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Dartford v Basingstoke Town

Dartford hope to take full advantage of relegated Basingstoke Town this weekend in a bid to reach the National South playoffs.

The race for what looks like the remaining playoff places is tight. Just four points separate fourth place Truro City and tenth place Concord Rangers. The Darts are sitting in sixth, level on points with fifth place side Maidenhead United.

Dartford will feel confident after all but ending their local rivals title challenge. A penalty scored by Elliot Bradbrook against his former club and an excellent first goal from Nathan Ferguson gave the Darts a 2-1 win over Maidstone United. Manager, Tony Burman who had missed the last few matches through illness returned to the dugout which will give his players a lift.

His return will be hard work as the Darts boss continues to have a selection headache after goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim dislocated his shoulder. It’s likely Ibrahim will be out for the remainder of the campaign, Burman told www.kentonline.co.uk: “His shoulder’s come out and gone back in and he’s got some swelling there and some fluid which is going to make it very difficult for him”.

Luckily, Burman signed Dean Gardikiotis on deadline day but also has academy goalkeeper Tony Coxall available, he added: “Dean’s been training with us for the last three months, looking for a club, and he’s been very patient. I signed him before the deadline”, he continued: “We’ve got an academy keeper as well in Tony Coxall but he’s a young lad”.

Outfield player Lee Burns played the reminder of the match against Maidstone United in goal replacing Ibrahim as a substitute. Earlier in the game Danny Harris went off injured with a hamstring problem. Tom Bradbrook is suffering the same fate and missed the last game, Jack Simmons is recovering from an ankle injury and Callum McNaughton has a fractured metatarsal. Paul Lorraine edges ever closer to fitness after a long term injury, the defender is still waiting to make début.

Victory on Saturday put the 3-0 loss at Truro City behind them. Together with recent wins over Maidenhead United and Bishop’s Stortford, plus the draw at league leaders Ebbsfleet United, Dartford hope momentum will continue to build.

Back in December, the Darts continued their good form against Basingstoke Town with a 1-0 win in windy conditions. An Elliot Bradbrook strike made sure the Darts recorded their fourth win in a row against the Hampshire side.

The last meeting between the clubs at Princes Park was in the National South playoff semi-final. Dartford followed up a 1-0 win at the Camrose with a 2-1 victory. In the league fixture that campaign, Danny Harris scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 triumph despite turning up late after taking an accountancy exam, Tony Garrod scored the other.

Now managed by Terry Brown, Basingstoke Town have not added to the squad since his appointment. The former Margate boss feels he has enough to work with as he looks to rebuild the club’s fortune, in the Southern Premier League next season.

Having been in charge for less than a month, Brown has released two coaches along with experienced midfielder James Harper and Ryan Case. The 63 year old decided that squad rotation until the end of the season will allow him time to assess his players before the summer.

That assessment began at home to Oxford City, the last win recorded by Basingstoke Town. Since then, the Hampshire side have lost to Concord Rangers, played two fixtures against Weston-Super-Mare gaining a point and were beaten by Gosport Borough on Tuesday night. Dan Wooden, Jason Bennett and Adam Wildde scored the goals to officially send the Dragons down even though Liam Enveer-Marum and Manny Williams netted for Basingstoke Town.

Enveer-Marum has been one of two bright sparks for Basingstoke Town this term. Along with Chris Flood, the pair have scored 28 goals between them in a struggling campaign. Flood top scored for the Dragons last term whilst former Ebbsfleet United and Braintree Town striker Enveer-Marum has averaged a goal every other game for the club.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 10 / Basingstoke Town wins: 3 / Draws 4

Current League Form

Dartford (WLWDWL) Basingstoke Town (LDLLWL)
Maidstone United A 2-1 Gosport Borough A 1-3
Truro City A 0-3 Weston-Super-Mare H 2-2
Maidenhead United H 2-0 Weston-Super-Mare A 1-2
Ebbsfleet United A 1-1 Concord Rangers H 0-2
Bishop’s Stortford H 3-1 Oxford City H 2-0
Havant & Waterlooville A 0-2 Whitehawk A 0-1

Last League Meeting at Princes Park

27 February 2012 – Dartford 4 Basingstoke Town 1 – attendance 783

Goalscorers: Harris (43, 53, 81), Garrod (78); Lake (56)

Darts lineup – Louis Wells, Matthew Jones, Adam Green, Tom Bonner, Luke Wilkinson, Tom Champion, Lee Noble, Jon Wallis, Jacob Erskine, James Rogers, Danny Harris (subs used: Tony Garrod, Ryan Hayes, Richard Graham)

Previous Meetings (* – National South playoff semi-final)

12.12.2015 Basingstoke Town o Dartford 1
06.05.2012* Dartford 2 Basingstoke Town 1
02.05.2012* Basingstoke Town 0 Dartford 1
27.02.2012 Dartford 4 Basingstoke Town 1
03.09.2011 Basingstoke Town 3 Dartford 2
12.03.2011 Basingstoke Town 2 Dartford 2
01.03.2011 Dartford 1 Basingstoke Town 0

Stats

A Dartford win will beat the record of three consecutive wins against Basingstoke Town. Last time they won three in row was between 1976 and 1980

4 – Dartford have won their last four home matches against Basingstoke Town

8 – The Darts have never lost to Basingstoke Town at home in eight games, picking up 6 wins and 2 draws going back to 1975

On This Day

A total of eighteen goals have been scored in the last three Dartford games on 16 April, that’s six goals per game. Three years ago, the Darts recorded a rare victory over Forest Green Rovers in the National League on the penultimate day of the season, goals coming from Danny Harris and two from Elliot Bradbrook. Dartford played another one of their bogey teams five years ago and were easily beaten 4-1 by Boreham Wood in the National South. The Darts thrashed Tilbury 6-2 in 2005, four days after former player Paul Sykes passed away. Other notable wins include a Southern Premier League triumph over Waterlooville which ended 5-1 in 1991 and an 8-0 victory in 1969 against Hastings United, Les Burns, John Stevens and Dougie Webb all scored braces in the Southern League First Division fixture.

Basingstoke Town v Dartford

Dartford hope to make one of their games in hand count against Basingstoke Town this weekend.

The Darts travel to Hampshire to face the side they beat in the National South playoff semi-final, three and half years ago. A win for Tony Burman’s side will potentially take them up to eighth place and within five points of the top five.

Dartford, unbeaten in five league fixtures take on the National South’s bottom club and have fond memories of their last meeting at The Camrose. A first half injury time strike by Lee Noble was enough to give the Darts a 1-0 first leg lead in the 2012 National South playoff semi-final. The second leg at Princes Park ended 2-1 with Elliot Bradbrook and Luke Wilkinson scoring either side of Shaun McAuley’s equaliser on the night.

Burman has led the Darts to three consecutive wins against Basingstoke Town, which began with a convincing 4-1 home triumph. However, the last league meeting at The Camrose ended 3-2 to the Hampshire club with Dartford coming from behind to lead 2-1,before being condemned to defeat.

In only their second away league fixture for two months, Dartford last won on their travels at the end of October. On the road goals have been hard to come by with an average of just a goal a game. In their most recent match, at home to Havant and Waterlooville there were plenty of goals. In form captain Elliot Bradbrook scored from the spot and before the break Danny Harris bundled over a second. Havant and Waterlooville hit back capitalising on a slow Dartford start, the Hawks scored a quick fire double to level the match with goals from Dan Strugnell and Matt Paterson. Elliot Bradbrook restored the lead, his fifth goal in his last four league games but the moment of the match belonged to Ebrima Adams, who netted his first ever senior goal.

Burman told www.dartfordfconline.com: “I was pleased with the first half performance in difficult conditions and I felt we deserved to come in in front with the two goal lead. I can’t explain what happened in the first ten minutes of the second half, but to me it’s frustration at its best”, he added: “On the plus side, this group that we have still fought back and scored two good goals and gained their composure for the last part of the game”.

Basingstoke Town exceeded expectations last term by reaching the playoffs, this time around they have been below par taking just 12 points. The results led to former manager Jason Bristow nobly stepping down just three weeks ago and replaced by Michael Gilkes. Bristow will remain with the club he’s been with for the last 16 years guiding the academy side. Gilkes makes the step up having been assistant manager, his first experience as a first team boss.

Gilkes wasted no time in changing the squad by signing Scottish under 21 international defender Dom Hyam on loan from Reading, a club the new boss has strong connections with from the eighties and nineties. Whilst, Will Salmon departed having only joined Basingstoke Town in the summer from Metropolitan Police.

In his first match in charge, Gilkes watched his side lose 2-1 to Havant and Waterlooville in the F.A Trophy third qualifying round. However, his debut at the helm in National South ended in a 2-1 away win over Bishops Stortford, Jay Gasson’s goal was cancelled out by Elliot Buchanan. The winner came from Hyam in injury time giving the hosts no time to respond.

The line up included top scorer Chris Flood, the striker netted 13 league goals last term and has ten in all competitions this campaign. Partnering the former Eastleigh and Dorchester Town striker was Liam Enveer-Marum. Familiar to the Darts from his spell with local rivals Ebbsfleet United, Enveer-Marum has fared well against Dartford scoring for the Fleet and whilst he was at Braintree Town.

Basingstoke Town have managed just one league win at The Camrose this season, which came after a winless opening 13 games. After the 3-1 victory over Whitehawk, the Hampshire side lost four in a row before the triumph at Bishops Stortford.

 

Head to Head

Basingstoke Town wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 9 / Draws: 4

Current League Form

Basingstoke Town (WLLLLW) Dartford (WDWWDL)
Bishop’s Stortford  A  2-1 Havant & Waterlooville  H  4-2
Maidstone United  H  0-1 Maidstone United  H  1-1
Truro City  A  0-2 Hayes & Yeading Utd  H  2-0
Concord Rangers  A  0-5 Bishop’s Stortford  A  2-1
Maidenhead United  A  3-4 Hemel Hempstead Town  H  2-2
Whitehawk  H  3-1 Wealdstone  A  0-2

Last Meeting at The Camrose

29 January 2011 – Basingstoke Town 0 Dartford 1 – attendance 1691

Goalscorer: Lee Noble

Darts lineup – Louis Wells, Lee Burns, Adam Green, Tom Bonner, Luke Wilkinson, Tom Champion, Lee Noble, James Rogers, Jacob Erskine, Elliot Bradbrook, Danny Harris

Previous Six Meetings (* – Playoff)

08.05.2012* Dartford 2 Basingstoke Town 1
02.05.2012* Basingstoke Town 0 Dartford 1
27.02.2012 Dartford 4 Basingstoke Town 1
03.09.2011 Basingstoke Town 3 Dartford 2
12.03.2011 Basingstoke Town 2 Dartford 2
01.03.2011 Dartford 1 Basingstoke Town 0

Stats

69% – Dartford have won nine of their 14 against Basingstoke Town since first meeting in the league in 1976

34 – Years since the Darts beat Basingstoke Town away in a regular league match

A win could put Dartford on top of the form table (last six games)

On This Day

Dartford last played on 12 December in 2009 beating Waltham Abbey 2-1 at Princes Park. Danny Dafter had a mixed afternoon scoring and getting sent off. Rob Haworth scored the other goal in the Isthmian Premier league encounter. In 1998, the Darts were involved in a seven goal thriller losing out 4-3 to Folkestone Invicta in the Southern League Southern.

National League South Season Preview 2015/2016 – Part One

Basingstoke Town | Bath City | Bishop’s Stortford | Chelmsford City

Basingstoke Town

Founded: 1896 / Ground: The Camrose

About to embark on their twelfth consecutive campaign at National South level, Basingstoke Town unexpectedly finished last term in third spot. At the beginning of April, the Hampshire club could have stolen the title sitting two points off the top with three matches to go. Instead they had to settle for their highest ever finish and repeat the playoff appearance of four years ago. A semi final defeat to Whitehawk denied Basingstoke Town the big shot at promotion. For a club often finishing in the bottom two thirds of the league, last season was proven to be more than successful.

Last SeasonBasingstoke Town

Conference South: 3rd

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: Chris Flood (13 goals)

Average Attendance: 602

The Manager – Jason Bristow

A knee injury led Jason Bristow to an early retirement after ten playing years with Basingstoke Town in central defence. Crowned the Fans Player of the Year on three occasions as well as picking up an Away Fans Player of the Season, Bristow became known as Mr Basingstoke following a community role and a testimonial. In February 2012, he was made caretaker boss following the departure of Frank Gray. An incredible end of season run earned his side a playoff spot and a permanent job.

The Summer

Trust has been placed in the squad that achieved an impressive third place. Top scorer Chris Flood secured terms for the new campaign along with Managers Player of the Year, David Ray. Tom Bird who was recognised in last season’s Conference South Team of the Year remains at The Camrose. The boss has managed to sign up goalkeeper Aaron Howe from Sutton United and defender Will Salmon from Metropolitan Police, who was named in the Isthmian Team of the Year. Simon Dunn, Nathan Smart, Robbie Rice, Jay Gasson and twice goalscorer against Dartford, Shaun McAuley are still at the Camrose three years on from the last time the club faced the Darts.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

6 May 2012 – Dartford 2 Basingstoke Town 1 – view highlights
The only other playoff semi final appearance also ended in defeat for Basingstoke Town. At Princes Park, Dartford secured a 3-1 aggregate victory winning 2-1 on the night. Elliot Bradbrook headed the Darts in front which was cancelled out by Shaun McAuley. Luke Wilkinson put the tie beyond doubt in a match that saw Delano Sam-Yorke sent off for the visitors.

2 May 2012 – Basingstoke Town 0 Dartford 1 – view highlights
At the Camrose, Dartford took a one goal lead thanks to the playoff hero of 2012, Lee Noble. In first half injury time, the creative midfielder scored the only goal of the game, a feat he would repeat in the final against local rivals Welling United.

27 February 2012 – Dartford 4 Basingstoke Town 1 – view highlights
Inspired by Danny Harris who grabbed a hat trick, the Darts won convincingly. Harris arrived late prior the game but he was unaffected with a fine performance. Tony Garrod scored the other goal for Dartford whilst Stuart Lake’s effort was merely a consolation.

3 September 2011 – Basingstoke Town 3 Dartford 2 – view highlights
A thoroughly entertaining fixture repeated the scoreline from the campaign before. Delano Sam-Yorke had the hosts ahead before Charlie Sheringham netted from the spot. Dartford went in front through Jon Wallis but it was Basingstoke Town’s turn to come from behind with a goal from Toby Little and a winner by Shaun McAuley.

Next Meetings

Saturday 24 November 2015 at The Camrose

Saturday 16 April 2016 at Princes Park

Last Ten Years

btfc last 10 years

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Bath City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Twerton Park

A brief flirtation with the Conference Premier just five years ago ended with a top ten finish then relegation the following season. Bath City may have experience of the top flight of non league football, being founder members of the Alliance League, but have spent the majority of their history at step two. Three campaigns in the Conference South have seen the Somerset side three points off the playoffs sandwiched between two mid table finishes. Last term was defined with a run to the F.A Trophy semi-finals where they lost to surprise winners North Ferriby United. The club are being backed by the fans who are trying to raise money during struggling times.

Last SeasonBath_City_FC

Conference South: 14th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: Semi-Finals

County Cup: Quarter-Finals

League Top Scorer: David Pratt (18 goals)

Average Attendance: 491

The Manager – Lee Howells

Apart from a brief playing spell in Australia, Lee Howells has spent his career in the West of England. As a midfielder, he made over 350 appearances for Cheltenham Town winning the 1998 F.A Trophy final. Howells was part of the Robins squad who won promotion to the Football League. His fledgling management career may have began in 2006 at Mangotsfield United, however the 46 year old spent five years away from any manager’s role before returning with Bath City. As an assistant he helped the Romans to promotion to the Conference Premier before being appointed boss in June 2012.

The Summer

Howells has gone for experience at the heart of defence starting with newly acquired goalkeeper Steve Phillips. Signed from his local team Shepton Mallet, Phillips has over 500 Football League appearances under his belt with both Bristol clubs and Crewe Alexandra. Defensive duo Sekani Simpson and Dan Ball sign new contracts and last season’s top scorer David Pratt commits to another campaign, the striker has scored 40 goals in 96 games for the Romans. Winger, Joe McClennan joins from Weston Super-Mare and attacking player Jon Davies from Paulton Rovers. Frankie Artus was a key player last term and the Manager’s Player of the Year will be part of the Bath City squad again.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

7 April 1990 – Dartford 0 Bath City 1
With both sides challenging for league title, Bath City put a serious dent in Dartford’s hopes. After the Darts lost to Chelmsford City, the visitors to Watling Street went home with all three points. Bath City would fall short by finishing runners up, one place above Dartford.

9 September 1989 – Bath City 0 Dartford 0
The Romans were the first side to take points off Dartford who had won their opening five Southern Premier League fixtures. Peter Taylor’s side were held to a goalless draw at Twerton Park and wouldn’t drop another point for three more matches.

Next Meetings

Saturday 5 September 2015 at Twerton Park

Saturday 16 January 2016 at Princes Park

Last Ten Years

bcfc last 10 years

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Bishop’s Stortford

Founded: 1874 / Ground: Woodside Park

Even a brief absence from the Conference South failed to break the consistency of Bishop’s Stortford. The Hertfordshire based club finished in the bottom third of the table for the previous three campaigns, whether in the southern or northern section of step two. The Bishops were forced to move from south to north in 2011 but returned after two years. Over the last decade, Bishop’s Stortford have produced one playoff appearance in 2007 and a four top ten finishes. The Bishops moment of glory came 34 years ago when they lifted the F.A Trophy and in the same season were crowned champions of Isthmian Division One.

Bishops stortfordLast Season

Conference South: 16th

F.A Cup: 1st Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Mikkel Suarez & Anthony Church (8 goals)

Average Attendance: 389

The Manager – Rod Stringer

Having been successful in his previous two managerial jobs, Stringer was appointed Bishop’s Stortford boss in December 2011. He took Aveley to the Isthmian League Division One North title in the 2008/09 campaign and earned a move to Braintree Town. Stringer guided the Iron to Conference South glory winning the championship four years ago. In that very summer the former non league player walked out of Braintree Town over a car dispute as well as the playing budget. Now the 40 year old believes with the right backing his team can reach the playoffs for the first time in nine attempts.

The Summer

A busy summer of new signings give cause for optimism as Rod Stringer tries to avoid a relegation battle like last term. Adam Bailey-Dennis and Elliot Buchanan won the Conference South just over three months ago and the pair joins from Bromley. Paul Goodacre, helped Dartford to promotion to the Conference Premier in 2012 and made a total 88 appearances for the club, the central defender departs East Thurrock United for Woodside Park. Also moving from Essex to Hertfordshire is Tom Lovelock from Chelmsford City and Jay Dowie from Concord Rangers. Former Welling United player DeReece Vandehyde joins from Maidenhead United and Billy Lobjoit switches from the north to south having played for Gainsborough Trinity last season. Meanwhile, former Dartford striker Mikkel Suarez agrees a new contract as well as joint top scorer Anthony Church.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

29 January 2011 – Bishop’s Stortford 0 Dartford 1 – view highlights
Dartford kept another clean sheet and with Charlie Sheringham’s 74th minute goal took home the three points. For the hosts it was their fifth straight defeat in a dreadful run of a fifteen winless games. The Darts hit a purple patch with four successive wins including three clean sheets.

24 August 2010 – Dartford 3 Bishop’s Stortford 0 – view highlights
Newly promoted Dartford took four games to register a first Conference South win and they did it comfortably. Danny Harris scored against his former club minutes before the visitors had a penalty saved by Andrew Young. The lead was doubled prior the break through Charlie Sheringham and Carl Rook wrapped things up with a third.

Next Meetings

Saturday 24 October 2015 at Woodside Park

Saturday 26 March 2016 at Princes Park

Last Ten Yearsbsfc last 10 years

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Chelmsford City

Founded: 1878 / Ground: Melbourne Stadium

Over the last two seasons Chelmsford City have not reached the levels of expectations set upon them. The 2007/08 Isthmian Premier League champions easily fitted in to a promotion push to non league’s top flight. Four playoff appearances in five years all ended in semi-final disappointment. The Clarets have had to settle for a lowly seventeenth place finish and an improved tenth spot in their last two campaigns. The Essex club have four Southern League titles in their honours list and with a sizeable support the club are waiting for the right ingredients to go beyond the National League South.

ChelmsfordCityFCLast Season

Conference South: 10th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: 4th Round

League Top Scorer: Michael Cheek (15 goals)

Average Attendance: 690

The Manager – Mark Hawkes

Vowing to ‘wake a sleeping giant’, Mark Hawkes has ambitions to attract the quality to push Chelmsford City to the next level. The Clarets boss jumped at the chance to manage the Essex club back in November 2013 when he moved up two divisions. Hawkes led Heybridge Swifts to second in the Isthmian Division One which grabbed the attention of Chelmsford City. Since his arrival at Melbourne Park, he has steadied the club after the club’s poor spell under Dean Holdsworth, steering the Clarets away from the relegation zone. Last season Hawkes guided Chelmsford City to a top ten finish in his first full campaign in charge.

The Summer

In April, the Clarets boss stated he needed experience and so the highlight for Chelmsford City fans is the return of midfielder Billy Bricknell, after spells with Ebbsfleet United and Maidstone United. Former loanee and Dartford defender Rory McAuley will add quality to the back four, with Conference Premier experience he spent a month on loan under Hawkes in 2013/14. Ashley Miller comes in from Bishop’s Stortford as Tom Lovelock goes the other way. Ashley Timms signs from Maidenhead United and Charlie Henry from Team Wellington.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

7 April 2012 – Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 0 – view highlights
Dropped points for the Darts put a dent in the Conference South title quest, whilst a point for the Clarets aided their playoff aspirations. The visitors were resilient in defence and when Dartford’s Luke Wilkinson was dismissed in the closing stages a 0-0 draw seemed inevitable.

27 August 2011 – Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0 – view highlights
The Darts led the Conference South table in its fledgling stages and prior kick off were unbeaten. Whilst the Darts run continued they were knocked off top spot dropping to third. Not for the first time the deadlock wasn’t broken in a match where the defence came out tops.

Next Meetings

Saturday 26 December 2015 at Melbourne Stadium

Saturday 2 January 2016 at Princes Park

Last Ten Years

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Conference South Playoff Previews

Dartford v Basingstoke Town (1-0 on aggregate)

Dartford take a slender lead going into Sunday’s Conference South Playoff Second Leg at Princes Park.

On Wednesday night Lee Noble’s fine strike on the stroke of half time ensured The Darts gained what could be a crucial advantage.

Danny Harris celebrates his hat trick goal in February

James Rogers had a shot tipped over by the experienced Ashley Bayes and the Basingstoke Town goalkeeper also denied Danny Harris from close range. Louis Wells pulled off a stunning save to keep the scores level until Noble put The Darts in front with an excellent drilled shot from the edge of the box.

Basingstoke Town controlled the second half and a resilient display from Dartford’s defence ensured they went home with a clean sheet. Wells continued to make important saves and after a number of goal line clearances by The Darts, Basingstoke’s Shaun McAuley missed an open goal. The Darts managed to hold on and will hope to make home advantage in the second leg on Sunday count.

Tony Burman spoke to PURE DFC after the first leg, he said: “You want to get something from the away game whether it’s a draw or a win. We’ve managed to win the game”, he added: “I thought we were organised and I felt the players did excellent. We know it’s half time and it’s not done by a long way”.

Earlier in the season Danny Harris put in a fantastic performance netting a hat trick in a win 4-1.  Harris opened the scoring two minutes before the break with a great finish drilled low into the net. In the second half The Darts upped their game and Harris doubled his goal tally for the night by following up Tom Champion’s header with one of his own. Three minutes later a Basingstoke Town free kick was bundled over the line by Stuart Lake to half the deficit. With twelve minutes remaining substitute Tony Garrod sealed the match thanks to some hard work from Harris. The icing was on the cake nine minutes from time when Harris completed a hat trick with a curling effort into the bottom corner.

Dartford also won the meeting at Princes Park last season when a calamitous own goal by Callum Reynolds separated the two sides. After Lee Noble’s deflected shot hit the cross bar the ball hit Reynolds on the way down and over the line.

The Darts will be hoping to add to their home successes in 2012 and progress to the final which will be staged on their own turf.

Did you know…

Dartford finished the season with the best home record in the Conference South amassing 49 points the same as Woking. The Darts finished with a better goal difference of +33 to Woking’s +25

The Darts recorded 8 consecutive home wins from 2 January 2012 to 31 March 2012 the best home run by any Conference South club this season, In 2012 they only dropped four points at Princes Park when they drew their last two home matches

Basingstoke Town are currently on their best league run away from The Camrose. The Dragons are unbeaten in six having won five and drawing the final game of the season which clinched a playoff spot.

The Dragons suffered the heaviest away defeat of the season when they last played Dartford at Princes Park on 27 February 2012

Welling United v Sutton United (2-1 on aggregate)

Welling United also won there away fixture on Wednesday night to take a goal lead into the second leg.

Lee Clarke will miss the second leg through suspension but he made amends with the opening goal after 24 minutes. Dean Cracknell’s cross was finished by Clarke’s diving header to give The Wings the lead.

Sutton United levelled in the second half after 66 minutes when The U’s top scorer Craig Watkins sent in a cross which deflected and wrong footed goalkeeper Craig Holloway.

The Wings grabbed a winner just four minutes later when tricky Loick Pires picked out Joe Healy who flicked the ball beyond Kevin Scriven to make it 2-1.

Jamie Day knows his side still has a job to do and urges his side to finish off the job. The player manager hopes to guide The Wings to the top flight of non league football for the first time since 1999/2000.

Paul Doswell hopes his side overturns a 2-1 deficit

Sutton United manager Paul Doswell believes the first goal is important and his side is still in with a chance. The U’s manager aims for the same approach as Wednesday and does not want to ‘go gung-ho’ from the start.

Last time the two sides met at Park View Road the fixture ended 0-0.  The Wings will be encouraged by almost going unbeaten at home for the entire season. The only league defeat suffered happened three weeks ago when Eastleigh got the better of Welling United. The U’s have had a patchy season away from home and since the turn of the year they have scored just nine times on the road winning on three occasions.

Did you know…

Welling United went an incredible 19 games without defeat at home this season and ended up with the third best home record. The Wings were two games away before their only defeat from going unbeaten all season at home. Only Newport County AFC managed to go unbeaten at home in the Conference South in 2009/10.

On two occasions Sutton United managed three consecutive clean sheets on the road in the league. Only Boreham Wood went longer without conceding an away goal.

The U’s lost their final away fixture but have not been defeated in successive away league games this season.

Conference South Playoff Preview

Basingstoke Town (5th) v Dartford (2nd)

Dartford will have to overcome Basingstoke Town over two legs to reach the playoff final and be in with a chance of promotion.

The Darts finished runners up in only their second season in the Conference South. Thanks to an incredible 2012 and keeping the title race alive longer than expected, Tony Burman’s side can be proud of what they have achieved so far but we hope to go a step further.

Dartford face a first leg playoff tie at The Camrose on Wednesday night

From the outset the playoffs were the main target for Dartford and since the first match in August they have remained in the top five. With many people writing off the title when Woking were 17 points clear at the end of 2011, The Darts did cut the deficit to four points at one stage before their chances ended on 14 April 2012.

Dartford’s form has included 15 wins, 3 draws and 2 defeats in 2012, where The Darts have dropped just four points at Princes Park this year and they were in their last two home fixtures. On their travels Dartford three of their last four fixtures drawing the final game of the season 1-1 down at Truro City. Barry Hayles looked to have won the match with three minutes to spare but good work from Tony Garrod set up Jacob Erskine in injury time to level with the last kick of the league season.

Luke Wilkinson returned for The Darts after his suspension and his pairing with Tom Bonner at the back has been solid since he joined on loan from Dagenham and Redbridge. Elliot Bradbrook has chipped in with 14 goals from midfield, Danny Harris top scored with 15 goals and will test defences with his pace.

Basingstoke Town gatecrashed the playoffs last week stealing the final spot from Chelmsford City. The Dragons spent most of the season hovering around the top ten but are the form side going into the play offs. Eight wins from their final ten fixtures propelled them into the top five. The Hampshire club staved off Chelmsford City on the final day with a 1-1 away draw at Welling United, Chelmsford failed to beat champions Woking to ensure Basingstoke Town finished four points clear.

Delano Sam-Yorke has often been a thorn in Dartford's side

It is no surprise the form Basingstoke Town are on coincides with Delano Sam-Yorke’s return from injury. The striker has top scored for the Hampshire club with 14 goals including one against The Darts, he also scored twice at The Camrose against Dartford last season. Manager Jason Bristow was only appointed in February replacing Frank Gray. Bristow is able to call upon the experienced Tim Sills up front who has netted a dozen times and midfielder Shaun McAuley who has ten goals to his name.

At The Camrose over the past two seasons Basingstoke Town have the advantage. In September, Delano Sam-Yorke opened the scoring on six minutes when he was left with too much space to power the ball beyond Derren Ibrahim. Charlie Sheringham scored from the penalty spot after a retake ten minutes later and Adam Green’s deflected free kick put The Darts ahead. The lead lasted just two minutes when Toby Little’s free kick wrong footed Ibrahim. Shaun McAuley put away a second half winner on 53 minutes.

Last season the journey to Hampshire in March ended in a 2-2 draw. Sam-Yorke opened the scoring in the first minute with supporters still taking up position on the terrace. The lead didn’t last long when Ryan Hayes scored from an excellent solo effort just three minutes later. Danny Harris put The Darts in front mid-way through the first half and Sam-Yorke equalised fifteen minutes later. The second half was just as entertaining with the woodwork being hit by both sides but both teams failed to score.

Did you know…

Dartford have scored in the most amount of league games, netting at least one goal 38 times out of 42

The Darts have lost just twice in their last 22 league matches

Dartford also have the tightest defence conceding 0.95 goals per league game

Basingstoke Town have lost one out of their last eleven league games

The Dragons’ 5th place finish was their highest in the Conference South

Sutton United (4th) v Welling United (3rd)

Sutton United have had a tremendous first season in the Conference South despite getting off to the worst possible start. After losing 5-0 to Woking in their opener they entered the top five back in September and never looked back. Under the guidance of Paul Doswell, The Surrey club consistently put runs together to finish in fourth place.

Sutton United have lost just three league games in two years at home

Up front The U’s have been grateful for the goals Craig Watkins have scored as well as midfielder Harry Beautyman’s. In the last two seasons Sutton United can rely on the solid foundations provided by just three league defeats at Ganders Green Lane. Highlights have include a five game winning streak in February and March and a ten match unbeaten run in September and October resulting in 26 goals and only five conceded. During that spell The U’s recorded their biggest win of the season beating Salisbury City 5-0.

Last season’s Isthmian Premier League champions have eased off a bit towards the tail end of their campaign by winning twice in the final eight fixtures. The run started with a 6-1 defeat at Dartford and as the goals have dried up The U’s are the most out of form team out of the playoff contenders.

The Wings led the Conference South in September for six games before the eventual champions Woking took control. Welling United looked at one stage contenders to pip Dartford and Woking but that was short lived back in early March. After a win at Chelmsford City, The Wings were six points behind top spot. Without back to back away wins since August, inconsistency on their travels denied Welling United a better challenge for the title.

Jamie Day: During his spell with The Darts, now managing Welling United

Jamie Day’s team dropped out of the playoffs with two games to go last season and after two years of financial difficulties a third place finish is more than credible. The Wings lost Andrew Pugh to Cambridge United in January and his 16 league goals is still more than any other Welling player. In fact only two players in the Conference South have scored more times. Despite the departure of the prolific scorer the Kent club have a more than capable squad.

At Ganders Green Lane the two sides were involved in a seven goal thriller back in December. Tommy Kavangah scored from 25 yards to give Sutton a twelfth minute lead. A minute later the scores were level when Welling’s Pugh tucked away from eight yards. The goals continued to flow when Beautyman drilled in the third of the game after just 16 minutes. The sides went in level at half time when on 25 minutes Luis Cumbers made it 2-2.

With the first half being a difficult act to follow the second 45 minutes lived up to expectations. Three goals in five minutes started off when Cumbers completed a brace in the 73rd minute to put the Kent side in front with a well taken volley. However in the space of a minute it was level again with a Sam Page header and the turnaround was completed thirteen minutes from time as Craig Watkins nodded in the winner from a yard out.

Did you know…

Sutton United have kept the most clean sheets this season. The U’s have not conceded in 16 of their league games, only matched by Woking

The U’s finished in the highest league position since the Conference South was formed. Previously they spent four years in the division recording 15th, 13th and 14th place finishes before relegation in 2008 as the bottom club

Welling United have scored 37 goals on the road this season, only Woking have netted more times away from home

The Wings are unbeaten in four away fixtures, a season’s best. Even better, they have not conceded away from home in the last six hours and forty four minutes of football

Records versus playoff teams

Team Won Drawn Lost For Against Points GD
Dartford 4 1 1 15 6 13 +9
Sutton United 3 1 2 8 11 10 -3
Welling United 1 3 2 6 7 6 -1
Basingstoke Town 1 1 4 6 11 4 -5


Dartford v Basingstoke Town

Dartford’s busy schedule continues on Monday when they prepare for the visit of Basingstoke Town.

Due to an England ‘C’ international the club had to rearrange the initial fixture meaning this will be Dartford’s second home match in three days.

Adam Green fires his free kick goal wards

Last time Dartford met Basingstoke at Princes Park was in March last year. In a tight affair The Darts ran out 1-0 winners thanks to an own goal. On sixty five minutes Lee Noble took a long range shot at goal which was spilt by goalkeeper Chay Morris onto his own crossbar. Defender Callum Reynolds could not stop in time to watch as the ball rebound of his chest and into the empty net.

The Darts managed to get back to winning ways on Saturday after two defeats without scoring against Woking in the league and Wealdstone in the cup. Goals from Jacob Erskine and James Rogers ensured Dartford ran out 2-0 winners to complete the league double over Salisbury City. It is the third home league fixture in a row in which Dartford have kept a clean sheet.

Dartford’s win over the Wiltshire club means Tony Burman’s side have moved back up to second. Bromley’s surprise 1-0 victory against Chelmsford City inflicted The Clarets first away defeat of the season. Woking were held to a 1-1 against relegation threatened Hampton and Richmond. Chelmsford City and Woking’s failure to obtain all three points mean The Darts go into Monday nights fixture with Basingstoke Town twelve points behind the leaders with two games in hand.

Delano Sam-Yorke has often been a thorn in Dartford's side

The Dragons surprisingly announced last week the departure of manager Frank Gray and his assistant Gerry Murphy despite the club being in mid table. Jason Bristow will take charge on Monday night with Kevin Braybrook alongside him.

Bristow’s first game in charge ended in triumph when his side beat bottom of the table Thurrock 3-1. Tim Sills opened the scoring on eighteen minutes, Wes Daley scored from the spot and McAuley put the home side three up after just half an hour. Thurrock’s consolation came ten minutes from time.

Away from The Camrose, Basingstoke Town have lost their last three games and have struggled in front of goal. The Hampshire club could be difficult to breakdown though as they have one of the best defensive records in the league.

Statistics (league only)

Dartford (2nd) v Basingstoke Town (9th)

Current Form

Last five Dartford matches at home Last five Basingstoke Town matches away
Won 2-0 v Salisbury City Lost 0-1 v Sutton United
Won 6-0 v Thurrock Lost 0-1 v Farnborough
Won 1-0  v Welling United Lost 1-2 v Weston Super-Mare
Drew 1-1 v Dorchester Town Won 3-1 v Bromley
Lost 2-3 v Woking Drew 1-1 v Maidenhead United

Attendances

Dartford average home attendance: 1278

Highest home attendance: 2559 v Welling United/ Lowest: 924 v Dorchester Town

Basingstoke Town average away attendance: 483

Highest away attendance: 861 v Dover Athletic/ Lowest: 202 v Boreham Wood

Did you know…

Dartford have only conceded 11 times in the second half of league matches, the fewest by any team this season.

The Darts have also scored the most in the second half netting 35 goals.

The Dragons have failed to score on their travels in the Conference South for 232 minutes.

Only Chelmsford City (12 goals) have conceded fewer league goals away from home and fewer first half goals home and away than Basingstoke Town


Basingstoke Town v Dartford

Dartford will aim to extend their unbeaten run to seven on Saturday with a trip to The Camrose.

After two successive draws away from Princes Park, The Darts travel to Basingstoke Town who have recorded two wins, two draws and two defeats so far.

Ryan Hayes celebrates with the Dartford fans at The Camrose

Last season the journey to Hampshire in March ended in a 2-2 draw. Delano Sam-Yorke opened the scoring in the first minute with supporters still taking up position on the terrace. The lead didn’t last long when Ryan Hayes scored from an excellent solo effort just three minutes later. Danny Harris put The Darts in front mid-way through the first half and Sam-Yorke equalised fifteen minutes later. The second half was just as entertaining with the woodwork being hit by both sides but both teams failed to score. An own goal by Basingstoke’s Callum Reynolds separated the two sides just eleven days earlier as Dartford won by a single goal at Princes Park.

Dartford have faced a tough start to their away campaign with a long journey to Weston Super-Mare which ended in an emphatic 4-0 win and two successive draws against Kent rivals Dover Athletic and Chelmsford City, who have become a nemesis for The Darts. Taking five points from nine on the road has complimented the 100% home form and leaves Tony Burman’s team in third place.

Burman spoke to PURE DFC, he said: “Obviously the Dover and Chelmsford games were tough games and I’m sure they will be both up there. We were disappointed we did not get three points at Dover. Saturday against Chelmsford I felt we didn’t play the ball around as well as we have been but we felt we did all the dirty work well and I think it was a fair result to get a point”.

After the 3-1 victory against Bromley on Bank Holiday Monday Dartford occupy third place which has please Bruman, he added: “It’s early days but it’s nice to be where we are and we’ve done it in a little bit of style. We’ve played some of the best sides in that run. I’m really plaesed the players have worked reall really hard”.

Basingstoke Town opened their season with maximum points in the first two matches by defeating Eastleigh and Weston Super-Mare. However, The Dragons have failed to win the last four matches picking up just two more points, losing their last to fixtures at The Camrose.

The Camrose: Home of Basingstoke Town FC

Despite the indifferent form for the Hampshire side Burman knows it will not be easy at the Camrose, he commented: “They’ve made a hell of a lot of signings and they are a good side especially at home. We are going to go and try and win the game and that’s what we’ll endeavour to do. If play like we did against Bromley and Dover we have a good chance of doing that”.

Last season The Dragons managed to finish in their highest position since their debut in the Conference South. Basingstoke’s inconsistencies rarely saw them in the top ten and a lack of goals away from home is a weakness Frank Gray is focusing on. Sam-Yorke has joined from AFC Wimbledon along with the experienced former Aldershot Town and Torquay United front man Tim Sills.Gray has also gone for experience at the back too by clinching the signing of Shaun McAuley from Eastleigh and a number of ex Conference Premier players (Ashley Bayes, Wilson Gondwe, Toby Little and Rob Gradwell).

It was an entertaining affair last time at The Camrose, let’s hope for more of the same.

Did you know…

If Dartford avoid defeat they match their longest unbeaten league run from last season of seven games.

Season Review Part Nine– A look back on 2010/2011

9 – March – Heading To Safety

Lucky Winner

After a fantastic February Dartford players and supporters were keen to begin March after a rare Saturday off. The Darts hosted Basingstoke Town on a Tuesday night with just two points separating the sides. For once this season Dartford were looking at the teams to catch rather than the teams hot on their heels, confidence in the team had turned for the better.

Although the first half was lacklustre with only half chances for either side the match was still in the balance. Basingstoke created their best chance mid-way through the first half when Frankie Raymond’s tremendous volley from the edge of the box looked goal bound, Andrew Young was equal to the Raymond’s skill and expertly tipped the ball over the crossbar. At half time the scores with level with neither team scoring. Dartford’s best opportunity came from Elliot Bradbrook’s volley which tested the alert Chay Morris who palmed the ball out for a corner. Billy Burgess was cautioned for a desperate challenge on the edge of his own box and just before half time Greg Draper went down running slightly away from goal, Burgess was the culprit again. The referee called Burgess over, oh no this looks ominous we thought, phew no card.

The second half favoured The Darts has the breeze picked up behind them. Jon Main shot wide from ten yards and Charlie Sheringham’s effort was well blocked. Basingstoke should have gone in front when Greg Draper headed wide from just five yards.

Callum Reynolds

Then on sixty five minutes a comedy yet unfortunate piece of misjudgement changed the game.  Dartford would not allow Basingstoke out of their half by pressing hard. Possession was won and Lee Noble picked up the loose ball which stayed glued to his feet. Unchallenged Noble continued to drive forward and unleashed a shot from 25 yards. Morris opted to catch the powerful strike but it slipped through his grasp, slowly the ball looped up onto the top of the cross bar and as it fell the unfortunate Callum Reynolds ran straight at the ball which hit his chest and over the line, comedy, fortunate but a Dartford goal nonetheless. From then on Dartford played better and hung on to victory.

Dartford 1 Basingstoke Town 0 – Highlights

The Late Show

Maidenhead United was on the slide and fast and they were next up at Princes Park. The Magpies had one victory to their name in the last 16 matches, scoring goals was not Maidenhead forte. Dartford only experienced one defeat in their last ten, a foregone conclusion?

Maidenhead started brightly and on just five minutes a quick turn from Kieran Knight and a delicious shot struck the corner of the cross bar. Andrew Young’s reflexes were required when a counter attack caught out The Darts; Young palmed the ball single headedly over the bar.

Charlie Sheringham blew a one on one chance on the half hour and the follow up by Lee Burns was headed over by the retreating defender. Burns, last season top scorer had still to break his duck; the crowd was urging Burnsy to score. Dartford looked like they could break the deadlock but a scuff here and a poor final touch in the box kept the game goalless.

Maidenhead United struck the cross bar for the second time in the match in the second half. The Magpies should have edged in front before the sixty minute mark when Young saved one on one but was rounded on the rebound only for the shot to hit the side netting.

Tony Burman, often questioned about his late substitution took action early. On the hour he replaced Lee Burns and Jon Main with Ryan Hayes and Danny Harris. The game turned and The Darts started to find some rhythm. Matt Jones launched a throw in to the near post and Bradbrook flicked the ball on, Sheringham pounced from close range heading into the net, the crowd erupted with relief.

Captain Bradbrook makes it two for The Darts

Victory was finally sealed two minutes from time. Ryan Hayes was sent down the right wing and looked up to spot Bradbrook at the far post. A low curling cross found the captain who took his chance well, 2-0. In the last minute the score was increased when Bradbrook scored again from another Hayes cross. The header from Bradbrook was too much for the Maidenhead goalkeeper who could only palm the ball in the side of the goal, 3-0, and third consecutive clean sheet and win, almost safe.

Dartford 3 Maidenhead United 0 – Highlights

Darts Demolish Whitstable

A mid-week Kent Senior Cup tie against Whitstable Town gave Deren Ibrahim and Adam Burchell their run out. Tony Burman’s men swept aside Isthmian Division One South side Whitstable Town in the last eight to record their biggest win of the season. Danny Harris opened the scoring on eight minutes when he pounced on a defensive error to curl the ball into the bottom corner from just outside the box. Whitstable levelled the tie five minutes later when a well worked move was finished by Lloyd Blackman. Just before the break, loanee Jon Main placed a sublime right footed curler into the top corner to make it 2-1.

Adam Burchell made it three by tapping into the empty net from inside the six yard box. The Darts hit the post and had a goal chalked off for offside before Tom Bonner added a fourth from two yards out as he reacted quickly to a rebound. Minutes later a deep cross from Ryan Hayes was kept in play by Burchell’s flick and finished off coolly by Charlie Sheringham. Another Dartford goal was ruled out for offside before Hayes’ free kick was nodded in for Burchell’s second and Dartford’s sixth. Dartford easily negotiated their way to the semi-finals.

Dartford 6 Whitstable Town 1 – Kent Senior Cup Quarter Final Highlights

Draw at The Camrose

Yes it’s a cliché in football but the trip to The Camrose really was a game of two halves. A very entertaining first forty five was followed up by a goalless stalemate in the second half. With Dartford fans still settling in the ground after a tipple at the bar, Delano Sam-Yorke got Basingstoke off to an explosive start by netting inside the first minute, an absolute shocker to concede. It was just a punt out of defence which led to a chase between Sam-Yorke and Joe Bruce, the Basingstoke striker made up the ground and poked the ball past the onrushing Andrew Young.

It took three more minutes for a bit of Ryan Hayes magic when his double step over was followed by skipping past an oncoming defender, this gave Hayes the necessary room to curl a low shot into the far corner, a brilliantly taken goal from the edge of the box. Twenty minutes later Hayes took free kick just of centre about 25 yards out, he curled the ball but Chay Morris touched the ball on the post.  The ball was kept alive and crossed towards Charlie Sheringham whose header was cleared off the line, however Danny Harris arrived late at the far post and bundled the ball into the net, Dartford had the lead. The lead was to last a quarter of an hour even though Dartford was in control, the tormentor was Sam-Yorke again. The striker cut inside waltzed through the defence and hit a hard low shot beyond Young.

Ryan Hayes scores with a fantastic solo effort

An exhilarating first half outshone the second which did still have its moments and continued to be played at a high tempo. Matthew Pattinson exquisite chip over Young looked like Basingstoke was going to take the lead, only for Young to magnificently tip the ball over. Elliot Bradbrook came close for The Darts and Pattison again caused trouble when his long range effort had Young rooted to the spot. The inside of the post saved Dartford, the scores stayed level. The woodwork took a battering, Matt Jones, Lee Burns, Tom Champion and Sheringham linked up. Charlie skilfully chested the ball down and on the volley hit a beauty, surely goal of the season, thud, the cross bar rocked again. Finally in the last five minutes Stuart Lake was left in space to win the game for Basingstoke, Dartford defenders watched on and was relieved when the ball again hit the woodwork. What an entertaining draw.

Basingstoke Town 2 Dartford 2 – Highlights

Goalless

Not every game can be as entertaining as the last but Dartford fans were happy with the result considering a) the poor record against Eastleigh b) it was another point towards our total and safety and c) Eastleigh looked the better side. Tony Burman’s side looked tired but put in enough effort to earn the draw. Andrew Young was kept busy, Eastleigh struck the cross bar twice and The Darts worked hard to keep The Spitfires at bay. Not a pleasant evening for entertainment but no one in a Dartford shirt cared, a point is a point.

Dartford 0 Eastleigh 0 – Highlights

The Darts are defeated at Wheatsheaf Park

Staines Massive

An away trip to Staines Town had Dartford eyeing up a top ten finish. The Swans was close enough in the league for this match to have some significance. Wheatsheaf Park was brought to life on four minutes when the home side went in front from a quick break finished by Andre Scarlett. Lee Burns squandered a chance to equalise as his search for his first goal of the season continued. Unfortunately the lead was doubled when Elliot Onochie cut into the box and set up Scott Taylor who made it two. Staines Town continued to control the game, Andrew Young made some vital saves but the Middlesex side were comfortable winners. Not all bad though it was only a second defeat in 13 matches for The Darts.

Staines Town 2 Dartford 0 – Highlights

Charlie Finds His Goal Scoring Boots

At this stage of the season there was only one side Dartford had not yet played and this was St Albans City. The Saints were in turmoil after a ten point deduction back and a run of six defeats out of seven in February. The Hertfordshire club did pick up form before the meeting at Princes Park by winning two in a row and holding league leaders Braintree Town. St Albans were as good as relegated due to their deduction of points and so some of the pressure was off their players. Dartford was as good as safe but with their eyes on a top ten finish.

Early on Lee Noble’s energetic run down the flank resulted in a cross to the far post which Charlie Sheringham headed downwards onto the foot of the post. Then when Lee Burns was sent through the moment everyone was waiting for arrived, surely his first goal of the season? Burns delicately cushioned a volley over the onrushing goalkeeper but the ball could not come down soon enough, the crowd groaned in desperation for Burnsy to score the elusive goal.

The Darts was looking bright and St Albans plugged away creating a few half chances. On 33 minutes The Saints attacked and Inih Effiong’s run was not picked out. He strolled through the gaping hole in the defence and as the ball fell to his feet he side footed the ball in off the post and so The Saints took the lead, a lead which lasted all of two minutes. A clever free kick from Dartford levelled the scores. Noble ran over the dead ball and past the right of the wall, James White shaped to shoot but passed to Noble. The effective midfielder cut inside one man took a shot which was parried into the path of Sheringham, 1-1. The first half included a 20 man brawl when Matt Jones went over the top with a lunging tackle; the referee booked a handful of players. Dartford also hit the crossbar and from two rebounds goalkeeper Paul Bastock somehow kept The Darts at bay.

Charlie Sheringham celebrates another goal

The second half followed suit and was packed with incidents too.  Danny Harris waltzed into the box for his scuffed effort was smothered by Bastock. On 51 minutes a long clearance was chased down by Burns he managed a shot/pass across goal and Sheringham outpaced the defender to tap in at the far post. Yet again the lead lasted a few minutes; Effiong’s persistent running and hold up play earned St Albans a reward when his measured cross was met by the head of Ollie Kelly to level the match. James White was then dismissed for the second time of the season when he was cautioned for a second time.

With a numerical advantage The Saints missed a sitter, hit the cross bar and was denied by Andrew Young in the Dartford goal. Tony Burman replaced Sheringham with Jon Main and Noble with Ryan Hayes, two changes which could have proved crucial. In the last minute Main chased Young’s drop kick, Bastock spilled the ball and Main applied pressure to Bastock. Bastock hauled Main down in the box, a penalty was awarded. Hayes grabbed the ball as quickly as he could sense a winner. He placed the ball on the spot, ran up and struck the ball left footed. Bastock had guessed the wrong way, thwack. The ball hit the post the game ended 2-2.

Dartford 2 St Albans City 2 – The Highlights

Super Shezza

Tony Burman signed James Rogers before the match against Lewes and handed him his first start in a Dartford shirt. The Darts were solid and the struggling Lewes side failed to get going in a fixture they needed to win to help boost their survival hopes.

Rogers made an impressive debut and coupled with Lee Burns’ endless running The Darts was in control. Burns volleyed narrowly wide in the first minute, he was getting closer. Lee Noble’s rasping volley on the edge of the box was parried, Lewes experienced an early onslaught. Three minutes later Princes Park witnessed a moment of pure magic. The ball bounced between two Lewes defenders and Danny Harris who anticipated the bounce pounced, the ball sat up nicely and he unleashed a corker of a volley across the goalkeeper and into the top corner.

Burns tried and tried to score again but could not apply the finishing touches missing a one on one. The crowd felt his frustration but continued urge him on. Then on 25 minutes super Charlie Sheringham doubled the lead at the far post with a header in off the bar, a scrappy but deserved second. In the second half Ryan Hayes was introduced again by Burman and caused Lewes problems. His chip forward found fellow substitute Jon Main who looped a cross towards Sheringham. Charlie expertly chested the ball, turned and hooked his shot low into the near post, a splendid move and a second brace in two games for Sheringham.

Dartford 3 Lewes 0 – Highlights

Marching On

The Darts had climbed up to twelfth place with a solid run of games. Tony Burman lost the services of striker Jon Main who returned to his parent club. Main was then loaned back out to rivals Dover Athletic causing a minor stir. Farnborough closed the gap at the top to just one with a tremendous March, they stretched their superb run to eight wins and a draw without defeat. Braintree Town were difficult to beat but tended to be drawing more games. Woking’s exceptional form propelled them into the playoffs at the expense of Chelmsford City. Throughout February and March Woking had won eleven, lost one and drew one, keeping ten clean sheets. St Albans City was twelve points adrift of safety with Maidenhead United and Lewes making up the bottom three, Thurrock had a four point cushion. With a month to go the title was open and the relegation battle continued.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Braintree Town 35 22 7 6 65 29 +36 73
2 Farnborough 35 22 6 7 72 38 +34 72
3 Welling United* 36 22 6 8 74 42 +32 67
4 Ebbsfleet United 35 18 10 7 62 46 +16 64
5 Woking 35 18 8 9 49 33 +16 62
6 Eastleigh 34 18 6 10 60 43 +17 60
7 Chelmsford City 36 18 8 10 69 45 +24 62
8 Dover Athletic 35 18 6 11 67 45 +22 60
9 Havant and W 33 15 7 11 50 40 +10 52
10 Bromley 36 13 11 12 41 51 -10 50
11 Staines Town 35 11 13 11 44 46 -2 46
12 Dartford 35 11 12 12 46 46 0 45
13 Weston-super-Mare 36 13 7 16 47 53 -6 46
14 Basingstoke Town 35 10 10 15 39 50 -11 40
15 Hampton and Richmond 34 8 13 13 40 45 -5 37
16 Dorchester Town 35 9 10 16 43 52 -9 37
17 Boreham Wood 35 8 10 17 46 62 -16 34
18 Bishop’s Stortford 35 9 6 20 37 71 -34 33
19 Thurrock 36 7 11 18 42 68 -26 32
21 Lewes 36 7 7 22 29 63 -34 28
22 Maidenhead United 34 6 8 20 31 60 -29 26
20 St Albans City** 36 6 12 18 35 60 -25 20

*Welling United deducted five points

**St Albans City deducted ten points

Stuart Maidment

Photos courtesy of Dave Adkins, videos courtesy of Ray Cherry.