leaving the hosts a man short for the final twelve minutes. Against the odds, Elliot Bradbrook equalised in stoppage time to earn the Darts a vital point in the National South.

Having lost four from five leading up to the 2-2 draw, the result against Eastbourne Borough marked the start of an upturn in form. Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle have led the Darts to one defeat in nine league games to leave them top of the form guide. On the weekend, Sheringham’s winning goal against Hampton and Richmond Borough moved Dartford into fifth place having secured a third consecutive victory. Tom Bonner will face a fitness test before the trophy tie having been taken off at the Beveree with a hamstring strain. Goalkeeper, Bailey Vose has had his loan extended to the end of the season, Delano Sam-Yorke and Tom Murphy have gone out on loan to Kingstonian and Margate respectively.

Flanagan spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and believes his squad has more to offer, he commented: “It sounds a lot better than it did at the start! We can’t complain but Jamie and I believe we’re just touching the surface of what we’ve got at the moment. There are still improvement areas but we’re winning games. Eight of those nine games have been by one goal and we want to kick on”.

So far, this term Dartford have only played two cup matches and on both occasions, there was plenty of room to improve. The Darts struggled past AFC Uckfield Town in the F.A Cup second qualifying round then were well beaten in the next stage at Oxford City.

Saturday will almost be seven years since Dartford drew Eastbourne Borough in the F.A Trophy third qualifying round. The tie went to a replay after a 0-0 draw at Priory Lane, Lee Noble and Tom Bonner were the only members of the current squad involved that day. The Darts won at the second attempt with goals from Tom Champion and Danny Harris, the Sports halved the deficit through former Dart, Carl Rook. Dartford reached the third round that year, losing to Wealdstone.

The Darts last enjoyed a decent run in the competition in 2012/13 when they reached the semi-final stage against Grimsby Town. Since then they have only got passed the first round twice, going out on penalties against Boreham Wood in round one last time. Flanagan stated: “The club got to the semi-finals (in 2012/13) and everyone I’ve spoken to about that run said what a good experience it was. It would be nice to replicate that”.

As well as the four goals scored in this season’s fixture between the two clubs, there has been plenty of goalmouth action in previous meetings. Almost two years ago at a foggy Priory Lane, Dartford won 3-2 in a match where you could excuse anyone who missed Kaka Dembele’s strike and Nathaniel Pinney’s consolation. The Darts netted four times in the next two home clashes winning 4-3 then 4-2, however the last time Dartford visited the Sussex club, Danny Mills was on hand to score the winner.

Whilst the 2-2 draw in September was the beginning of Dartford’s good form, it was also the start of a decline in results for the Sports. Leading up to the meeting at Priory Lane, the Sussex club had lost just once in eight National South outings. Although the draw extended that run to another game, since then Eastbourne Borough have won just twice in the league in nine attempts. On the weekend, the Sports lost a second consecutive fixture at Bath City. The 1-0 defeat followed a 2-0 loss at Concord Rangers.

In cup competitions, Jamie Howell’s side made hard work getting past Brantham Athletic in the F.A Cup second qualifying round two months ago. The Sports nervously overcame Dulwich Hamlet, after racing into a 4-0 first half lead they conceded three times in the second half against ten men and just held on. Eastbourne Borough missed out on the F.A Cup first round when they were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Slough Town.

Eastbourne Borough’s best performance in the F.A Trophy is reaching the third round, most recently in their 2010/2011 campaign. After their trophy run seven years ago they went out at the third qualifying round four years in a row, including the defeat to Dartford. Last season they beat Royston Town on penalties before going out to Dover Athletic.

Head to Head

Eastbourne Borough wins: 4 / Dartford wins: 10 / Draws: 3

Current Form (all competitions *-Sussex Senior Cup)

Eastbourne Borough (LLWWLD) Dartford (WWWLWW)
Bath City A 0-1 Hampton & Richmond A 1-0
Concord Rangers A 0-3 Oxford City H 3-2
Hungerford Town H 3-1 Gloucester City A 2-1
Eastbourne United A 5-0* Truro City A 1-3
Chelmsford City A 2-3 Dulwich Hamlet H 2-1
Hampton & Richmond H 2-2 Chippenham Town A 2-1

Previous Meetings

08.09.2018 Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 2
14.04.2018 Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 1
12.09.2017 Dartford 4 Eastbourne Borough 2
08.04.2017 Dartford 4 Eastbourne Borough 3
16.08.2011 Eastbourne Borough 2 Dartford 3
20.02.2016 Eastbourne Borough 1 Dartford 1

Stats

Dartford named an unchanged side for the third game in a row last weekend, the first time this has happened this season.

Mark Onyemah is close to making his 100th start for the Darts in his second spell with the club.

Lee Noble will be approaching 450 appearances in total.

On This Day

Dartford progressed to the second round of the F.A Trophy with a commanding 4-0 win at Kingstonian in 2012. Marcus Bettenelli was called into action after just four minutes as he saved Andre McCollin’s penalty, which served as an early warning for the Darts. Jacob Erskine gave Dartford the lead halfway through the first half then K’s midfielder Simon Huckle was sent off. The afternoon got easier and so the Darts made sure of victory when Elliot Bradbrook, Danny Harris and Nathan Collier added three more goals to the scoreline. Ryan Hayes celebrated his 150th start nine years ago in style, helping Dartford come from two down to beat Tooting and Mitcham United 3-2. The winger scored a brace including a well taken free kick, Rob Haworth netted the winner to complete the comeback.

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