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Dartford v Chelmsford City

The first home game of the season couldn’t be any tougher for the Darts when they face Chelmsford City on Tuesday night.

Recent results against the Clarets will give the Essex club the psychological edge. Under Tony Burman, Dartford lost four of the last five and picked up a goalless draw in a playoff tie. Now with new managers Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle at the helm, the Darts will be hoping for a change of fortune.

Already with a win under their belt, Dartford will approach their first home game of the 2018/19 campaign with optimism and confidence. On Saturday they had to come from behind to defeat Bath City in a close contest. Coyle and Flanagan handed debuts to Chez Isaac, Ben Greenhalgh, Kudus Oyenuga and Jamie Philpot. Other debutants, Manny Ighorae and especially Delano Sam-Yorke made their mark from off the bench.

However, it was a Bath City debutant who made the first impact, Adam Mann but the hosts ahead with a 20 yard drive on just nine minutes. The Darts got themselves back into the game and on the stroke of half time Elliot Bradbrook headed his 134th Dartford goal. The former captain had the chance to win the match with six minutes remaining from the spot, but blazed his effort over. Moments afterwards, substitute Sam-Yorke was brought down in the box and a second penalty was awarded, this time Sam-Yorke stepped up to score the winner.

One player determined to put one over the Clarets will be Oyenuga. The former Chelmsford City winger will face his old side for the first time since joining Dartford this summer. Oyenuga appeared 33 times for the Essex club last term scoring ten helping them to a third-place finish.

Oyenuga spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk during an enjoyable pre-season for the pacey winger, he said: “I’m very direct. When I get the ball, I’m going to run with it and try to score goals and excite. That’s my game, really”. He will bring with him experience gained from playing in Finland, Qatar and spells in the Scottish Premiership and Championship, he commented: “It’s been good to travel and see different styles of football and meet different people”.

In fact, it was Oyenuga’s goal in his last competitive outing at Princes Park that helped Chelmsford City to victory. The Darts had led in their 2-1 defeat back in February when Ryan Hayes scored a sublime solo effort ending with his trademark curling finish. It looked as though Dartford finally ended their poor run against their opponents until a soft penalty was awarded. Oyenuga stepped up to level the match with minutes remaining, then in stoppage time Taylor Miles scored straight from a corner.

Oyenuga had made up for his sending off against Dartford earlier in the campaign at the Melbourne Stadium. Despite the early red card, the Clarets still came out on top winning 1-0. Former Ebbsfleet United midfielder, Michael West capitalised on a defensive mix up to score the only goal of the game.

Now it will be Ibrahim’s turn to make amends, the last gasp defeat at Princes Park proved to be crucial for goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim, as it turned out to be his final competitive game of last season. He will be keen to show his attributes and repay managers Flanagan and Coyle who back their number one in the summer.

Joint-manager Flanagan told www.kentonline.co.uk: “Deren is someone we rate quite highly. I think he’d hold his hands up and say his levels of performance weren’t where he’s shown to be and he probably did need to come out of the team. But he’s very passionate about the club, he’s very eager to get back to the levels he’s set and we’re hopeful we’ll get the very best out of him”.

Despite the lack of form against Tuesday night’s opponents, Dartford have finished one place above the Clarets in the previous two seasons. Both sides went out in their playoff semi-finals back in May, after ending in second and third place.

Chelmsford City were handed a tricky start to their campaign when they were given Torquay United to host. Their opponents were relegated from the National League last term and are amongst the teams expecting to be challenging for promotion. The Clarets created many half chances but it was Torquay United’s Kyle Cameron that came closest to breaking the deadlock.

Rod Stringer has also made plenty of changes to his squad naming many in the starting eleven. Ross Warner, Joe Anderson, Tom Wraight, Rhys Murphy, Amos Nasha and Jai Reason all made their debuts.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 36 / Chelmsford City wins: 55 / Draws: 21

Previous Meetings

10.02.2018 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2
21.10.2017 Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 0
07.05.2017 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2
03.05.2017 Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0
18.02.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
14.01.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1

Stats

Last season, Rod Stringer guided Chelmsford City to a perfect record against Adam Flanagan’s and Jamie Coyle’s former clubs as well as Dartford, winning all six National South matches.

The Darts last beat Chelmsford City at home on 1 May 2000, the Southern League Southern Division fixture ended 3-0 to Dartford.

Since then the Clarets have won seven of the last nine when visiting the Darts, including the last four trips to Princes Park.

Dartford have finished above Chelmsford City in the football pyramid in their last seven seasons. The Clarets last finished ahead of the Darts in the 2010/2011 campaign.

National League South Season Preview 2018/2019 – Part One

 Bath City | Billericay Town | Chelmsford CityChippenham Town | Concord Rangers

Bath City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Twerton Park

Over the last four years you cannot fault Bath City for consistency. The Romans left the National League via the relegation trapdoor six years ago, since then they have gone through off field transition. The Somerset club turned to filmmaker and fan Ken Loach, who campaigned for a community owned club, the appeal was successful and last summer the transition was completed. During that period, Bath City finished successive seasons in fourteenth followed by back to back ninth place finishes. Hoping to benefit from the playoff places being extended to seventh, the Romans had to settle for the top ten last term, even with the disruption of manager Gary Owers leaving in September for Torquay United.

Last Season

National South: 9th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Semi-Final

League Top Scorer: Tom Smith (10 goals)

Average Attendance: 702 (6th in National South)

The Manager – Jerry Gill

Appointed manager of Bath City in October 2017, Gill took over from Gary Owers who had left for Torquay United. The appointment marked the return of the former defender who played over 200 times for the Romans in the nineties. His playing career included a League Cup Final and promotion to the Premier League with Birmingham City and a League Two playoff triumph with Cheltenham Town. Gill started managing eight years ago with Weymouth, but he resigned after 44 days with the club struggling financially. Since then he has held coaching roles at Bristol Rovers, Birmingham City and Kidderminster Harriers as well as with Norwich City’s and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ academies.

The Summer

With Bath City’s golden boot winner Jack Compton signing for Chippenham Town, Gill swooped to sign John Mills from Hereford FC. The striker scored 140 goals in three seasons with the Bulls and before that he netted 57 in one campaign with Didcot Town. Ross Stearn makes the move from Sutton United a permanent one, he will be back at Twerton Park for a third time after two loan spells in 2013 and 2015. Also, Adam Mann joins the Romans after scoring 24 goals with Evesham United in the Southern League Division One West last term. Defender Robbie Cundy arrives from National South rivals Gloucester City, Ryan Brunt from Exeter City and goalkeeper Ryan Clarke from Torquay United. Having impressed during pre-season The Romans signed midfielder Joe Raynes from Frome Town. Bath City also welcome the return of James Morton on loan from Bristol City until the end of January 2019. Miles Welch-Hayes was named in the National South’s Team of the Year and returns to the Football League with promoted Macclesfield Town. Ryan Case, Nat Jarvis and George Rigg have also left the club with the latter two moving to rivals Chippenham Town.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 31 / Bath City wins: 40 / Draws: 19

Previous Meetings

21.04.2018 Dartford 2 Bath City 0
24.10.2017 Bath City 1 Dartford 2
04.03.2017 Dartford 2 Bath City 0
22.10.2016 Bath City 0 Dartford 1
16.01.2016 Dartford 4 Bath City 1
05.09.2015 Bath City 0 Dartford 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 4 August 2018 at Twerton Park

Saturday 9 February 2019 at Princes Park

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Billericay Town

Founded: 1880 / Ground: New Lodge

An ambitious club under owner and former manager Glenn Tamplin, Billericay Town delivered under the pressure of high expectations. The Essex club have attracted old Premier League stars such as Jamie O’Hara and Paul Konchesky and signed players who should be playing higher up the pyramid. With financial allure, the Blues built a squad who should have won the Isthmian Premier League and they did, as well as the League Cup. Billericay Town also reached the F.A Cup first round for only the fourth time in their history and were F.A Trophy quarter-finalists last season. Ricay’s last and only foray in the National South ended in relegation five years ago, expectations are higher this time.

Last Season

Isthmian Premier: 1st

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: Quarter-Final

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Jake Robinson (34 goals)

Average Attendance: 1057 (2nd in Isthmian Premier)

The Manager – Harry Wheeler

At 23-years-old, Harry Wheeler beat a record set by Andre Villas Boas when he became the youngest person to gain a UEFA A-License. Joining from Welling United in April 2017 he led the Blues to success last term winning the Isthmian Premier League and League Cup. Wheeler played for Stevenage, Hampton & Richmond Borough and St Albans City before moving towards a coaching career. He ran the reserve team at Potters Bar Town, managed St Albans City at 26-years-old and was head of Professional Development at Dagenham and Redbridge for two years. This summer he added owner Glenn Tamplin as his assistant, who was also Wheeler’s predecessor.

The Summer

High ambitions and a step up in non-league football means plenty of change for Billericay Town. Simon Walton will bring experience to the team having played for Sutton United last season, Walton has played in the Football League with Leeds United, Cardiff City, Ipswich Town, Hull City and Plymouth Argyle. Promoted with Dulwich Hamlet in May, Ricky Hayles switches allegiances to Ricay, apart from a short stint with Welling united the defender has spent most of his career in Essex with the likes of Tilbury, Thurrock and East Thurrock United. Wheeler has also persuaded former Truro City captain Ben Gerring to join his side as well as England C international Jake Howells from Dagenham and Redbridge, former Bromley striker Moses Emmanuel, left back Callum Kennedy from AFC Wimbledon and winger Connor Hunte from Greenwich Borough via Kingstonian. Between the sticks, 18-year-old Josh Strizovic comes in as back up after spells with Waltham Forest and Burnham Ramblers. Scott Doe made over 300 appearances for rivals Dagenham and Redbridge, the 29-year-old joins after spells with Whitehawk and Boreham Wood. Adam Coombes showed his potential at Welling United two years ago scoring 31 goals which included four hat-tricks. The striker moved to Sutton United, but injury hampered his progress, so he returned to the Wings. The 27-year-old will now be playing in Essex again with Billericay Town. There have also been notable departures including Rob Swaine going back to local rivals Chelmsford City, Billy Bricknell who scored 105 goals for the club in 184 appearances, Rob Evans and Josh Urquhart both played over 50 times last season. Goalkeeper Jack Giddens leaves for East Thurrock United, Leo Chambers and Louie Theophanous both join Kingstonian and Kevin Foley was released. Olly Sprague, Liam Hughes, Byron Lawrence, Luke Rooney, Sanchez Watt, Nick Wheeler and Charlie Cole are also no longer part of Wheeler’s plans.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Billericay Town wins: 2 / Draws: 0

Previous Meetings

24.04.2010 Dartford 1 Billericay Town 4
07.11.2009 Billericay Town 1 Dartford 0
02.05.1981 Dartford 2 Billericay Town 0
13.12.1980 Billericay Town 0 Dartford 1

Next Meetings

Saturday 15 September 2018 at New Lodge

Monday 22 April 2019 at Princes Park

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Chelmsford City

Founded: 1878 / Ground: Melbourne Stadium

Last season, the Clarets celebrated a tenth consecutive campaign in the National South. The Essex side will think that’s not worth celebrating simply because they are desperate for a crack at the National League. With an exception of a three-year mediocre spell, Chelmsford City have made regular appearances in the playoffs reaching the end of season finale six times in the last decade, losing the final two years ago. Joint favourites to win the National South last term, The Clarets made a solid start and were amongst the front runners, but they dropped off the pace only to frustratingly lose another playoff semi-final.  The Essex club have spent the summer talking of a takeover and hope this to be resolved fully soon.

Last Season

National South: 3rd

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Runner Up

League Top Scorer: Philip Roberts (18 goals)

Average Attendance: 897 (2nd in National South)

The Manager – Rod Stringer

When Rod Stringer took over two years ago Chelmsford City had spent the previous three seasons outside of the playoffs. Joining from rivals Bishop’s Stortford he has turned the Clarets into title contenders finishing fourth and third since his arrival. He has a proven track record of getting teams challenging for promotion winning the Isthmian Division One North with Aveley, then taking them to the Isthmian Premier League playoffs. Stringer moved to Braintree Town and in his only season at Cressing Road he won the Isthmian Premier League. A spell at Bishop’s Stortford wasn’t as successful as previous roles, but Stringer has brought optimism and consistency back to the Essex club.

The Summer

Rod Stringer has looked across the county border this summer bringing in a number of players from Kent sides. Joe Anderson and Tom Wraight join from Maidstone United, Anderson spent four years at Bromley before playing for the Stones whilst Wraight only managed 26 appearances last season off the back of a decent record at East Thurrock United where he scored 43 times across two seasons. Another former Maidstone United man, Alex Akrofi scored 34 goals in 68 appearances for Tonbridge Angels and is now a Claret. Joining from Gillingham is striker Rhys Murphy, who impressed on trial in pre-season, he has also played in the Netherlands for Telstar in 2012 as well as Dagenham and Redbridge, Oldham Athletic and Forest Green Rovers. Amos Nasha moves from local rivals Concord Rangers, experience goalkeeper Ross Worner comes in from Sutton United and 30-year-old defender Rob Swaine returns to the club for a second spell. Familiar with Stringer at Braintree Town, Jai Reason teams back up with the Chelmsford City boss after spells at Eastleigh and Boreham Wood. Stringer also managed to convince prolific striker Scott Fenwick to stay and move down from the North East. The Clarets have picked up Jordan Chiedozie who netted 29 times in 39 appearances for Margate last term. The striker had a spell with Dartford on loan in 2015 and has featured for Concord Rangers, Poole Town and Cambridge United in the past. Kudus Oyenuga leaves Melbourne Park for Princes Park for a new chapter with Dartford, Michael West moves south to Eastbourne Borough and goalkeeper Sam Beasant is now at Concord Rangers. The experienced Chris Dickson has left to continue his career at Hampton and Richmond Borough.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 36 / Chelmsford City wins: 55 / Draws: 91

Previous Meetings

10.02.2018 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2
21.10.2017 Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 0
07.05.2017 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2
03.05.2017 Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0
18.02.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
14.01.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1

Next Meetings

Tuesday 7 August 2018 at Princes Park

Saturday 19 January 2019 at Melbourne Stadium

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Chippenham Town

Founded: 1873 / Ground: Hardenhuish Park

Competing at their highest level in the football pyramid didn’t faze Chippenham Town last season. Having gained confidence by winning the Southern Premier League with a record number of points, the Bluebirds settled in the National South with a mid-table finish. To add a touch of gloss to their debut campaign the Wiltshire club also won the Wiltshire Premier Shield. Chippenham Town made the most of their home form losing just four times at Hardenhuish Park, comparative to teams in the playoffs. However, they did lose the most away games in the league, the same amount as relegated Whitehawk. Overall a solid start for the Bluebirds’ life in the National South.

Last Season

National South: 13th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Rhys Healey (6 goals)

Average Attendance: 600 (8th in National South)

The Manager – Mark Collier

Chippenham Town had hit a low point in 2013 when they lost 9-0 to Stourbridge. Mark Collier was on holiday in Egypt at the time and when he was asked to become manager he obliged. Year on year Collier has improved the Bluebirds league position and just over a year ago he won the Southern Premier League with his side recording 103 points. Last season was his first in the National South and the Wiltshire club finished in a respectable thirteenth. Prior his appointment at Chippenham Town, Collier famously led Swindon Supermarine to the F.A Cup second round, where they lost 1-0 to Colchester United.

The Summer

When Chippenham Town take on rivals Bath City on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day three new signings will be up against their former club. Jack Compton scored 12 times for the Romans last term, George Rigg made 25 appearances and Nat Jarvis have all joined from Bath City. The Bluebirds add experienced 31-year-old Yan Klukowski from Torquay United, the midfielder also played for Forest green Rovers, Newport County and York City. Goalkeeper, Will Puddy comes in from Hereford FC to take Jared Thompson’s place, who returned to parent club Chelsea. Whilst left back Kieran Parselle makes his move from Gloucester City.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Chippenham Town wins: 0 / Draws: 1

Previous Meetings

20.01.2018 Chippenham Town 2 Dartford 2
09.09.2017 Dartford 3 Chippenham Town 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 13 October 2018 at Hardenhuish Park

Saturday 13 April 2019 at Princes Park

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Concord Rangers

Founded: 1967 / Ground: Thames Road

The Beachboys retained their status in the National South in their penultimate game of the season. Concord Rangers won a relegation six pointer against Hungerford Town to stay up. Even with safety confirmed, the Essex club still had a massive say in where the title would end up. On the final day they were two down against Havant and Waterlooville then fought back to level. In the final minute they conceded the goal that sent the title to Hampshire. The Essex club have now completed five seasons in the National South, the new management team will be hoping the sixth campaign will be less of a battle at the wrong end of the table.

Last Season

National South: 17th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Quarter-Final

League Top Scorer: Steve Cawley (14 goals)

Average Attendance: 263 (22nd in National South)

The Manager – Sammy Moore

New to the management game, 30-year-old Sammy Moore has had one year’s experience as a manager which was at Leatherhead. He was part of Ipswich Town’s F.A Youth Cup winning side in 2005 and went on to play for Brentford and Stevenage Borough. The midfielder won the Isthmian Premier League with Dover Athletic nine years ago, then made it into the Football League with AFC Wimbledon through the playoffs two years later. Moore had a spell with Leyton Orient before returning on loan to Dover Athletic. A year ago, he was appointed Player Manager at Leatherhead and impressed enough to replace Adam Flanagan at Concord Rangers this summer.

The Summer

New manager Sammy Moore set his stall out early in the transfer window and made wholesale changes. After ** years at Dartford, Ryan Hayes will be showing his skills with Concord Rangers next term, the winger played 580 times for the Darts and scored 108 goals. Another former Dart, Tyrone Sterling was a F.A Trophy finalist last season with Bromley he will be reunited with Hayes. The former Leatherhead boss, Moore raided his old club by bringing over Frazer Shaw, the experienced Sean Clohessy and midfielder Sam Blackman. The exciting signing of Billy Knott, ex Bradford City, Sunderland, AFC Wimbledon and Gillingham plus a host of other Football League clubs has provided quiet optimism amongst the Beachboys. Lee Minshull will link up again with Moore and Jack Midson, Jack Parkinson joins from Welling United as a player coach, Kojo Awotwi signs from VCD Athletic and Nana Boakye-Yiadom from Dulwich Hamlet. Concord Rangers will also welcome Danny Green on the wing and 30-year-old goalkeeper Sam Beasant from Chelmsford City. On the way out, last season’s top scorer Steve Cawley moves to Hemel Hempstead Town, Ben Greenhalgh joins Dartford, Khale Da Costa switches to St Albans City and Steve King leaves after ten years. Billy Roast and Lewis Knight were also released.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 4 / Concord Rangers wins: 1 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

06.01.2018 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 1
15.08.2017 Dartford 2 Concord Rangers 0
11.03.2017 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 1
24.09.2016 Dartford 2 Concord Rangers 1
27.02.2016 Dartford 1 Concord Rangers 2
18.08.2015 Concord Rangers 2 Dartford 3

Next Meetings

Tuesday 14 August 2018 at Thames Road

Saturday 26 January 2019 at Princes Park

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National South Playoff Preview

Six clubs will compete in the new National South playoff format aiming to earn a place in the top flight of non league. Pure DFC takes a look at the contenders in this season’s showdown and the build up to the final on Sunday 13th May.

Dartford

The Darts will need to get over their last minute heartbreak quickly, which denied them the championship on goal difference. For a few minutes Dartford were up until champions Havant and Waterlooville cruelly snatched the trophy away with a last minute winner against Concord Rangers. On a positive note, Dartford’s last foray in the National South playoffs ended in promotion six years ago, they have home advantage and they are on the verge of a record breaking run. The Darts ended the campaign with a nine game winning streak and if they win the playoffs will break their club record on ten victories in a row. Finishing the league’s top scorers thanks to the attacking prowess in the early parts of the campaign, the Darts have been solid at the back recently too with six clean sheets in the last eight games.

Player to watch – Alfie Pavey

The National South’s Player of the Year didn’t know where his career was going in the summer. Pavey joined Welling United, but that failed to work out. The 22 year old was picked up by Tony Burman a couple of weeks into the campaign and 23 goals later he finished the second highest goalscorer in the league.

Record vs playoff contenders (W4, D3, L3, F18 A14)

Dartford will be pleased to have avoided Chelmsford City in the semi-final considering the Clarets did the double over the Darts. The Essex club also beat Dartford in last season’s playoff semi-final. At home Dartford took ten points off their playoff rivals out of 15 (W3, D1, L1).

Next fixture

The Darts will be at home in the semi-final on 6th May 2018 against the winners of the Hemel Hempstead Town versus Braintree Town match.

Chelmsford City

Starting the campaign as joint favourites with Dartford, last season’s playoff runners up have been eyeing up the National League for some time now. Since their return to the National South ten years ago, the Clarets have reached the playoffs five times losing two finals, one of those against Hampton and Richmond Borough in 2009 and three semi-finals. Along with St Albans City, the Essex club set the early season pace, but a cluster of draws in September and lack of form in the New Year left Chelmsford City playing catch up. Rod Stringer’s side are the form team heading into the end of season lottery having won seven out of the last eight league matches. With an identical home and away record the Clarets will always be tough opponents whoever they come up against.

Player to watch – Chris Dickson

A former Charlton Athletic striker who made his way through non league with Erith and Belvedere then Dulwich Hamlet. Dickson’s experience could be vital in the playoffs, the 33 year old managed to score 14 times this term for the Clarets.

Record vs playoff contenders (W3, D4, L3, F15, A16)

Chelmsford City will be relishing a chance to make up for their final defeat a year ago. They will have home advantage in the semi-final, only Hampton and Richmond Borough beat then on their own patch. The only team they will face away will be Dartford, if these two make the final and they did the double over the Darts.

Next fixture

The Clarets will be at home in the semi-final on 6th May 2018 against the winners of the Hampton and Richmond Borough versus Truro City match.

Hampton and Richmond Borough

The Beavers were title contenders up until Dartford practically ruled them out on a muddy Good Friday. A last-minute Alfie Pavey goal opened up a gap between the Darts and two draws and a defeat later it was game over. However, they have recovered lately winning two in a row before drawing their final game with Truro City. The Beavers have playoff experience from last season despite finishing seventh, losing to eventual winners Ebbsfleet United in the semi-final. The Middlesex club were only promoted to the National South two years ago as Isthmian Premier League champions and have performed consistently since then. Between the final game of August through to the end of January the Beavers went 21 games unbeaten, including an eight-match winning streak. Alan Dowson’s men will be a force at home where they have lost just once this term.

Player to watch – Max Kretzschmar

A goalscoring midfielder and dead ball specialist, Max Kretzschmar started his career at Wycombe Wanderers where he spent three years before joining Woking. The 24 year old joined Hampton and Richmond Borough in the summer and a sound return of 14 goals from midfield has helped the Beavers finish fourth in the National South.

Record vs playoff contenders (W1, D6, L3, F9, A11)

The Beavers seem to keep games tight against those in the playoff places, but they have managed just one win against Chelmsford City away. Hampton and Richmond Borough drew all five home matches versus teams in the playoffs and whether they win or lose the margin has just been by one.

Next fixture

The Beavers play their first match on Wednesday 2nd May at home to Truro City. If Hampton and Richmond win then they will face Chelmsford City away in the semi-final on Sunday 6th May.

Hemel Hempstead Town

It took until October for Hemel Hempstead Town to get going, the Tudors couldn’t string a sequence together for the first two months and then they went 12 games unbeaten. At one point they topped the table, but that was a very brief moment. The Tudors have been on a solid run during the final stretch of the campaign, the loss against Dartford their only loss in 12 attempts before a final day defeat at Weston-super-Mare. Hemel Hempstead Town have collected the second most points at home this term, seven less than the Darts. Dean Brennan took the Hertfordshire club up four years ago winning the Southern Premier League in style. This season the Tudors have reached a new milestone in setting their highest ever league finish and will take part in the National South playoffs for the first time.

Player to watch – Jordan Parkes

The Tudors seem to be a good fit for Jordan Parkes, now in his second spell for the club. The attacking midfielder scored 42 times in 112 appearances between 2012-2015 before joining Ebbsfleet United. It didn’t quite work out for the 28 year old at Stonebridge Road so he returned to Hemel Hempstead Town where his scoring a goal every other game.

Record vs playoff contenders (W4, D3, L3, F19, A19) 

Hemel Hempstead Town will be pleased to play Braintree Town who they beat twice, they will be keen to avoid Dartford who inflicted two defeats on them. The Tudors won three at home and were involved in some high scoring matches including a 4-3 victory over Braintree Town and a pair of 3-3 draws against Chelmsford City and Truro City respectively.

Next fixture

The Tudors play their first match on Wednesday 2nd May at home to Braintree Town. If Hemel Hempstead Town win then they will face Dartford away in the semi-final on Sunday 6th May.

Braintree Town

Set the task of rebuilding in the summer, Braintree Town boss Brad Quinton hasn’t done a bad job by getting the Iron into the top seven with a final day 3-0 victory versus Gloucester City. The Essex club were relegated last term from the National League, a stark contrast to the campaign before when they lost to Grimsby Town in the playoff semi-final. Braintree Town spent six seasons in the National League often punching above their weight and now they have a shot of returning to the top non-league division after one season. The Iron have been within a shout of promotion all campaign by being amongst the early pace setters before the New Year slump in January and February. Quinton’s side are now another one of the playoff contenders hitting form at the right time winning five of their last six games.

Player to watch – Billy Crook

The Supporters Player of the Year adds to his accolades he won at Enfield Town the season before, whilst under manager Brad Quinton. Another goalscoring midfielder to feature in this season’s playoffs, Billy Crook started as youngster at Crystal Palace and was part of the Glenn Hoddle Academy in Spain.

Record vs playoff contenders (W2, D6, L2, F17, A17)

The Iron drew all four games against the highest ranked teams Dartford and Chelmsford City, they lost twice to their next opponents Hemel Hempstead Town and beat Hampton and Richmond Borough at home and Truro City away. Each game has had no more than a one goal winning margin so expect a tough ride against the Iron.

Next fixture

The Iron play their first match on Wednesday 2nd May at away to Hemel Hempstead Town. If Braintree Town win then they will face Dartford away in the semi-final on Sunday 6th May.

Truro City

The White Tigers had to wait to the final day of the season to book their place in the top seven. A draw with Hampton and Richmond Borough coupled with St Albans City’s defeat got them over the line. It will be the third time in four years the Cornwall club has reached the playoffs, their last attempt to win promotion to the National League ended in a semi-final loss to eventual winners Maidstone United. The campaign before their return to the National South, the White Tigers went up through the playoffs in 2015 from the Southern League they beat St Neots Town 1-0 in the final. Since Lee Hodges returned has manager, Truro City have got back to the level of expectancy. This term has been a vast improvement to the relegation threatened side of last season, however their form in April tailed off but the White Tigers managed to hang on.

Player to watch – Cody Cooke

Popular amongst the fans and players, last season’s Player of the Year top scored for the White Tigers this term. Cody Cooke joined the Cornwall club in 2010 so has been through the ups and downs with Truro City. The 34 year old knows where the goal is and gives his side experience.

Record vs playoff contenders (W3, D4, L3, F15, A16)

Truro City have a better home record than away which is hardly surprising considering the amount of travelling needed. The problem then is that Truro City, the lowest ranked team will have to play their matches away from Treyew Road. So with that in mind they did manage to beat Hemel Hempstead Town on their travels, picked up two draws and lost to the two highest ranked clubs.

Next fixture

The White Tigers play their first match on Wednesday 2nd May at away to Hampton and Richmond Borough. If Truro City win then they will face Chelmsford City away in the semi-final on Sunday 6th May.

 

Dartford v Chelmsford City

Dartford will want to put last weekend’s disappointment behind them with a positive result against one of their bogey sides, Chelmsford City.

The Darts continue to tackle their tough February fixture list by hosting the Essex side in the National South this weekend. The Clarets have only lost once in their last eight meetings against Dartford and knocked Tony Burman’s side out at the playoff semi-final stage last term.

Back in October, Dartford suffered once more at Chelmsford City losing the encounter by a solitary goal from ex Ebbsfleet United midfielder Michael West. Despite the dismissal of Kudus Oyenuga after just 19 minutes, the Darts were unable to make the extra man count. It was the third game in the last five that the Clarets won in this fixture by one goal to nil.

In the seven games versus Chelmsford City at Princes Park, Dartford have yet to win managing just two draws in the National South in 2012 and 2016. It’s been almost 18 years since the Darts last beat the Essex side at home, 3-0 in the Southern League Southern division.

Dartford lead the standings with the best home record in the division, but they seem to be clinging on after a 4-0 away defeat last Saturday at St Albans City. Tony Burman was reflective after Dartford’s display speaking to www.dartfordfc.com after the game, he said: “We are obviously all very disappointed with the result on Saturday, and especially the score line”. January’s Manager of the Month, Burman added: “In hindsight I probably selected the wrong starting eleven but just felt they deserved another opportunity, but deep down I may have got it wrong. All in all we were beaten by the better side on the day and it’s another game where we must learn by our mistakes as there was too many of them during the game”.

The National South is crying out for a team to pull away at the summit, however no side is making that break. Just eight points separate the top down to Chelmsford City in eighth.

Chelmsford City were joint favourites at the start of the campaign alongside Dartford. Although Rod Stringer’s side started well with six victories in their opening seven games in August, the Clarets began to drop points with too many draws in September (four draws and a defeat). The winter months have been inconsistent for the Essex side with January proving the most difficult where they picked up just two points in five matches.

This month, Chelmsford City began with a 2-0 win over Chippenham Town with goals from Chris Dickson and Elliot Omozusi. Manager, Stringer told ClaretsTV after the game.”I’m delighted to get the win, we’ve had a really bad January in the league and it has been tough”, he added: “At the moment we’re buzzing and it helps to get back to back wins. Hopefully that might just revitalise the club. We’ve got a tough one next week away from home but hopefully we’ve got good form against Dartford. There are no easy games and it’s a tough division”.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 36 /Chelmsford City wins: 54 / Draws: 91

Current League Form

Dartford (LWDWDW) Chelmsford City (WLLDLD)
St Albans City A 0-4 Chippenham Town H 2-0
Whitehawk H 3-1 Hampton & Richmond H 1-2
Chippenham Town A 2-2 Hemel Hempstead Town A 1-3
Havant & Waterlooville H 1-0 Bath City H 1-1
Concord Rangers H 1-1 St Albans City A 1-2
Welling United H 4-1 Braintree Town H 2-2

Previous Meetings

21.10.2017 Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 1
07.05.2017 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2
03.05.2017 Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0
18.02.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
14.01.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
17.09.2016 Chelmsford City 2 Dartford 3

Stats
Dartford are unbeaten in ten home games in the National South (W8,D2), but have only kept two clean sheets in that time.

The Darts have beaten Chelmsford City just twice in the last 16 meetings in all competitions (W2, D5, L9)

Dartford have scored once in their last five games against the Clarets.

In the their last five league games, the Clarets have lost to three of the current top five.

Chelmsford City have scored in each of their last 16 games and in their last 7 away fixtures.

On This Day
It will be the first time since reforming that Dartford have had a home fixture on 10 February. The last match at home was back in 1983 when the Darts beat Chorley 3-0 in the F.A Trophy second round replay. Since then the Darts won 1-0 against Cray Wanderers in the Kent League back in 1993, and in 2001 Dartford drew 1-1 with Stamford in the Southern League Division One East. The last time the Darts played on this day was in 2007 when Steve Hafner and Brad Potter scored in a 2-1 victory over Sittingbourne in the Isthmian Division One South.

National League South Season Preview 2017/18 – Part I

 Bath City | Bognor Regis Town | Braintree Town | Chelmsford City

Bath City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Twerton Park

The Romans achieved their highest finish in three years last term to finish in the top ten. Decent form from mid-November to mid-February helped the cause as Bath City tasted league defeat just once in that period. This season will mark the Romans sixth consecutive campaign in the National South as they push for a playoff place and a hopeful return to the National League, which they exited five years ago.

Last Season

National South: 9th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Andy Watkins (14 goals)

Average Attendance: 612 (8th in league / 59th in non-league)

The Manager – Gary Owers

Former Sunderland, Bristol City and Notts County midfielder last managed Bath City over ten years ago in the Southern Premier League. The 47 year old, went on to manage Forest Green Rovers and Weston-Super-Mare prior assistant manager roles at Aldershot Town, Plymouth Argyle and his hometown club Gateshead. Owers enjoyed his first full campaign last season and this time is aiming for the top five. The Romans boss committed to the club this summer for the next two years and hopes the community buy out off the field will reap its rewards.

The Summer

Shaun McClousky returns to his parent club Bristol City, which allows Jamie Lucas from Bristol Rovers and Nat Jarvis from Hungerford Town to try and replace his goals. Owers has opted for experience at the back signing Grenadian international Anthony Straker from Aldershot Town and Darren Jones from Newport County, adding a little youthfulness in the defence will be Miles Welch-Hayes from Oxford United. Top scorer Andy Watkins was retained after picking up last season’s Player of the Year for the Romans. Turning his loan spell last season to a permanent deal, Marvin Morgan signs from Havant and Waterlooville. Triallists, Matt Cafer and Ryan Case impressed enough in pre-season to earn deals.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 29 / Bath City wins: 40 / Draws: 19

Previous Meetings

04.03.2017 Dartford 2 Bath City 0
22.10.2016 Bath City 0 Dartford 1
16.01.2016 Dartford 4 Bath City 1
05.09.2015 Bath City 0 Dartford 0
07.04.1990 Dartford 1 Bath City 0
09.09.1989 Bath City 0 Dartford 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 14 October 2017 at Twerton Park

Saturday 21 April 2018 at Princes Park

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Bognor Regis Town

Founded: 1883 / Ground: Nyewood Lane

Isthmian Premier League runners up two years in a row, the Rocks return to the National South after an eight year absence. In that time the sank to the Isthmian Division One South where again they finished second in consecutive seasons, going up in the playoffs. The Sussex club managed to overcome a strong Dulwich Hamlet side in April’s playoff final and deservedly earned promotion.

Last Season

Isthmian Premier: 2nd

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: James Fraser (22 goals)

Average Attendance: 550 (5th in league / 64th in non-league)

The Manager – Vacant

The search for a new boss took some time only for the hard work to be undone. Sami El-Abd agreed to combine the manager’s post with a full time coaching role at Brighton and Hove Albion, only for the defender to step down. General Manager, Jack Pearce praised El-Abd’s honesty and believes any disruptions won’t be a problem for the Rocks.

The Summer

Bognor Regis Town suffered a double blow, after losing manager Jamie Howell, top scorer James Fraser departed Nyewood Lane for Worthing. Corey Heath, once a youth team player with the Rocks will now be part of the senior squad. Goalkeeper, Dan Lincoln and midfield trio Joe Lea, Pat Suraci and Tommy Scutt have all signed on but attracting new players has proved challenging without a manager for most of the summer.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 / Bognor Regis Town wins: 1 / Draws: 4

Previous Meetings

24.04.2010 Bognor Regis Town 0 Dartford 2
07.11.2009 Dartford 3 Bognor Regis Town 3
02.05.1981 Dartford 1 Bognor Regis Town 1
13.12.1980 Bognor Regis Town 2 Dartford 2
01.05.1980 Bognor Regis Town 2 Dartford 0
10.11.1979 Dartford 2 Bognor Regis Town 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 7 October 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 28 April 2018 at Nyewood Lane

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Braintree Town

Founded: 1898 / Ground: Cressing Road

The Irons six year stay amongst the elite of non league ended in relegation last season. In that time the Essex club kept defying the odds starting with mid-table finishes and in 2014 were three points from a playoff spot. A couple of years later, Braintree Town achieved their best ever campaign finishing third, losing the playoff semi final against Grimsby Town. Perhaps victims of their own success, the Iron never recovered and were relegated last term on the final day. At least they reached the F.A cup second round for the first time.

Last Season

National League: 22nd

F.A Cup: 2nd Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Michael Cheek (17 goals)

Average Attendance: 725 (22nd in league / 44th in non-league)

The Manager – Brad Quinton

The club’s record appearance maker after twelve successful seasons with the Iron, Brad Quinton re-joins the Essex club to take charge. Winner of the Isthmian Premier and National South as a player with Braintree Town, he has had a lot of rebuilding to do and his new look squad will be hoping to consolidate in the National South. Quinton has set his sights on the top half of the table by the festive period and then see where he can take them from there. Being a crowd favourite on the pitch may well help him in the dug out.

The Summer

The Irons have signed a teams worth of new players alone including former Dartford striker George Sykes from Canvey Island. Quinton also raided resources at Enfield Town, his former club to work with players he knows and trusts. Nathan McDonald, Jonathan Muleba, Scott Schulton, Samir Bihmoutine, Ricky Gabriel, Nigel Neita and Connor Bolton all join from the Middlesex club. Xavier Vidal has been brought in from Mertsham, Roman Michael-Percil from Metropolitan Police, George Craddock from East Thurrock United and Marc Okoye from Dulwich Hamlet.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Braintree Town wins: 6 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

01.01.2015 Braintree Town 3 Dartford 0
26.12.2014 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
18.04.2014 Braintree Town 1 Dartford 0
24.08.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
11.04.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 0
25.09.2012 Braintree Town 0 Dartford 2

Next Meetings

Tuesday 8 August 2017 at Cressing Road

Saturday 23 December 2018 at Princes Park

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Chelmsford City

Founded: 1878 / Ground: Melbourne Stadium

A solid reliable outfit last season, the Clarets failed at the final hurdle in the playoffs, this time against ten men Ebbsfleet United. Chelmsford City will be aiming for promotion after their fourth place finish last term was a vast improvement on the three campaigns before. Like local rivals Braintree Town, the Clarets have been busy in the summer transfer window and have overhauled their squad in an attempt to mount a challenge.

Last Season

National South: 4th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Shaun Jeffers (21 goals)

Average Attendance: 912 (4th in league / 38th in non-league)

The Manager – Rod Stringer

The Chelmsford City boss ensured the club finished in their best league position since 2011. Stringer’s reputation has been built on two league titles, first with Aveley’s triumph in the Isthmian League Division One North then with Braintree Town in the National South. He will come up against his former club Braintree Town this season after controversially walking away. Last summer he made the move back to Essex from Bishop’s Stortford and has the Clarets believing again.

The Summer

Capitalising on players leaving rivals Braintree Town, the former Irons boss Rod Stringer grabbed the opportunity by signing former Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur forward Lee Barnard. Ex AFC Wimbledon goalkeeper Sam Beasant joins from the Clarets rivals as does Harry Lee. Chelmsford City are amongst the busiest teams in the transfer window capturing the likes of Michael West and Elliott Omozusi from Whitehawk, Craig Braham-Barrett from Welling United and former Dartford loanee Jim Stevenson from Dover Athletic. Former Peterborough United, Millwall and Leyton Orient striker, Shaun Batt was signed from Barnet with the help of the Clarets ’12th man’ fund. Scott Davies (Oxford City), Paul Rodgers (Bishop’s Stortford), Kudus Oyenuga (Greenock Morton), Matt Johnson (Billericay Town) and Aaron Greene (Bishop’s Stortford) have also signed for the Clarets. Former Darts, Max Cornhill and Josh Hill have left the club.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 36 / Chelmsford City wins: 53 / Draws: 91

Previous Meetings

07.05.2017 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2
03.05.2017 Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0
18.02.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
14.01.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
17.09.2016 Chelmsford City 2 Dartford 3
13.08.2016 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 1

Next Meetings

Saturday 21 October 2017 at Melbourne Stadium

Saturday 10 February 2018 at Princes Park

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Dartford v Chelmsford City

Dartford have it all to play for on Sunday when they host Chelmsford City in the National South playoff semi final second leg.

The Darts will set up a mouthwatering final against rivals Ebbsfleet United on 13 May should both sides win this weekend. However, the Clarets will be standing in Dartford’s way after a goalless draw on Wednesday night kept the semi final in the balance.

Tony Burman made one change from the final league game of the season, Duane Ofori-Acheampong started in place of Andy Pugh. It was Chelmsford City who began well with Robbie Willmott’s tenth minute strike flashing wide past Deren Ibrahim, the Darts goalkeeper also turned over Louie Theophanous’ effort five minutes later. Chris Bush headed wide from a corner as the Clarets opened the first fifteen minutes brightly. Dartford’s Luke Wanadio did put the ball in the Chelmsford City net shortly afterwards, but the offside flag was already up. Five minutes before the interval, the Clarets wasted the best chance of the half when the ball was bundled past the post.

The second half improved but still there were very few clear cut opportunities, until Chris Dickson hit a volley over the bar just past the hour mark. The Darts managed to press their opponents more as the game developed but without creating much in front of goal. For the second leg, it’s likely Keaton Wood will have to be assessed as he was substituted after coming out of a challenge dazed.

Wednesday night was the fifth time this season the two sides have met, with home advantage counting for nothing. Dartford have now drawn two and won one in their visits to the Melbourne Community Stadium, whilst Chelmsford City have recorded two victories at Princes Park.

The first fixture between the clubs came back in the opening month of the campaign. Luke Wanadio headed Dartford ahead just before the hour but the lead didn’t last long. Shaun Jeffers, the Clarets top scorer in the National South this season with 21 goals, put the Essex side level eleven minutes later.

Drawn together in the F.A Cup, Dartford returned to the Melbourne Community Stadium in an intriguing cup tie. On a windy September afternoon, the weather was influential on the outcome with the Darts racing into a three goal lead before half-time. Goalkeeper, Ross Fitzsimons scored an unfortunate own goal early on and Elliot Bradbrook’s penalty and second goal five minutes later, put the Darts in a commanding position at the break. Chelmsford City fought back with two Shamir Mullings headers in two minutes to set up a tense finish, but the Darts held on to a 3-2 victory.

Fate would pair the two together again in the F.A Trophy second round at Princes Park. The meeting in January turned when midfielder Alex Brown’s reckless challenge left Dartford a man short. Chelmsford City eventually took advantage when Chris Dickson’s far post finish secured a 1-0 victory for the away team. A month later, the Clarets repeated the same scoreline in the National South, this time Anthony Church’s deflected effort found the net to earn the Essex club three points.

Whilst Dartford are aiming for a return to the National League after a two year absence, Chelmsford City have never reached those heights but do have plenty of Playoff experience. The Clarets reached the Playoffs four times in five years between 2009 and 2013 and lost at the first hurdle on each occasion. They also lost out in an Isthmian Premier League Playoff semi-final back in 2007. Meanwhile, the Darts only Playoff campaign was a successful one five years ago, earning them promotion to the National League when they beat Basingstoke Town and Welling United.

Dartford boss, Tony Burman stated that getting his club to the playoffs this term was amongst his greatest achievement for the club. Although he led the Darts to promotion five years ago to the National League he feels this time round it’s a bigger deal considering the budget available compared to others in the division. One thing Burman does have going is previous playoff experience within his squad. Elliot Bradbrook, Tom Bonner, Lee Noble, Danny Harris and Ryan Hayes were all part of the winning side five years ago.

Chelmsford City will have some former Darts hoping to  prove a point with Max Cornhill in midfield, Josh Hill in defence and Luke Daley on the wing. The Clarets also have an array of attacking options such as Shaun Jeffers, Chris Dickson, Louie Theophanous, Elliott Buchanan, Robbie Willmott and Anthony Church.

The winners will face either Ebbsfleet United who finished second in the National South or Hampton and Richmond who ended up seventh, on the 13 May. The Fleet are just about in the driving seat currently leading the semi-final 2-1 going into the second leg.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 36 / Chelmsford City wins: 52 / Draws: 91

End of Season League Form
Dartford (WWDLWW)
Won 3-2 v Poole Town (A)
Won 4-0 v Bishop’s Strotford (H)
Won 3-1 v Hampton and Richmond (H)
Lost 0-2 v Hungerford Town (A)
Won 4-3 v Eastbourne Borough (H)
Drew 2-2 v Hemel Hempstead Town (A)

Chelmsford City (DWWLWW)
Drew 1-1 v Hungerford Town (A)
Won 3-1 v Bath City (H)
Won 3-1 v Welling United (H)
Lost 0-2 v Oxford City (A)
Won 3-0 v Poole Town (H)
Won 2-0 v Hampton and Richmond (A)

Meetings This Season
Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0 (03/05/2017 – National South Playoff)
Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1 (18/02/2017 – National South)
Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1 (14/01/2017 – F.A Trophy)
Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 3 (17/09/2016 – F.A Cup)
Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 1 (13/08/2016 – National South)

On This Day
Twenty three years ago Dartford finished their first season back after reformation. The campaign ended with a ‘home’ match against Deal Town at Oxford Road, Sidcup where a 2-2 draw secured a sixth place finish. Micky Collins top scored in 1993/1994 with 21 goals, future Dartford boss Gary Julians scored 18 and Paul Hennessy 15. Tony Burman finished the season with 21 appearances (12 from the bench) and two goals.

Chelmsford City v Dartford

Dartford are two games away from a playoff final and potential promotion to the National League, but standing in their way will be Chelmsford City.

The Darts snatched a home second leg advantage away from the Clarets on the weekend to finish the campaign in third. Tony Burman’s side travelled to the Dorset coast and after Andy Pugh’s ninth minute tap in looked to be on course. However, Poole Town came from behind with a headed goal by Marvin Brooks and a second from Steve Devlin before half time.

Meanwhile, Hungerford Town went in at the break level with Chelmsford City and the league standing unchanged between the Darts and the Clarets. Rod Stringer’s Chelmsford City took lead through Josh Rees but with nine minutes remaining Hungerford Town’s Louie Soares levelled. Still in third place the Essex side looked set to finish in third.

Then injury time on the Jurassic Coast created plenty of drama, Tom Murphy hooked the ball over his head from close range to put Dartford level at 2-2. The biggest twist came six minutes into stoppage time when Lee Noble lashed home a winner giving the Darts a very late 3-2 victory.

If the Darts and the Clarets are not sick of the sight of each other, they probably will be by the end of the second leg on May 7th. They have already met four times this term with home advantage counting for nothing. Dartford drew and won when they visited the Melbourne Community Stadium, whilst Chelmsford City recorded two victories at Princes Park.

The first fixture between the clubs came back in the opening month of the campaign. Luke Wanadio headed Dartford ahead just before the hour but the lead didn’t last long. Shaun Jeffers, the Clarets top scorer in the National South this season with 21 goals, put the Essex side level eleven minutes later.

Drawn together in the F.A Cup, Dartford returned to the Melbourne Community Stadium in an intriguing cup tie. On a windy September afternoon, the weather was influential on the outcome with the Darts racing into a three goal lead before half-time. Goalkeeper, Ross Fitzsimons scored an unfortunate own goal early on and Elliot Bradbrook’s penalty and second goal five minutes later, put the Darts in a commanding position at the break. Chelmsford City fought back with two Shamir Mullings headers in two minutes to set up a tense finish, but the Darts held on to a 3-2 victory.

Fate would pair the two together again in the F.A Trophy second round at Princes Park. The meeting in January turned when midfielder Alex Brown’s reckless challenge left Dartford a man short. Chelmsford City eventually took advantage when Chris Dickson’s far post finish secured a 1-0 victory for the away team. A month later, the Clarets repeated the same scoreline in the National South, this time Anthony Church’s deflected effort found the net to earn the Essex club three points.

Whilst Dartford are aiming for a return to the National League after a two year absence, Chelmsford City have never reached those heights but do have plenty of Playoff experience. The Clarets reached the Playoffs four times in five years between 2009 and 2013 and lost at the first hurdle on each occasion. They also lost out in an Isthmian Premier League Playoff semi-final back in 2007. Meanwhile, the Darts only Playoff campaign was a successful one five years ago, earning them promotion to the National League when they beat Basingstoke Town and Welling United.

Dartford boss, Tony Burman stated that getting his club to the Playoffs this term was amongst his greatest achievement for the club. Although he led the Darts to promotion five years ago to the National League he feels this time round it’s a bigger deal considering the budget available compared to others in the division. One thing Burman does have going is previous playoff experience within his squad. Elliot Bradbrook, Tom Bonner, Lee Noble, Danny Harris and Ryan Hayes were all part of the winning side five years ago.

Chelmsford City will have some former Darts hoping to  prove a point with Max Cornhill in midfield, Josh Hill in defence and Luke Daley on the wing. The Clarets also have an array of attacking options such as Shaun Jeffers, Chris Dickson, Louie Theophanous, Elliott Buchanan, Robbie Willmott and Anthony Church.

Head to Head
Chelmsford City wins: 52 / Dartford wins: 36 / Draws: 90

Current League Form
Chelmsford City (DWWLWW)
Drew 1-1 v Hungerford Town (A)
Won 3-1 v Bath City (H)
Won 3-1 v Welling United (H)
Lost 0-2 v Oxford City (A)
Won 3-0 v Poole Town (H)
Won 2-0 v Hampton and Richmond (A)

Dartford (WWDLWW)
Won 3-2 v Poole Town (A)
Won 4-0 v Bishop’s Strotford (H)
Won 3-1 v Hampton and Richmond (H)
Lost 0-2 v Hungerford Town (A)
Won 4-3 v Eastbourne Borough (H)
Drew 2-2 v Hemel Hempstead Town (A)

Meetings This Season
Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1 (18/02/2017 – National South)
Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1 (14/01/2017 – F.A Trophy)
Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 3 (17/09/2016 – F.A Cup)
Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 1 (13/08/2016 – National South)

Stats
The home side in this fixture last won on 3 January 2010 when Chelmsford City triumphed 2-0 in the National South. Since then there has been four away wins (two by each club) and four draws.

Dartford are unbeaten in four at the Melbourne Community Stadium but have won just twice in the last eight there.

Not only did the Darts finish third and the Clarets fourth in the league, they also ended in the same positions for average attendances this term. Dartford averaged 997 over their 21 home games compared to Chelmsford City’s 912.

On This Day
It’s been twenty years since Dartford scored on 3 May at home to Cirencester Town in the Southern League Southern Division. The Darts went on to win 4-2 as they finished their campaign in 14th place. Only two more games have played since, a 0-0 draw at home to St Leonards three years later and a 2-0 loss twelve months on away to Witney Town, in the Southern League Eastern Division.

Dartford v Chelmsford City

Dartford have turned from playoff to title contenders in recent weeks and their next test is at home to Chelmsford City.

It will be the fourth time the two sides meet this season having played in both the F.A Cup and F.A Trophy. So far the away team has edged out with one win a piece in the cups and a draw in the National South back in August. The Darts drew 1-1 in Essex six months ago with Luke Wanadio’s header cancelling out by Shaun Jeffers’ leveller.

Dartford returned to the Melbourne Community Stadium a month later in an interesting and tense F.A Cup tie. Racing into a three goal lead by half time, courtesy of an own goal and an Elliot Bradbrook brace, the Darts were up against the conditions in the second half when they conceded twice. The Clarets did get revenge in the F.A Trophy though in their last visit to Princes Park, Chris Dickson’s winner sent the Essex club through.

Chelmsford City boss, Rod Stringer claimed that 1-0 victory was a statement for other teams in the playoffs. However, since then the Clarets have dropped out of the top five and currently sit four points adrift. Their F.A Trophy run, which ended against Tranmere Rovers, means Stringer’s side do have games in hand on those above.

On the other hand, Dartford are the form team of the division and have pulled away from the Clarets. A run of six consecutive wins has closed the gap at the top leaving the Darts third and a point behind rivals Ebbsfleet United. Since New Years Day, Tony Burman’s side have made up 14 points on Maidenhead United who were strolling at the top at the turn of the year. Dartford are now ten points better off than Stringer’s team and are contenders for the National South title at this stage.

Over the last six league matches goals have come from all over the park, Dartford have netted an impressive 23 with 11 different goalscorers, taking their goal difference from the seventh best to the third. The goals continued on the weekend with a 4-0 away triumph at Gosport Borough. Andy Pugh scored a tap in within five minutes, his fourth league goal in as many games. Luke Wanadio deservedly got on the scoresheet with a well placed finish, Keaton Wood’s stunning strike made it three and Kaka Dembele nodded in the fourth. Alex Brown and Duane Ofori-Acheampong returned to the squad and were named on the bench and Burman gave academy midfielder Richard Seixas some more game time.

Chelmsford City have playoff aspirations of their own and were in with a shout of the title race up until mid October. The Essex club went seven games without a win, drawing six of them. The Clarets have since got back to winning ways, with defeat at Ebbsfleet United an exception, yet on the weekend they shared the points with St Albans City to drop two in a frustrating afternoon. Stringer noted his attack wasn’t clinical enough, a problem he’s noticed with frequency this campaign.

Jeffers who equalised in the reverse fixture back in August is Chelmsford City’s top marksman this term with 15 goals. He can look forward to forming a partnership with new signing Liam Enver-Marum, the former Ebbsfleet United and Maidstone United striker. The 29 year old made a late appearance on Saturday replacing Jeffers. Three former Darts are also in the squad, winger Luke Daley, full back Josh Hill, who only signed last month and Max Cornhill.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 36 / Chelmsford City wins: 51 / Draws: 90

Current League Form
Dartford (WWWWWW)
Won 4-0 v Gosport Borough (A)
Won 3-1 v Whitehawk (H)
Won 4-0 v Wealdstone (A)
Won 3-2 v Eastbourne Borough (A)
Won 3-2 v Weston-super-Mare (H)
Won 6-1 v East Thurrock United (H)

Chelmsford City (DWLWWW)
Drew 1-1 v St Albans City (H)
Won 2-0 v Truro City (H)
Lost 0-2 v Ebbsfleet United (A)
Won 1-0 v Whitehawk (H)
Won 3-1 v Bishop’s Stortford (A)
Won 4-0 v Bishop’s Stortford (H)

Previous Meetings
Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1 (14/01/2017) – F.A Trophy
Chelmsford City 2 Dartford 3 (17/09/2016) – F.A Cup
Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 1 (13/08/2016)
Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 1 (02/01/2016)
Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 1 (26/12/2015)
Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 0 (07/04/2012)

Stats
Dartford have not hosted and beaten Chelmsford City in 17 years. A run of four defeats and two draws means the 3-0 win in 2000 was the last time the Darts achieved a home victory over the Essex club.

Since the home win in 2000, Dartford have only recorded one other league triumph against the Clarets, the 1-0 win at the Melbourne Community Stadium on Boxing Day two years ago.

The Darts are unbeaten in their last five league matches against Chelmsford City, winning one and drawing four. The last two league meetings have ended 1-1.

Very few goals decide this fixture, Dartford have failed to score more than once and Chelmsford City more than twice since the Southern League Southern Division match in 2000.

Andy Pugh seems to warm up in January and February. Last season he also scored in four consecutive league games between 26 January and 23 February, he netted five times

On This Day
Dartford’s highlight of the 2013/14 season came on 18 February when the Darts swept aside Woking. The 5-1 victory temporarily glossed over relegation fears when braces from Alex Wall and Max Cornhill was added to by Lee Noble. The win was exactly two years to the day since the Cards beat the Darts 1-0 in the National South to dent Dartford’s title ambitions, the Darts did eventually go up in the playoffs that season. Defeats to Horsham (2-3 in 2009), Berkhamsted Town (1-3 in 2006) and Fisher Athletic (1-3 in 2003) all came after 1995’s entertaining 5-3 triumph over Furness in the Kent League.

Dartford v Chelmsford City

The F.A Trophy returns for Dartford this weekend when they host Chelmsford City in the third meeting between the two sides this season.

Having been drawn against each other in the F.A Cup third qualifying round, the Darts and the Clarets have also played in the National South. The league meeting ended in a 1-1 draw with Luke Wanadio’s header cancelled out by Shaun Jeffers.

Dartford were victors in the F.A Cup when a wind assisted fixture really did turn out to be a ‘game of two halves’. The Darts raced into a three goal half time lead thanks to a Ross Fitzsimons own goal and an Elliot Bradbrook brace. In the second half, Shamir Mullings scored twice to set up a tense finale only for Dartford to hold out.

Tony Burman’s side will enter the F.A Trophy second round full of confidence after thrashing East Thurrock United in their last outing. Their Essex opponents had only lost four all season but were swept aside last weekend as Dartford won 6-1, their biggest victory for five years.

On top of that result six different goalscorers found the net, Tom Bonner headed in the first after two minutes, Alex Brown shortly afterwards and Tom Murphy opened his account in only his second appearance for the club. Tom Wraight pulled a goal back for the visitors before Andy Pugh made it four in the first half. Ryan Hayes and an Elliot Bradbrook penalty added two more before the final whistle to cap off a brilliant afternoon.

Burman praised his squad for an fantastic response to the New Year’s Day defeat to Ebbsfleet United, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “Some of the play was excellent, I’m pleased that each time we’ve had a defeat , we’ve bounced back”, and the Dartford boss didn’t even think the 6-1 mauling of East Thurrock United was the best he’s seen his side play, he added: “It’s the best spell of finishing we’ve had in games, I’m not saying it’s the best we’ve played because we’ve had some good games”.

Meanwhile, Chelmsford City extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to eleven. The Clarets beat a struggling Whitehawk side 1-0 with former Dartford midfielder Max Cornhill scoring the winner ten minutes from time. The Essex club are third in the National South and eleven points behind leaders Maidenhead United and just one point ahead of the Darts.

Rod Stringer’s side beat Southern Premier League’s Hitchin Town in the previous round with a goal after just two minutes, Jeffers netted the winner from close range. The Clarets had to wait far longer in the third qualifying round when they hosted Taunton Town, who play at a tier lower than Hitchin Town. As the tie look set for a replay Anthony Church scored in the 89th minute to send Chelmsford City through.

Dartford upset National League local rivals Dover Athletic in the last round after a replay. Ronnie Vint scored in both matches, the 1-1 draw at Princes Park and the 2-1 victory at the Crabble. In the qualifying round, Dartford ran out 4-2 winners against National South side Weston-super-Mare, with Elliot Bradbrook scoring a hat-trick.

Head to Head
Chelmsford City wins: 50 / Dartford wins: 36 / Draws: 90

Current Form (all competitions)
Dartford (WLWLWD)
Won 6-1 v East Thurrock United (H) – National South
Lost 0-1 v Ebbsfleet United (A) – National South
Won 2-1 v Ebbsfleet United (H) – National South
Lost 0-5 v Maidenhead United (A) – National South
Won 1-2 v Dover Athletic (A) – F.A Trophy
Drew 1-1 v Dover Athletic (H) – F.A Trophy

Chelmsford City (WWWDWD)
Won 1-0 v Whitehawk (H) – National South
Won 3-1 v Bishop’s Stortford (A) – National South
Won 4-0 v Bishop’s Stortford (H) – National South
Drew 0-0 v Weston-super-Mare (A) – National South
Won 1-0 v Hitchin Town (H) – F.A Trophy
Drew 3-3 v Hungerford Town (H) – National South

Previous Six Meetings
Chelmsford City 2 Dartford 3 (17/09/2016) – F.A Cup
Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 1 (13/08/2016)
Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 1 (02/01/2016)
Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 1 (26/12/2015)
Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 0 (07/04/2012)
Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0 (27/08/2011)

Stats
In cup competition the spoils have been shared with both teams winning five Southern League Cup ties and an F.A Cup fixture each. There has also been four draws, all in the Southern League Cup.

Elliot Bradbrook has scored three goals in three games in this season’s F.A Trophy. In all cup ties, Bradbrook has scored ten in seven starts.

Dartford have gone five home matches without a win against Chelmsford City. The last home victory against the Clarets was in 2000 when Dartford won 3-0 in the Southern League Southern Division.

The Darts are unbeaten in six, home and away against the Clarets with two wins and four draws.

On This Day
Jacob Erskine took home the match ball five years ago in a 4-2 victory over National North side Boston United. In the F.A Trophy second round tie, Erskine back heeled the opener after four minutes and Lee Noble added a second to put the Darts back in front. Erskine stretched the Darts lead before Boston United pulled a goal back, but the hat-trick hero secured victory with Dartford’s fourth. Four other F.A Trophy games have taken place on 14 January in which the Darts have won two and lost two. Merthyr Tydfil won 2-1 in a first round replay fifteen years ago, Dorchester Town were thrashed 4-0 in 1989 on the way to Dartford’s semi-final appearance later that season. Barnet won 3-0 in 1984 and six years earlier Sutton United were defeated 2-0. Saturday will be the Darts seventh game at home on the 14 January in a row.

Chelmsford City v Dartford

Almost a year ago Dartford were on the wrong end of a F.A Cup upset, now the Darts hope to progress in their tough draw against Chelmsford City.

Only a month has passed since Dartford visited Melbourne Park and came home with a point. The National South fixture ended all square when Luke Wanadio’s header was cancelled out by Shaun Jeffers.

Having been knocked out at this stage last term to Southern League Division One Central side Uxbridge, Tony Burman will be desperate to avoid another early exit, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “Last year we had a dream draw but it backfired for us. This year we’ve got a team in the same division as ourselves away from home. You don’t want to be playing a team in your own league and they have got home advantage but we want to stay in the FA Cup and that’s what we’ll try to do”, he added: “We all know the financial rewards that are on offer but it’s a tough draw and I am sure they think the same. We’ll both be looking forward to it. It’s a one-off game. Nothing else matters and we’ll look to do our best and progress”.

The Darts can look forward to the cup tie having stretched their unbeaten run to four in the league at Margate. Leaving it fairly late, Dartford scored twice in the final fifteen minutes to record their second away win of the season. Andy Pugh scored his first of the campaign following up a rebound from Danny Harris’s effort. Elliot Bradbrook made sure of the three points by scoring a penalty.

Tony Burman almost has a full squad to choose from and is hoping Ronnie Vint is cleared to play. The defender has suffered with a broken wrist but match officials have ruled him out because of the cast he has to wear.

Dartford last played Chelmsford City in the F.A Cup seven years ago when the Darts were in the Istmian Premier league. Two of the players in the current squad, Elliot Bradbrook and Lee Noble started that game which ended 4-1 to the Clarets. The Essex side inflicted the first home defeat of that campaign on the Darts with two goals coming from Antonio Murray and the others by Ricky Holmes and Dave Rainford, Adam Flanagan scored the only goal for Dartford.

Chelmsford City will provide another stern test in the cup, the Clarets are fourth in the National South, five points behind top spot. The Essex club are unbeaten at home with four wins and two draws, their only defeats this campaign came back to back against current league leaders Maidenhead United and third place St Albans City.

The Clarets saw the end of their five game winning streak on Monday when they drew at home with East Thurrock United. The 2-2 stalemate was the first points dropped by Rod Stringers’ side since losing at Maidenhead United. Jeffers earned a point for his team with a stoppage time equaliser as the Clarets fell behind twice in the game.

Chelmsford City’s winning run started with three clean sheets against Oxford City, Welling United and Weston-super-Mare followed by wins over Ebbsfleet United and Whitehawk. Top of the form table, the Clarets look set to challenge for promotion after three years of mediocrity.

In last season’s F.A Cup, the Clarets won a replay against Ebbsfleet United before losing to a struggling Basingstoke Town team. The last time the Essex club reached the proper rounds was when they last reached the playoffs in 2012.

Head to Head
Chelmsford City wins: 50 / Dartford wins: 35 / Draws: 90

Current Form
Chelmsford City (DWWWWW)
Drew 2-2 v East Thurrock United (H)
Won 1-0 v Whitehawk (A)
Won 2-1 v Ebbsfleet United (A)
Won 1-0 v Weston-super-Mare (A)
Won 2-0 v Welling United (A)
Won 2-0 v Oxford City (A)

Dartford (WDWDLW)
Won 2-0 v Margate (A)
Drew 1-1 v East Thurrock United (A)
Won 2-1 v Welling United (H)
Drew 0-0 v Maidenhead United (H)
Lost 1-4 v Hampton & Richmond Borough (A)
Won 2-0 v Hungerford Town (H)

Previous Six Meetings
Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 1 (13/08/2016)
Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 1 (02/01/2016)
Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 1 (26/12/2015)
Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 0 (07/04/2012)
Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0 (27/08/2011)
Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2 (03/01/2011)

F.A Cup Stats
Over the last ten years Chelmsford City have reached the proper rounds on four occasions compared to Dartford’s three times

Dartford have made it past the second qualifying round on seven occasions in the last ten years compared to Chelmsford City’s eight.

Dartford reached the third round two years in a row in 1935/36 and 1936/37, the furthest they have got in the F.A Cup

The Clarets made the second round three years in a row between 2011 and 2013

Chelmsford City’s best F.A Cup came in 1938/39 when they reached the fourth round

On This Day
John Bartley scored four times including a 20 minute hat-trick against Flackwell Heath in the F.A Cup first qualifying tie 28 years ago. The Darts went on to win 7-1 at Watling Street and reach the first round proper. The 1988 F.A Cup tie was the last victory Dartford recorded on 17 September and since then they have lost 3-0 to Chatham Town in the Kent League (1994), 4-1 to Corby Town in the Southern League Division One East (2005), 2-1 to Farnborough in the National South (2011) and 3-0 to Luton Town in the National League (2013).