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Dorchester Town v Dartford

Dartford travel to Dorchester Town on Saturday on the back of an emphatic victory in the week.

Danny Harris nets a last gasp equaliser against Dorchester Town

The Darts last met the Dorset club in December when a late Danny Harris equaliser denied The Magpies a win at Princes Park. Dorchester Town took the lead with little under twenty minutes to go. Jamie Symes hit a long range effort to beat Louis Wells and give the visitors a goal advantage. However in the final minute The Darts pushed to save a point and Harris found himself on the end of Tony Garrod’s pass to earn Tony Burman’s men a draw.

In last seasons corresponding fixture, The Darts avenged the 4-0 defeat earlier that season when Dorchester Town swept Dartford aside at Princes Park. On a cold winters February evening The Darts battled hard throughout to earn a 2-0 win. It wasn’t the most entertaining of matches but goals from Harris and Lee Noble ensured the travelling fans went home satisfied with three points.

Dartford will approach the Conference South fixture with confidence after an incredible 6-1 win against playoff contenders Sutton United. On Tuesday night six different goal scorers ensured the pressure at the top of the table is maintained. Noble opened the scoring at Princes Park for the second successive match. The Dartford midfielder dispossessed former Coventry and Southampton player Paul Telfer then cheekily chipped the goalkeeper. Four minutes later Adam Green scored his third league penalty of the season to double the lead. Harry Beautyman pulled a goal back with a well taken header on the half hour to make it 2-1 at half time.

Lee Noble opened the scoring for a second game in a row

The second half got better and better for The Darts with a sublime display. Four unanswered goals left their opponents stunned which started off with Harris’ diving header which was his 14th league goal of 2011/2012. Luke Wilkinson powered in another header to add to his goal on Tuesday on 69 minutes. Top scorer Elliot Bradbrook got back on the score sheet with an effort from 25 yards and to cap it all off Jacob Erskine made it 6-1 five minutes from time.

Tony Burman was impressed by his players work rate and told PURE DFC after the game: “I’m pleased, we have been a bit renowned for being slow starters. I thought it was an excellent game first half but again we’ve shown our fitness in the second half”.

Up until Tuesday Dorchester Town have not had the best of weeks. Woking comfortably beat The Magpies 4-1 before a shock defeat at the hands of bottom club Thurrock. The 2-0 reverse was the first time a team had lost to Thurrock in the league away from home this campaign. On Tuesday night a home fixture ended in their third successive loss, this time against Chelmsford City. Manager Alan Knight was pleased with his players work ethic in the defeat against The Clarets and feels the team need some self belief.

The trip to Dorset will feel much easier for the Dartford squad after a comfortable win in the week. Burman added: “It’s another game and another three points available and we have got to try and take them. We’ve got to give the players a lot of credit because the form they have been on has been excellent”.

Team News

Jon Wallis twisted his ankle on Tuesday and needs to be assess before Burman decides to select him. Defender, Luke Wilkinson has had his loan spell from Dagenham and Redbridge extended until end of season and will be available.

Dorchester Town have added to their squad by signing former Weymouth defender Raiff Gwinnett on non contract terms.

Statistics (league only)

Dorchester Town (11th) v Dartford (2nd)

Current Form

Last five Dorchester Town matches at home Last five Dartford matches away
Lost 1-2 v Chelmsford City Drew 1-1 v Maidenhead United
Lost 3-6  v Havant and Waterlooville Won 1-0 v Tonbridge Angels
Drew 1-1 v Dover Athletic Lost 0-1 v Woking
Won 3-0 v Thurrock Won 4-1 v Staines Town
Lost 0-3 v Salisbury City Won 3-1 v Hampton and Richmond

Attendances

Dorchester Town average home attendance: 496

Highest home attendance: 981 v Salisbury City/ Lowest: 334 v Farnborough

Dartford average away attendance: 891

Highest away attendance: 2528 v Woking / Lowest: 355 v Maidenhead United

Did you know…

Dartford have conceded the fewest goals away from home. They have conceded just 18, one less than Woking, Chelmsford City and Basingstoke Town

The win against Sutton United means Dartford have been in second position for ten games in a row

The Magpies have been amongst the goals in 2012. This year they have scored 20 goals and conceded 18 averaging 3.7 goals a game.

 

 

Dartford v Dorchester Town

A spirited second half display on Tuesday night will leave Dartford in good stead ahead of their next fixture on Saturday when they entertain Dorchester Town.

Jacob Erskine: Scorer of his sixth of the season on Tuesday against league leaders Woking

Memories of last seasons fixture last November against The Magpies will hopefully be erased when the Dorset club turned on the style in the final twenty five minutes. Ryan Moss who left the Dorset club early this month due to work commitments, opened and finished the goal scoring in a 4-0 triumph against The Darts. Mark Jermyn and Nick Crittenden were also amongst the scorers as Dorchester recorded only their third ever victory from fifteen away trips to Dartford.

The Darts hosted league leaders Woking on Tuesday night and found themselves two goals down by half time.  Alan Inns opened the scoring for The Cards and just before half time Craig Doyle extended the visitors lead. Tony Burman spoke to PURE DFC after the game and was “disappointed with the first half performance”, he added, “we didn’t come out at all and we just didn’t play”.

Tony Burman motivated his players during the break and despite defeat they put in an excellent second half.James Rogers netted with twenty five minutes remaining but Woking’s Elvis Hammond put the league leaders 3-1 up. Jacob Erskine gave the home support some hope but it was too late to salvage a draw. Burman felt his side “did ever so well in the second half and we did get the ball down and we did have a go at Woking.”

Ryan Moss scored twice against The Darts but has since left The Magpies

Dorchester Town drew away to Bromley on the same night which may have disappointed some fans considering current form. The Magpies were unbeaten in seven leading up to Tuesday evening and Bromley gained a solitary point in the same amount of games losing six in a row. The fixture ended goal less, Dorchester’s fifth clean sheet in six league matches. Drawing at Hayes Lane now means The Magpies are eight league fixtures unbeaten and only three points shy of the play offs in seventh place.

Tony Burman recognises the run put together by The Magpies and said: “Dorchester are on a run of not losing games so it will be a tough game. Hopefully we can create the same sort of atmosphere as the support was good for the team who encouraged the team to get back into the game in the second half. It’s another three points that we have to play for”.

The Dorset side are under new management due to the appointment of Alan Knight whose first game in charge was on 3 December 2011. Coinciding with Knight’s start is the form of forward Rico Wilson who has scored three in the last three league matches. The 20 year old seems to be linking up with summer signing Ben Dickenson who is being scouted by football league clubs.

Dartford Team News

Paul Goodacre (knee) and Danny Harris will miss this weekends match through injury, Lee Noble was an unused substitute in the week as he looks to regain fitness. Tony Burman has signed Gillingham youngster Connor Essam on a months loan. The 19 year old defender has already had loan spells with Bishop’s Stortford and Dover Athletic last season and has been drafted into the Dartford squad.

Statistics (league only)

Dartford (3rd) versus Dorchester Town (7th)

Current Form

Last five Dartford matches at home Last five Dorchester Town matches away
Lost 2-3 v Woking Drew 0-0 v Bromley
Won 3-1 v Dover Athletic Won 1-0 v Maidenhead United
Drew 1-1 v Weston Super-Mare Drew 0-0 v Chelmsford City
Lost 1-2 v Truro City Lost 2-4 v Havant and Waterlooville
Won 3-1 v Tonbridge Angels Lost 2-3 v Welling United

Attendances

Dartford average home attendance: 1227

Highest home attendance: 1558 v Dover Athletic/ Lowest: 937 v Hampton and Richmond

Dorchester Town average away attendance: 502

Highest away attendance: 937 v Dover Athletic/ Lowest: 223 v Bromley

Did you know…

Between the opening day and 5 November 2011 Dorchester went 17 games without a league draw, this seasons longest sequence.

The Magpies have fired the second most amount of blanks (8) behind Eastleigh

Dartford have scored in their last 14 league games and have failed to score just once in the league way back on 27 August 2011, no other team this season has scored in more consecutive league fixtures.

Alan Knight spent 25 years at Portsmouth and holds the record for the most appearances for a single club for a goalkeeper, having played 683 league games (and 801 in all competitions) for Pompey between 1978 and 2000.

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

8 – Mid-January to February – Dartford on Tour

Bouncebackability

Whilst Dartford was falling Farnborough was rising. The Boro had won three consecutive matches and striker Bradley Bubb was scoring for fun with eight goals in his last five league matches. The Darts had no chance especially if the last match between the two sides in August was anything to go by. Before the game Tony Burman signed full back Matt Jones from Bishop’s Stortford, George Purcell and Lee Burns were ruled out through injury.

Lee Noble who was recalled from his loan spell was on form and Dartford’s main hope, in the twelfth minute he was taken out in the penalty box. Dartford fans behind the goal were jubilant, great start. Charlie Sheringham stepped up to the spot to place his shot right footed and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.

The lead lasted just eight minutes when on form striker Bradley Bubb was released on the left, his shot was struck well enough. Andrew Young pushed the ball upwards but it looped into the far corner. Dartford defenders all looked at one another, shoulders shrugged, here we go again.

Noble continued to weave inside out causing Farnborough some problems, he harassed, scurried at their defenders to put them under pressure. His enthusiasm rubbed off on the Dartford team until it went a step too far. Noble knocked the ball out to Elliot Bradbrook on the right who put in a deep cross to the far post. A misplaced header across the six yard box enticed Farnborough goalkeeper Michael Jordan to go for the ball. Noble steamed forward in an over enthusiastic attempt to win possession. The ball hit the goalkeeper; Noble’s outstretched leg went into Jordan’s chest. The referee charged to the scene, Farnborough players were furious and surrounded the referee, the red card was pulled out, Noble was sent off. The Dartford players were furious with the Boro reaction. Everything calmed down. The Darts had to play 55 minutes a man down. No chance for a win, let’s hope for a draw.

Tom Champion takes the plaudits

Adversity galvanised Dartford and three minutes after the restart Jon Main was sent through but the ball got caught between his feet. Main turned with his back to goal and layed the ball off to the onrushing Sheringham. Charlie drove the shot low and hard into the bottom corner from 19 yards, a quality finish, and an unexpected lead.

Fifteen minutes later, The Darts grew in confidence and boxed Farnborough into their own corner. The Boro tried to clear their lines three times and Dartford kept pressing. Main won possession and passed to Sheringham who looked up to notice Tom Champion on the edge of the ‘d’ and crossed the ball. One bounce, Champion adjusted his body, wrapped his right foot around the ball and his stunning volley landed in the top far corner of the net. The head strapped Champion milked the plaudits from the crowd, he deserved it. What was going on? Farnborough was shell shocked.

The Darts was denied a penalty, Main was denied by Jordan, it looked like Farnborough was a man down.  Then on 73 minutes The Boro failed to clear again from a corner. Sheringham flicked the ball on and Danny Harris nodded the ball past the goalkeeper at the near post, 4-1. Incredible afternoon.

Dartford 4 Farnborough 1 – Highlights

A New Cup Adventure

A new cup adventure began. Okay so it was ‘only the Kent Senior Cup’ but for some fans it was a realistic opportunity to land some silverware. The Kent Senior Cup is like the Football League Cup in some ways. Do we go for it? Do we try out some youngsters? Is it a chance to win something or a waste of time? However you feel about the cup it was here and Dartford faced Isthmian Premier League outfit Tonbridge Angels. Tony Burman opted for the young and promising Deren Ibrahim in goal and gave Adam Burchell a run out, other than that the first eleven could have started a league match.

Danny Harris opened the scoring on the hour when Ryan Hayes’ deep free kick to the far post was knocked down to Harris who swept the ball home. Charlie Sheringham replaced Hayes in the 85th minute then wrapped up the win. Sheringham took the ball down on his chest before cutting inside the defender and curling the ball beyond the Tonbridge keeper into the net. The Darts negotiated their way through the first round.

Dartford 2 Tonbridge Angels 0 – Kent Senior Cup First Round Highlights

Out of Harms Way

Despite the incredible win against the odds versus Farnborough, Dartford was still in the bottom three. The atmosphere surrounding the club lifted after a second win in succession against Tonbridge Angels. Next up was mid-table side Bishop’s Stortford who The Darts demolished earlier in the season.

Lee Noble was lively and was blocked off the ball early on, blood was spilt, and the challenge was nasty enough for Noble to change his shirt and to be bandaged up. The knock back failed to stop the midfielder as he controlled the game with his intricacy and skill; the sides were level at the break.

In the second half, Danny Harris was sent clear and rounded the goalkeeper. Harris went to ground, the referee deemed it a dive, yellow card, contentious decision. Jon Main was shut out, Bonner shot straight at the keeper, and Dartford was defending and playing on the break. With sixteen minutes remaining Noble delivered a low in swinger from the left, Billy Burgess jumped over the ball and Charlie Sheringham with his back towards goal turned on a sixpence and fired into the roof of the net, brilliant finish. The afternoon in Hertfordshire was a success, a third consecutive win and second consecutive clean sheet, 1-0 it finished. Out of the bottom three.

Bishops Stortford 0 Dartford 1 – Highlights

Thou Shall Not Pass

Princes Park hosted league leaders Braintree Town in a fiery encounter against The Darts. Dartford was growing in confidence but knew this would be a difficult fixture. The supporters started to believe, the team gained momentum, and everyone was starting to pull together. The Irons had won six in a row with strikers Sean Marks and Jamie Guy scoring eleven between them in the last seven matches.

Braintee Town showed why they were comfortable league leaders early on when Kenny Davis tested Andrew Young. Dartford’s Danny Harris failed to get on the end of Jon Main’s cross then on seventeen minutes, controversy. Charlie Sheringham went up for a header just inside the Braintree half; Matt Paine fell to the ground clutching his face. It was hard to tell what had happened but referee was convinced Sheringham threw an elbow to Paine’s face, red card, and uphill struggle.

Later on in the first half Irons player Kenny Davis was more than fortunate. When on the halfway line he lunged two footed at Danny Harris, the tackle was a shocker, the Dartford fans gasped in horror it was that bad. The referee unbelievably played on as Braintree won possession back and attacked, at which point the referee put a stop to the game. Braintree players raced towards the referee furious he stopped their attack, the man in black lost control of the match. Complete injustice for Dartford.

 

Captain Bradbrook nets the only goal of the game in a fiery contest

Like the Farnborough game the poor refereeing decisions galvanised Dartford supporters who remained incensed. The second half was tough; Dartford players worked their socks off against 11 men and the officials, as if it wasn’t hard enough playing the league leaders. Dartford held out until 81 minutes when the crucial moment arrived.  Lee Noble persisted to keep control off the ball on the half way line but was bundled over. The ball trickled to Elliot Bradbrook, The Captain dinked the ball forward which rolled underneath the foot of the Braintree centre half. Suddenly Jon Main was in, his first touch was heavy, his second was almost smothered by the goalkeeper, the ball bobbled up, Bradbrook reacted and side footed goal wards, goal! The Darts had beaten the odds again. Four consecutive wins, three consecutive clean sheets. Onwards and upwards.

Dartford 1 Braintree Town 0 – Highlights

The Darts Head North East

It was onwards and upwards indeed as The Darts and their faithful travelled to the north east. Dartford faced Conference National side Gateshead in the last sixteen of the F.A Trophy. Quite literally the journey was just too far for the Dartford players.

Phil Turnball’s deflected shot gave Gateshead the lead just before the break, if only The Darts could have held on. In the second half Gateshead were in control as they used their wingers to good effect. Substitute Brain Wake doubled the lead four minutes from time and with Dartford pressing forward were caught out again in the last minute by Kris Gale. Gateshead was barely troubled but like the Port Vale game in the F.A Cup the adventure was fun, Dartfordians could be proud.

 

This is Hardcore: Dartford fans travelled all the way to the North East

Gateshead 3 Dartford 0 – F.A Trophy Third Round Highlights

Gateshead to Weston

After the long trip north east The Darts and their travelling contingent travelled west as they clocked up the miles. A Tuesday night at Weston Super-Mare was to follow; a side Dartford soundly beat 4-1 back in September. The Seagulls was winless in six losing their last three, Dartford had won three league matches on the bounce.

Weston started brightly and Justin Porter tested the reflexes of Andrew Young. There were very few chances in the first half. The best efforts from The Darts came from Carl Rook and Charlie Sheringham. A tight game ensued and the second half was much the same until Weston’s Jamie Laird lost his footing, Sheringham turned quickly and beat goalkeeper Lloyd Irish in the 73rd minute. The season was turning around, another win, and another clean sheet.

Jon Main's first for Dartford

Loanee Strikes

The battle between Dartford and Braintree Town just eleven days ago was still fresh in the memory.  Charlie Sheringham was controversially sent off whilst Braintree’s Kenny Davis was lucky to stay on the pitch. Dartford supporters were still aggrieved by the events and really wanted to put one over the league leaders, furthermore our very own Ray Cherry was not allowed to film the match.

Dartford players were looking tired after long journeys and a crammed fixture list. Lee Noble was suspended and young Deren Ibrahim replaced Andrew Young in goal. On five minutes the league leaders attacked, a cross was unfortunately turned in by Billy Burgess, Dartford got off to a bad start. However parity was restored when Ibrahim’s punt up field was met by loanee Jon Main who lobbed the keeper with aplomb. The rest of the match was played out with both sets of players looking weary. The spoils were shared.

Unbeaten Run Continues

One of Dartford’s poorest performances was against Welling United in January. The Wings were coping well with off field problems and still challenging in the playoff places. Lee Noble was back and early on he set up Jon Main, his shot was tipped round the post. Another Dartford effort was hacked off the line. At the other end Joe Bruce was turned by Andrew Pugh and his curling effort was bravely blocked by Billy Burgess. A desperate lunge by Paul Goodacre gave Welling a free kick on the edge of the box, Jamie Day’s effort dipped just over the cross bar.

In the second forty five, Loui Fazackerley crossed for Liam Bellamy who nodded wide, Ibrahim was beaten. Elliot Bradbrook dug out an opportunity on the edge of the Welling box but his sliced volley ended inches wide scrapping the side netting. Then just past the hour The Wings took the advantage. After a number of testing corners they finally made one count when Jack Parkinson headed in from six yards.

Ryan Hayes scores an audacious free kick

Tony Burman made a double substitution on 73 minutes which proved to be a great decision. Ryan Hayes who had been out of the first eleven for a little while was introduced for his craft, Lee Burns came on for his endeavour. With eight minutes remaining Dartford won a free kick way out against the right touchline a good 30 to 35 yards out. Hayes looked up and struck the ball with power and swerve, Welling goalkeeper Tom Lovelock moved across to his near post, the ball swerved into the top corner, what a goal. Super sub Ryno saved the day.

Dartford 1 Welling United 1 – Highlights

Slip Up

It had been seven matches since Dartford lost, it had been 15 games since Hampton and Richmond last won. Normally in this position Dartford supporters will be expecting nothing but victory but with our record against the bottom sides we were still wary. After all, we lost to Thurrock when they were on a dreadful run; we were turned over by Dorchester Town which left us shocked. Dartford did not disappoint, well they did but some of us expected.

The Beavers came away from Princes Park with a resounding 4-0 win. Dean Wells scored against the Darts for a second time in the season when a corner was not cleared on 24 minutes. Six minutes before the break Ian Hodges doubled the lead. In the second half it took Hampton and Richmond a minute to make it three through Lawrence Yaku. Just two minutes later Yaku headed in his second. Let’s just call it a slip up.

Dartford 0 Hampton and Richmond 4 – Highlights

Back On Track

Dartford travelled to Dorset on a Tuesday night to put right their latest defeat, to revenge the 4-0 drubbing The Magpies gave us in November. The pitch was boggy as the winter weather had taken its toll across the non-league scene across the country. In all fairness this was not a game for the football purists but the exhausted Dartford players battled hard and were rewarded.

A goalless draw looked on the cards and how fitting it was when the Patron Saint of Lost Causes battled a lost cause in the Dorchester box. Danny Harris broke one tackle, rode another challenge and reached out a leg to slide the ball into the goal, 1-0 with just under seventeen minutes remaining. As the game reached a conclusion Jon Main spotted Lee Noble who looked like he went too wide, his shot was hit low and into the net for number two. Dartford avenged the defeat early in the season and had put the previous match to bed.

Dorchester Town 0 Dartford 2 – Highlights

February Finishes

It had been an incredible turnaround for Dartford, who was in the bottom three just a month and a half ago.  Six league wins, three draws and a defeat lifted them up to fourteenth position and seven points clear of relegation. Although they were fourteen matches to play over two more months it was the first time Dartford supporters could relax a little but there was still work to be done.

Braintree Town still led the table seven points ahead of in form Ebbsfleet United. The Fleet won four of their five February fixtures. Welling United, Farnborough and Chelmsford City maintained their playoff spots. Lewes moved off the foot of the table with three consecutive wins and Maidenhead United slipped towards danger after just two victories in twenty one matches. It was Woking who were the in form team with six consecutive wins without conceding, this was to stretch to seven on 1 March 2011.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Braintree Town 29 20 5 4 57 22 +35 65
2 Ebbsfleet United 29 17 7 5 55 36 +19 58
3 Farnborough 29 17 5 7 55 33 +22 56
4 Chelmsford City 29 16 6 7 58 33 +25 54
5 Welling United* 29 17 5 7 55 35 +20 51
6 Eastleigh 27 14 5 8 49 33 +16 47
7 Dover Athletic 28 14 5 9 60 40 +20 47
8 Woking 28 13 7 8 39 27 +12 46
9 Bromley 29 12 10 7 37 41 -4 46
10 Havant and W 24 9 6 9 34 33 +1 33
11 Staines Town 29 9 11 9 37 39 -2 38
12 Basingstoke Town 29 9 8 12 33 43 -10 35
13 Weston-super-Mare 31 10 7 14 41 47 -6 37
14 Dartford 28 8 9 11 35 40 -5 33
15 Bishop’s Stortford 30 9 4 17 34 60 -26 31
16 Hampton and Richmond 26 5 11 10 31 38 -7 26
17 Dorchester Town 28 6 9 13 28 38 -10 27
18 Thurrock 28 6 9 13 37 56 -19 27
19 Maidenhead United 27 6 7 14 28 46 -18 25
20 Boreham Wood 29 6 8 15 37 53 -16 26
21 Lewes 31 6 6 19 25 49 -24 24
22 St Albans City 29 4 10 15 25 48 -23 22

*Welling United deducted five points

Stuart Maidment

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

 

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

6 – The Wonder of You

The Birth of Flagzilla

It had been just over two decades since Dartford’s last appearance in the F.A Cup First Round. For the first time ever Princes Park would host a Football League side in a competitive match. A sell-out crowd was expected and four days before the big day a sell-out was announced. The unlucky Dartford supporters who were unable to buy tickets did get a second chance when Port Vale returned some of their allocation.

Walking towards Princes Park, Vale fans displayed their away shirts looking for decent public houses. Dartford supporters were already there lubricating their vocal chords, the build-up was friendly; the charm of the F.A Cup had entered the town. The Darts were under no pressure, had nothing to lose but dreamed of what might happen. The Port Vale following, aware of a possible cup upset, was still confident enough to pull through. After all Micky Adam’s side were flying high in League Two in second position.

As three o’clock approached the atmosphere was cranked up a notch. F.A Cup fever had reached its peak and what better way to celebrate than unleashing Dartford’s new signing. Paid by the fans, its black, its white and its pure dynamite…Flagzilla made its debut.

Flagzilla warms up the action at against Port Vale

Dartford started with intent and in the opening minutes left Port Vale shell shocked. In the commentary box Gary Clark and Paul Philpot described the action: “Burns across field to Hayes, Hayes left footed looking for Danny Harris, Harris, Danny Harris is through, Danny Harris, ohhhhhhhhhh off the line”. The crowd gasped, The Darts were incredibly denied, what a start, the crowd were lifted, as if the match wasn’t enough in the first place!

After a Hayes free kick flashed wide, The Darts grew in confidence, the performance was steady and with the Princes Park crowd behind Tony Burman’s men the nerves had disappeared. Half way through the first half a controversial moment arrived, Carl Rook laid the ball off but Vale midfielder Gary Roberts miss controlled the ball. Michael Shinn stood his ground to win the ball, Roberts lunged two footed and Shinn was fouled. Tony Burman and Paul Sawyer were incensed at the side of the pitch; nearly every player got involved as a brawl broke out, Shinn made no fuss, surely a red card and advantage Dartford. The referee called the Captains over and spoke to Roberts and Shinn. Yellow card, Roberts was lucky to stay on the pitch.

The Darts looked more like the Football League side and almost went in front when Lee Burns fired wide. Then Carl Rook worked tirelessly to hold up the ball, Hayes’ trickery created a crossing opportunity and when it found the feet of Rook he scuffed the shot into Stuart Tomlinson’s hands.

Bradbrook nets a shock opener

Rook and Hayes battled on down the left and when Hayes persistence paid off he was brought down on the edge of the box near the goal line.  “So it’s a free kick about a yard outside the penalty area and three yards from the touchline. Shinn and Hayes now stand over the ball, I think it’s going to be Hayes, it is. Delivers it in, a cross, YEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH. CAPTAIN ELLIOT BRADBROOK, GOAL TO DARTFORD, GOAL!” Princes Park erupted, The Darts were in front.

At half time Dartford fans could not quite believe what was happening, forty five minutes away from glory. If you thought about it too hard then nerves would kick in, the only cure was to sing a long, get behind the boys and hope time would tick along quickly to four forty five. Port Vale feared the worst, Micky Adams made a triple substitution. The second half kicked off…

The Vale played with more urgency but Dartford stayed strong and continued to create chances. Paul Goodacre headed straight at Tomlinson, Hayes sent a free kick over, the clock ticked away. The Darts defence were resolute, Harris was the Patron Saint of Lost Causes troubling Port Vale with his pace, Hayes troubled The Vale with his trickery and Rook worked hard to keep possession up top on his own. Charlie Sheringham then entered the equation as Tony Burman swapped him with the tired Rook. Six minutes remained.

McCombe saves Vale

A hopeful through ball was played forward from The Vale midfield, Hayes swiped at the ball to cut it out about 30 yards from goal, and the slice on the ball spun it towards Andrew Young’s touchline. Out came Young who caught the ball, unfortunately he was unable to save the corner. Tommy Fraser went over to take the corner kick; right footed he swung the ball out towards the middle of the six yard box. Players were tugging at each other, jostling for position when the ball broke loose to John McCombe who bundled the ball towards goal, heartbroken, silence. Port Vale escaped Princes Park with a draw.

The full time whistle blew and the Dartford faithful proudly clapped every player off the park. Time passed and everyone had time to reflect on an exhausting day, no one knew whether to be proud or gutted, in the end we settled for both…six minutes, just six more minutes.

Dartford 1 Port Vale 1 – F.A Cup First Round Highlights

Away Day Blues are Dover

Searching for the first away victory in the league Dartford were on a high after their F.A Cup heroics. Over recent years Dover Athletic had got the better of The Darts and had just come off the back of an F.A Cup giant killing themselves. The Whites had famously defeated Gillingham to make national headlines. A Tuesday night at The Crabble turned out to be satisfactory night for Tony Burman and his men. Both sides were tired and Dover looked the better side creating better chances. Dartford dug deep and was certainly up for it.

Ryan Hayes opened the scoring  after just eleven minutes, Hayes sent in one of his corners which goalkeeper Ross Flitney let slip, fortunate or poor goalkeeping it did not matter, 1-0. Andrew Young was kept very busy and again put in another outstanding performance. Eight minutes into the second half Michael Shinn brought down the ‘unstoppable’ Adam Birchall. Birchall scorer of eleven goals in Dover’s opening twelve league matches picked himself up to take the penalty, Young saved. Dover pushed on, continued to create chances and spurn them. Then on 82 minutes The Darts launched a counter attack, Elliot Bradbrook crossed towards Ollie Berquez who nodded in to win the game for sure. Only the travelling faithful witnessed a terrific win for The Darts, the away press were allowed no cameras.

First Defeat at Home

Dorchester Town were next up at Princes Park, confidence was high in the Dartford dressing room after the past week. The problem was that the players had one eye on the F.A Cup replay in three days’ time. With the match level at half time, The Magpies exploded into action in the second half. Ryan Moss scored in the sixty fourth minute when he followed up from Andrew Young’s fine save.  A break away from Dorchester two minutes later resulted in a second goal, this time taken by Mark Jermyn from six yards. Dartford tried to find a way back but was caught out for a third time when experienced midfielder Nick Crittenden finished off a counter attack in the eighty seventh minute. To rub salt into the wound Moss completed a brace in the final minute, Dartford were well and truly beaten.

Dartford 0 Dorchester Town 4 – Highlights

An Evening in Burslem

Two coach loads travelled up to Burslem on a Tuesday night not expecting victory but still hoping for a giant killing. Even with the dodgy air conditioning this did not deter the Dartford faithful from a memorable occasion. Micky Adams learnt from the first match and played a stronger side. The winners would take on Accrington Stanley or Morecambe at home in round two. The coaches arrived and fans from both sides mingled in the bar, bottles of Titanic Ale went down well until seven forty five arrived. The Darts travelling contingent of just over three hundred entered Vale Park which looked huge compared to the non-league surroundings we had got used to in recent years. Dartford flags were draped over the spare seats and nonstop singing throughout the ninety minutes made sure this was an evening to be proud.

A tribute to the travelling support

Dartford supporters gather at Vale Park in the F.A Cup First Round Replay

The wide pitch was used to full affect by Port Vale, playing with width, using their wingers and overlapping full backs, Dartford were stretched. Football League experience paid off and from the outset The Vale controlled the game.

The boys gave it their all but it was a step too far. The support was fantastic, 314 fans travelled but it sounded like we took 500. Andrew Young was kept busy and had a super game but he was unable to keep out Marc Richards’ penalty on seven minutes.  Eight minutes later the lead was doubled when Richards netted his second. Sean Rigg scored number three on 56 minutes and Justin Richards scored the goal of the night with fifteen minutes left.

Dartford fans could be excused for thinking they had lost 4-0, after all we did score five imaginary goals. Altogether now, “let’s pretend, let’s pretend, let’s pretend we’ve scored a goal” cue cheering and goal celebrations. After the third imaginary goal the Dartford supporters really didn’t let the defeat spoil their party. “Let’s pretend, let’s pretend, let’s pretend we’ve scored a goal” cue cheering and goal celebrations, “four nil and you ****** it up, four nil and you ****** it up”. What a comeback, oh no wait a minute why not make it five, we never did have our match with Accrington Stanley.

Dartford players applaud the support, the fans applaud back

Dartford players and staff applauded the crowd, appreciating the tremendous support. The support applauded back appreciating the tremendous effort put in by the players and staff. It was a night to be a proud Dartford fan, the fans belted out Elvis Pressley’s Wonder of You, scarfs displayed above heads, the evening closed.

Port Vale 4 Dartford 0 – F.A Cup First Round Replay Highlights (1st Half)

Port Vale 4 Dartford 0 – F.A Cup First Round Replay Highlights (2nd Half)

Now for the Trophy

One cup run ended, another one began. The F.A Trophy represented Dartford’s only realistic, albeit slim chance to reach Wembley. Not since Peter Taylor was in charge at Watling Street had The Darts came close to a repeating their run to the final in 1974. Of course, this was a long way off but you never know.

Dartford returned to Ship Lane to take on Thurrock who held The Darts in their league match back in September. Thurrock had not won any of their opening fourteen league matches and was propping up the Conference South table, in their match before meeting Dartford they recorded their first win against Staines Town.

Rook scores twice

Carl Rook headed in an eighteenth minute goal to give The Darts some breathing space. Before the opener, there was little to choose between the two sides.  Thurrock looked for a way into the tie but could not break down the Dartford defence. With eight minutes left Rook doubled his tally from six yards out to secure a place in the First Round. Next up…Crawley Town.

After the F.A Trophy tie Tony Burman confirmed Lee Noble had been given a chance to prove his worth at Concord Rangers and Ollie Berquez also went out on loan to Billericay Town.

Thurrock 0 Dartford 2 – F.A Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round Highlights

Debutant arrives

Tony Burman was in the loan market again and on 23 November 2010 announced the arrival of George Purcell from York City. Purcell was to make his first start against Woking, three times F.A trophy winners.

The Darts were off to a tremendous start when Ryan Hayes opened the scoring with a deft lob on seven minutes for Dartford. Hayes ran to the away end, back facing the audience and celebrated with a jig, a great finish from the winger. Woking looked strong up front and had the experience of former football league stirker Elvis Hammond who equalised mid-way through the first half. Woking passed the ball well and when Hammond went through his scuffed effort wrong footed Andrew Young and trickled into the Dartford net. The Cards then went into the break with a lead courtesy of Craig Faulconbridge’s header in first half stoppage time, the cross was pin point and the header was well placed beyond Young.

In the second half it did not take long for parity to be restored. Only five minutes had been played when loanee and debutant George Purcell finished in style. With a looped ball forward Purcell chased onto the ball waited for the bounce then almost karate kick like lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper, an exquisite finish, top goal indeed. Purcell was lively all afternoon and was foiled twice by Andrew Little in goal and blasted two opportunities over the crossbar. The game ended 2-2 to leave Dartford in eighteenth place, three points above the bottom three.

Woking 2 Dartford 2 – Highlights

November Completed

Cup games and wintery conditions made the league campaign slightly unsettled during November. Bromley and Braintree Town shared top spot. Ebbsfleet United continued where they left off in October and were now unbeaten in ten matches. Havant and Waterlooville finished the month on four consecutive wins. Braintree Town and Staines Town played out an astonishing 4-4 draw, Welling thrashed St Albans City 6-0 and Thurrock lifted themselves out of the bottom three by winning two in a row.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Braintree Town 16 10 3 3 29 11 +18 33
2 Bromley 16 9 6 1 26 17 +9 33
3 Welling United* 17 10 3 4 35 22 +13 27
4 Chelmsford City 14 8 3 3 27 18 +9 27
5 Dover Athletic 14 8 2 4 29 19 +10 26
6 Ebbsfleet United 14 7 5 2 22 12 +10 26
7 Farnborough 16 8 4 4 28 19 +9 28
8 Havant and W 13 6 4 3 20 11 +9 22
9 Eastleigh 15 6 4 5 24 18 +6 22
10 Bishop’s Stortford 17 7 2 8 19 30 -11 23
11 Staines Town 16 5 6 5 23 21 +2 21
12 Weston-super-Mare 17 6 4 7 20 27 -7 22
13 Woking 16 5 5 6 16 20 -4 20
14 Maidenhead United 15 5 3 7 15 25 -10 18
15 Dorchester Town 16 5 4 7 19 20 -1 19
16 Hampton and Richmond 16 4 7 5 19 23 -4 19
17 Basingstoke Town 14 4 3 7 12 17 -5 15
18 Dartford 15 3 6 6 20 25 -5 15
19 Thurrock 16 2 6 8 20 30 -10 12
20 Lewes 17 3 3 11 15 24 -9 12
21 St Albans City 16 1 7 8 15 31 -16 10
22 Boreham Wood 14 1 4 9 16 29 -13 7

*Welling United deducted five points

 

Stuart Maidment

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