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Dartford v Boston United

Dartford return to F.A Trophy action this weekend with a home tie against Conference North side Boston United.

The Darts last played The Pilgrims in an F.A Cup match twelve years ago. That day the fourth qualifying round fixture ended 1-1 at Watling Street. Dartford bowed out in a replay having been defeated 2-1 by the then Conference side. The last league meetings between the two clubs were way back in the 1985/86 season. Boston United won 1-0 at Watling Street and 3-0 at York Street.

Bradbrook opens up the Havant defence and scores

Tony Burman’s squad have lost just once in the last twelve competitive matches and that was to league leaders Woking. An excellent away trip to Havant and Waterlooville has given Burman’s team more confidence having swept aside The Hawks 4-1.

Burman spoke to PURE DFC and said: “It was a really good performance, all the team was excellent, it was a good all round performance”. Specifically the Dartford manager praised captain Elliot Bradbrook for his two goals as well as his two chances stopped by Havant and Waterlooville. Burman was also delighted with Danny Harris’ work rate, commenting “he worked his socks off”.

Victory at Westleigh Park closed the gap on league leaders Woking to fourteen points who lost to lowly Staines at home. However Dartford have two games in hand and could close the gap to eight points. Burman added: “It’s too early to say the league is over, so many things could happen. We got three points back off them but we are a long way off, we have to believe”.

Dartford reached the last sixteen in the F.A Trophy last time and hope to replicate if not better last seasons performance. Burman is looking forward to the tie and the occasion, he said: “I’m deligted we are still in the trophy, it’s a big game. I’m hoping we can get near to what we got when we played Welling at home in the last game, it was a great atmosphere.

He continued: “Boston are a big club they have been up there, they’ve come down and they are trying to get back up again. It will be a tough game but we will go into it in good form. If we can get the supporters to support like they did against Welling then that will breed confidence”.

Being a Boston United supporter in last dozen years has been full of ups and downs. Currently occupying eleventh spot in the Conference North, The Pilgrims have seen off Workington and Hyde FC to reach this far of the F.A Trophy. On Tuesday night they were defeated by Bishop’s Stortford at home, losing 2-0.

The Lincolnshire club are now managed by former Premier League striker Jason Lee who was appointed as boss in May after a successful spell as Caretaker Manager. Lee still puts on his boots and has netted seven times in the league so far this term, only Marc Newsham with eight league goals has scored more for Boston United. In defence Jason Lee can rely on 41 year old Paul Bastock. The ex St Albans City goalkeeper will be familiar with Dartford fans after outstanding performances against The Darts last season.

Jason Lee in his Premier League days at Nottingham Forest

Boston United were founder members of the old Alliance Premier League in 1979 and stayed at the top of non league football until 1993. The Pilgrims best finish was third during the 1988/89 season but four years later they were relegated. Promotion back to the top flight was achieved in 2000.

After just two seasons and first as a professional club Boston fans witnessed a memorable campaign when Football League status was earned by the slimmest of margins. The Pilgrims went up as champions by goal difference. The Conference championship was tarnished by an F.A investigation in which Steve Evans (now Crawley Town boss) was banned for twenty months.

Five years in the Football League ended in dramatic fashion. On the last day of the 2006/07 season defeat at Wrexham relegated the side as Macclesfield Town stayed up. Boston United entered a CVA in that summer and dropped an extra division to compete in the Conference North. A season later after finishing tenth a second demotion left the club in the Northern Premier League. However, Boston United’s attempt to bounce back was successful when they were promoted via the playoffs in 2010 back to the Conference North after beating Bradford Park Avenue.

Road To Wembley

First Round

Brackley Town 0 Dartford 3

The Darts negotiated their way into round two with a comfortable display in Northamptonshire. Dartford were awarded a dubious penalty which Elliot Bradbrook scored from placing a powerful shot into the top corner. In the second half Lee Burns and Jacob Erskine traded one two’s up the pitch before Erskine curled a delightful shot in off the bar. Erskine then slid in to make it 3-0 and secure Dartford’s passage to round two.

Boston United 1 Workington 0

Marc Newsham scored the only goal in fifty eighth minute in a workmen like performance. Paul Bastock made numerous vital saves in the Boston United goal as The Pilgrims defeated Workington for the third time this season.

Third Qualifying Round – Replay

Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1

At the second attempt Dartford knocked out Eastbourne Borough in a replay. Tom Champion’s long range effort in the second half was a stunning way to open the scoring. After a second goal from Danny Harris, Eastbourne Borough were awarded a bizarre penalty when two Borough players fell over each other. Former Dart Carl Rook scored a consolation goal which wasn’t enough to complete a comeback.

Third Qualifying Round

Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 0

Dartford’s F.A Trophy adventures started at Priory Road in blustery conditions. The Darts dominated the first half but had with very few chances. Jacob Erskine powered a header wide and a couple of long range efforts never really tested Clark Masters in the Eastbourne goal. Eastbourne’s Ben Watson squandered a one on one with Louis Wells in the second half and Dartford’s Adam Green hit the woodwork from a swirling cross. James Rogers almost won it in the last minute when his volley was acrobatically cleared off the line.

Boston United 2 Hyde FC 1

Scott Spencer gave the visitors a 1-0 half time lead on forty minutes when he slammed home a shot at the far post. On the hour Kevin Austin scored his second goal in thirteen years with a header from Ben Milnes corner. Hyde’s Adam Griffin was not pleased that the goal stood and received his second booking for dissent. Ian Ross whipped in a cross thirteen minutes from time for Ben Fairclough, who nodded the winner with a diving header.


Dartford (4th – Conference South) versus Boston United (10th Conference North)

Current Form (league and cup) – FAT = F.A Trophy

Last five Dartford matches at home Last five Boston United matches away
Won 1-0 v Welling United Drew 2-2 v Eastwood Town
Drew 1-1 v Dorchester Town Lost 1-2 v Guiseley
Lost 2-3 v Woking Lost 0-3 v Stalybridge Celtic
Won 3-1 v Dover Athletic Won 3-1 v Gainsborough Trinity
Won 2-1 v Eastbourne Borough (FAT) Lost 0-1 v Solihull Moors

F.A Trophy Performances

Season Dartford Boston United
2010/2011 3rd Round Proper: Gateshead 2nd Round Proper: Gloucester City
2009/2010 3rd Qualifying Round: Dover Athletic 2nd Qualifying Round: Quorn
2008/2009 3rd Qualifying Round: St Albans City 1st Round Proper: AFC Telford United
2007/2008 1st Qualifying Round: AFC Hornchurch 3rd Qualifying Round: Gateshead
2006/2007 2nd Qualifying Round: Evesham United Competed in the Football League
2005/2006 3rd Qualifying Round: AFC Wimbledon Competed in the Football League
2004/2005 1st Round Proper: Redbridge Competed in the Football League
2003/2004 1st Round Proper: Ashford Town (Middlesex) Competed in the Football League
2002/2003 Preliminary Round: Salisbury City Competed in the Football League
2001/2002 1st Round Proper: Braintree Town 3rd Round Proper: Northwich Victoria

Attendances (league only) *Attendances taken from

Dartford average home attendance: 1313

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

Boston United average away attendance: 549

Highest away attendance: 804 v Altrincham / Lowest: 301 v Solihull Moors

Did you know…

Dartford have scored in every competitive home game this season. Scoring once on 5 occasions, twice on 5 occasions, three times on 4 occasions and scored five once.

It has been fourteen league games since Boston United kept a clean sheet

Boston United have won five of their last eight league and cup meetings against Dartford between 1982 and 1991

Both Dartford and Boston United have never won the F.A trophy but both sides have finished runners up. Dartford lost 2-1 to Morecambe in 1974 and Boston United lost 2-1 to Wealdstone in 1985.