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Torquay United v Dartford

Dartford make their second trip to Plainmoor on the weekend, this time taking on title challengers and second place Torquay United.

The Darts hope to record their first ever win against the Gulls and if they do so they could end the day in third place. Torquay United were leading the National South last weekend on goal difference, however a mid-week Woking win means the Devonshire club will be playing catch up, three points behind with a game in hand.

The attendance for Dartford’s last visit to Plainmoor was a mere 87 when they played Truro City, it’s safe to say a far bigger crowd will be watching this weekend. The hosts are looking to complete a double over the Darts after winning the reverse fixture in December 2-0. Gary Johnson’s side had to work hard for the victory after a much improved display from Dartford, who had the better chances in the first half. Those missed opportunities came back to haunt Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle’s side when Ruairi Keating volleyed into the roof of the net and Jamie Reid doubled the lead two minutes from time.

Elliot Bradbrook and Lee Noble were part of the squad last time Dartford played Torquay United at Plainmoor almost four years ago, although Noble was an unused substitute in the 0-0 draw. This year the duo will miss out through suspension after picking up too many yellow cards. The absence of Noble in Dartford’s previous fixture meant Joe Healy played his second game for the Darts in last weekend’s victory.

Dartford beat a struggling Gloucester City side at Princes Park thanks to a stunning Phil Roberts volley and a Charlie Sheringham penalty. Stretching their unbeaten run at home to eight, the Darts moved up to fifth in the National South despite not be at their very best. As well as Healy making his home debut, Callum Driver returned to the starting eleven for the first time since August replacing Mark Onyemah. Dartford took the lead just before the interval when Ryan Hayes found space on the right and picked out Roberts with a floating cross, Roberts watched the ball come down and hit a first time volley back across the goal into the far corner. Then seven minutes from time, the Darts won a penalty which Sheringham scored to make sure Dartford earned all three points.

Coyle praised his team after the game, the joint manager spoke to www.kentonlikne.co.uk and said: “I’m pleased with the result because it was tough conditions today. It wasn’t a good game of football to watch for the neutral but it was a real professional performance from the boys. We were a little bit scrappy in the first 10 minutes of the second half and they had a couple of half-chances where we switched off but overall it was a good collective performance”. After three games in a week, Coyle was also grateful that he could call up Healy in central midfield, he commented: “You could see there were a few tired legs out there, we’ve had three games in a week and some of the boys are pushing on 31, 32 but Joe Healy freshened it up for us. He’s come in, given us a hand again and done really well, got man-of-the-match”.

An unbeaten February helped Flanagan and Coyle to the Manager of the Month award, in that time they guided the Darts to three wins and two draws beating Woking twice along the way. March may have started with an away defeat to Dulwich Hamlet, but back to back victories mean the Darts have won five of their last seven.

In the home dugout Gary Johnson has got Torquay United back on track since taking over in September. The experienced boss has lifted the Gulls from fourteenth to second, as the Devonshire club bids to return to the National League at the first attempt. Torquay United climbed the table after going sixteen games unbeaten, which included a ten game winning streak. Since then pressure to claim the National South title could be playing its part in a few surprise results recently.

In the last eight games the Gulls have lost three times against Bath City, Welling United and in their last home outing versus bottom of the table side Weston-super-Mare. However, in that spell they have notched up impressive victories along the way including a 7-2 hammering of Oxford City and a 5-2 thrashing of Dulwich Hamlet. Despite the shock loss at home to Weston-super-Mare, Johnson’s side bounced back last weekend with a 2-0 win at Billericay Town, Jamie Reid scoring again to take his league tally to 23 for the campaign. Reid is on course for the Golden Boot, but Torquay United have plenty of firepower in their ranks top scoring in the division with 74 goals.

The league title is still in their hands, but with a run in which includes seven teams in the top half, including an away trip to league leaders Woking, it could go down to the wire and Dartford fans will know all about that.

Head to Head

Torquay United wins: 1 / Dartford wins: 0 / Draws: 2

Current League Form

Torquay United (WLWWLW) Dartford (WWLWDW)
Billericay Town A 2-0 Gloucester City H 2-0
Weston-super-Mare H 1-2 Hemel Hempstead Town A 2-1
East Thurrock United A 2-1 Dulwich Hamlet A 0-2
Dulwich Hamlet H 5-2 Woking H 2-0
Welling United A 0-2 Slough Town A 2-2
Hemel Hempstead Town A 4-1 Bath City H 3-0

Previous Meetings

04.12.2018 Dartford 0 Torquay United 2
04.04.2015 Torquay United 1 Dartford 1
23.08.2014 Dartford 0 Torquay United 0

Stats 

Phil Roberts has scored four goals in his last four games and since being at Dartford he’s managed eight goals in 13 starts for the club.

A Dartford win will make it three in a row for the first time since November, when they last won consecutive away league games.

Jamie Reid has scored ten goals in his last ten league games.

The Gulls have scored in each of their last 11 home games, but have conceded two or more in their last three matches at Plainmoor.

On This Day

Dartford’s last win on 16 March was fifteen years ago when they beat Sittingbourne 1-0 in the Southern League Division One East. Since then the Darts have lost their last two, in 2010 Boreham Wood won 2-1 in the Isthmian Premier with Dartford’s goal coming from Lee Burns. Three years later in the National League, Dartford were beaten 3-0 at Hyde. The Darts have not won away from home on this day since 1963 against Merthyr Tydfil, a run of three defeats and a draw.

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