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Season Review 2014/2015

1st – Barnet – 92 pointsBFC

Deservedly winning the title on the final day of the season, Barnet become Conference champions for a record third time. Manager, Martin Allen picked up a second league winners medal in three years, having won League Two with Gillingham, and his know how had the Hertfordshire club leading the Conference for the majority of the campaign. An opening day 5-0 win set the tone in a consistent season as the Bees went on to open up a comfortable gap. John Akinde’s 31 goals earned the striker the golden boot award in his first season with the Bees, the striker helped his side top score with 94. A wobble in the New Year and February allowed challengers to claw back the deficit. Having led the way for five months, Barnet were knocked off the top at the start of March. The Bees wasted no time and returned to the summit immediately, an eight match unbeaten run had Allen’s side a point clear entering the final day showdown. Facing Gateshead at home, The Hive was in a celebratory mood as the season closed with a 2-0 victory, stretching the unbeaten run to nine ensuring the Conference title returned to Barnet. The honours board now reads at The Hive, Conference champions 1991, 2005 and 2015.

Did you know…
Barnet had six spells at the top of the table and ended up at the summit 42 times, after completing a match.

2nd – Bristol Rovers – 91 pointsbristol rovers

This season’s playoff winners were officially the most difficult team to beat in the Conference Premier, Bristol Rovers’ extraordinary form from September to the end of the season meant Barnet couldn’t quite shrug them off until the very end. After three games, the Gas were shown that life in non-league wasn’t easy. Relegated from League Two, Bristol Rovers opened their campaign with a draw, defeat to eventual champions and a loss to promoted Altrincham. Darrell Clarke soon pulled his troops together and embarked on a nine game unbeaten run. After defeat at home to Forest Green Rovers, the Gas set a season’s record of a further twenty matches unbeaten and ended eight games without a loss. The best defence in the league kept 22 clean sheets and with summer signing Matty Taylor and Ellis Harrison netting 31 between them, Bristol Rovers were always hot on Barnet’s tails. Going into the final day, Clarke’s men knew they had to win and they did in style with a 7-0 thrashing of Alfreton Town. A 19 match unbeaten away run looks good on paper but too many draws on the road cost Bristol Rovers the title. A playoff semi-final win over Forest Green Rovers meant a Wembley showdown with Grimsby Town. A record playoff final crowd gathered to witness a 1-1 extra time draw but ‘Gas Heads’ went home celebrating with a 5-3 penalty shoot-out victory.

Did you know…
Bristol Rovers hit the woodwork 16 times, the joint highest with Conference Premier champions Barnet

3rd – Grimsby Town – 86 pointsgtfc

Qualifying for the playoffs for a third successive season, Grimsby Town broke their record points haul but went home as bridesmaid’s yet again. The Mariners have come so close in recent years losing two playoff semi finals and a F.A Trophy final. This time Paul Hurst’s side managed to keep in close contact with the top two and were still within a shout of the title going into the last month. Entering April, the Mariners were a point behind leaders Barnet thanks to a run of eight wins from nine, including victory against the champions. As expected and consistent with their last two campaigns, Grimsby Town’s defence was difficult to breach. In attack, Lenell John-Lewis’ 16 goals and Nathan Arnold’s ten assists helped make the Mariners a solid yet productive team. The opening to the season was mixed with three draws against a mixture of opposition but back to back 6-1 and 7-0 wins against Gateshead and Alfreton Town made the Conference sit up and take notice. Indifferent form in very small patches turned out to be the difference as the top two continued to remain ahead of Grimsby Town. The majority of their campaign consisted of strong unbeaten runs and so a playoff spot was well deserved. The Mariners defeated Eastleigh in the semi-final but a fourth Wembley defeat in a row prevented a return to the Football League.

Did you know…
The Mariners recorded the most shots on target with 285, averaging 6.19 per game.

4th – Eastleigh – 82 pointseastleigh

A terrific debut season for the Conference South champions who for a consecutive campaign set the clubs highest ever finish. The backing of Stewart Donald and the management of Richard Hill led the Spitfires to an impressive fourth spot. The Hampshire club bought in a wealth of experience recruiting the likes of Stuart Fleetwood, Jack Midson, James Constable and Crag McAllister. Constable’s 18 strikes continued his prolific record in the Conference Premier. Eastleigh’s attacking prowess, second top scorers in the division coupled with consistently beating teams in the bottom half led to a strong first term at the top of non league. One of many highlights included a 2-1 away win at Bristol Rovers and a new stand opening in December to increase capacity at the Silverlake Stadium. Eastleigh have been a growing club despite nine years in the Conference South, but the move to professional status has taken the Spitfires higher. For a successive season a newly promoted side reached the playoffs and like FC Halifax Town the campaign before it was a step too far. Eastleigh faced third place side Grimsby Town, after a 2-1 loss at home the return leg finished 3-0 to the Mariners, the Spitfires dream of reaching Wembley ended in a 5-1 aggregate defeat.

Did you know…
The offside trap was perfected by Eastleigh when they caught their opponents out 221, more than any other club, a staggering 67 times more than second place Aldershot Town.

5th – Forest Green Rovers – 79 pointsfgrfc

Constantly starting as one of the favourites, Forest Green Rovers finally showed their promise this term. Since the investment of Dale Vince, Rovers have disappointed including three tenth place finishes in a row. This time instead of fading after early promise, the Gloucestershire club ended the campaign strongly. Accumulating the most points in 2015, Rovers broke into the top five over the New Year and their consistency kept them above the playoff line. The first half of the campaign could have been just as impressive had Adrian Pennock’s team converted draws into wins. Jon Parkin’s success up front with 25 goals left him six behind the golden boot winner John Akinde. Capable of putting together strong unbeaten runs, with two sequences lasting ten and 12 games respectively, the Gloucestershire club may have fancied their playoff chances. An array of midfield creativity helped the frontline with Marcus Kelly, Rob Sinclair and Elliot Frear all inside the top ten assist makers. Currently the longest serving Conference Premier club Rovers threatened to depart after 17 years, for the first time in this spell they reached the playoffs. Facing promotion favourites Bristol Rovers, Pennock’s side were unable to make the final as they lost 3-0 on aggregate.

Did you know…
Forest Green Rovers were often caught napping up front being caught offside 135 times, the highest in the division.

6th – Macclesfield Town – 78 pointsmtfc

There is a lot more to be positive about at Moss Rose as the Silkmen narrowly missed out on a playoff place. One more goal on the final day of the season at Torquay United would have been enough as Forest Green Rovers drew, as it was Macclesfield Town could only earn a point. Beneath the end of season disappointment the Cheshire club had less off field speculation about finances than the previous campaign, a manager in John Askey who is a club favourite from his playing days and up until mid-February the title was in reach. The financial situation at Moss Rose had an impact in the end as a small squad ran out of steam, in the final two months won just three from the last eleven fixtures leading to a drop to sixth place. An exemplary home record laid the foundations of a much improved campaign, the best home defence and only two defeats at Moss Rose. The Silkmen got results, even if the fewest number of goals were scored in games featuring Macclesfield Town. Waide Fairhurst and Matthew Barnes-Homer netted 19 between them but other than that their attack was as productive as a mid-table team.

Did you know…
Macclesfield Town recorded their best home record since 1997/1998 when they went unbeaten. This term they picked up 49 points (W14, D7, L2).

7th – Woking – 76 pointswokingfc

This season’s best part time team in the United Kingdom, Woking recorded their highest finish for eighteen years and their biggest Conference Premier points tally since 1996. Garry Hill’s reputation grows as he manages to keep improving Woking’s final league position ever since he took charge in 2011. For part of the campaign it looked as if though the Cards would surprisingly challenge at the very top, they occupied second and third on a number of occasions between September and December. Scott Rendell continued his excellent form in front of goal by netting 24 times, only Jon Parkin and John Akinde scored more. The season started with a nine match unbeaten run, including a 6-1 thrashing of Conference South playoff winners Dover Athletic. Three consecutive defeats weren’t enough to derail the Surrey side as they soon climbed to second. Approaching the New Year became a little sticky with an indifferent November and a run of eight games without victory in December and January. Dropping to eighth, Woking picked themselves up as consistency returned for the remainder of the campaign, nine wins, three draws and three losses for the final run in kept the Cards ahead of the part time pack.

Did you know…
Woking’s 76 points was their highest in the Conference Premier for 19 years, when the Cards finished runners up on 83 points.

8th – Dover Athletic – 68 pointsdover

The Conference South playoff winners will be more than pleased at their first season back at the top of non-league football for twelve years. Yet the hard part is still to come with the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’ approaching, a jinx playoff winners of the Conference South seem to suffer from. For now, the second best team in Kent can reflect on a solid campaign helped by Stefan Payne’s contribution of 15 goals and nine assists. Had anyone mentioned a top ten finish mid-September they would have been classed as mad. Dover Athletic struggled to get to grips with their new surroundings losing eight of their opening eleven matches. The tide turned and the rest of the season was a blast for the newboys. A thirteen match unbeaten run took them through September to the last day of January. Resounding wins at home against Nuneaton Town as well as Kent rivals Welling United and Dartford lifted the Crabble support. A minor blip followed but Chris Kinnear could be excused as he got his side back on track losing just twice in the final eleven. The Whites also managed to enjoy a F.A Cup run to the third round where they bowed out to Premier Leaguers Crystal Palace.

Did you know…
Dover Athletic picked up 31 out of 36 points at the Crabble against teams who finished in the bottom half.

9th – FC Halifax Town – 66 pointsFC Halifax Town

The Shaymen were unable to repeat their excellent season a year ago and so missed out on the playoffs. It started all so well despite the loss of star striker Lee Gregory in the summer to Champions hip side Millwall. The campaign begun with manager Neil Aspin signing a new two year contract, despite having a year to run and in September he was rewarded with Manager of the Month. FC Halifax Town boasted a 100% record after five games and showed no signs of missing a quality striker. The rest of the season played out inconsistently until March when the only consistency was picking up a point. The Shaymen drew nine out of eleven games towards the end of the season ending with a four match losing streak. Lois Maynard managed to find the net eleven times closely followed by Scott Boden on ten. Away from home FC Halifax Town struggled to find goals with only four teams scoring fewer on their travels. However, the back remained tight away from the Shay recording the fourth best defence. Their second term in the Conference Premier was always going to be tough after a superb return last campaign, the Shaymen certainly found that out.

Did you know…
Jamie Jackson’s yellow card against Aldershot Town came after only 26 seconds on the field, the quickest caution of the season.

10th – Gateshead – 66 pointsgfc

Last term the Heed were just one game away from a return to the Football League for the first time in 55 years, this time last season’s playoff runners up only just made the top ten on goals scored. Form against those who finished above them yielded only one victory but the story was so different up to November. Gateshead lost only twice in their opening sixteen matches as they set to challenge for promotion continuing where they left off last campaign. At the start of November, the Heed were second behind Barnet but the distraction of the F.A Cup changed the picture. A run to the third round and a 7-0 defeat against Premier League’s West Bromwich Albion in January came at the end of a period of one win in nine league games. Gary Mills guided the Tynesiders through the rest of the campaign inconsistently but always on the fringes of a playoff spot. When their chance of promotion disappeared they still had a major say in the title race. Gateshead’s final day defeat handed Barnet the title and ended the campaign with one win in nine. With the season closed Mills moved to take the reins at Wrexham, the appointment of a new manager will have to wait until after Chairman Graham Wood leaves his post.

Did you know…
Gateshead managed just one win against teams finishing above them, the Heed also lost to the top five at home.

11th – Wrexham – 66 pointswfc

With a summer of rebuilding, Wrexham were led by Kevin Wilkin who impressed with his spell as Nuneaton Town boss. Wilkin took some key players with him in Louis Moult and Wes York, Moult managed 16 goals in a side which were unable to live up to expectations. The Welsh side completed their seventh campaign in the Conference Premier and after three consecutive playoff failures have struggled to reach those same heights. Still, the Red Dragons improved on last term’s seventeenth but a return to the Football League eludes them. Up until the end of September, Wrexham were in a healthy third position but form dipped for too long, only three more league were recorded from October through to the end of January. The New Year saw an improvement as the Red Dragons were tougher to beat, losing just four more in 2015. Wins were interspersed with draws but even still Wrexham finished fairly strong. The Welsh side performed admirably in both cup competitions reaching the F.A Cup third round, giving Premier League Stoke City a run for their money. Yet Wilkin lost his job when a 2-0 lead was thrown away in the F.A Trophy final to Conference North underdogs North Ferriby United, the 3-2 defeat denied Wrexham any silverware and their second F.A Trophy in three years.

Did you know…
Wrexham ended their campaign with a nine game unbeaten run at the Racecourse Ground, the longest current sequence.

12th – Chester – 63 pointsCFC

When their campaign started Chester must have thought ‘here we go again’. Reprieved last term as Hereford United were demoted for their financial issues, the Blues lost the opening game 5-0 to eventual champions Barnet. By the time April arrived Steve Burr’s side were the most improved team from the Conference Premier class of 2013/2014. Fourth from bottom last season, Chester were twelve points and nine places better off this time. Add a run to the F.A Cup second round which included a 2-1 win at Southend United and a respectable 0-0 draw at Barnsley then Chester took advantage of a second bite of the Conference Premier cherry. The Blues finished just three points behind their rivals Wrexham and recorded their highest league position since forming as Chester. John Rooney topped scored with eleven whilst Sean McConville impressed with nine strikes and eleven assists. Their slow start always had the Cheshire club looking over their shoulder but stability approached in January. The Blues went on a run of taking thirteen out fifteen points giving them a cushion to hit a poor patch, one victory in nine. The final three fixtures boosted Chester’s final position as they took all nine points including an entertaining 5-3 triumph over Nuneaton Town on the final day.

Did you know…
Since reforming in 2010, Chester recorded their highest ever finish to retain their Conference Premier status.

13th – Torquay United – 61 pointstufc

Despite an opening day defeat Torquay United lived up to expectations over the first eleven games reaching second place. Chris Hargreaves ‘ side kept eight clean sheets in that time which contributed to the Gulls six straight victories. A ten match unbeaten run came to halt unexpectedly at bottom of the table AFC Telford United and from then on Torquay United were not quite the same. The Gulls lost five from six and only won five more up to the beginning of April. By which time it was too late leaving Torquay United in a disappointing sixteenth. Hargreaves felt the frustration and revealed the average wage of £375 per week for his first team against Kidderminster Harriers, sparking national headlines. Luke Young’s creativity impressed with his fourteen assists, the joint highest in the division with Eastleigh’s Jai Reason. However, the Gulls lacked a striker to earn them more points. The Devonshire club did finish fairly strong though winning three and drawing one of their final four fixtures conceding just once. Last time Torquay United fell from the Football League it took them two attempts to return, they will have to try once more next term after a disappointing campaign.

Did you know…
Torquay United conceded the most fouls this term by giving away 513 free-kicks, an average of 11.13 per game.

14th – Braintree Town – 59 pointsBTFC

It was the first time in six years that the Iron failed to improve on their league position. In all fairness it was always going to be challenging considering the last four campaigns set new record high finishes. The man instrumental to the success of Braintree Town will not be at the helm next term, Alan Devonshire turned down a new contract offer. The Essex club were consistent throughout 2014/2015 and drew the fewest number of games in the division. The first two months started well and Devonshire’s side looked set to continue where they left off in April 2014. By mid-September the Iron were in seventh but a sticky run of ten without a win, including six games without a goal left them in the bottom half. Winning ways returned more often and apart from two further blips Braintree Town finished where you would expect. The highlight of the season came in March when the part timers went to Plainmoor and convincingly beat Torquay United 5-1, their highest scoring away win since competing in the Conference Premier. Jordan Cox and Dan Sparkes shared the club’s golden boot with ten league goals.

Did you know…
The Iron suffered the most 1-0 defeats in this season’s Conference Premier losing by a single goal ten times, they also recorded the most 2-0 wins with seven.

15th – Lincoln City – 58 pointslcfc

A fourth season completed in the Conference Premier since relegation four years ago, the Imps have made little progress by finishing between fourteenth and seventeenth on each occasion. Lincoln City started the campaign with Gary Simpson in charge and a four game unbeaten run, winning three after drawing their opening game. Six defeats from seven and a whole host of draws slid Simpson’s side down to mid table. Three goals up against Forest Green Rovers on 1 November, the Imps conceded the lead in the final twenty minutes to draw 3-3. The board reviewed the progress made and decided it was time to place Simpson on ‘gardening leave’. Chris Moyses was named the new boss having been promoted from the Lincoln City Centre of Excellence. Moyses remained in charge until the end of the season and initially the appointment looked promising when a run of six wins in seven moved his side up the ladder. Form returned to pre Moyses level as the Imps earned just four more victories in the final nineteen fixtures. Defensively on their travels Lincoln City struggled conceding 43 times, the fourth highest in the division. Ben Tomlinson was one of the bright sparks of the campaign netting 14 times, whilst Jordan Burrow grabbed ten goals.

Did you know…
The Imps were left without their kit when their hotel in Southampton suffered a fire, the incident led to their match at Eastleigh being rescheduled.

16th – Kidderminster Harriers – 57 pointsKHFC

It feels like Kidderminster Harriers missed their chance to return to the Football League two years ago. Taking the title to the final day, the Harriers missed out finishing runners up. The longer the Worcestershire club have spent in the Conference Premier greater off field pressures have caused managers to come and go and now board members. Harriers started off on the front foot unbeaten in their opening seven and perhaps their expectations were raised too high. However, Gary Whild had his team contending for the playoffs even up until January, finishing that month in fifth spot. Two months prior it was announced Kidderminster Harriers were having financial difficulties and when the transfer window opened players moved on. The wage budget was cut and out went Michael Gash, Chey Dunkley, Nathan Blissett, Kyle Storer and Marvin Johnson. Fans favourite, Lee Hughes did return to Aggborough where he started his career over 20 years ago scoring a goal every other game. It was no coincidence that form dipped, Kidderminster Harriers went on to win just once in their final fifteen games picking up eight out of 45 points available. Chairman Kevin Rae quit the club along with two directors and at the end of the campaign Harriers only had five players contracted players for next term, the wage budget is to be cut again.

Did you know…
Kidderminster Harriers recorded their lowest league position since returning to the Conference Premier, the last time they finished lower in the football pyramid was in 1997/98.

17th – Altrincham – 56 pointsaltrincham

A three year absence from the Conference Premier made no difference to Alty who had enough in the tank to take their foot off the gas. In Conference Premier seasons gone by Altrincham have consistently been in the lower reaches of the division, so their final position this term went with historical form. Losing five from their opening six games made safety look a long way off, yet in that spell they took the scalp of playoff winners and runners up Bristol Rovers. By October, Altrincham started to fit in with the division and up until February showed why they were capable of staying up. Damian Reeves brought his Conference North goalscoring form with him by scoring an impressive 18 goals, only three others in the league scored more times than the 29 year old. A decent run of just two defeats from a dozen matches moved the Greater Manchester club towards the middle of the standings. With fifty points reached before the end of March, Alty added seven more against FC Halifax Town, Dartford and Southport. The final four games all ended defeat but by then the mission had already been accomplished. Manager, Lee Sinnott will be pleased with survival and the way his team altered to their new surroundings.

Did you know…
The Conference North playoff winners of last season used the fewest number of players this term, 21 players took part in their first campaign back in the Conference Premier.

18th – Aldershot Town – 53 pointsAldershot Town FC

This time the Shots started on a level playing field compared to last terms ten point deduction. Andy Scott began the campaign in charge but dreadful form in the depths of winter cost Scott his job. The Hampshire club couldn’t find any sort of consistency in the early part of the season, and the reliance on Brett Williams’ goals throughout the campaign continued. The Shots had an awful December and January and during that time lost nine out of ten. Club captain, Chris Barker took the hotseat and the 34 year old guided Aldershot Town to a more comfortable position. When the defender took charge, the Shots were just six points from the drop zone, an unbeaten run of six games helped him secure the role until the end of the season. Barker may well have done a decent enough job but it will be former Dundee and Alloa Athletic boss Barry Smith at the helm next term. Aldershot Town eventually surpassed last season’s points tally by two points, but would have been way off had it not been for the Shots starting 2013/14 with minus ten points. Off the field, Chairman Shahid Azeem seems to have stabilised the club but on the field the Shots failed to make any progress.

Did you know…
Brett Williams took 42 seconds to score after coming off the bench against Alfreton Town, the quickest goal scored by a substitute this season.

19th – Southport – 51 pointssfc

Two excellent runs kept Southport afloat for another campaign in the Conference Premier. This time the Sandgrounders had their fair share of managerial changes bringing instability to Haig Avenue. Even still, Southport waded through and stayed up despite constantly keeping an eye on those trailing closely behind. Martin Foyle was the man responsible for getting the Merseysiders off to a slow start and by October he was sacked following a 5-2 defeat at home to Woking. Three wins in their opening 14 matches left the club third from bottom and in stepped Gary Brabin. The new boss made an immediate impact setting a six game unbeaten run but his tenure was short lived. In January he chose to move to coach at Everton’s academy leaving Southport looking for a third manager of the campaign. Four defeats in a row soon followed making Paul Carden’s task tougher but he pulled his team together in an unbeaten March taking 14 points out of the 18 available. With six games remaining Southport were just three points shy of the 50 point mark but they had to wait to the final match to reach it, the Sandgrounders ended too close to the drop zone for comfort.

Did you know…
Southport collected the most yellow cards picking up 88, Luke George’s 15 cautions was the most by a single player.

20th – Welling United – 45 pointswelling

Two major decisions severely affected Welling United’s return the Conference Premier taking survival down the wire. The Wings participated at the top of non-league for the first time in 14 years and with promising manager Jamie Day in charge, the Conference South champions looked as if though they would ease to safety. All was going to plan until November which saw the loss of Harry Beautyman to Peterborough United then a fortnight later decision one, Day left. Conference South side Ebbsfleet United wanted to flex their financial muscles and picked Day to lead their spending spree, the 35 year old accepted. The second decision came days before Christmas when Welling United gambled on Jody Brown from Grays Athletic. Brown was unable to make a positive impact and one win in nine games made his position shortlived. The Kent club managed to lose nine in a row and so it was up to right back Loui Fazakerley to have a go in the dugout. With the Wings sliding down the ladder fast, Fazakerley managed back to back victories at home to Kidderminster Harriers and Wrexham. The penultimate fixture away to Alfreton Town proved crucial; avoiding defeat would give Welling United an advantage over their opponents going into the final day, a 2-2 draw turned out to be enough, both sides lost on the last day.

Did you know…
The Wings had 12 players red carded in their first Conference Premier campaign since 1999/2000, more than any other club this term. Midfielder, Jake Gallagher saw red three times.

21st – Alfreton Town – 45 pointsatfc

In the end the Reds went down with a whimper, a crushing 7-0 loss a title chasers Bristol Rovers returned Alfreton Town back to the Conference North after a four year spell in the Conference North. The Derbyshire side conceded the most goals shipping in 90 and a goal difference of minus 41 was twenty short of Welling United’s. Nicky Law was always playing catch up not helped by the fact the manager began the campaign with a six match ban. The Reds lost all six of those fixtures and one more on his return to the sideline for good measure. Good results against fellow strugglers Southport, AFC Telford United and Nuneaton Town lifted Alfreton Town out of the drop zone, but this was only temporary. Four more defeats in a row, this time without scoring and a further four successive defeats a month later left them in trouble. Surprisingly, the Reds managed to move out of the bottom four when form picked up in 2015. With only three defeats between January and March, including seven unbeaten gave the Derbyshire a fighting chance of survival. The final five matches were too tough against three of the playoff contenders, the Reds lost three before a damaging 2-2 draw with Welling United, ultimately leading to the final day catastrophe.

Did you know…
Alfreton Town failed to pick up a single point against all top 12 teams on their travels.

22nd – Dartford – 39 pointsdfc

Lightning struck twice for the Darts when they ended up third from bottom for a successive campaign. Last term Hereford United and Salisbury City helped the Darts out leading to the Kent club’s reprieve. Although this time the consequences are far smaller AFC Telford United’s points deduction moved Dartford up one place weeks after the campaign ended. On paper the squad looked in better shape, despite preparing for Conference South football in the summer, but on the field where it matters the Darts were five points shy of last season’s total. In almost a repeat to last term a terrible ten game period was the catalyst to a bottom four finish. In November and December 2013 Dartford went on a ten game losing streak, equally a club record. A year later from November to January the feat was almost repeated; a win at Wrexham in the middle of a poor ten game run prevented the record being equalled again. Against the bottom sides Dartford fared better than the campaign before but an increase in draws and almost as many defeats left the Kent side relegated. Lee Noble impressed and Elliot Bradbrook yet again top scored from midfield. The Darts failed to fire on all cylinders up front with only Nuneaton Town scoring fewer goals.

Did you know…
Dartford may have recorded the fewest attempts on goal with 318 shots, but Ryan Hayes goal after 25 seconds against Kidderminster Harriers was the quickest this season. The midfielder’s  goal was one of three corners he directly scored from this term.

23rd – AFC Telford United – 36 pointsAFCTUFC

In danger of becoming a ‘yo-yo’ club AFC Telford United returned to the Conference North after one season. The Bucks finished bottom two years ago before bouncing back at the first attempt, now the Shropshire club drop a division once more. Liam Watson led the Bucks to the Conference North title a year ago and was rewarded with the chance to keep AFC Telford United in the top non-league division. However, his start failed to take off with the first win coming after 12 games albeit an entertaining 4-3 victory versus Torquay United. The Bucks were rooted to the bottom for the majority of the campaign and by December Watson lost his position as manager with Steve Kittrick taking over. In the second half of the season AFC Telford United did manage to pick up almost twice as many points as the first half. High scoring draws against Nuneaton Town and Eastleigh and a 4-0 win away to Wrexham, showed life in attack. When the goals dried up more defeats followed and despite moving of the foot of the table Kittrick’s team fell through the relegation trapdoor. The current boss will be hoping for a clean slate next term, especially after he went public over players not wishing to play for the club.

Did you know…
AFC Telford United’s home record was the worst in the division; the Bucks also had the worst home defence conceding 44 times.

24th – Nuneaton Town – 36 pointsntfc

An unstable and poor season for Nuneaton Town, who finished the last two seasons in fifteenth and thirteenth. Boro struggled throughout, a stark contrast to last term when they were flirting with the Conference Premier playoffs. A poor start to the campaign cost Brian Read his job in September, the Scotsman was dismissed just seven games into the new season. Boro had only scored twice in that time during a 2-1 home win against newly promoted Altrincham. Former Ebbsfleet United boss Liam Daish took over but failed to make a major impact working with the least prolific attack and a leaky defence. Off the field, Chief Executive Officer and director Ian Neale resigned following his arrest in October which led to a suspended sentence. On the field, when Daish managed to plug the leaky defence Boro went on a seven game unbeaten run during February and March, in that time Nuneaton Town kept six consecutive clean sheets helping them move up to fourth from bottom. Any chances of survival ended when they lost five of their final six games, picking up a point. To make matters worse, three points were deducted for an ineligible player to ensure the wooden spoon for Boro.

Did you know…
The Boro scored just 13 times on their travels and failed to score in 56% of their away games, the worst away attack in the division.

Dartford v Lincoln City

Dartford bid farewell to the Conference Premier league this weekend and hope to record their maiden win over visitors Lincoln City.

After three years in the top flight of non league football, the Darts have managed a solitary draw against the Imps which they managed at Sincil Bank, just over a year ago. The goalless stalemate was an improvement to the previous three losses, two of which were suffered at Princes Park.

Last season, controversial refereeing decisions made an impact but a slow Dartford start didn’t help either. Ben Tomlinson and Andrew Boyce had the Imps two up at half time. Elliot Bradbrook pulled a goal back then in stoppage time referee Lee Swabey waved away a handball shout even though Tony Burman claims Swabey admitted to seeing the incident.

In the Darts first campaign back in the Conference Premier, another slow start at home was too much to salvage. Lincoln City put four passed the Dartford defence in the first half through Daniel Gray and a Colin Larkin hat trick. Harry Crawford’s brace in the second half made the result look slightly better on paper.

The Darts last home fixture gave supporters something to cheer when they beat Nuneaton Town 3-1 a fortnight ago. The good feeling lasted a few days after local rivals Welling United beat Wrexham on the Tuesday night to condemn the Darts to the Conference South. Tony Burman will hope his side can reward the Dartford faithful with a successive home win, the first time in the league since February last year.

Last Saturday, the final away day ended with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of playoff chasers Macclesfield Town. Burman gave academy youngster Ebou Adams his full league début which was cut short after a second caution. Both teams ended with ten men but not before Lee Bell opened the scoring for the Silkmen halfway through the first half. Thierry Audel doubled the hosts advantage in the second half when he scored with ten minutes to play. Macclesfield Town’s George Pilkington was dismissed late on and Adams followed soon after.

Lincoln City have been true to form this term and could finish as high as thirteenth and as low as seventeenth. The Imps have consistently been around the same area of the Conference Premier table ever since they dropped out of the Football League four years ago. Struggling to make an impact the Lincolnshire club actually opened the season well going four unbeaten to sit in third place. Six defeats in seven dropped the Imps back to the lower reaches, however they did manage to improve between October and December to climb the ladder. One win in nine and three defeats on the spin has seen the Imps slump back to that familiar league position.

Last weekend, Lincoln City followed up consecutive defeats with another in their final home game of the season. Visitors, Eastleigh ran out 2-1 winners taking the lead through Jack Midson. Lincoln City’s top scorer Ben Tomlinson equalised but three minutes later Craig McAllister netted the winner. Prior the weekend, the Imps had just lost to AFC Telford United and Torquay United with both matches ending 1-0 to their opponents.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 0 / Lincoln City wins: 4 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

Dartford (LWLDDL) Lincoln City (LLLDWL)
Macclesfield Town  A  0-2 Easteigh  H  1-2
Nuneaton Town  H  3-1 Torquay United  A  0-1
Barnet  H  0-1 AFC Telford United  A  0-1
Torquay United  A  1-1 FC Halifax Town  H  1-1
Gateshead  H  1-1 Braintree Town  A  3-1
Altrincham  H  1-2 Forest Green Rovers  H  1-2

Last Meeting at Princes Park

31 August 2013 – Dartford 1 Lincoln City 2 – Att: 1386

Goalscorer: Tomlinson (21), Boyce (33), Bradbrook (59)

Dartford Lineup: Julian, Sterling, Clark, Fry, Burns, Rogers, Bradbrook, Woodyard, Noble, Harris, Birchall (sub used: Hayes, Cornhill, Prior)

Lincoln City Lineup: Farman, Miller, Newton, Boyce, Brown, Foster, Fofana, Nolan, Fairhurst, Rowe, Tomlinson (sub used: Sheridan)

Match Stats

dfc v lcfc

 

Previous Five Meetings

22.11.2014 Lincoln City 2 Dartford 1
05.04.2014 Lincoln City 0 Dartford 0
31.08.2013 Dartford 1 Lincoln City 2
09.02.2013 Lincoln City 2 Dartford 1
08.12.2012 Dartford 2 Lincoln City 4

Stats

0.25 – Ryan Hayes looks set to win the quickest goal of the season award, his strike against Kidderminster Harriers came after just 25 seconds

2 – the number of league doubles completed by the Darts this season as they beat both Nuneaton Town and AFC Telford United twice

4 – Dartford’s last final day of the league season (excluding playoff matches) came four years ago against Maidenhead United. Charlie Sheringham, Jack Pallen and Ryan Hayes put Dartford three up before their opponents rallied with two late goals.

34 – number of players used by Tony Burman in all competitions this season

44 – Dartford’s top appearance maker in the league this term will be Rory McAuley. Providing he is selected against Lincoln City, the defender only missed the 2-0 defeat at Eastleigh

Elliot Bradbrook and Harry Crawford will become Dartford’s golden boot for the season, captain Bradbrook currently leads Crawford by a goal.

On This Day

Dartford’s last fixture on this day was one to remember as they swept aside Kent rivals Dover Athletic 4-0. Charlie Sheringham’s brace helped the Darts to a fine victory, Tom Champion and Danny Harris also scored in that memorable win four years ago.

Macclesfield Town v Dartford

Dartford have pride to play for now relegation to the Conference South has been confirmed, starting with their final away game of the season at Macclesfield Town this weekend.

The Darts were relegated on Tuesday night when Kent rivals Welling United beat Wrexham. Tony Burman’s side may be down and out but they still have some say in Macclesfield Town’s fate. The Silkmen have dropped out of the playoff places and trail Forest Green Rovers in fifth spot by a point with two matches left.

The unlikely scenario of survival has failed to materialise, however Dartford will be targeting consecutive wins in the league for the first time since March last year. On Saturday, the Darts completed a double over Nuneaton Town who were also relegated on Tuesday night. For the fifth league game this campaign, Dartford had to come from a goal down to secure three points. A fortunate free kick was awarded to Boro mid way through the first half and from it Andy Brown gave the visitors a lead, the striker headed from close range.

Burman’s half time words had a positive impact as his side looked more attacking and were rewarded with a penalty. Gareth Dean was adjudged to be holding Harry Crawford and captain Elliot Bradbrook dispatched the spot kick. Tom Bradbrook scored his first goal since returning from injury heading his seventh of the campaign in all competitions. Harry Crawford wrapped things up from close range to secure a 3-1 win for the Darts.

Dartford have only beaten their opponents at Moss Rose once in four attempts, claiming their only victory 41 years ago in a F.A Trophy semi-final. Ending the campaign as Southern League champions, the Darts beat the Silkmen 2-1 in the first leg. Dave Cunningham and Alan Payne scored that day and with a goalless second leg, Ernie Morgan’s side reached Wembley

The Silkmen have dominated meetings on their own patch ever since with three straight wins. The first of a trio of triumphs avenged the 1974 semi-final loss, the Cheshire club knocked Peter Taylor’s Dartford out in the same round 15 years later. This time the first leg ended 0-0 but Macclesfield Town ran out 4-1 winners in their home leg to reach the F.A Trophy final.

With Dartford returning to the top flight of non league football the two sides met for the first time in the league just two and a half years ago. Macclesfield Town won the first league meeting comfortably recording a 2-0 victory thanks to a Tom Champion own goal and a last minute Charlie Henry penalty. Last term the Silkmen triumphed 3-1 despite falling a goal behind when Matthew Godden scored from the spot. In the space of four minutes Scott Boden and a Connor Jennings brace handed Macclesfield Town the three points.

Macclesfield Town have failed to win any of their last six fixtures and are joint bottom of the form guide. The Silkmen do have an exemplary home record this term tasting defeat only twice boasting the best home defence. Sporadically, John Askey’s side have flirted with second spot thanks to some excellent form throughout October to early March.

On the weekend, the Silkmen suffered what may be a costly defeat when they went down 3-1 to Forest Green Rovers. Their opponents jumped above them into the final playoff spot making the last two games crucial. Losses to Gateshead and Nuneaton Town then draws against Bristol Rovers, FC Halifax Town and Wrexham prior Saturday has left the Silkmen vulnerable.

Matthew Barnes-Homer is one to watch, the striker is joint top scorer is Macclesfield Town’s top scorer in the Conference Premier this term. In a second spell with the club, Barnes-Homer returned after playing for Forest Green Rovers, Cambridge United, Tamworth and Whitehawk. The 29 year old hit headlines with the club during an F.A Cup run two years ago, his brace knocked out Premier League side Cardiff City.

Earlier this season the two sides could not be separated in a 1-1 draw despite Ryan Hayes giving Dartford the lead with five minutes remaining. The Darts managed to stay ahead for only two minutes when Barnes-Homer grabbed a late equaliser.

Head to Head

Macclesfield Town wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 3 / Draws: 3

Current League Form

Macclesfield Town (LDDDLL) Dartford (WLDDLD)
Forest Green Rovers  A  1-3 Nuneaton Town  H  3-1
Wrexham  H  2-2 Barnet  H  0-1
FC Halifax Town  A  2-2 Torquay United  A  1-1
Bristol Rovers  H  0-0 Gateshead  A  1-1
Nuneaton Town  H  0-1 Altrincham  H  1-2
Gateshead  A  1-2 Alfreton Town  A  0-0

Previous Meetings (* F.A Trophy semi-final)

11.10.2014 Dartford 1 Macclesfield Town 1
29.03.2014 Dartford 2 Macclesfield Town 1
16.11.2013 Macclesfield Town 3 Dartford 1
15.01.2013 Dartford 2 Macclesfield Town 0
18.08.2012 Macclesfield Town 2 Dartford 0
15.04.1989* Macclesfield Town 4 Dartford 1
08.04.1989* Dartford 0 Macclesfield Town 0
06.04.1974* Dartford 0 Macclesfield Town 0
30.03.1974* Macclesfield Town 1 Dartford 2

 

 

Dartford v Nuneaton Town

Dartford have no choice but to beat Nuneaton Town this weekend if they are to avoid or even delay relegation to the Conference South.

Odds are stacked heavily against the Darts who need to win their last three fixtures and hope Alfreton Town fail to pick up a point. Even if that unlikely scenario does happen Tony Burman’s side still need to surpass the points totals set by Welling United and this weekend’s opponents.

The Boro are scraping for every inch in a bid to remain in the Conference Premier for a fourth successive campaign. With a seven point deficit to make up over the next three matches there is a strong possibility both Dartford and Nuneaton Town will head in different directions. Even still whilst hope is still flickering a tense afternoon is likely at Princes Park.

Over Easter, Dartford managed to pick up one point from six and are looking to pick up a rare home victory, last achieved five months ago spanning 11 games. On Good Friday, what would normally have been a decent away result at Torquay United was devalued by Dartford’s current situation. A 1-1 draw may not be enough but the performance was rewarded with something when Jordan Chiedozie equalised with eight minutes remaining. The home side led through James McQuilkin’s second half strike until Chiedozie scored his second goal in three games on loan from Cambridge United.

On Easter Monday, the Darts hosted league leaders Barnet and the visitors stayed on top of the Conference Premier pile with a 1-0 win. In front of the television cameras, the Bees were too strong for Burman’s men and led through Curtis Weston’s first half strike. Earlier, Ryan Hayes hit both shots with his trademark curling shot but that was a rare opportunity for the Darts.

When Dartford last met Nuneaton Town at Liberty Way there was cause for optimism when the Darts picked up their twelfth point of the campaign. A first away win of the season was completed the hard way by coming from a goal down. Boro took the lead under a new boss, Liam Daish, just past the half hour mark, Craig Curran giving the hosts an advantage. In the space of two second half minutes captain Elliot Bradbrook scored from the penalty spot and Danny Harris netted a winner. Victory was the first time Dartford had beaten Nuneaton Town in 27 years when their opponents were known as Nuneaton Borough back then.

Form against the Warwickshire club doesn’t make for pleasant reading prior this season’s triumph. In the four previous meetings the Boro came out on top on every occasion. Last term at Princes Park, two early goals by Louis Moult set Boro up to take three points, although Elliot Bradbrook halved the deficit the Darts lost 2-1. On the final day of the last season, with a bottom four place already confirmed Rory McAuley put Dartford ahead but once again Moult scored all of Boro’s goals with a hat-trick. The two meetings the season before both ended 1-0 to Nuneaton Town.

Former Ebbsfleet United manager Liam Daish remains in charge of Nuneaton Town. Since February he has seen an upturn in fortune to give his squad hope of survival. At the end of January, Boro were second from bottom, eight points from safety and had played the most games out of the handful of teams at the bottom, relegation looked certain. Over the next two months Boro won four and drew three keeping six consecutive clean sheets.

However, Nuneaton Town’s Easter yielded no points to extend their losing streak to three. Defeats at home to FC Halifax Town and more recently Braintree Town with Barnet sandwiched between has seen Daish’s side lose momentum. Against Braintree Town on Monday they fell to a late Dan Sparkes goal and on Friday the prolific John Akinde won the match for Barnet as the Bees also won 1-0.

Team News

On loan striker, Jordan Chiedozie was replaced against Barnet just after half time with an injury he picked up in the warm up. Elliot Bradbrook missed a second successive match through injury whilst brother Tom continues his recovery from a groin injury, the striker has managed some game time by coming on as a substitute in the last two fixtures. Nathan Green has also spent time on the treatment table after his injury against Altrincham.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 14 / Nuneaton Town wins: 12 / Draws: 12

Current League Form

Dartford (LDDLDL) Nuneaton Town(LLLWWD)
Barnet  H  0-1 Braintree Town  H  0-1
Torquay United  A  1-1 Barnet  A  0-1
Gateshead  H  1-1 FC Halifax Town  H  1-2
Altrincham  H  1-2 Wrexham  H  2-0
Alfreton Town  A  0-0 Macclesfield Town  A  1-0
Southport  A  0-2 Torquay United  H  0-0

Last Meeting at Princes Park

14 September 2013 – Dartford 1 Nuneaton Town 2 – Att: 1155

Goalscorer: Moult (4, 8), Bradbrook (28)

Dartford Lineup: Julian, Burns, Clark, Fry, Collier, Bradbrook, Noble,, Woodyard, Hayes, Harris, Birchall (sub used: Ibemere, Prior, Sterling)

Nuneaton Town Lineup: Belshaw, Bell, Cowan, Dean, Walker, Armson, Streete, Sleath, Moult, Brown, York (subs used: Taylor, Pearson, Richens)

Match Stats

dfcvntfc

Previous Six Meetings

27.09.2014 Nuneaton Town 1 Dartford 2
26.04.2014 Nuneaton Town 3 Dartford 1
14.09.2013 Dartford 1 Nuneaton Town 2
20.04.2013 Dartford 0 Nuneaton Town 1
04.12.2012 Nuneaton Town 1 Dartford 0
05.12.1987 Nuneaton Borough 0 Dartford 0

Stats

6 – Boro’s run of six consecutive clean sheet looks set to be the longest period without conceding this term by any Conference Premier club.

13 – Barnet became the thirteenth team to beat Dartford by a single goal this term, only Braintree Town (14) and AFC Telford United (16) have lost by one goal more frequently

33 – Nuneaton Town are the least potent in front of goal with the lowest goal tally of 33, they also have the highest shots per goal ratio. Away from home the Boro have yet to reach double figures in the goals for column with nine so far.

300 – Lee Noble is one match away from making his 300th Dartford appearance. The midfielder who scored the winning goal in the Conference South playoff final has started 218 times and scored 37 goals for the club. Out of the current squad only Ryan Hayes has made more appearances.

200 – If selected in the starting line up, Danny Harris will start a match for the 200th time in a Dartford shirt. Harris is also heading for his 300th appearance in total with just over 20 games to go. Only Ryan Hayes and Elliot Bradbrook have scored more Dartford career goals than Harris out of the current squad.

On This Day

Dartford have drawn all three matches played on 11th April since reforming in 1993. Across different leagues the Darts have picked up a point on each occasion with the first in 2001 against Grantham Town. With the game ending 2-2, Dartford went on to finish 16th in the Southern League Division One East. Eight years later, the Darts held a tough Wealdstone side to a 0-0 draw at Grosvenor Vale in the Isthmian Premier League. Just two years ago, another goalless stalemate means it’s been 14 years since a goal on 11th April, this time the Darts drew with Braintree Town in the Conference Premier.

Dartford v Barnet

Dartford play in front of the cameras on Easter Monday looking to beat title contenders Barnet for the first time in twenty nine years.

The Darts have been defeated in each of their last four fixtures versus the Bees without scoring in the last three. What will make the task even more difficult is Barnet are challenging for a return to the Football League after a two year absence. The Hertfordshire club are battling with Grimsby Town and Bristol Rovers for the Conference Premier trophy.

Whilst it’s likely both clubs will  head in opposite directions this summer, Tony Burman will desperately want to give supporters something to celebrate. The manager was part of the last Dartford team who tasted victory against Barnet in 1986 in an entertaining 5-3 win. Manager at the time, John Still was to stay in charge for just one more league match and the Darts were relegated at the end of the season back to the Southern League.

Since then Dartford have had to endure a 3-1 loss in the General Motors Inter League Cup followed by a hat-trick of losses since the two sides returned to the Conference Premier. Last term at Princes Park, Barnet ran out 2-0 winners with Keanu Marsh-Brown firing the visitors in front from a tight angle.  Just passed the half hour mark Barnet stretched their lead to two with a curling free kick from Luisma Villa. Only three Dartford players, Danny Harris, Elliot Bradbrook and Nathan Collier that started that day are left at the club.

In what turned out to be a double header with the return fixture played just a fortnight later, the Bees added another triumph with a 1-0 win. The Darts first trip to The Hive ended in defeat and completed back to back losses against Barnet. Jon Nurse’s goal half hour into the game was enough to settle the match. Player manager Edgar Davids received a second yellow card late on but the Bees held out for a double against Dartford.

Earlier this season, Dartford visited the Hive for the second time and were brushed aside when they fell victim to a Lee Cook hat trick. Former Ebbsfleet United striker John Akinde opened the scoring just before the interval. Cook stole the headlines in the second half with three goals in just under forty minutes.

Since the departure of Davids last season and the return of Martin Allen, for a fourth spell with the club, Barnet have shown the credentials expected by pundits at the start of the campaign. The Bees have led the Conference Premier for the majority of the campaign and have a superior goal difference in case the title goes down to the wire.

Helping in the goal difference column is the league’s top scorer John Akinde, the 25 year old is way out in front in the goalscoring charts and is odds on to take the golden boot. The Bees have netted with frequency this term and with Charlie MacDonald picking up his fair share of assists, Luisma Villa weighing in with goals from midfield and Akinde up front, Martin Allen has put together an attacking side.

Up until the end of February Barnet had led the table since the end of August and were nine points clear heading into 2015. A wobble since the New Year has let Grimsby Town and Bristol Rovers back in to the title race, however results in March including a 5-0 victory against Welling United has kept the Bees ahead entering April.

Dartford striker, Harry Crawford will be up against his former club who he joined in the January transfer window just over two years ago. Crawford has had better times at Princes Park than the Hive as he managed three goals in 39 games for the Bees. During that time, the 23 year old played for the Darts on loan until re-signing permanently last summer. Now in his third spell at Dartford, Crawford is waiting to reignite his form that earned him a move to Barnet in the first place.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 9 / Barnet wins: 15 / Draws: 3

Current League Form

Dartford (DDLDLW) Barnet (WDWDWL)
Torquay United  A  1-1 Nuneaton Town  H  1-0
Gateshead  H  1-1 Alfreton Town  A  1-1
Altrincham  H  1-2 Welling United  H  5-0
Alfreton Town  A  0-0 FC Halifax Town  A  1-1
Southport  A  0-2 Eastleigh  A  2-1
Chester  A  2-1 Forest Green Rovers  H  1-3

Last Meeting at Princes Park

26 November 2013 – Dartford 0 Barnet 2 – Att: 803

Goalscorer: Marsh-Brown (19), Villa (33)

Dartford Lineup: Smith, Sterling, Clark, Essam, Burns, Collier, Bradbrook, Martin, Prior, Birchall, Harris (sub used: Godden, Woodyard)

Barnet Lineup: Stack, Saville, Stephens, Abdulla, Weston, Yiadom, Gambin, Villa, Marsh-Brown, Davids, Sykes (subs used: Cadogan, Byrne, Nurse)

Match Stats

dfc v bfc

Previous Six Meetings (* – General Motors Inter League Cup – 2nd round)

25.08.2014 Barnet 4 Dartford 0
07.12.2013 Barnet 1 Dartford 0
26.11.2013 Dartford 0 Barnet 2
03.11.1987* Dartford 1 Barnet 3
04.01.1986 Dartford 5 Barnet 3
01.10.1985 Barnet 2 Dartford 0

 

 

Torquay United v Dartford

Dartford visit Plainmoor for the first time to take on Torquay United and hope to bring back three points from the English Riviera.

Only once have these two teams met and that was back in August. A goalless draw left both sides waiting to score the first ever goal in this fixture. Elliot Bradbrook came the closest just under eight months ago when his penalty kick hit the crossbar, the miss proved vital as the deadlock could not be broken. Earlier in the match Jason Brown made a fantastic double stop in the Dartford goal and at the other end Andy Pugh’s header was well saved by Martin Rice.

The Darts are on the brink of relegation to the Conference South, on Saturday they need to avoid defeat and hope Aldershot Town and Alfreton Town fail to pick up a win. Any other outcome means Dartford live for another game, the forthcoming Easter Monday fixture at home to league leaders Barnet.

On Tuesday night, a crowd of just over 600 turned out at Princes Park for the lowest attendance of the campaign. The highlight of the 1-1 draw against Gateshead was a tremendous individual goal by on loan striker Jordan Chiedozie. The 20 year old ran at the Heed defence cut inside and curled a precise shot into the corner for the opener. Ahead for only nine minutes the Darts conceded from a corner when Tom Allan looped a header over Deren Ibrahim.

Since Dartford’s poor run of nine defeats in ten games they have avoided back to back defeats and the draw versus Gateshead kept that run going. After a disappointing performance in the 2-1 loss at home to Altrincham, Tony Burman was encouraged by what he saw in mid week. The Dartford boss told www.kentonline.co.uk: “To get a response from Saturday’s performance is a positive. We’d like to have the three points but we haven’t lost the game2, he added: “We tried to do some things which hopefully helped the crowd to get behind them. I felt it was better than Saturday”.

Goalscorer, Chiedozie netted his first in a Dartford shirt in only his second on loan from League Two side Cambridge United. Over the two matches his played the striker has looked lively enough to earn praise from Burman. Another player earning praise from supporters is Lee Noble, the midfielder’s man of the match performance in the defeat against Altrincham has given him the Pure DFC Player of the Year award for the third time. Approaching his 300th appearance for Dartford, Noble won the award in 2010/2011 as well as the following season.

Torquay United manager, Chris Hargreaves has found life tough in the Conference Premier with his side amongst one of the favourites at the start of the campaign. The tag given to the Gulls seemed apt in the first two months of the season with the Devonshire club reaching second spot. An unbeaten run of ten, which included eight clean sheets, gave Torquay United a start full of promise. The following six fixtures yielded one win and five defeats and from then on form has been inconsistent.

With just two league wins in 2015, a 5-1 home reverse at Braintree Town and Thea Bristow the club’s chairwoman departing earlier than expected, Torquay United have dropped to sixteenth with one win needed to secure Conference Premier football next season. Financially, Hargreaves realises his full time side may not be able to compete, a point he made to the media almost a fortnight ago

The Gulls host Dartford on the back of consecutive defeats at the hands of Woking and Southport. On Saturday they conceded late in the game to give Southport victory. Hargreaves called his captain’s actions a “moment of madness” when Luke Young was sent off. Despite being a man down Torquay United dominated for large spells but it was Southport who lead through Scott Kay. The Devonshire side were back level when Toby Ajala grabbed a deserved equaliser but their work was undone five minutes from time by Southport’s Paul Smith.

One bright note for Torquay United this term is the fact they reached the F.A Trophy last four. The eventual runners up Wrexham knocked the Gulls out of the competition 5-1 on aggregate.

Head to Head

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

Current League Form

Torquay United (LLWLDL) Dartford (DLDLWL)
Southport  A  1-2 Gateshead  H  1-1
Woking  A  2-3 Altrincham  H  1-2
Kidderminster Harriers  H  2-1 Alfreton Town  A  0-0
Braintree Town  H  1-5 Southport  A  0-2
Nuneaton Town  A  0-0 Chester  A  2-1
Chester  H  0-1 Alfreton Town  H  0-1

Previous Meeting

23.08.2014 Dartford 0 Torquay United 0

Stats

6 – Torquay United’s six game winning streak early in the season is still the longest winning run by any club this term

12 – Dartford’s away record is good enough for a mid-table team, the Darts have the 12th best away form

14 – Luke Young has created the most goals in the Conference Premier this season leading the assists chart

69 – At the back, Torquay United’s Aaron Downes had made more defensive clearances than any other Conference Premier player this term

 

Dartford v Gateshead

Dartford are hoping to claim victory against Gateshead for the first time in two years when they meet at Princes Park.

The Darts have failed to score in any of the last three games against the Heed, however it was at Princes Park when Dartford beat the Tynesiders 3-0. In Dartford’s only ever win against Gateshead, Ryan Hayes inspired his side. Coming off the bench with the score goalless Hayes scored two and made another, the winger stuck in a rebound before curling a trademark second. Hayes then set up Charlie Sheringham who wrapped up the victory.

Last term, the Darts suffered a double defeat, a 2-0 away loss was followed up with a 1-0 home reverse in which Lee Noble was red carded and the Darts fell to a last minute goal. The same single goal scoreline was repeated this campaign at the International Stadium meaning the Darts will be eager to end a three game losing streak without finding the Gateshead net.

Another defeat on the weekend, this time to Altrincham has left the Darts eleven points from safety with only six matches remaining. Damian Reeves once again caused Dartford problems scoring a brace to add to his two goals against Burman’s side earlier in the campaign. Reeves has now been the difference between the two sides on both occasions scoring all four for Alty against the Darts this term. Ryan Hayes pulled one back but an equaliser failed to materialise.

Gateshead boss Gary Mills had his side ninety minutes away from a return to the Football League nine months ago. This season a promising start had the Tynesiders up in second place at the beginning of November, with only three defeats. A run to the F.A Cup third round ended by West Bromwich Albion’s ruthlessness as the Heed lost 7-0.

Since the F.A Cup exit, Gateshead have been inconsistent leaving the club in ninth place and eight points behind Forest Green Rovers in the final playoff spot. A 3-2 home loss to Eastleigh on the weekend means the TYnesiders are three without a win, however the last time they recorded back to back defeats in the Conference Premier was in September 2013, setting the current longest sequence of 77 matches.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Gateshead wins: 6 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

Dartford (LDLWLD) Gateshead (DLWWDL)
Altrincham  H  1-2 FC Halifax Town  A  2-2
Alfreton Town  A  0-0 Dover Athletic  A  0-1
Southport  A  0-2 AFC Telford United  A  1-0
Chester  A  2-1 Macclesfield Town  H  2-1
Alfreton Town  H  0-1 Welling United  H  1-1
FC Halifax Town  A  0-0 Braintree Town  A  0-1

Last Meeting at Princes Park

23 November 2013 – Dartford 0 Gateshead 1 – Att: 975

Goalscorer: Brown (89)

Dartford Lineup: Smith, Sterling, Clark, Essam, Burns, Collier, Bradbrook, Martin, Noble, Birchall, Harris (sub used: Prior)

Gateshead Lineup: Bartlett, Curtis, Baxter, Sirrell, Clark, Chandler, Oster, Turnbull, Walker, Marwood, Larkin (subs used: Maddison, Brown)

Match Stats

dfc v gfc stats

Previous Meetings (* F.A Trophy)

13.09.2014 Gateshead 1 Dartford 0
23.11.2013 Dartford 0 Gateshead 1
05.10.2013 Gateshead 2 Dartford 0
23.03.2013 Dartford 3 Gateshead 0
08.09.2012 Gateshead 2 Dartford 0
05.02.2011* Gateshead 3 Dartford 0
04.05.1985 Dartford 1 Gateshead 2
09.03.1985 Gateshead 0 Dartford 0

 

Dartford v Altrincham

Dartford welcome opponents Altrincham to Princes Park for the first time ever this weekend having last played hosts twenty six years ago.

Watling Street was the venue last time these two sides met with the clubs a division apart. The F.A Trophy Quarter Final tie ended with the Darts upsetting their visitors in a 1-0 victory, thanks to Dartford’s record appearance maker Steve Robinson’s goal.

This season it was Altrincham who ran out winners on Non League Day with top goalscorer Damian Reeves netting a brace either side of half time. Reeves followed up a rebound just before the interval and added a second three minutes into the second half. Elliot Bradbrook gave Dartford some hope with seven minutes remaining but Alty deservedly took the three points.

With Dartford edging closer to Conference South football next season, manager Tony Burman has witnessed his side’s mixed fortunes over the last fortnight. The busy and crucial period of the campaign has seen plenty of six pointers which started at home to Alfreton Town. The last minute defeat was disheartening for the team. Hope was restored a few days later with a 2-1 away win at Chester only for a disappointing 2-0 loss at Southport.

On Tuesday night Alfreton Town were on the schedule again with the Darts desperate for victory they could only manage a 0-0 draw. Andy Pugh and Harry Crawford went close early on and Elliot Bradbrook had his shot tipped away. Peter Sweeney’s long range free kick went wide in an improved Dartford performance. Crawford failed to take advantage of a one on one early in the second half and Danny Harris tested Jason Mooney in the Alfreton Town goal. Late on Harris almost grabbed a vital three points for the Darts only for his shot to be cleared off the line.  he result leaves Dartford ten points behind with seven games to play.

Altrincham may have taken to adapt to their new surroundings but Lee Sinnott’s side have settled well back in the Conference Premier. Alty spent three season’s away in the Conference North and won the playoffs last term. Up until the start of November it looked as though Altrincham would be battling at the bottom with Dartford. However, the Greater Manchester club began to pick up wins ending 2014 strongly and starting this year equally so.

Currently Altrincham are going through a blip with just one win from their last eight games. Without a match in midweek, Alty ended a two match losing streak with a 0-0 draw at home to FC Halifax Town. Donning a pink kit for Cancer Awareness, Altrincham picked up their 50th point of the campaign and will certainly be playing Conference Premier football next term.

Team News

Deren Ibrahim continued his run in goal over the last week with Jason Brown out injured (hamstring). Tom Bradbrook has been out injured but is still hopeful of a return before the end of the season. Midfield duo Lee Noble and Elliot Bradbrook have both received nine cautions this term and are one more away from suspension.

Last weekend Altrincham welcomed back goalkeeper Stuart Coburn, full back Adam Griffin and midfielder Simon Richman to the starting eleven whilst skipper, Shaun Densmore was out injured. Peter Cavanagh is one caution away from a match suspension.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 4 / Altrincham wins: 4 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

Dartford (DLWLDL) Altrincham (DLLWLL)
Alfreton Town  A  0-0 FC Halifax Town  H  0-0
Southport  A  0-2 Dover Athletic  A  1-2
Chester  A  2-1 Wrexham  H  1-4
Alfreton Town  H  0-1 Welling United  A  1-0
FC Halifax Town  A  0-0 Barnet  H  1-3
Woking  H  1-3 Bristol Rovers  A  0-1

Last Meeting at Watling Street

11 March 1989 – Dartford 1 Altrincham 0 – F.A Trophy Quarter Final

Goalscorers: Robinson (55)

Club favourite Steve Robinson scored the winner to put the Darts into the F.A Trophy semi final. Dartford were unable to reach Wembley in a two legged defeat against eventual runners up Macclesfield Town. The Darts playing a league below Altrincham ended the season as runners up in the Southern League whilst Alty finished 14th in the Conference Premier.

Previous Meetings (* – F.A Trophy)

06.09.2014 Altrincham 2 Dartford 1
11.03.1989* Dartford 1 Altrincham 0
01.02.1986 Dartford 3 Altrincham 2
21.09.1985 Altrincham 0 Dartford 0
27.04.1985 Altrincham 2 Dartford 1
29.09.1984 Dartford 1 Altrincham 0
13.03.1982 Dartford 0 Altrincham 1
24.10.1981 Altrincham 2 Dartford 0
14.03.1981* Dartford 3 Altrincham 1

Stats (up to 21 March 2015)

0:25 – Ryan Hayes still holds the record for the quickest Conference Premier goal this term, his strike after 25 seconds against Kidderminster Harriers.

37 – number of shots Altrincham’s Jake Moult has gone without scoring, the current longest sequence of any Conference Premier player

45 – Dartford’s 2-0 defeat at Southport means they have gone 45 games without back to back wins.

96:17 – Alty’s Kyle Perry left it late against AFC Telford United recording the latest goal of this season’s Conference Premier campaign

223 – Alty are top of the mis-hitters with 223 shots off target this campaign

On This Day

Since Dartford reformed the club are unbeaten in four games on 28 March. The Darts beat Bashley 1-0 back in 1992 and six years later drew 0-0 with Havant Town, now Havant and Waterlooville. In 2005 and 2009 a pair of 2-2 draws against Wingate and Finchley and Tonbridge Angles has kept the run going.

Alfreton Town v Dartford

Dartford’s Conference Premier status is hanging by a thread as they approach their rearranged fixture at Alfreton Town on Tuesday night.

The Darts played the Reds just over a week ago and missed a golden opportunity to close the gap on the Derbyshire club, who are now unbeaten in their last five games.

Tony Burman’s side approach Tuesday’s game on the back of a damaging 2-0 defeat to fellow relegation rivals Southport on the weekend. The loss leaves the Darts ten points from safety with only eight matches remaining. Richard Brodie and a late goal from Paul Rutherford edged Southport, and Alfreton Town, closer to Conference Premier football next season.

Alfreton Town picked up a point at home to Chester, a side the Darts beat a week ago. Tom Shaw who scored the last minute winner at Princes Park, put the Reds in front with a stunning long range effort. The one goal lead wasn’t enough though as it was Chester’s turn to score late on through Ben Heneghan.

Alfreton Town started their campaign with seven straight defeats but have slowly reduced the deficit to safety. The Reds managed to string a four game unbeaten run after their terrible start and have won all their games against the bottom six.

In the two previous visits to the Impact Arena, the Darts have returned home with nothing to show for their efforts. Last season, Elliot Bradbrook scored from the spot to give Dartford a half time lead before Lee Noble was sent off. Alfreton Town took advantage of having a spare player, especially Paul Clayton who fired in two goals in the space of eight second half minutes.

Going in front against the Reds is a common occurrence for the Darts, a feat they managed twice in their first visit to the Impact Arena. Ryan Hayes put the Darts in front with just three minutes on the clock but right before half time Danny Meadows levelled the match. Once again, Dartford went ahead through Nathan Collier but Alfreton Town hit back with goals from Anton Brown and a second from Meadows.

Head to Head

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

Current League Form

Alfreton Town (DDWWWL) Dartford (LWLDLD)
Chester  H  1-1 Southport  A  0-2
Lincoln City  H  0-0 Chester  A  2-1
Dartford  A  1-0 Alfreton Town  H  0-1
Kidderminster Harriers  H  2-0 FC Halifax Town  A  0-0
AFC Telford United  A  1-0 Woking  H  1-3
Aldershot Town  H  2-3 Aldershot Town  A  1-1

Last Meeting at the Impact Arena

21 December 2013 – Alfreton Town 2 Dartford 1 – Att: 575

Goalscorers: Bradbrook (16 pen), Clayton (52, 60)

Alfreton Town Lineup: Worsnop, Wood, Fenton, Wylde, Franklin, Rowe-Turner, Bradley, Kenpson, Meadows, Shaw, Clayton (subs used: Wishart, McGrath)

Dartford Lineup: Julian, Sterling, Mitchel-King, Clark, Burns, Bradbrook, Noble, Stevenson, Martin, Birchall, Harris (subs used: Collier, Kamara, Cornhill)

Match Stats

atfc v dfc stats

Previous Meetings

21.12.2013 Alfreton Town 2 Dartford 1
10.08.2013 Dartford 1 Alfreton Town 0
05.01.2013 Alfreton Town 3 Dartford 2
01.09.2012 Dartford 5 Alfreton Town 1

Southport v Dartford

A glimmer of survival hope is beginning to flicker for the Darts and next up is another ‘six pointer’ away to Southport.

Dartford’s away form is keeping the side within a chance of staying in the Conference Premier; the Kent side are now four unbeaten on the road. Southport are in equally good form having lost just once in their last seven outings, which has included four draws.

Tony Burman’s side have just nine games remaining and are nine points behind Southport and Alfreton Town, their next two games. With the game in hand also on the horizon at the end of the month, the picture at the bottom could look very different as the season approaches the Easter period.

After a last minute home defeat against Alfreton Town, the Darts looked down and out until a mid-week victory at Chester. An inspired performance by goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim contributed to the three points despite falling behind. Oliver McBurnie gave the hosts the lead with a header in the second half. Within a minute the scores were level when Nathan Green scored his second of the campaign when he poked home the equaliser. Harry Crawford hit the woodwork for the Darts and as the game looked as if it was heading for a draw, it was Dartford’s turn to net a last minute winner. Danny Harris claimed the decisive goal despite other sources claiming Kingsley James had put through his own net.

In what will be the sixth meeting between the two clubs, there is little that separate the teams head to head. Dartford are yet to taste victory up in Merseyside against Southport and just over a year ago were brushed aside 3-0. Goals from Danny Hattersley, Jason Walker and Osayaman Osawe made sure the Sandgrounders took maximum points.

Two years ago, the Darts managed a 2-2 draw which saw Harry Crawford score his first goal of his second loan spell with the club. Andy Owens equalised for the hosts but Tom Bonner had Dartford back ahead. Southport equalised when Shaun Whalley scored from the spot to share the points. Burman has also led Dartford to one victory and two draws back at Princes Park with the fixture earlier this term ending 1-1.

Southport have finished consistently over the past three seasons and their current placing of nineteenth shows no change. The Sandgrounders have blown hot and cold this campaign, unbeaten runs such as the six without loss in October and November have contrasted with twice losing four in a row. At present the Merseyside club are on a decent streak unbeaten in four with just one goal conceded.

Two players at opposite ends of the pitch are impressing at Haig Avenue. Richard Brodie, the clubs top scorer on 11 goals this season turned his loan deal into a permanent contract in the summer. At the back Luke Foster has made impressive performances picking up the most man of the match awards for Southport this term.

Team News

Goalkeeper, JasonBrown and striker Andy Pugh have been out with hamstring injuries but Pugh is likely to return. Tom Bradbrook is out with a groin injury and older brother Elliot Bradbrook is one caution away from a suspension.

Southport will be without Joe Thomas who has returned to Bury following his month’s loan. Meanwhile Joe Connor is making good progress recovering from injury and could be added to the squad for the weekend.

Head to Head

Southport wins: 1 / Dartford wins: 1 / Draws: 3

Current League Form

Southport (WDDWLD) Dartford (WLDLDW)
Aldershot Town  A  2-1 Chester  A  2-1
Wrexham  A  0-0 Alfreton Town  H  0-1
Nuneaton Town  H  0-0 FC Halifax Town  A  0-0
FC Halifax Town  H  1-0 Woking  H  1-3
Forest Green Rovers  A  3-5 Aldershot Town  A  1-1
Dover Athletic  A  2-2 AFC Telford United  A  3-2

Last League Meeting at Haig Avenue

1 March 2014 – Southport 3 Dartford 0 – Att: 1041

Goalscorers: Hattersley (12), Walker (71), Osawe (78)

Southport Lineup: Hurst, Fitzpatrick, Flynn, Nsiala, George, O’Sullivan, Brown, Ledsham, Walker, Osawe, Hattersley (subs used: Challonor, Brodie, Mukendi)

Dartford Lineup: Julian, Collier, McAuley, Mitchel-King, Burns, Cornhill, Stevenson, Bradbrook, Woodyard, Harris, Wall (subs used: Clark, Noble, Suarez)

Match Stats

dfc v sfc2

Previous Meetings

15.11.2014 Dartford 1 Southport 1
01.03.2014 Southport 3 Dartford 0
28.09.2013 Dartford 1 Southport 0
02.03.2013 Southport 2 Dartford 2
17.11.2012 Dartford 2 Southport 2

Stats

15 – number of goals Southport have scored at home, the lowest home total in the league

44 – league games since Dartford won consecutive matches

49 – Richard Brodie has been caught offside the most number of times in the Conference Premier this season

72 – Southport have received the most yellow cards this term

On This Day

Since reforming, Dartford have played twice on 21 March and lost on both occasions. Fifteen years ago, the Darts lost 4-1 in the Southern League Southern Division to Folkestone Invicta. The most recent loss was in the Isthmian Premier League in 2009 when they were beaten 2-0 by AFC Hornchurch.