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East Thurrock United v Dartford

Dartford know completing a double over East Thurrock United this weekend could propel them back in the playoff places in the National South.

The Darts won the corresponding fixture back on Bank Holiday August beating the Rocks 2-0 at Princes Park, victory ended a run of three consecutive losses at the time. Tom Bonner fired the ball home at the far post in the first half before Higgins had his penalty saved by Deren Ibrahim. The three points were wrapped up in the second half when Ben Greenhalgh’s diving header doubled the advantage.

It was the second win in a row against East Thurrock United following on from the 1-0 triumph in April. Dartford visited Rookery Hill during their title run in and needed victory to add pressure on Havant and Waterlooville. It took until the 78th minute for the Darts to break the deadlock. Ryan Hayes worked his way down the right-wing, delivered early into the box and Danny Mills arrived with a brilliant diving header to clinch the win. Coincidentally, in the season before, Hayes was the goalscorer in the same minute to earn a 1-1 draw in Essex.

Mills came back to haunt the Darts on Boxing Day as two former players scored for rivals Welling United in the Kent derby. Goals in either half from Josh Hill and Mills earned the Wings bragging rights and pushed Dartford down to ninth place in the National South. The two sides will meet again on New Year’s Day.

Joint Manager, Jamie Coyle spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and commented: “It was disappointing, in the end we flattered to deceive a little bit. The first half was a bitty game, it was fiercely contested, especially in the middle of the park, and outside a free header from a set piece, it was a 0-0 game going in at half-time”, he continued: “We got into great positions in the final third, especially the first half, and our quality was really poor. That was the reason we couldn’t build any momentum. We have to do better. We had plenty of the ball in the first half and we just didn’t capitalise on it”.

Coyle justified putting Lee Noble, Ryan Hayes and Elliot Bradbrook into the five man midfield to provide vital experience, however the ploy didn’t come off, he added: “We put players in the team that know the importance of these derby games, that have been in it before and have got success. It wasn’t just them, as a collective we weren’t anywhere near the standards that we’ve set and individually Welling shaded the battles and that’s the reason they won the game”. Defeat was Dartford’s third in five competitive matches.

East Thurrock United are relying on their home form to keep in touch with the teams above them. On their travels they have picked up just one point from eleven games, yet at Rookery Hill they have collected 13 points. On Boxing Day, John Coventry’s side were beaten 2-0 by local rivals Concord Rangers conceding goals to Alex Wall and Danny Green.

Leading up to their Boxing Day loss the Rocks had lost consecutive fixtures 3-1 against Oxford City then Slough Town. However, they did take a scalp in an Essex derby early in December beating Chelmsford City 2-0 at home thanks to first half goals from Ben Marlow and Sam Higgins. At the start of the month East Thurrock United lost to Hampton and Richmond Borough in a game that saw former Dart, Danny Harris red carded.

Harris joined East Thurrock United in the summer from the Darts where he made 400 appearances and scored 75 goals. He has played the majority of the season alongside Lee Burns, another former Dartford favourite.  Burns top scoring in the Isthmian Premier League title winning campaign and winning Player of the Year at Dartford. The former striker moved to right back until he left the Darts in 2016 after 278 appearances and 33 goals. Sam Higgins is the one the Rocks look towards for goals, the striker top scored in the National South last season with 25 goals and is leading the way for the Essex club this term with five so far.

With only Weston-super-Mare below the Rocks in the table, the Essex club are four points from safety. Manager, John Coventry outlined his thoughts in East Thurrock United’s matchday programme on Wednesday, he said: “No one at the club has given up on staying in this league, but the problems of working with a small budget are showing”. He added: “I’m not one to bang on about money, we are what we are and have to live within the means we know we have, but it does make a difference when talking to players. There are certainly some inflated wage structures in this division”, he continued: “Of course, when you’re getting a thousand coming through the turnstiles, it makes a world of difference. I have been making changes to the squad for varying reasons, and have brought in some new players who, I have to admit I did not know a great deal about”.

Head to Head

East Thurrock United wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 3 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

East Thurrock United (LLLWLD) Dartford (LWDLWW)
Concord Rangers H 0-2 Welling United A 0-2
Slough Town A 1-3 Hungerford Town H 2-1
Oxford City A 1-3 Slough Town H 1-1
Chelmsford City H 2-0 Torquay United H 0-2
Hampton and Richmond A 0-1 Hampton and Richmond A 1-0
Weston-super-Mare A 1-1 Oxford City H 3-2

Previous Meetings

27.08.2018 Dartford 2 East Thurrock United 0
17.04.2018 East Thurrock United 0 Dartford 1
28.08.2017 Dartford 0 East Thurrock United 1
07.01.2017 Dartford 6 East Thurrock United 1
10.09.2016 East Thurrock United 1 Dartford 1
30.04.2005 Dartford 0 East Thurrock United 3
28.08.2004 East Thurrock United 2 Dartford 1

Stats

On Boxing Day, Elliot Bradbrook, Lee Noble and Ryan Hayes all featured in Dartford’s starting eleven for the first time since the final day of last season at Bognor Regis Town.

Dartford’s competitive record in 2018 stands at…

Total – Won 25 Drawn 7 Lost 13 Scored 75 Conceded 55

Home – Won 15 Drawn 3 Lost 6 Scored 41 Conceded 27

Away – Won 10 Drawn 4 Lost 7 Scored 34 Conceded 28

On This Day

Dartford are unbeaten in their last five matches on 29 December, last playing out a 1-1 draw with Cambridge United in 2012. Harry Crawford’s goal for the Darts was cancelled out by Michael Gash at Princes Park. In 2009, Dartford swept aside Canvey Island 5-2 with two goals from Lee Burns and one each for Jamie Coyle, Rob Haworth and Danny Harris. The Darts drew 2-2 away to Aveley in 2007 and beat Bashley 1-0 at home in 2001 and defeated VS Rugby 2-0 at Watling Street in 1990.

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