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Eastleigh v Dartford

Supporters get in for free on Tuesday night when Dartford visit the Silverlake Stadium, where opponents Eastleigh are unbeaten this season.

The Darts have to record their first ever away win against the Spitfires to have a chance of climbing out the bottom four. In the final game before the F.A Cup second round tie with Bradford City, manager Tony Burman will be keen to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat.

A loss on the weekend against Forest Green Rovers means the Darts have failed to pick up an away point for over two months, spanning four matches. Eddie Oshodi was on the score sheet twice for Rovers, firstly putting the home side ahead and late on his own goal gave Dartford a glimmer of hope. Oshodi headed his side into a fifth minute lead and with twenty minutes to go James Norwood scored against the Darts again. Oshodi put the ball past his own goalkeeper Sam Russell with eight minutes remaining but Dartford couldn’t find the equaliser.

The Darts, unbeaten against Eastleigh in their last four meetings have only actually beaten the Hampshire side once. In the previous two matches both sides have taken it in turns to come back from a two goal deficit to draw 2-2. Most recently, the Darts found themselves 2-0 down at Princes Park versus the Conference South champions reaching what Burman described as ‘rock bottom’.  The Spitfires went two up inside 22 minutes, Jamie Collins scored from the spot and James Constable netted the visitors second. The Darts improved after the break and were rewarded with Elliot Bradbrook’s headed goal and Harry Crawford’s dramatic 91st minute leveller.

Last time at the Silverlake Stadium, Dartford couldn’t finish off ten men Eastleigh. The Darts thought they would return home with all three points when Adam Green scored from the spot and Jon Wallis made it 2-0. In between the goals Ian Herring was dismissed for the hosts making Eastleigh’s task harder. However, the Spitfires hit back and salvaged a draw thanks to goals from Danny Smith and  Tom Jordan.

Under Richard Hill, Eastleigh have started their début season in the Conference Premier with plenty of promise. The backing of chairman Stewart Donald has given the club a platform to build. Hill can rely on a strike force which includes the likes of James Constable, Craig McAllister, Stuart Fleetwood, Jack Midson and Ben Strevens all of which have Football League experience, midfielder Jai Reason is also amongst the clubs top scorers this term.

Despite defeat on Saturday, to former League Two side Torquay United, the Spitfires have been in great form. The 2-0 loss at Plainmoor ended a run of seven unbeaten matches in all competitions which has seen Eastleigh reach the F.A Cup second round, where they will face Southport. The Hampshire club may be six points off the playoff spots but they have games in hand, due to the cup run and the postponed home fixture versus Lincoln City, when a fire broke out at the visitors hotel.

Dartford have always found it tricky visiting Eastleigh suffering their heaviest defeat almost eleven years ago. In that Southern League Division One Eastern season, the Spitfires won 5-0 in December 2003 before completing a double with a 5-1 victory at Dartford’s temporary home Stonebridge Road. In the Conference South just over four years ago, the margin of defeat decreased in a 3-0 loss, which included Richard Graham amongst the goals, the midfielder joined Dartford for the following season.

Victory for Dartford will guarantee they move out of the relegation zone at the expense of Southport, who are without a league game this week.

Team News

On loan striker Bradley Tarbuck is still waiting for his full Dartford début, the 19 year old Portsmouth player came off the bench for the last twenty minutes on Saturday. Tarbuck’s inclusion in the squad has come about due to the injuries to Harry Crawford and Andy Pugh leaving the Darts short up front. Lee Burns continues to watch from the sidelines having missed the last four league games with injury.

Head to Head

Eastleigh wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 1 / Draws: 3

Current League Form

Eastleigh (LWDWWW) Dartford (LLLDWL)
Torquay United  A  0-2 Forest Green Rovers  A  1-2
Aldershot Town  A  2-0 Chester  H  2-4
Forest Green Rovers  A  1-1 Lincoln City  A  0-1
Chester  H  3-2 Southport  H  1-1
Nuneaton Town  H  2-1 Welling United  H  2-1
FC Halifax Town  H  4-1 Grimsby Town  A  0-3

Last Meeting at the Silverlake Stadium

19 November 2011 – Eastleigh 2 Dartford 2 – Att: 604

Goalscorer: Green (26 pen), Wallis (36), Smith (43), Jordan (53)

Dartford Lineup: Wells, Jones, Green, Bonner, Goodacre, Champion, Noble, Bradbrook, Wallis, Burns, Harris (subs used: Graham, Hayes, Erskine)

Previous Meetings

09.09.2014 Dartford 2 Eastleigh 2
19.11.2011 Eastleigh 2 Dartford 2
10.09.2011 Dartford 3 Eastleigh 0
15.03.2011 Dartford 0 Eastleigh 0
16.10.2010 Eastleigh 3 Dartford 0
03.04.2004 Dartford 1 Eastleigh 5
20.12.2003 Eastleigh 5 Dartford 0

Dartford v Eastleigh

Dartford welcome Conference South champions Eastleigh to Princes Park for the first time in three years.

Having beaten last season’s Conference North winners AFC Telford United two weeks ago, the Darts host another title winning side this weekend, for a consecutive home game. In fact for the third game running Tony Burman will guide his side against a newly promoted club, having visited Altrincham on non league day.

A fortnight ago, home fans were treated to Dartford’s first win of the campaign having seen a one goal deficit overturned. Luke Daley’s 20 yard effort opened his account for the club and Andy Pugh netted his first of the season in reply to Tony Gray’s goal for AFC Telford United. Tony Burman choose to play Peter Sweeney in a more central role and with the addition of Danny Harris in the second half the Darts showed enough character to take three points.

However, up at Altrincham once more the home side won 2-1 as Dartford suffered another away defeat. Damian Reeves scored a brace for Alty before Elliot Bradbrook scored a consolation.

In 2011, Burman’s promoted side recorded a first ever victory over Eastleigh winning 3-0 at Princes Park. Charlie Sheringham finished off a counter attack in the first half. The striker then added a second with twenty minutes remaining. Eastleigh’s Henrik Breimyr put the ball in his own net to round off a fine win for the Darts.

Previous meetings with Eastleigh have been far from impressive starting back in the Southern League Division One East. The Spitfires won encounters in 2003/2004, firstly winning 5-0 on their own patch then 5-1 at Stonebridge Road where the Darts resided that season.

When Dartford played the Hampshire side again six years later at least the score was reduced to a 3-0 defeat before a 0-0 draw in the Conference South. The following season with Burman guiding the club to the Conference Premier, a victory was finally recorded along with a 2-2 draw at the Silverlake Stadium.

Eastleigh, who turned full time when they last met the Darts are being backed to finish well in their first ever Conference Premier campaign. The Hampshire are currently sitting in an impressive fifth spot taking 13 points from their first seven games.

Last season Richard Hill started his second season in charge, having guided the Spitfires to the playoffs in his first effort he went one better with the Conference South title being clinched and history being made.

The Hampshire side look strong on paper thanks to some decent backing off the field. Up front James Constable returning to a league he has been prolific in. The former Oxford United striker is usually on the team sheet alongside Jack Midson and Stuart Fleetwood. Between them the trio have all shared the limelight in the Conference Premier at different points in their careers, Midson with AFC Wimbledon and Fleetwood at Forest Green Rovers. All three forwards have respectable strike rates in the fifth tier of English football. It says a lot when last season’s top scorer Craig McAllister has been used as a substitute.

Former Dart, Matthew Fry made his début over the Bank Holiday weekend and could face his former club. The defender made 15 Conference Premier starts for Dartford last term before re-joining Concord Rangers. This campaign he signed for Chelmsford City and played one match before swiftly moving on to his current club.

The Darts are unbeaten in three league matches against this weekend’s opponents and will be hoping to stretch the run to four.

Head to Head 

Dartford wins: 1/ Eastleigh wins: 4 / Draws: 2

Current Form

Dartford (LWLDLD) Eastleigh (WLWLDW)
Altrincham A 1-2 Southport H 2-1
AFC Telford United H 2-1 Macclesfield Town A 0-2
Barnet A 0-4 Welling United H 3-1
Torquay United H 0-0 Dover Athletic A 1-2
Kidderminster Harriers A 1-2 Gateshead H 2-2
Woking A 1-1 Aldershot Town H 1-0

Last Meeting at Princes Park

10 September 2011 – Dartford 3 Eastleigh 0 – Att: 1079

Goalscorer: Sheringham (2, 69), Own Goal (90)

Dartford Lineup: Young, Jones, Green, Bonner, Goodacre, Champion, Hayes, Wallis, Sheringham, Noble, Graham (subs used: Rodgers, Burns, Harris)

Eastleigh Lineup: Barfoot, Forbes, Cooper, Breimyr, Jordan, Tsovolos, White, Bottomley, Slabber, Gillespie, Holder-Spooner (subs used: Geteski, Wilson, O’Hara)

Previous Six League Meetings

19.11.2011 Eastleigh 2 Dartford 2
10.09.2011 Dartford 3 Eastleigh 0
15.03.2011 Dartford 0 Eastleigh 0
16.10.2010 Eastleigh 3 Dartford 0
03.04.2004 Dartford 1 Eastleigh 5
20.12.2003 Eastleigh 5 Dartford 0

 

Eastleigh

Silverlake Stadium Founded 1946 The Spitfires

It wasn’t until eleven years ago that Eastleigh stepped out of the local Wessex League as champions and into the Southern League East division. A rapid leap to the Conference South with consecutive promotions led to nine campaigns at the second tier of non league. The Spitfires were never troubled in the Conference South often finishing mid table or in and around the playoffs, twice reaching the semi finals. Based in Hampshire, the club have been backed by Stewart Donald whose investment has been crucial to recent success, Eastleigh aim to be competitive in their first ever season in the Conference Premier and create more club history.

eastleighLast Season

Conference South: 1st

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: Quarter Final

County Cup: 2nd Round

Top Scorer: Craig McAllister

Average Attendance: 680

The foundations of their Championship winning campaign laid at the Silverlake Stadium with the exception of two draws and defeats, Eastleigh won all the rest. From the last game in 2013 to the last match of the season the Spitfires won all eleven fixtures at home. A winning margin of five points would have been greater had they not lost the final two matches but the title was sealed by then. An unbeaten run of twelve when it mattered towards the end of the season ensured the Spitfires won promotion to the Conference Premier. After the fifth match the Hampshire side never fell out of the top two and with the likes of Craig McAllister, Jai Reason and Ben Wright all scoring over ten goals they had match winners. At the other end of the pitch they kept fifteen clean sheets and boasted the third best defence in the Conference South.

The Manager – Richard Hill

Although Eastleigh’s boss hasn’t much experience as a number one he has built up plenty of knowledge from various roles in football. The former Northampton Town midfielder managed Stevenage Borough in the Conference Premier between 1998 and 2000. Returning to management two years ago, Hill has filled the void by being number two in command. Assistant manager under John Gregory at Wycome Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers, Brain Little at Aston Villa, Martin Wilkinson at Northampton Town and former Dartford midfielder Andy Hessenthaler at Gillingham, Hill has also been a coach, a scout and a technical advisor to Ethopian national team. A spell out in the Kazakhstan Premier League with FC Kairat in another assistant role was the last job until his appointment at Eastleigh. Whilst at the Silverlake Stadium, Hill took the Hampshire side to the playoff semi final losing on penalties and last term went one step further with the Conference South title.

The Summer

Richard Hill made an early statement in the summer making two high profile signings. On a two ear contract James Constable returns to the Conference Premier where his playoff goal in 2010 helped Oxford United into the Football League. The striker scored 106 times for the U’s, one short of the clubs 40 year old scoring record. Added to the strikeforce, Jack Midson finished top scorer in the League Two in 2011/12 with AFC Wimbledon, the 30 year old has also played for Oxford United. Eastleigh have taken defender Paul Reid on a free transfer after being released from Northampton Town. Craig Stanley was with Aldershot Town last season and makes the short journey to his new club Eastleigh, Stanley has also appeared for Walsall, Hereford United, Torquay United, Bristol Rovers and Morecambe. Striker Ben Wright has goalscoring credentials in the Conference South and after a spell at Salisbury City he is back playing in this terms Conference Premier.

Club captain Glen Southam left the Silverlake Stadium due to personal reasons but soon found his way to Essex, the 34 year old has joined Chelmsford City in the Conference South. Defender Chris Dillon and assistant manager Guy Butters have left the club.

Last Meetings vs The Darts

Dartford 3 Eastleigh 0 – Conference South– 10 December 2011

Dartford’s poor record against the Spitfires was improved with a three goal victory. Charlie Sheringham finished off a counter attacking team move mid way through the first half. The striker added a second with twenty minutes remaining. To rub salt into the wound the visitors conceded a third when Henrik Breimyr turned the ball into his own net.

Eastleigh 2 Dartford 2 – Conference South– 19 November 2011

Going through a patchy spell in the Conference South Dartford were pegged back by ten men Eastleigh at the Silverlake Stadium. The Darts thought they would return home with all three points when Adam Green scored from the spot and Jon Wallis made it 2-0. In between the goals Ian Herring was dismissed for the hosts making Eastleigh’s task harder. However, the Spitfires hit back and salvaged a draw thanks to Danny Smith’s and  Tom Jordan’s goals.

Next Meetings

Tuesday 9 September 2014 at Princes Park

Tuesday 2 December 2014 at the Silverlake Stadium

League Performance Last Ten Years

eastleigh last 10 yrs

Best Performances

1st Conference South (2013/14) F.A Cup 1st Round (2009/10) F.A Trophy Quarter Final (2013/14)

Eastleigh v Dartford

The Darts will travel to in form Eastleigh on Saturday with a chance of completing a double on their opponents.

Silverlake Stadium is not exactly Dartford’s favourite ground to visit having lost all three times in the past. What makes it worse is The Darts have not even scored and have conceded twelve times.

Richard Graham on the ball against his former team

In September the two clubs met at Princes Park when Dartford recorded a maiden victory over The Spitfires. Charlie Sheringham opened the scoring after two minutes and doubled the lead in the second half. A last minute own goal made sure Dartford took maximum points with a 3-0 win.

Last season The Darts were beaten by the same scoreline in Hampshire as they were still getting to grips with the Conference South. Eastleigh looked comfortable throughout the match and took the lead just before half time. The scorer of that goal was Dartford’s Richard Graham who will return to his former employers for the first time since joining The Darts in the summer. Just past the hour mark Eastleigh scored again courtesy of a Tom Bonner own goal and in the last minute Anthony Riviere made it three.

The Darts could record their third consecutive league win on the road after beating Thurrock 3-0 and picking up an excellent 2-1 win at Salisbury City. If defeat is avoided Dartford’s unbeaten run will stretch to four after the 1-1 draw at home to Weston Super-Mare.

Tony Burman was disappointed with the draw against Weston Super-Mare and feels his side lacked ‘spark’, he told PURE DFC: “It’s two points dropped, the best thing we can say is we didn’t lose”, he added: “There was an opportunity there for us to take and we did not take it”.

Eastleigh have made vast improvements over the last two months after a terrible start to the season they are now in twelfth place. The Spitfires went full time in the summer and so a clear out of players left the club in transition. Ian Baird’s side picked up two wins in the first ten league games and struggled at the bottom of the table. However, The Hampshire club approach Saturday’s fixture on the back of five wins in seven, including three successive victories at home.

Baird has recently acquired the loan signing of Michael Green from Port Vale and extended Graeme Montgomery’s the loan spell from Aldershot Town. He has also added Chris Flood of Dorchester Town on loan who has scored four Conference South goals this season, one for The Spitfires. Summer signing Ryan O’Hara has left the club whilst Henrik Breimyr has returned to Aldershot. Briemyr played nine times but his involvement with Norway’s under 19 squad limited his availability.

It could be tough for The Darts to break their poor record at the Silverlake Stadium. Eastleigh’s home form matches Dartford’s away record of four wins, two draws and two defeats. It could well be a tight encounter on Saturday.

Current Form (league only)

Last five Eastleigh matches at home Last five Dartford matches away
Won 4-1 v Maidenhead United Won 2-1 v Salisbury City
Won 3-0 v Welling United Won 3-0 v Thurrock
Won 2-1 v Staines Town Lost 1-3 v Boreham Wood
Drew 1-1 v Hampton and Richmond Won 2-1 v Farnborough Town
Lost 0-2  v Bromley Lost 2-3 v Basingstoke Town

League Stats – Eastleigh (12th) v Dartford (3rd)

Eastleigh average home attendance: 504

Highest home attendance: 665 v Woking/ Lowest: 391 v Welling United

Dartford average away attendance: 747

Highest away attendance: 1455 v Dover Athletic/ Lowest: 441 v Boreham Wood

*attendances from www.bluesqsouth.com

Did you know…

Dartford have scored in their last eleven league fixtures.

Eastleigh have failed to find the net the most times in the Conference South this season. Out of seventeen games The Spitfires failed to score in eight matches.

The Darts have scored in the most amount of league games, only failing to score once. However, Dartford have never scored at Eastleigh in the league before.

55% of goals conceded in the league by Dartford happen in the first half hour.

Dartford v Eastleigh

Dartford will be hoping to bounce back and maintain their perfect home form on Saturday.

The Darts face Eastleigh looking to make it four wins out of four at Princes Park as well as recording their first ever win against the Hampshire club. The Darts experienced their first defeat last week and fell five points behind league leaders Welling United.

Richard Graham will be up against his former club

Despite the setback the start of the 2011/12 season has been positive, Elliot Bradbrook commented on The Darts TV: “I think we’ve done really well in the first few games and we’ve worked harder than the other teams. We’ve been out there trying to make it happen for ourselves. We’ve been working hard and working for each other and we’ve had a bit quality on the end of that and it’s caused other teams problems”.

After leading the game last week against Basingstoke Town, Dartford felt disappointed with their performance compared to the early standards they have set, the captain added: “It wasn’t the best game, we never really got started, we were a bit slow and second to the ball a lot it wasn’t the best game all round”.

When speaking to PURE DFC, Tony Burman said: “They’ve out battled us… first half we got back into it… and second half they won a few personal battles and in some key areas we should have been better in”.

New signing Richard Graham is likely to face his former club and young striker Jack Pallen is edging closer to fitness.

Last season’s fixture in March against Eastleigh ended goalless in front of 711 supporters. The Hampshire club went full time this summer as they push for the playoff spot that often eludes them. An eighth place finish last season they finished four points shy from the top five.

This term The Spitfires started slowly losing their first three fixtures against Basingstoke Town, Truro City and Tonbridge Angels. A clean sheet and draw versus Woking gave Ian Baird’s team confidence and by the end of August they chalked up two victories away to Dorchester Town and at home against Weston Super-Mare. Last week they were beaten 2-0 by Bromley at the Silverlake Stadium.

With a full week to recover from Saturday’s reverse and home advantage Dartford will hope to get back on track.

Did you know…

The draw in March was the only goalless league fixture Dartford participated in last season.

Dartford’s last win at Princes Park was their third in a row, beating last season’s winning home streak in the league.

From 28 December 2010 to 25 January 2011 Eastleigh notched up six consecutive wins. Only Bromley and Woking beat this run last season winning seven in a row.

The Spitfires have failed to score in the opening fifteen minutes so far this season.

 

 

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

9 – March – Heading To Safety

Lucky Winner

After a fantastic February Dartford players and supporters were keen to begin March after a rare Saturday off. The Darts hosted Basingstoke Town on a Tuesday night with just two points separating the sides. For once this season Dartford were looking at the teams to catch rather than the teams hot on their heels, confidence in the team had turned for the better.

Although the first half was lacklustre with only half chances for either side the match was still in the balance. Basingstoke created their best chance mid-way through the first half when Frankie Raymond’s tremendous volley from the edge of the box looked goal bound, Andrew Young was equal to the Raymond’s skill and expertly tipped the ball over the crossbar. At half time the scores with level with neither team scoring. Dartford’s best opportunity came from Elliot Bradbrook’s volley which tested the alert Chay Morris who palmed the ball out for a corner. Billy Burgess was cautioned for a desperate challenge on the edge of his own box and just before half time Greg Draper went down running slightly away from goal, Burgess was the culprit again. The referee called Burgess over, oh no this looks ominous we thought, phew no card.

The second half favoured The Darts has the breeze picked up behind them. Jon Main shot wide from ten yards and Charlie Sheringham’s effort was well blocked. Basingstoke should have gone in front when Greg Draper headed wide from just five yards.

Callum Reynolds

Then on sixty five minutes a comedy yet unfortunate piece of misjudgement changed the game.  Dartford would not allow Basingstoke out of their half by pressing hard. Possession was won and Lee Noble picked up the loose ball which stayed glued to his feet. Unchallenged Noble continued to drive forward and unleashed a shot from 25 yards. Morris opted to catch the powerful strike but it slipped through his grasp, slowly the ball looped up onto the top of the cross bar and as it fell the unfortunate Callum Reynolds ran straight at the ball which hit his chest and over the line, comedy, fortunate but a Dartford goal nonetheless. From then on Dartford played better and hung on to victory.

Dartford 1 Basingstoke Town 0 – Highlights

The Late Show

Maidenhead United was on the slide and fast and they were next up at Princes Park. The Magpies had one victory to their name in the last 16 matches, scoring goals was not Maidenhead forte. Dartford only experienced one defeat in their last ten, a foregone conclusion?

Maidenhead started brightly and on just five minutes a quick turn from Kieran Knight and a delicious shot struck the corner of the cross bar. Andrew Young’s reflexes were required when a counter attack caught out The Darts; Young palmed the ball single headedly over the bar.

Charlie Sheringham blew a one on one chance on the half hour and the follow up by Lee Burns was headed over by the retreating defender. Burns, last season top scorer had still to break his duck; the crowd was urging Burnsy to score. Dartford looked like they could break the deadlock but a scuff here and a poor final touch in the box kept the game goalless.

Maidenhead United struck the cross bar for the second time in the match in the second half. The Magpies should have edged in front before the sixty minute mark when Young saved one on one but was rounded on the rebound only for the shot to hit the side netting.

Tony Burman, often questioned about his late substitution took action early. On the hour he replaced Lee Burns and Jon Main with Ryan Hayes and Danny Harris. The game turned and The Darts started to find some rhythm. Matt Jones launched a throw in to the near post and Bradbrook flicked the ball on, Sheringham pounced from close range heading into the net, the crowd erupted with relief.

Captain Bradbrook makes it two for The Darts

Victory was finally sealed two minutes from time. Ryan Hayes was sent down the right wing and looked up to spot Bradbrook at the far post. A low curling cross found the captain who took his chance well, 2-0. In the last minute the score was increased when Bradbrook scored again from another Hayes cross. The header from Bradbrook was too much for the Maidenhead goalkeeper who could only palm the ball in the side of the goal, 3-0, and third consecutive clean sheet and win, almost safe.

Dartford 3 Maidenhead United 0 – Highlights

Darts Demolish Whitstable

A mid-week Kent Senior Cup tie against Whitstable Town gave Deren Ibrahim and Adam Burchell their run out. Tony Burman’s men swept aside Isthmian Division One South side Whitstable Town in the last eight to record their biggest win of the season. Danny Harris opened the scoring on eight minutes when he pounced on a defensive error to curl the ball into the bottom corner from just outside the box. Whitstable levelled the tie five minutes later when a well worked move was finished by Lloyd Blackman. Just before the break, loanee Jon Main placed a sublime right footed curler into the top corner to make it 2-1.

Adam Burchell made it three by tapping into the empty net from inside the six yard box. The Darts hit the post and had a goal chalked off for offside before Tom Bonner added a fourth from two yards out as he reacted quickly to a rebound. Minutes later a deep cross from Ryan Hayes was kept in play by Burchell’s flick and finished off coolly by Charlie Sheringham. Another Dartford goal was ruled out for offside before Hayes’ free kick was nodded in for Burchell’s second and Dartford’s sixth. Dartford easily negotiated their way to the semi-finals.

Dartford 6 Whitstable Town 1 – Kent Senior Cup Quarter Final Highlights

Draw at The Camrose

Yes it’s a cliché in football but the trip to The Camrose really was a game of two halves. A very entertaining first forty five was followed up by a goalless stalemate in the second half. With Dartford fans still settling in the ground after a tipple at the bar, Delano Sam-Yorke got Basingstoke off to an explosive start by netting inside the first minute, an absolute shocker to concede. It was just a punt out of defence which led to a chase between Sam-Yorke and Joe Bruce, the Basingstoke striker made up the ground and poked the ball past the onrushing Andrew Young.

It took three more minutes for a bit of Ryan Hayes magic when his double step over was followed by skipping past an oncoming defender, this gave Hayes the necessary room to curl a low shot into the far corner, a brilliantly taken goal from the edge of the box. Twenty minutes later Hayes took free kick just of centre about 25 yards out, he curled the ball but Chay Morris touched the ball on the post.  The ball was kept alive and crossed towards Charlie Sheringham whose header was cleared off the line, however Danny Harris arrived late at the far post and bundled the ball into the net, Dartford had the lead. The lead was to last a quarter of an hour even though Dartford was in control, the tormentor was Sam-Yorke again. The striker cut inside waltzed through the defence and hit a hard low shot beyond Young.

Ryan Hayes scores with a fantastic solo effort

An exhilarating first half outshone the second which did still have its moments and continued to be played at a high tempo. Matthew Pattinson exquisite chip over Young looked like Basingstoke was going to take the lead, only for Young to magnificently tip the ball over. Elliot Bradbrook came close for The Darts and Pattison again caused trouble when his long range effort had Young rooted to the spot. The inside of the post saved Dartford, the scores stayed level. The woodwork took a battering, Matt Jones, Lee Burns, Tom Champion and Sheringham linked up. Charlie skilfully chested the ball down and on the volley hit a beauty, surely goal of the season, thud, the cross bar rocked again. Finally in the last five minutes Stuart Lake was left in space to win the game for Basingstoke, Dartford defenders watched on and was relieved when the ball again hit the woodwork. What an entertaining draw.

Basingstoke Town 2 Dartford 2 – Highlights

Goalless

Not every game can be as entertaining as the last but Dartford fans were happy with the result considering a) the poor record against Eastleigh b) it was another point towards our total and safety and c) Eastleigh looked the better side. Tony Burman’s side looked tired but put in enough effort to earn the draw. Andrew Young was kept busy, Eastleigh struck the cross bar twice and The Darts worked hard to keep The Spitfires at bay. Not a pleasant evening for entertainment but no one in a Dartford shirt cared, a point is a point.

Dartford 0 Eastleigh 0 – Highlights

The Darts are defeated at Wheatsheaf Park

Staines Massive

An away trip to Staines Town had Dartford eyeing up a top ten finish. The Swans was close enough in the league for this match to have some significance. Wheatsheaf Park was brought to life on four minutes when the home side went in front from a quick break finished by Andre Scarlett. Lee Burns squandered a chance to equalise as his search for his first goal of the season continued. Unfortunately the lead was doubled when Elliot Onochie cut into the box and set up Scott Taylor who made it two. Staines Town continued to control the game, Andrew Young made some vital saves but the Middlesex side were comfortable winners. Not all bad though it was only a second defeat in 13 matches for The Darts.

Staines Town 2 Dartford 0 – Highlights

Charlie Finds His Goal Scoring Boots

At this stage of the season there was only one side Dartford had not yet played and this was St Albans City. The Saints were in turmoil after a ten point deduction back and a run of six defeats out of seven in February. The Hertfordshire club did pick up form before the meeting at Princes Park by winning two in a row and holding league leaders Braintree Town. St Albans were as good as relegated due to their deduction of points and so some of the pressure was off their players. Dartford was as good as safe but with their eyes on a top ten finish.

Early on Lee Noble’s energetic run down the flank resulted in a cross to the far post which Charlie Sheringham headed downwards onto the foot of the post. Then when Lee Burns was sent through the moment everyone was waiting for arrived, surely his first goal of the season? Burns delicately cushioned a volley over the onrushing goalkeeper but the ball could not come down soon enough, the crowd groaned in desperation for Burnsy to score the elusive goal.

The Darts was looking bright and St Albans plugged away creating a few half chances. On 33 minutes The Saints attacked and Inih Effiong’s run was not picked out. He strolled through the gaping hole in the defence and as the ball fell to his feet he side footed the ball in off the post and so The Saints took the lead, a lead which lasted all of two minutes. A clever free kick from Dartford levelled the scores. Noble ran over the dead ball and past the right of the wall, James White shaped to shoot but passed to Noble. The effective midfielder cut inside one man took a shot which was parried into the path of Sheringham, 1-1. The first half included a 20 man brawl when Matt Jones went over the top with a lunging tackle; the referee booked a handful of players. Dartford also hit the crossbar and from two rebounds goalkeeper Paul Bastock somehow kept The Darts at bay.

Charlie Sheringham celebrates another goal

The second half followed suit and was packed with incidents too.  Danny Harris waltzed into the box for his scuffed effort was smothered by Bastock. On 51 minutes a long clearance was chased down by Burns he managed a shot/pass across goal and Sheringham outpaced the defender to tap in at the far post. Yet again the lead lasted a few minutes; Effiong’s persistent running and hold up play earned St Albans a reward when his measured cross was met by the head of Ollie Kelly to level the match. James White was then dismissed for the second time of the season when he was cautioned for a second time.

With a numerical advantage The Saints missed a sitter, hit the cross bar and was denied by Andrew Young in the Dartford goal. Tony Burman replaced Sheringham with Jon Main and Noble with Ryan Hayes, two changes which could have proved crucial. In the last minute Main chased Young’s drop kick, Bastock spilled the ball and Main applied pressure to Bastock. Bastock hauled Main down in the box, a penalty was awarded. Hayes grabbed the ball as quickly as he could sense a winner. He placed the ball on the spot, ran up and struck the ball left footed. Bastock had guessed the wrong way, thwack. The ball hit the post the game ended 2-2.

Dartford 2 St Albans City 2 – The Highlights

Super Shezza

Tony Burman signed James Rogers before the match against Lewes and handed him his first start in a Dartford shirt. The Darts were solid and the struggling Lewes side failed to get going in a fixture they needed to win to help boost their survival hopes.

Rogers made an impressive debut and coupled with Lee Burns’ endless running The Darts was in control. Burns volleyed narrowly wide in the first minute, he was getting closer. Lee Noble’s rasping volley on the edge of the box was parried, Lewes experienced an early onslaught. Three minutes later Princes Park witnessed a moment of pure magic. The ball bounced between two Lewes defenders and Danny Harris who anticipated the bounce pounced, the ball sat up nicely and he unleashed a corker of a volley across the goalkeeper and into the top corner.

Burns tried and tried to score again but could not apply the finishing touches missing a one on one. The crowd felt his frustration but continued urge him on. Then on 25 minutes super Charlie Sheringham doubled the lead at the far post with a header in off the bar, a scrappy but deserved second. In the second half Ryan Hayes was introduced again by Burman and caused Lewes problems. His chip forward found fellow substitute Jon Main who looped a cross towards Sheringham. Charlie expertly chested the ball, turned and hooked his shot low into the near post, a splendid move and a second brace in two games for Sheringham.

Dartford 3 Lewes 0 – Highlights

Marching On

The Darts had climbed up to twelfth place with a solid run of games. Tony Burman lost the services of striker Jon Main who returned to his parent club. Main was then loaned back out to rivals Dover Athletic causing a minor stir. Farnborough closed the gap at the top to just one with a tremendous March, they stretched their superb run to eight wins and a draw without defeat. Braintree Town were difficult to beat but tended to be drawing more games. Woking’s exceptional form propelled them into the playoffs at the expense of Chelmsford City. Throughout February and March Woking had won eleven, lost one and drew one, keeping ten clean sheets. St Albans City was twelve points adrift of safety with Maidenhead United and Lewes making up the bottom three, Thurrock had a four point cushion. With a month to go the title was open and the relegation battle continued.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Braintree Town 35 22 7 6 65 29 +36 73
2 Farnborough 35 22 6 7 72 38 +34 72
3 Welling United* 36 22 6 8 74 42 +32 67
4 Ebbsfleet United 35 18 10 7 62 46 +16 64
5 Woking 35 18 8 9 49 33 +16 62
6 Eastleigh 34 18 6 10 60 43 +17 60
7 Chelmsford City 36 18 8 10 69 45 +24 62
8 Dover Athletic 35 18 6 11 67 45 +22 60
9 Havant and W 33 15 7 11 50 40 +10 52
10 Bromley 36 13 11 12 41 51 -10 50
11 Staines Town 35 11 13 11 44 46 -2 46
12 Dartford 35 11 12 12 46 46 0 45
13 Weston-super-Mare 36 13 7 16 47 53 -6 46
14 Basingstoke Town 35 10 10 15 39 50 -11 40
15 Hampton and Richmond 34 8 13 13 40 45 -5 37
16 Dorchester Town 35 9 10 16 43 52 -9 37
17 Boreham Wood 35 8 10 17 46 62 -16 34
18 Bishop’s Stortford 35 9 6 20 37 71 -34 33
19 Thurrock 36 7 11 18 42 68 -26 32
21 Lewes 36 7 7 22 29 63 -34 28
22 Maidenhead United 34 6 8 20 31 60 -29 26
20 St Albans City** 36 6 12 18 35 60 -25 20

*Welling United deducted five points

**St Albans City deducted ten points

Stuart Maidment

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


 

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

5 – The Start of a Long Winter / The Run Continues

Dartford start October with a defeat

Woeful at The Wood

Tony Burman’s men visited newly promoted Boreham Wood in the first fixture of October. The Wood went up via the playoffs, 25 points behind The Darts, to reach the highest level in the clubs history. Dartford’s opponents had failed to record a single win in the first two months. The Darts were confident of a result and for getting their first away win of the season.  After a goalless first half the floodgates opened in the second. Unfortunately, it was the home side that scored three unanswered goals. Tom Bonner scored an unlucky own goal on 46 minutes when trying to cut out a cross. Mario Noto netted a brace, on 70 minutes he scored from the penalty spot and on 84 minutes Noto made it three nil. Lee Noble came on as a substitute and managed to net a consolation at the end, a terrible result, a lethargic performance, this did not bode well for the cup games up next.

Boreham Wood 3 Dartford 1 – Highlights

Penalty Drama –Part One

F.A Cup day arrived again at Canvey Island’s Brockwell Stadium. The Darts had been a bit of a bogey side for The Gulls in recent years. In Essex the two sides shared 13 goals over the last three seasons with Dartford winning on every occasion, 1-0, 3-2 and 5-2. On a blustery afternoon near the Thames Estuary, Canvey took the lead on just eight minutes through Danny Heale’s unchallenged header. The Darts had a goal ruled out, hit the bar and missed a number of chances. James Russell, Canvey’s keeper was in fine form and so Dartford could not find the breakthrough in the first half and went in a goal down.

Dartford take the lead in the F.A Cup

Andrew Young kept The Darts in the game on 64 minutes with a good stop and six minutes later Danny Harris was upended in the box. Up stepped Ryan Hayes from the penalty spot, all level. Hayes started to cause problems and just seven minutes passed when he looped the ball forward for Elliot Bradbrook to nod Dartford in front. It looked over but Canvey pushed for the equaliser, injury time arrived, one minute, two minutes, three minutes, how much longer? Young rushed out to punch the ball clear, Jason Hallett went down, penalty. Four minutes into injury time and Robbie King scored. Dartford blew it in the last moments, the game ended 2-2 and a replay was needed.
Canvey Island 2 Dartford 2 – Highlights

Penalty Drama –The Sequel

Princes Park was not a happy ground for Canvey Island. If you thought their record against Dartford on their own patch was bad then think again. In 2007, Dartford won 6-1, the following season ended 4-0 to The Darts and last season 2-1.  Before the F.A Cup match at Brockwell Stadium Dartford had won all six fixtures against Canvey Island scoring 21 times. The draw, just days ago, was a great result for The Gulls.

If the first match was exciting then the replay was enough to make any supporter self-combust, surely a four goal thriller couldn’t be bettered, oh yes it could. It took 17 minutes for Canvey to take a shock lead; the Isthmian Premier League side were in front with an unmarked Frank Everett header. Canvey players jumped towards a small overjoyed bunch of Canvey supporters who surged forward to celebrate. Four minutes later Dartford’s penalty claim was turned down for handball but they continued to press. The ball was sent back into the box and headed back across goal by Ryan Hayes for the on rushing Danny Harris to square the tie. Dartford took the lead when Joe Bruce’s hoof forward sent Carl Rook in on goal, Rook was bundled over in the box, another penalty given. Hayes who netted in the first match was given the responsibility to put The Darts ahead. Hayes fired to the keepers right, it was kept out, Hayes followed up, kept compose, took it round the goalkeeper and Rook did the rest, phew.

Another Rookamania moment as Carl Rook scores

In the second half Hayes continued to tease Canvey’s left back and on 64 minutes he cut outside his opponent and floated a pin point cross, Paul Goodacre was there, another header, another goal, 3-1 and Dartford were in control. The Princes Park hoodoo looked to continue for Canvey but they didn’t know when to give in. James White lost possession in the middle of the park trying to dribble out from defence. The Gulls won possession and the ball was played out to Alex Rhodes about 40 yards from goal. He strode forward and unleashed a pile driver from 30 yards into the Dartford goal, we had reached the halfway point of the second half and it was 3-2. Robbie King hit the crossbar, Dartford supporters were looking nervous, if only they knew what was to come.

Dartford’s defence became hesitant as Canvey pushed and pushed and pushed. A long looping diagonal ball found Alex Rhodes who whizzed past Tom Bonner. One on one with Andrew Young this was the moment, Rhodes slotted home, Canvey went ballistic as they came back from the brink. Still fifteen minutes to go and the scores were level again at 3-3. Both sides traded blows and came close to nicking victory but extra time was required.

Both sides had given it their all and the extra 30 minutes of play was very cagey. Jason Hallett crashed a volley off Young’s crossbar and toe poked wide. The momentum was swinging towards The Gulls but neither side could find the winner. The full time whistle blew and players slumped to the ground.

And so for the climax…after 210 minutes of football and ten goals the players legs were tired, the fans hearts were racing. A penalty shoot out was to follow, to watch or not to watch, no one could take anymore. In front of the home fans the shoot out began. Goal after goal no one would give. Charlie Sheringham, Robbie King, Elliot Bradbrook, Craig Davidson, James White, Ashley Dumas, Ryan Hayes, Alex Rhodes, Danny Harris, Danny Heale all successful, 5-5, sudden death.

Up stepped Joe Bruce, side footed towards the top right corner, James Russell guessed wrong, the crossbar rattled, game over? Bruce walked back head in hands not knowing where to look, just hoping for a miracle, feelings mutual with the Dartford faithful. Matt Game, for a place in the next round versus Andrew Young, to save the cup run. Game went left, Young guessed and the cup run continued. Cries from the bench, “get in Youngy, get in”. Young and Russell passed each other tapped hands as if they were in a goalkeeper’s pact, knowing they have little chance against the outfield players. Supporters of both sides were wondering ‘please no more’…

Andrew Young guesses correctly and Dartford progress to the F.A Cup 4th Qualifying Round

Adam Birchell was next, Russell tipped the ball onto the post, hearts stopped, and the ball crept in for 6-5, hearts restarted. Ex Dart, Hussain Isa levelled the scores, Tom Bonner netted, Steve Ward converted, Adam Gross scored, Chris Moore equalised, 8-8. The night went on and on and on.

Paul Goodacre was next knowing just the goalkeepers were to follow. He struck the ball left footed, Russell went the wrong way and Dartford was in front again. Goodacre trotted back to his team-mates fist in the air, a sense of relief, job done.  Jason Hallett, the last outfield player remaining to keep Canvey’s dream alive, side footed left, Young dived the right way at full stretch, the ball flew past him…and wide of the post. Dartford won it, players raced towards the crowd, emotions were let out, adrenalin pumped, nobody behind the Dartford goal could contain themselves, what a night.

Dartford 3 Canvey Island 3 – Highlights Penalty Shoot Out – Dartford 9 Canvey Island 8

Richard Graham scores

Defeated at Eastleigh

After an exhilarating week Dartford travelled down to Hampshire to face Eastleigh. The Darts sported an all red kit on what was to end up in more league disappointment. A dreadful display at the Silverlake Stadium ended in a comfortable win for Eastleigh. The Spitfires scored three, The Darts fired a blank. Richard Graham, who recently agreed to join The Darts opened the scoring with two minutes left of the first half when his eighteen yard effort found its way through a crowded box into the corner. A poor cross was deverted into Paul Goodacre’s own net on 63 minutes via his heel . Andrew Young had to run out of his goal to head clear in the last minute but Anthony Riviere capitalised by stroking the ball into the unguarded net from 30 yards. An awful result left the travelling fans bemused and the players being questioned.

Eastleigh 3 Dartford 0 – Highlights

First Round Beckons?

It was always going to be difficult to match last rounds F.A Cup drama but the anticipation and expectancy were taken to the East of England. Dartford had drawn Leiston for an opportunity to reach the F.A Cup First Round for the first time since 1989. Leiston were clear underdogs playing in the Eastern Counties Premier League three levels below The Darts.

Five days before the big match Tony Burman arranged a friendly behind closed doors. A Charlie Sheringham hat trick along with goals from Adam Birchell and Ollie Berquez earned The Darts a 5-0 victory against Thamesmead Town. However, the result could not be repeated at Victory Road as Leiston held Dartford to a goalless draw in a very poor match.

Charlie Sheringham spurns Dartford's best chance in a goalless draw

Sunday arrived and the eyes of the Dartford supporters were glued to their television sets and ears were stuck to their radios. For the first time in 21 years, Dartford were in the famous velvet bag, ball number 74. “Please a home tie”, “please pick out Charlton Athletic”, “no I want us to get Gillingham”, “Hillsborough would be a good place to visit”, for a generation of fans, for the newer supporters this was a first. For the older generation during the Watling Street days it had been too long.

“Number  74”, that’s us, bum to the edge of the seat, television volume turned up, legs twitching, head screaming for a big tie. “Will play number 34”, who tell us? “Port Vale”. C’mon a league club at home, bring it on. Oh wait a minute we have the small matter of replay to get through first.

26 October 2010, a chance to host a football league club at Princes Park in a competitive match beckoned. Fans were confident but still nervous considering recent performances. The sheer scale of the match, the potential ‘banana skin’, we mustn’t blow it, this is our best chance in years, defeat would be disastrous.

Tom Bonner scored what turned out to be the winner

Before the replay Adam Gross was released from the club, John Whitehouse replaced Andrew Young in goal. The wet weather was unable to stop the game going ahead, will it be Dartford or Leiston? Three minutes into the game and a long volley forward by Elliot Bradbrook looked easy to deal with. Leiston’s central defender miss controlled the ball as Danny Harris’ pace increased the pressure. Harris shoulder barged his way to possession and slotted home clear on goal, super start. The darts controlled the opening quarter of the match. Carl Rook spotted Ryan Hayes unmarked on the left, Hayes cut inside and his effort was parried, Rook followed up, cue Rookamania, the lead was doubled on 25 minutes. Straight from kick off, four passes later and Leiston carved out a chance of their own, Andrew Young was rounded but saved by the post, Stuart Broadley followed up, 2-1.

Dartford remained in control but felt another goal was needed, the majority of 1074 supporters feared another Canvey night. On the hour a Michael Shinn free kick found Tom Bonner who rose above everyone to increase the lead to 3-1. More opportunities arrived for The Darts but the score stayed the same, the final whistle edged closer, Port Vale awaited. A minute remaining and surely the job was done, Leiston attacked and managed to get the ball into the box, Leon Ottley-Gooch got the better of the Dartford defenders and nodded Leiston a lifeline, it was too late. For the first time in 21 years Dartford F.C made it to the F.A Cup First Round.

Dartford 3 Leiston 2 (Replay) – Highlights

Bonner rescues The Darts

Four days later The Darts were shot back down to earth. All of the excitement and escapism of the cup was followed up by a league fixture away to Lewes at the wonderful Dripping Pan.  The Rooks had lost eight consecutive games before holding Bromley, they had managed just four points out of 33. Tim O’Shea was appointed the new manager after the eighth successive defeat.

Dartford was searching for their first away win. Ryan Hayes created his own chance with a skilful run but his shot was curled wide. Paul Olima then put Lewes in front when a corner was not dealt with by Dartford, a sloppy goal to concede, more away day disappointment.

A feisty draw at The Dripping Pan

Dartford never settled and was left frustrated, the game became feisty. Lee Burns was hauled over off the ball on the halfway line and a second melee of the afternoon began a minute from time, Jamie Crellin was sent off, James White booked. The clocked ticked as 4.45pm arrived, John Whitehouse took the free kick and punted the ball into the Lewes box. The Lewes keeper attempted to punch clear 12 yards out but his own defender got their first, Tom Bonner stretched out and prodded the ball towards goal, 1-1, Dartford players ran in all directions knowing they escaped the Dripping Pan with a draw.

Lewes 1 Dartford 1 – Highlights

October Leaves

A mixed month for the Dartford faithful, poor league performances were overshadowed by a roller coaster of a cup run. The Darts finished October in eighteenth place without a league win in October. Lewes hit rock bottom, Thurrock were still to record a win. Bromley suffered their first defeat of the campaign to Basingstoke Town after drawing three in a row. Braintree Town took the initiative at the top having kept an impressive ten clean sheets in thirteen fixtures. Farnborough were getting to grips with the league with a 100% record in October, Kezie Ibe netting in each game. Havant and Waterlooville won both their matches including a 5-1 victory against Bishop’s Stortford whose slump continued.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Braintree Town 13 9 2 2 22 5 +17 29
2 Bromley 13 8 4 1 22 15 +7 28
3 Chelmsford City 12 8 1 3 24 15 +9 25
4 Welling United* 13 9 2 2 27 14 +13 24
5 Dover Athletic 12 7 2 3 26 15 +11 23
6 Ebbsfleet United 12 6 4 2 17 11 +6 22
7 Eastleigh 12 6 2 4 20 11 +9 20
8 Farnborough 12 6 2 4 22 17 +5 20
9 Havant and W 11 4 4 3 16 11 +5 16
10 Woking 12 5 1 6 9 13 -4 16
11 Hampton and Richmond 13 4 5 4 15 17 -2 17
12 Basingstoke Town 12 4 3 5 12 14 -2 15
13 Weston-super-Mare 13 4 4 5 14 20 -6 16
14 Maidenhead United 11 4 1 6 11 20 -9 13
15 Staines Town 12 3 5 4 12 13 -1 14
16 Dorchester Town 13 4 3 6 14 18 -4 15
17 Bishop’s Stortford 13 5 0 8 17 30 -13 15
18 Dartford 12 2 5 5 16 19 -3 11
19 St Albans City 12 1 6 5 13 19 -6 9
20 Thurrock 12 0 6 6 14 23 -9 6
21 Boreham Wood 12 1 3 8 12 24 -12 6
22 Lewes 13 1 3 9 8 19 -11 6

*Welling United deducted five points