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Pre-Season Preview

Dartford begin their preparations this month for the up and coming National South campaign, with a series of pre-season friendlies. Pure DFC takes a look at July’s opponents in the build up to the 2017/18 season.

Millwall – Saturday 8th July at Princes Park
Links with the Lions continue with another friendly at home against the League One playoff winners. Neil Harris guided Millwall back to the Championship after a two year absence, finishing last season in sixth. The Londoners bounced back from playoff final disappointment in 2016 by winning at Wembley in May, defeating Bradford City. Steve Morison’s winner five minutes from time secured promotion. The Lions also enjoyed a decent F.A Cup reaching the last eight and beating three Premier League teams on the way. AFC Bournemouth, Watford and Leicester City were dispatched, but quality showed in the quarter final derby when Tottenham Hotspur won 6-0. Since moving to Princes Park, the Darts have hosted five friendlies against the Lions all ending in defeats. Tony Burman has used links with the Bermondsey based club in the past, most notably the signing of current squad member Keaton Wood.

Gillingham – Tuesday 11th July at Princes Park
The Gills will be the second side to visit Princes Park this summer, the League One club just kept above the relegation zone last term. The highest ranked Kent club in English football return to the home of the Darts after a friendly almost a year ago, Ryan Hayes scored for Dartford in a 2-1 defeat. Twice the Darts have played the Gills in the Kent Senior Cup since moving to Princes Park and in 2015, Tom Wynter and Jack Simmons scored as Tony Burman’s side won 2-1, atoning for the 7-3 loss in the competition the season before. The Dartford versus Gillingham friendly has been a regular pre-season fixtures in recent times with the Gills winning all six since 2009.

Phoenix Sports – Saturday 15th July at Phoenix Sports Ground
Based in Barnehurst, Phoenix Sports became champions of the Southern Counties East League in 2015 tasting defeat just once. In the same season they reached the fifth round of the F.A Vase. Two seasons have past and in each of those campaigns they have recorded their highest ever league position, in the Isthmian Division One North. Switching to the Division One South this summer will mean a whole set of new opponents for Steve O’Boyle’s team, who have a number of former Darts in their ranks such as Dajon Golding, Richard Seixas and Ashley Probets. Dartford won a friendly 2-1 last summer with goals from Ellis Brown and Ben Francis, the year before Tom Bradbrook netted both in a 2-0 victory.

Sutton United – Tuesday 18th July at Princes Park
Dartford host one of the heroes of last season’s F.A Cup in their third pre-season warm up. Rewind back to November and the Darts lost an entertaining F.A cup first round fixture 6-3 against the U’s. Dartford pegged the visitors back three times until Paul Doswell’s side ran away with the tie. The National League club went on to knock out Cheltenham Town, AFC Wimbledon before famously beating Leeds United 1-0. A home fifth round tie versus eventual winners Arsenal ended in a respectable 2-0 loss. Sutton United enjoyed a decent return to the National League last term having won the National South the season before, the Surrey club finished twelfth thanks to their home form which has been excellent over the last few years.

Cambridge United – Saturday 22nd July at Princes Park
Whilst Dartford were reprieved in the National League, Cambridge United secured a place in the Football League via the playoffs beating Gateshead in the final, that was three years ago. The U’s are now led by former Crystal Palace and Leeds United midfielder Shaun Derry, who guided Cambridge United to an eleventh place finish in League Two last time out. Tom Bonner will face his former club who he joined from the Darts back in 2013, the defender made 13 appearances but injuries prevented the 29 year old from making a bigger impact. During Dartford’s stay in the National League they recorded a famous 2-1 victory at the Abbey Stadium in 2012. Tony Burman’s side remained unbeaten against the U’s during that two year period with three consecutive draws.

Bromley – Tuesday 25th July at Princes Park
Dartford’s penultimate friendly this summer will be against National League side Bromley. The Darts have enjoyed a decent record against their opponents winning five of the last six, including the Kent Senior Cup final six years ago. This time the Darts will be up against former winger Luke Wanadio, who had an excellent time in his only season at Princes Park scoring 13 goals last season. Tyrone Sterling is another former player now with Bromley, the full back signed in May from Dover Athletic. Neil Smith helped the club avoid second season syndrome in the National League by leading them to tenth last term, the club’s highest ever finish. The last meeting between the two sides came in an entertaining F.A Cup tie with Dartford winning 4-3 thanks to goals from Danny Harris, Ryan Hayes, Elliot Bradbrook and his brother Tom.

Thamesmead Town – Saturday 29th July at Princes Park
The Mead head South for their new campaign switching from the Isthmian Division One North to South. Over recent years Dartford have shared close ties with the club and will be landlord’s to Thamesmead Town this season in a groundshare agreement. During a three year period in the nineties the Darts met their tenants six times in the Kent League winning three, drawing two and losing once. Last summer Ben Francis scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 friendly victory versus the Mead, whilst in 2014 Andy Pugh netted the winner. Dartford also won 2-0 in 2011 and 2012 and 5-0 in a behind closed doors friendly in October 2010. Thamesmead Town did beat the Darts 3-2 nine years ago and 2-1 the year before that.

Cambridge United v Dartford

Time is running out for the Dartford and with ten games to go the club travel to second place Cambridge United in search of three vital points.

Both the Darts and the U’s are playing catch up for different reasons at opposite ends of the Conference Premier table. Dartford’s good work of six unbeaten matches have been undone in two clashes against relegation rivals. Meanwhile, Cambridge United have lost ground at the league’s summit winning once in their last eight league matches.

Dartford can take heart with the fact they caused an upset at Abbey Stadium last time. Danny Harris scored three minutes into the second half with a speculative effort. The U’s hit back from the spot five minutes from time through James Jennings. However it was Nathan Collier who grabbed the winner in the 88th minute beating Craig Ross, his former goalkeeper at Hampton and Richmond with a deflected shot.

The Darts were also the first club to score three against the U’s this term drawing 3-3 in a thoroughly entertaining affair at Princes Park. After that fixture fortunes turned for both clubs as Tony Burman’s men went on a six game unbeaten run picking up 14 points to bring them within touching distance of safety.

After taking four wins in those six matches, Dartford failed to defeat any of their closest rivals of late. A 1-1 draw against ten men Aldershot Town was followed by two defeats without scoring. Southport took three vital points from the Darts in a 3-0 win and in front of the television cameras Chester won 1-0. In a lacklustre performance Tony Burman’s side were beaten by an excellent James Seddon strike, leaving Dartford four points from safety.

Cambridge United have won one league game since the 3-3 draw at Princes Park and on Tuesday night they missed the chance to close the gap at the top, by drawing 1-1 with league leaders Luton Town. Tom Elliot’s header ended Luton Town’s run of 563 minutes without conceding in the Conference Premier. As the U’s edged three points closer, Mark Cullen levelled the match in the final minute keeping the Hatters 15 points clear at the top.

Richard Money’s side are looking likely to prepare for the playoffs and with the distraction of the F.A Trophy could reach Wembley twice this season. The U’s face Conference South basement boys Gosport Borough in the F.A Trophy final as favourites, but they also know a place in the Football League is just as important.

Rory McAuley will be absent for the Darts because he cannot play against his parent club. Dartford’s midfield are likely to come up against former Dart Tom Champion who has made 33 league appearances for the U’s this term. Former Dartford defender, Tom Bonner could also feature, the 26 year old missed the fixture in January after he needed an ankle operation and has made just three league starts for the U’s this season.

Head to Head

Cambridge United wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 8 / Draws: 2

Current League Form

Cambridge United (DLWLDL) Dartford (LLDWWW)
Luton Town H 1-1 Chester H 0-1
Forest Green Rovers A 2-3 Southport A 0-3
Kidderminster Harriers H 5-1 Aldershot Town H 1-1
Braintree Town A 0-1 Hereford United H 2-0
Wrexham H 0-0 Woking H 5-1
Alfreton Town H 0-1 Wrexham A 2-1

Last Meeting at Abbey Stadium

27 August 2012 – Dartford 2 Cambridge United 1 – Att: 2691

Goalscorers: Harris (48), Jennings (85 pen), Collier (88)

The U’s Lineup: Ross, McAuley, Garner, Hudson, Jennings, Willmott, Berry, Wellard, Dunk, Elliott, Moke (subs used: Gibson, Hughes, Smith)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Burns, Bonner, Arber, Rose, Hayes, Wallis, Champion, Harris, Erskine, Bradbrook (subs used: Noble, Collier, Crawford)

Match Stats

cufc v dfc stats
Previous Six Meetings

28.09.2013 Dartford 1 Cambridge United 3
29.09.2012 Dartford 1 Cambridge United 1
27.08.2012 Cambridge United 1 Dartford 2
19.02.1966 Cambridge United 3 Dartford 0
04.09.1965 Dartford 2 Cambridge United 1
13.03.1965 Dartford 2 Cambridge United 0

 

Dartford v Cambridge United

Dartford host title contenders Cambridge United and welcome back two of their former players, who helped them up to the Conference Premier.

The two Tom’s return to Princes Park under different circumstances. Tom Champion has impressed his new club in the central of midfield whilst Tom Bonner has made one league start and suffered a nasty injury, keeping him sidelined for this weekends fixture.

Dartford took four points of the U’s last season following up their shock 2-1 win at the Abbey Stadium with a 1-1 draw at Princes Park. Dartford put in a spirited and gutsy performance to end 2012 and came away with a well earned draw. Harry Crawford’s swivel and turn half way through the first half put Dartford 1-0 up. Michael Gash, now at Kidderminster Harriers scored from a free kick on the stroke of half time.  The visitors created more chances in the second half but were denied by the superb Marcus Bettinelli between the Dartford sticks.

On Tuesday night, the Darts got of to a sensational start away to Kidderminster Harriers taking a 2-0 half time lead. After just two minutes Alex Woodyard’s excellent cross was met by Max Cornhill, who headed his first league goal for the club. Twenty minutes later débutante Alex Wall’s shot across the goal was parried by Danny Lewis and Andy Pugh netted the rebound for his first for the club. Wall also found time to hit the post and despite plenty of possession for the Harriers the hosts were restricted to long range efforts. Harriers halved the deficit three minutes into the second half when Gash bundled in from close range. Pressure continued to mount in front of the Darts goal with Gash striking the crossbar. However, resolute defending and an excellent team effort ensured Dartford completed the double over Kidderminster Harriers.

Tony Burman will be unable to select Rory McAuley and Andy Pugh who are unable to face their parent club. McAuley made the most league appearances for Cambridge United last term, the 24 year old defender has already matched the amount of league starts for Cambridge United this season with the Darts. An ankle injury after the second game of the U’s campaign kept McAuley out until he spent time with Chelmsford City on loan. Pugh is more known in the Kent scene having played for Welling United and made one loan appearance for Ebbsfleet United this campaign. Pugh was signed by Cambridge United after impressing at the Wings where he scored an average of one every two matches.

Cambridge United have only tasted two Conference Premier defeats this campaign opening the season with a record 16 games unbeaten. At home the U’s have won all 12 matches conceding just twice and on their travels they are just as tight. The U’s have conceded just 11 league goals this term keeping a staggering 17 clean sheets, Richard Money’s squad looks set to go head to head with Luton Town for the title.

The U’s travelled to Tamworth’s Lamb Ground on Tuesday night and were restricted in the first half as the sides went into the break goalless. The promotion chasers went in front  just past the hour when Liam Hughes’ free kick put Cambridge United in front. That goal was enough to close the gap at the top of the Conference Premier by a point, with one game in hand over Luton Town.

Prior the win at Tamworth and stalemate at FC Halifax Town, the U’s have been making their way towards Wembley in the F.A Trophy. After a 2-2 draw with their title rivals Luton Town, in which new Dart Alex Wall chalked a goal for the Hatters, Cambridge United won the replay 1-0 thanks to new signing Ashley Chambers. In that match Tom Bonner suffered a nasty injury ruling the defender out for several weeks. The U’s now face Conference South side Eastleigh in the last eight of the competition and have their eye on the non league double.

Chambers, signed from League two club York City is a number of new signings by Richard Money. The striker scored 21 times in 133 appearances for the Minstermen. Identifying a need for goals Matthew Barnes-Homer has been signed on a free transfer from Forest Green Rovers. The 27 year old made his name in last season’s F.A Cup upset when he netted twice as Macclesfield Town beat Cardiff City. The striker scored almost one in two games at Rovers and in 2010-2011 top scored for Luton Town. Goalkeeper, John Sullivan has also been snapped up from Portsmouth and he made his league début in the 1-1 draw versus FC Halifax Town.

Cambridge United maybe taking full advantage of their home form, however the U’s are draw specialists on the road. With eight so far this season, more than any other Conference Premier club, the second placed side were winless in six league matches on their travels before Tuesday night’s win.

Team News

Dartford welcome the return of suspended midfielder’s Lee Noble who has now served his four match ban and Danny Harris. Ryan Hayes remains out through long term injury, Kenny Clark missed the mid week fixture and Nathan Collier didn’t travel. Welsh winger Ben Swallow was selected in the squad on Tuesday but stayed on the substitutes bench. Rory McAuley and Andy Pugh are ineligible to play against their parent club.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 8 / Cambridge United wins: 3 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

Dartford (WLDLLL) Cambridge United (WDDWLW)
Kidderminster Harriers A 2-1 Tamworth A 1-0
Salisbury City A 0-1 FC Halifax Town A 1-1
Welling United A 1-1 Nuneaton Town A 0-0
Welling United H 1-2 Braintree Town H 1-0
Alfreton Town A 1-2 Hereford United A 0-1
FC Halifax Town H 1-2 Macclesfield Town H 3-0

Last Meeting At Princes Park

6 February  2013 – Dartford 1 Cambridge United 1 – Att: 1716

Goalscorers: Crawford (23), Gash (45)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Rose, Bonner, Arber, Rogers, Champion, Bradbrook, Hayes, Noble, Erskine, Crawford (Sub used: Harris, Collier)

The U’s Lineup: Hedge, Roberts, Coulson, McAuley, Haynes-Brown, Dunk, Jarvis, Gash, Pugh, Hughes, Smith (Sub used: Willmott, Wellard)

Match Stats

dfc v cufc stats

Previous Meetings

29.12.2012 Dartford 1 Cambridge United 1
27.08.2012 Cambridge United 1 Dartford 2
19.02.1966 Cambridge United 3 Dartford 0
04.09.1965 Dartford 2 Cambridge United 1
13.03.1965 Dartford 2 Cambridge United 0

League Stats

1 – Cambridge United have scored just once in the final fifteen minutes of league matches this season, the fewest in the division

11 – The Darts have conceded the most league goals in the fifteen minutes before half time, more than any other Conference Premier club this campaign

12 – Dartford’s 2-1 win at Kidderminster Harriers on Tuesday was their first league victory since 19 October 2012, twelve games ago

20 – The U’s are top of the Conference Premier Fair Play league, in fact they have the cleanest record amongst the top five English divisions. Cambridge United have picked up just 20 yellow cards and no reds

Dartford and Hyde may be in the bottom two but they are top of the league for the amount of players used. Dartford have used 31 players so far this term, three less than bottom club Hyde.

Cambridge United have not won or lost by more than a goal away from home in this Conference Premier campaign

The U’s have racked up the most 1-0 wins in the league this season achieving this feat eight times

 

 

Dartford v Cambridge United

 

The Darts play their final game of the calendar year on Saturday against former league club Cambridge United.

Earlier in the season Dartford upset the odds to record their first away win of the current campaign when they travelled to the Abbey Stadium.

After no goals in the first half Danny Harris opened his seasons account fortuitously putting the Darts in front three minutes into the second half. Out wide on the left Harris sent in a low cross which evaded everyone in the Cambridge United box and crept inside the far post. Dartford looked good for picking up three points but hopes were dashed five minutes from time when Sam Smith won a penalty, up stepped James Jennings and the scores were level. The Darts were not deterred and substitute Nathan Collier took his chances with a shot from the edge of the box, the ball deflected over the stranded Craig Ross to give Dartford a dramatic win.

The Darts have a chance to complete their first double over a Conference Premier club this season and warmed up with a much needed Kent derby win on Boxing Day. After going a goal down to Ebbsfleet United early in the second half, Harry Crawford restored parity four minutes later. The striker added to his goal tally netting for the ninth time in the league after 68 minutes. With ten minutes to go Elliot Bradbrook made three points certain to end Dartford’s barren spell of four straight defeats.

Tony Burman reflected on the Boxing Day derby and told BBC Radio Kent: “I thought Ebbsfleet came out and bossed the game for the first 20 minutes, but then I felt we grew into the game”, he added: “At half-time I thought ‘we’ve seen the best of Ebbsfleet, now we need to get into another gear”.

Striker Harry Crawford commented: “To get a win here, in a local derby on Boxing Day with a great support behind us is fantastic. There were nearly 3,500 fans here, so it was brilliant”, he added: “”We lost our last four league games but the lads didn’t let their heads drop”.

Cambridge United had dropped to the wrong end of the Conference Premier table falling to twentieth after a 6-2 loss at Newport County early last month. Since the setback the U’s have picked up the points to move up to tenth and to within five points of Dartford.

The U’s are now on a six game unbeaten run in the Conference Premier picking up maximum points against Macclesfield Town, Ebbsfleet United, Gateshead and Braintree Town with only Tamworth and Alfreton Town picking up draws against Richard Money’s men. Money has been in charge since October with former boss Jez George moving back to Director of Football.

Tom Elliott is one player to keep an eye out for after rediscovering his early season form. The former Stockport County striker scored five in his first four league games. A barren spell of one goal in ten league matches followed but the 22 year old has recently found his scoring touch.

Previous manager George has put a lot of faith into a youth system and defender Josh Coulson epitomises that. The longest serving player is only 21 years old and he has already surpassed 100 appearances for Cambridge United. Rory McAuley has featured in all but one league game and offers the U’s versatility. Former Ebbsfleet United man, Michael Gash is second in Cambridge United’s scoring charts with seven leagues goals.

Team News

Mark Arber completed his first full ninety minutes since returning from his injury in Dartford’s 3-1 victory against Ebbsfleet United. The Darts have no suspensions to worry about.

James Jennings picked up his fifth caution in Cambridge United’s Boxing Day win and misses Saturday’s match. Thomas Shaw also sits out due to suspension after being sent off for violent conduct at Braintree Town.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 8 / Cambridge United wins: 3 / Draws: 0 / Dartford Goals: 19 / Cambridge United Goals: 14
Current League Form

Dartford (WLLLLD) Cambridge United (WDWWDW)
Ebbsfleet United H 3-1 Braintree Town A 3-0
Kidderminster Harriers A 1-5 Alfreton Town A 1-1
Lincoln City H 2-4 Gateshead H 3-0
Nuneaton Town A 0-1 Ebbsfleet United A 4-2
Tamworth A 2-3 Tamworth H 1-1
Southport H 2-2 Macclesfield Town H 2-0

Last Meeting

27 August 2012 – Cambridge United 1 Dartford 2 – Att: 2691

Goalscorers: Harris (48), Jennings (85 pen), Collier (88)

The U’s Lineup: Ross, McAuley, Garner, Hudson, Jennings, Willmott, Berry, Wellard, Dunk, Elliott, Moke (subs used: Gibson, Hughes, Smith)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Burns, Bonner, Arber, Rose, Hayes, Wallis, Champion, Harris, Erskine, Bradbrook (subs used: Noble, Collier, Crawford)

Match Stats

Cambridge United

Dartford

Possession

53%

47%

Shots On Target

5

5

Shots Off Target

4

2

Corners

8

4

Fouls Won

12

9

Yellow Cards

1

1

Previous Meetings

19.02.1966 Cambridge United 3 Dartford 0
04.09.1965 Dartford 2 Cambridge United 1
13.03.1965 Dartford 2 Cambridge United 0
31.10.1964 Cambridge United 1 Dartford 2
15.04.1964 Dartford 0 Cambridge United 2

 

Cambridge United v Dartford

Dartford clinched their first Conference Premier win in 26 years on Saturday and hope to add to their points tally at Cambridge United tomorrow.

Monday’s Bank Holiday clash will be the first meeting between the two sides since 1966 when the U’s won 3-0. However it is the Darts that hold the better record with seven wins to three.

The two clubs have been kept apart for so long due to Cambridge United’s success in the Football League. Elected in 1970, the U’s reached their peak in the early nineties climbing to the second tier of English football. Dartford’s trip to the Abbey Stadium will be the first time the club has returned there since defeat 42 years ago.

After four games Dartford finally registered points in a 1-0 win against basement side Kidderminster Harriers. Lee Burns scored the decisive goal with a excellently taken header after 36 minutes. Ryan Hayes made his first start impressing on the wing with a man of the match performance and goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli recorded his first clean sheet.

Tony Burman was delighted with the three points but felt his side has played better in the previous three games. The Dartford boss told BBC Radio Kent: “”It’s good to get off the mark but it was only a matter of time. We played better in the three games we had but today we got the three points”.

Tomorrow’s fixture will be tough against an unbeaten Cambridge United team who occupy sixth spot. The signing of Tom Elliott in May has proven to be astute by manager Gez George. In the first three fixtures, the 20 year old has opened the scoring in a draw and two wins. His first of the season was cancelled out by a last minute penalty against Forest Green Rovers. The former Stockport County striker netted in The U’s 2-1 win versus Lincoln City and scored a brace within a three minute spell in a 2-0 triumph against Southport.

On the weekend the striker failed to added to his tally in a 2-2 draw against newly promoted Nuneaton. Unsurprisingly Elliott netted first but a minute later Adam Walker equalised. James Armson finished a penalty in the final minute but a dramatic finish ended when U’s defender popped up to grab a draw.

Team News

Full back Adam Green hobbled off with assistance on Saturday and could be a doubt. Louis Wells remains on the sideline with a groin injury.

Michael Gash and Adam Marriott have secured loan deals for a month. Gash moved to Braintree Town and Marriott to Conference North side Bishop’s Stortford. Injuries to Kevin Roberts and Jonathan Thorpe has reduced the players available for Gez George.

Did you know…

Dartford conceded just two fouls against Kidderminster Harriers, the lowest by any Conference Premier side in a match this season.

The Darts last away day victory in the Conference was on 23 November 1985 against Barrow when the game ended 2-1. Four months later they tasted their last win in the top flight of non league football before Saturday, also against Barrow.

Cambridge United are one of six unbeaten clubs in the Conference Premier and only lost six in the league at the Abbey Stadium last season.