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Wealdstone v Dartford

Dartford need to return to winning ways after a dip in form has left them clinging on to top spot and next up is an away trip to Wealdstone this weekend.

February doesn’t get much easier with a testing fixture at twelfth place Wealdstone, who have won their last three National South games and lost just twice against the Darts in the last sixteen meetings. Dartford have lost consecutive league matches for the first time in almost two years, but just about lead the National South by two points having played more games then their closest rivals.

Despite the Stones being one of Dartford’s bogey teams, the last trip to Grosvenor Vale ended in a comprehensive 4-0 victory last season. The Darts record their biggest win against their opponents since 1991. Luke Wanadio scored from the edge of the box, Ryan Hayes scored with a trademark curling effort, Elliot Bradbrook added a third and Andy Pugh netted the fourth.

The last clash between the two sides was in November on a night of mixed emotions for the Darts. Finding themselves 2-1 down, Dartford showed character to go in front at 3-2 with the goals coming from Alfie Pavey (two) and Andy Pugh. However, the three points were thrown away as the Stones levelled the game from the spot with three minutes to go in an entertaining 3-3 draw.

Penalty decisions and last minute goals seem to be a hot topic for Dartford this week after another three points were dropped last weekend. Ryan Hayes scored a superb solo goal at Princes Park against Chelmsford City but all was forgotten as the Clarets left it late to snatch victory. A controversial penalty was awarded with four minutes to go which Kudus Oyenuga scored, then in injury time Taylor Miles netted direct from a corner.

Another talking point was the first start of the campaign for Duane Ofori-Acheampong, who partnered Danny Mills up front. Burman choose to leave out form strikers Andy Pugh and Alfie Pavey for their physical presence against a strong Chelmsford City side. However, it was what Burman called the ‘lack of intelligence’ by his players that cost his side the match citing errors that led to the two conceded goals.

Pushing for the playoffs, Wealdstone went to Truro City last weekend and won 3-1 thanks to a brace from David Pratt and a third by Daniel Green, who scored at Princes Park earlier in the season. The league win is the Stones third in a row and was the sixth in all competitions under Bobby Wilkinson. On Tuesday night they lost a Middlesex Senior Cup semi-final on penalties versus Staines Town.

The Middlesex have a congested schedule this week with Dartford on Saturday followed by a Monday night clash with Gloucester City. The Stones will also have one eye on the up and coming F.A Trophy quarter final tie against Billericay Town. A run that has seen them knock out Chelmsford City, Wingate and Finchley then Hereford.

Head to Head
Wealdstone wins: 13 / Dartford wins: 12 / Draws: 13

Current League Form

Wealdstone (WWWLDL) Dartford (LLWDWD)
Truro City A 3-1 Chelmsford City H 1-2
Weston-super-Mare H 2-1 St Albans City A 0-4
Bognor Regis Town H 3-0 Whitehawk H 3-1
Hampton & Richmond H 0-3 Chippenham Town A 2-2
Hampton & Richmond A 1-1 Havant & Waterlooville H 1-0
St Albans City H 1-3 Concord Rangers A 1-1

Previous Meetings

21.11.2017 Dartford 3 Wealdstone 3
28.01.2017 Wealdstone 0 Dartford 4
06.08.2016 Dartford 2 Wealdstone 2
26.01.2016 Dartford 1 Wealdstone 2
03.10.2015 Wealdstone 2 Dartford 1
21.02.2012 Wealdstone 1 Dartford 0

Stats
Dartford last suffered back to back defeats in March 2016 losing three in a row between 5 March and 15 March to Weston-super-Mare (1-2), Whitehawk (2-4) and Maidenhead United (1-2).

The Darts won last season at Wealdstone which was the first time in eight attempts, stretching back to a 4-0 Southern League Cup win in 1989.

In the last three meetings between Dartford and Wealdstone 14 goals have been scored in total.

Both teams have scored in this fixture in 13 of the last 16 matches against each other.

On This Day
Dartford beat Runcorn in a F.A Trophy third round replay in 1987, on the way to the semi-final which they lost to Burton Albion. The replay was forced after a brave Tony Burman header levelled the first tie at 1-1, the return fixture ended 2-1 to the Darts. Dartford last won on 17 February back in 1996 when they beat Corinthian 3-0 at Gay Dawn Farm in the Kent League. The Darts have lost their last two fixtures on this day both at home. Seventeen years ago, Tonbridge Angels won with a single goal in the Southern League Division One East and in 2007, Fleet Town beat Dartford 2-1 in the Isthmian Division One South.

Dartford v Chelmsford City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current League Form

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

Previous Meetings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St Albans City v Dartford

February will be an important month for Dartford and they begin with a trip to Clarence Park to face St Albans City this weekend.

The Darts return to the venue where they have lost in their last two attempts without scoring. However, it was Dartford who came out on top earlier in the season when they met at Princes Park back in October. Starting the afternoon level on points with the Saints, a 2-1 victory moved the Darts three points ahead of their opponents to cement first place in the National South. Elliot Bradbrook headed the hosts in front before St Albans City levelled through Charlie Walker. Lyle Della-Verde was involved in the eventual winner when his cross was turned in by former Dart, Tom Bender.

Dartford’s win ended a run of three defeats in a row against the Hertfordshire club, who had kept clean sheets in each of those encounters. Dartford last beat St Albans away from home in 2011 when Lee Burns’ header from 30 yards bounced over the goalkeeper and helped the Darts to a 2-1 victory. Since then, Dartford travelled to Hertfordshire in April 2016 with a glimmer of hope of reaching the playoffs, only to end the campaign on a whimper. The Saints ran out 4-0 winners with two goals from James Kaloczi, a Becka-kah Dembele own goal and Louie Theophanous strike. Almost a year later Charlie Walker’s goal was enough to separate the two sides as the hosts won 1-0 to complete a double over the Darts. Earlier in the campaign, the Saints ended Dartford’s unbeaten home record with goals from Sam Merson and Bender.

Last weekend, Dartford beat one of the form teams of the National South to open a three point lead at the top of the table. Despite their opponents Whitehawk propping up the division, the Darts came through with a 3-1 home win. Ronnie Vint, who celebrated his century of starts for the club before the game opened the goalscoring. The defender scored after the Hawks failed to clear their lines from a Ryan Hayes free kick. The visitors were level on 56 minutes through David Ijaha, but Andy Pugh’s brace a day before his birthday secured another important three points.

Manager Tony Burman spoke to www.dartfordfc.com after the game, he said: “I was really pleased with the performance of the players throughout the ninety minutes, Whitehawk are a much improved side and now have some excellent players. It was very important to gain three points which helped us to reach our targets for the end of the month. Although our opponents caused us some problems I felt we managed them very well and probably in the second half when we had a spell with some good delivery from set pieces we could have increased our goals tally.  It is very important that we stay focused in what we want to achieve as we have another tough month coming up”.

The Darts are still searching for more consistencies in their away showings. With five wins, five draws and four defeats Dartford are currently three league matches unbeaten away from Prince Park in the National South, including home form they have not lost in their last seven league outings.

Striker, Danny Mills who has made nine starts and two substitute appearances, has had his loan spell extended until the end of the season. Burman told www.dartfordfc.com: “I am delighted to have Danny on board for the rest of the season. It now means I have a formidable strike force to pick from for our run in, and with his experience covers any problems that may occur. Danny’s attitude and work rate has been spot on”.

Another former Dart that could be involved on the weekend is Tom Gardiner, who moved to the Saints due to work commitments last season. The defender was was named on the bench last weekend and made an appearance in their 7-2 smashing of East Thurrock United. The headlines belonged to Merson who netted four in the rout to take his tally to 13 league goals for the season, three behind Dartford’s Alfie Pavey who sits third in the scoring charts.

Guided by the experience of Ian Allinson, St Albans City have gone six National South fixtures at home without defeat. Similar to the Darts, the away form is holding the Hertfordshire back as they sit in sixth place. However, the Saints know if they win on the weekend as well as their game in hand then they could be level with Dartford once more.

Head to Head
St Albans City wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 7 / Draws: 4

Current League Form

St Albans City (WDWLDW) Dartford (WDWDWL)
East Thurrock United H 7-2 Whitehawk H 3-1
Eastbourne Borough A 1-1 Chippenham Town A 2-2
Chelmsford City H 2-1 Havant & Waterlooville H 1-0
Hemel Hempstead Town A 0-2 Concord Rangers A 1-1
Hemel Hempstead Town H 2-2 Welling United H 4-1
Wealdstone A 3-1 Hungerford Town A 0-1

Previous Meetings

28.10.2017 Dartford 2 St Albans City 1
25.03.2017 St Albans City 1 Dartford 0
08.11.2016 Dartford 0 St Albans City 2
30.04.2016 St Albans City 4 Dartford 0
06.02.2016 Dartford 2 St Albans City 0
02.04.2011 St Albans City 1 Dartford 2

Stats
Dartford are unbeaten against the current top six winning three and drawing three.

The Saints have taken just four points from 18 against teams in the top six, all of those came at home.

Pugh has now scored ten league goals for the Darts this term in 12 starts and eight substitute appearances. The striker has netted five in his last six National South appearances.

St Albans City have scored 29 home goals this term, the second highest in the division behind Dartford (37).

On This Day
Dartford have yet to concede a goal on 3 February since reforming. In the only two fixtures on this day, the Darts drew 0-0 at home to Cray Wanderers in 2007 and beat Herne Bay 2-0 in the Kent League back in 1996. In the Southern Premier League, the Darts drew 1-1 with Burton Albion in 1990 and three years prior they beat Folkestone 1-0 in the Kent Senior Cup quarter-final. The last defeat came in 1979 when Dartford lost 1-0 to Hillingdon Borough in the Southern Premier League.

Dartford v Whitehawk

League leaders Dartford will host bottom of the table side Whitehawk this weekend in the National South.

The Darts, who are three points clear at the top convincingly beat the Hawks back in September at the Enclosed Ground. The 4-0 victory was Dartford’s biggest win over the Sussex side since they first met in 1982.

Alfie Pavey was on the end of a goalmouth scramble to score the opener and Ryan Hayes doubled the lead, cutting inside before smashing the ball beyond Alex Tokarczyk in the Whitehawk goal. Captain, Elliot Bradbrook netted the third of the evening just before half-time. The fourth came in the second half when Lyle Della-Verde hit a shot across goal into the far corner.

Dartford increased their lead in the National South last weekend when they travelled to Chippenham Town. Alfie Pavey moved on to 20 goals for the season in all competitions with a brace but on each occasion the Bluebirds equalised as the game ended 2-2. Pavey volleyed home from close range for the first and nodded home the second, but manager Tony Burman was left with mixed feelings at the result.

Burman spoke to www.dartford.com after the match and said: “Once again I think we have played at a difficult away venue, and I felt for long periods of the game especially in the first half I was happy with the performance”, he added: “I think the most disappointing factor of the game was that if you take the lead away from home you should keep it”.

Having failed to stay in front, Burman reflected after the game: “Once it went to 2-2 Chippenham could have taken all three points but we seemed to click into ‘over my dead body mode’ and defended much better”.

The draw extends Dartford’s unbeaten run in the league to six and although they have opened a small advantage, the two closest title rivals had their matches postponed giving them games in hand. Hampton and Richmond sit in second place having played one less fixture, whilst Havant and Waterlooville are third, four points behind the Darts having played two games fewer.

On Tuesday night, the Darts arranged a friendly with VCD Athletic, the squad included Richard Sho-Silva, Lee Noble, Duane Ofori-Acheampong, Lyle Della-Verde and Alex Brown. All of which have been looking for more game time recently. Burman also took the chance to look at some of the academy players who are making their way through the ranks.

Dartford’s home record remains strong with eight victories and four draws in the 13 outings at Princes Park. On the contrary, Whitehawk have lost 11 of their 13 away fixtures this term.

However, the Hawks unbeaten this calendar year, have seen an upturn in fortune having waited until their 24th game to record their first win of the campaign. That maiden victory came against local rivals Eastbourne Borough on New Year’s Day in which they won 4-1. Since then the Sussex club have drawn 2-2 at home to Bognor Regis Town and beat Oxford City 1-0 away from home.

On the weekend, the Hawks grabbed their tenth point in four games with a 3-2 triumph against Truro City. The Sussex club had to come from 2-1 down, but goals from Kodi Lyons-Foster, an own goal and Gold Omotayo secured victory. The result leaves Whitehawk six points adrift at the bottom and 12 points from safety.

Omotayo is grabbing the headlines at the moment with six goals in as many appearances since joining the Hawks. The Swiss born 23 year-old arrived from fourth tier side Wettswill-Bonstetten in his home country and is looking for a professional deal in the summer.

In the space of 19 months, Whitehawk have gone full circle by re-appointing Steve King as boss. He managed the Hawks between 2014 and 2016 and enjoyed league success by keeping the club up on the final day of the 2014 campaign, led Whitehawk to the National South playoffs in his first full season and took them to the F.A Cup second round in 2014/15. Since leaving, the Sussex club have tried their luck with seven managers before returning to King hoping for stability again.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 4 /Whitehawk wins: 3 / Draws: 0

Current League Form

Dartford (DWDWWD) Whitehawk (WWDWLL)
Chippenham Town A 2-2 Truro City H 3-2
Havant & Waterlooville H 1-0 Oxford City A 1-0
Concord Rangers H 1-1 Bognor Regis Town H 2-2
Welling United H 4-1 Eastbourne Borough A 4-1
Welling United A 3-2 Eastbourne Borough H 0-1
Braintree Town H 1-1 East Thurrock United A 2-4

Previous Meetings

05.09.2017 Whitehawk 0 Dartford 4
04.02.2017 Dartford 3 Whitehawk 1
10.08.2016 Whitehawk 1 Dartford 0
12.03.2016 Dartford 2 Whitehawk 4
19.12.2015 Whitehawk 0 Dartford 1
28.11.2015 Dartford 1 Whitehawk 2

Stats
Ronnie Vint made his 100th start for the club last weekend, the defender came through the academy ranks and has now appeared in 106 games in total for the Darts.

Dartford have 34 league goals at home this season, the most in the National South.

Whitehawk have conceded the most goals home and away this campaign in the National South.

On This Day
Nine years ago, a goal from Brendon Cass and a brace by Cody McDonald sent Dartford through to the Isthmian League Cup fourth round. The Darts defeated Concord Rangers 3-1 before losing to Horsham at the next stage of the competition. Dartford last tasted league victory on 27 January 28 years ago in a 1-0 victory over Bromsgrove Rovers in the Southern Premier League. Sandwiched between that triumph and the cup win, Dartford lost 3-0 away to Bashley in 2001 and 3-2 at Horsham YMCA in 2007. Dartford have not lost at home on this day since 1951, the run of five matches include a 5-1 F.A Trophy replay win versus Newcastle Blue Star in 1987.

Chippenham Town v Dartford

Dartford continue their push to break away from the National South chasing pack when they visit Southern Premier League champions Chippenham Town.

Back in September, the Darts hosted the Bluebirds at Princes Park and the inspiration that afternoon was Ryan Hayes. The longest serving Dartford player was involved in all three goals by setting up two and scoring the other.

Hayes’ accurate cross was met by Alfie Pavey on 26 minutes to give Dartford the lead. In the second half, Hayes anticipated a defensive error and when he picked out Andy Pugh, the Darts doubled their lead. Good team work made the third goal with Hayes finishing off the move with a low shot into the corner.

Last weekend, Dartford moved clear at the top of the National South with a significant win over Havant and Waterlooville. The top two started the afternoon level on points making Tom Murphy’s decisive second minute goal important in the title race. The 26-year-old expertly volleyed Pavey’s flick on past Ryan Young in the Hawks’ goal early on, but it was an impressive defensive display that kept Havant and Waterlooville at bay.

Tony Burman was pleased with the result and what he called a battling performance, he told www.dartfordfc.com: “It’s a big win in respect that they had a game in hand and now they’ve got to win that game in hand. It doesn’t mean we’ve won the league or they’ve lost it. It’s another game where we’ve picked up three points, the bonus for us was a clean sheet”.

Chippenham Town are six points clear of the relegation zone having played a game more than Poole Town, who occupy the final relegation spot. The two were meant to go head to head on Tuesday in a rearranged fixture but the match was postponed for a second time.

The Bluebirds have tasted league victory just once in their last nine attempts, and that was against bottom of the table side Whitehawk. However, they have had their fair share of notable wins including the 3-2 triumph against Chelmsford City in October, the 5-1 win at home to Hemel Hempstead Town in September and the 5-2 away victory at Bath City in the second game of the season.

The Southern League Premier champions are relying on their home form this term. With five wins and five draws they have only lost three times at Hardenhuish Park in the National South. Last weekend manager Mark Collier was pleased with the Bluebirds 1-1 home draw with Braintree Town, he told the club’s website: “It’s a big point for us, we’ve had some difficult times, I think we deserved the point, we were under pressure, we put the right tactics in against as good a side I have seen in this league”, he continued: “We must take getting the point as a confidence boost, they have worked really hard against the best team in the division”.

Collier, has had to contend with experienced forward David Pratt leaving the club, the top scorer for the Bluebirds switched to Wealdstone. Over the last month, Collier has signed replacements in Jake Jackson from Southern Premier League side Frome Town and Nick McCootie from rivals Bath City. The Chippenham Town boss has also shifted his backroom staff in attempt to move further away from the drop zone.

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

Current League Form

Chippenham Town (DLLLLW) Dartford (WDWWDL)
Braintree Town H 1-1 Havant & Waterlooville H 1-0
Hungerford Town H 1-2 Concord Rangers A 1-1
Hungerford Town A 1-2 Welling United H 4-1
Bath City H 0-3 Welling United A 3-2
Havant & Waterlooville A 0-4 Braintree Town H 1-1
Whitehawk H 2-1 Hungerford Town A 0-1

Previous Meeting

09.09.2017 Dartford 3 Chippenham Town 0

Stats
Dartford may be top of the National South, but at step 2 of non league football, they have the fourth best points per game with 1.88. The Darts sit behind National North sides Salford City (2.23), Harrogate Town (2.00) and Brackley Town (1.92).

In their last eight away games in the National South, the Darts have lost half of those fixtures, won three and drew one.

Over 90 minutes, Dartford are unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions with three wins and four draws

On This Day
Dave Martin played his last game for Dartford on 20 January 2007 in a entertaining 4-3 win against Ashford Town. The Isthmian Division One South fixture saw the winger win the decisive penalty scored by Ryan Hayes. The Darts fought back from two down with Jay May scoring twice and Lew Watts the other. Martin went on to join Crystal Palace before playing at Millwall, Southend United and Luton Town amongst others. He returned to Dartford on loan in the 2013/14 campaign.

Dartford v Havant and Waterlooville

Dartford take on Isthmian Premier League champions Havant and Waterlooville this weekend in a top of the table clash at Princes Park. 

The top two go head to head with only goal difference separating the teams. Dartford boast the best home record and are the league’s top scorers this term. Havant and Waterlooville are the most productive away from home with nine wins, three draws and a defeat, accruing the most away points in the National South. The Darts are two goals better off but the Hawks have a game in hand.

Both squads have plenty of attacking options amongst their squads, so when the two battled out a 0-0 draw in the third game of the season back in August it came as a surprise. At the time, it felt like Dartford had dropped two points against a newly promoted side, but knowing how well the Hawks have performed this term in a tight division the away point could turn out useful come the end of April.

The lack of goals five months ago, contrasted with the last time Havant and Waterlooville visited Princes Park in December 2015. Dartford ran out 4-2 winners in a game which saw the Darts let slip a two-goal lead. Elliot Bradbrook’s penalty and Danny Harris’ strike on half-time put Dartford two up at the interval. Within eight minutes of the restart the scores were level when Havant and Waterlooville’s Dan Strugnell halved the deficit then Matt Paterson equalised. Bradbrook scored another before Ebou Adams netted his only goal for the club to secure victory.

It’s debatable at this stage of the season if Dartford dropped points last weekend at Concord Rangers. The Darts drew 1-1 against the Essex side who are now 13 unbeaten in the National South, however Elliot Bradbrook missed a penalty and Deren Ibrahim’s mistake for Steve Cawley’s goal almost proved costly. Ryan Hayes levelled the match with a well taken strike past former Dartford goalkeeper Louis Wells to earn an away point.

Tony Burman spoke to www.dartfordfc.com after the game and was pleased with his player’s application, he said: “Concord is always a difficult place to go and get a result and with our opponents undefeated in the last 12 league games, it did not make things any easier. I warned the players that you had to go there with the right attitude and I have to say I thought that they were spot on with this”.

Burman added: “Overall we played some excellent football throughout the whole game and created enough chances to win the match. Ryan got us back on level terms and if I am honest I felt we would go on to get three points”, he continued: “For where we want to be at the end of the season I suppose its two points dropped, but fair play to Concord who were a tough nut to crack. We have come away with a point which at the end of the season might be a valuable one”.

Since the start of December there has been much talk on whether top goalscorer Alfie Pavey should be starting. The striker has netted 18 times this term but his last start was at Poole Town on 2 December. Pavey, who had a spell out with a chest infection before the subsequent substitute appearances is being managed closely by Burman.

Another striker returning to fitness is Duane Ofori-Acheampong who has managed some game time from off the bench in the last few games, another appearance will make it number 50 for the striker. Lee Noble and Alex Brown have been out recently with Noble’s last start coming before Christmas and Brown’s last appearance was in the F.A Trophy replay at Boreham Wood.

Havant and Waterlooville’s options include two former Dartford players, Jason Prior and Bradley Tarbuck. Prior is the Hawks top scorer with 13 league goals an accolade he won last term. For the Darts Prior played 24 times scoring just twice. Tarbuck has netted just one in 18 appearances for the Hawks this season. There is also experience that can be drawn from Matt Tubbs and James Hayter, with the pair often making substitute appearances. The duo both scored in the New Year’s Day victory at Bognor Regis Town.

Tubbs continued his good form with two more goals on Tuesday night as the Hawks defeated Oxford City 3-2 to move second in the table. The former Crawley Town, AFC Bournemouth and Portsmouth striker has now netted eight in his last eight games. Victory extended Havant and Waterlooville’s unbeaten run in the National South to twelve, they last tasted defeat in the league on 23 September against Welling United.

Lee Bradbury has orchestrated the Hawks return to the National South, although he unexpectedly took the club down he helped the club bounce back at the first time of asking. Much of this season’s success has come on their travels with the Hawks undefeated in their last six away league fixtures.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 4 / Havant and Waterlooville wins: 3 / Draws: 3

Current League Form

Dartford (DWWDLW) Havant & Waterlooville (WWDWWD)
Concord Rangers H 1-1 Oxford City H 3-2
Welling United H 4-1 Bognor Regis Town A 3-0
Welling United A 3-2 Bognor Regis Town H 0-0
Braintree Town H 1-1 Eastbourne Borough A 4-1
Hungerford Town A 0-1 Chippenham Town H 4-0
Poole Town A 1-0 Chelmsford City H 1-1

Previous Meetings

12.08.2017 Dartford 0 Havant and Waterlooville 0
19.03.2016 Havant and Waterlooville 2 Dartford 0
05.12.2015 Dartford 4 Havant and Waterlooville 2
17.03.2012 Dartford 3 Havant and Waterlooville 1
07.01.2012 Havant and Waterlooville 1 Dartford 4
18.04.2011 Havant and Waterlooville 1 Dartford 0

Stats
Danny Harris failed to score for the first time against Havant and Waterlooville in August, the full back had previously netted five goals versus the Hawks in four appearances.

Dartford are unbeaten in their last five games against Havant and Waterlooville (W4, D1) which included league doubles in 2011-2012 and 2015-2016.

The Darts have never lost to the Hawks at Princes Park in three attempts (W2, D1). However, Havant and Waterlooville did win the first two matches at Dartford in 1999 (2-0 in the Southern League Southern Division) and 2000 (4-0 in the F.A Trophy third qualifying round)..

On This Day
Dave Martin scored a wonder goal and Brendon Cass a hat-trick eleven years ago when the Darts thrashed Burgess Hill Town 7-2. Martin’s long range drive into the top corner was the pick of the bunch on a memorable afternoon at Princes Park. The winger did add a second goal to his name with John Guest and Ryan Hayes scoring the other two. That is Dartford’s only win on 13 January in the last five attempts, losing the remaining four, most recently a 2-1 home loss against FC Halifax Town in 2015.

Concord Rangers v Dartford

Dartford look to extend their unbeaten run to four in the league when they travel to Concord Rangers this weekend.

The Darts maintained their position at the top of the National South over the festive period and have a two point cushion. Tony Burman led his side to double victory over local rivals Welling United, but will face a stern test against a Concord Rangers side unbeaten in their last twelve league outings.

In what will be the seventh meeting between Dartford and the Beachboys, the Darts kept up their good record against the Essex club back in August with a 2-0 win at Princes Park. Searching for the maiden win of the campaign, Dartford entered the match on the back of three consecutive draws. A goal in either half by Elliot Bradbrook and Lyle Della-Verde gave the Darts their first three point haul of the season.

On Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, Andy Pugh and Alfie Pavey came back to haunt their former club Welling United in both sets of fixtures. In the 3-2 Boxing Day victory, Pavey’s last minute scissor kick won the match in style, Pugh had earlier put Dartford two up. In the return fixture, Ryan Hayes opened the scoring and after conceding an equaliser the Darts could rely on Pugh to put them back ahead. Pavey came off the substitutes bench once more and this time netted a brace, taking his tally to 18 for the season. Dartford’s performance drew praise from former Dartford defender Jamie Coyle, now in charge at Welling United. Coyle tips the Darts for the title.

Much has been made of whether Alfie Pavey should start instead of Danny Mills, considering Pavey’s recent form from off the bench since returning to action. Burman backs Mills who is on loan from Ebbsfleet United, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “I’d like to have him here rather than being at another club,” said Burman. “The whole division wants to sign him so we can’t be wrong, can we? I’d like him to stay”. To add further competition to the front line, Duane Ofori-Acheampong managed to get some minutes on the pitch after a long term injury.

Concord Rangers had their Boxing Day game abandoned at 1-1 with East Thurrock United, but the two sides managed to finish the New Year’s Day meeting. Former Dartford play Femi Akinwande scored twice in a 3-2 win that stretched the Beachboys unbeaten run and move them into sixteenth. The Beachboys recent run of a dozen unbeaten matches only includes four wins, which have come in the last five outings in the National South.

Head to Head
Concord Rangers wins: 1 / Dartford wins: 4 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

Concord Rangers (WDWWWD) Dartford (WWDLWD)
East Thurrock United A 3-2 Welling United H 4-1
Hemel Hempstead Town A 1-1 Welling United A 3-2
Wealdstone H 3-1 Braintree Town H 1-1
Bognor Regis Town A 2-1 Hungerford Town A 0-1
Chippenham Town H 4-2 Poole Town A 1-0
Welling United A 3-3 Wealdstone H 3-3

Previous Meetings

15.08.2017 Dartford 2 Concord Rangers 0
11.03.2017 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 1
24.09.2016 Dartford 2 Concord Rangers 1
27.02.2016 Dartford 1 Concord Rangers 2
18.08.2015 Concord Rangers 2 Dartford 3
27.01.2009 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 3

Stats
Alfie Pavey has now scored 14 league goals this season in just 16 starts and three substitute appearances. The striker has scored three in his last two appearances both off the bench.

Andy Pugh has scored four in his last three league appearances and has eight league goals from nine starts and seven substitute appearances. Pugh also made his 100th start for the club on New Year’s Day to go with the 42 substitute appearances, in that time Pugh has managed 45 goals for the Darts.

On This Day
For the first time in 22 years Dartford play on 6 January, a date in which they have been unbeaten for 56 years over six games. Greenwich Borough were the only side to take points off the Darts during that time, in a 0-0 Kent League draw back in 1996. Before then, Dartford won five in a row beating Moor Green 4-1 (Southern Premier League in 1990), Fisher Athletic 1-0 (Southern League Cup in 1987), Nuneaton Borough 1-0 (Southern League Cup in 1975), Dover Athletic 2-1 (Southern Premier League in 1973) and Folkestone Town 1-0 (Southern League First Division in 1968). The last defeat on this day was a 1-0 loss in 1962 against Ramsgate Athletic.

Dartford v Welling United

Dartford begin the New Year top of the National South and will look to maintain their position in the league when they host Welling United.

The New Year’s Day clash comes just six days after the Darts recorded a dramatic victory against the Wings in the reverse fixture. A spectacular injury time winner by former Welling United striker, Alfie Pavey decided the local derby in style.

In fact, the 3-2 victory was full of ex-players coming back to haunt their club. The scoring was opened on just three minutes by an unmarked Andy Pugh, after a cross from Ryan Hayes. The former Welling United frontman then made it 2-0 ten minutes into the second half, again Hayes supplying the cross for Pugh to tap home.

Welling United hit back with thirteen minutes to go when former Dart, Callum Driver scored a free-kick from just outside the area. Then Dartford threw their two-goal advantage away when captain Elliot Bradbrook upended brother Tom, another ex-Dart, to concede a penalty. Up stepped Jeffrey Monakana to level the score with just three minutes on the clock. In the third minute of injury time Pavey produced a moment to saviour as he scissor-kicked the winner in front of the jubilant away following.

Dartford’s first win against the Wings at Park View Road since 1983 secured top spot at the end of 2017. Victory ensured the Darts have a two-point cushion over Havant and Waterlooville and Chelmsford City, although both sides have a game in hand.

After the Boxing Day fixture, both managers spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk to give their reaction, Tony Burman commented: “I think we deserved to win the game. When we went 2-0 up we had a couple of other opportunities to increase the lead”, he added: “We were dead and buried when it went 2-2. We gave away two silly fouls and they’ve scored from a free-kick and a penalty. Defensively I thought we were reasonable but something like that changes things”.

Burman also justified his recent team selections specifically the games that top scorer and match winner Alfie Pavey has missed through a chest infection, he commented: “Believe you me, I will make him a lot better than what he is doing. He has got my belief and regardless of whether he has been playing or not, I’ve got to manage him in the way I think is right”, he added: “He is a young, good lad who has done ever so well for us. He has had some problems in the last month and I’m going to manage them problems the best way I can”.

Welling United player manager, Jamie Coyle was disappointed with defeat but pleased with the character shown by his players, and the improvement made after the 4-1 loss against Chelmsford City, he said: “After what happened on Saturday, we could have crumbled after going 1-0 down so early”, he continued: “We stuck at it, and I thought all over the pitch we more than competed and were the better team for the majority of the game. In both boxes, they defended really well and put their chances away”.

Coyle, another former Dart was unable to play due to illness despite looking forward to the fixture. Meanwhile, Bradley Goldberg was substituted at half-time due to an injury to his hamstring.

With Dartford in pole position going into the New Year, Burman feels his squad can kick on after decent performances against Boreham Wood, Braintree Town and now Welling United, he said: “We’re pleased with where we are. We realise we want to kick-start the season and we might just do that with what happened at the end of the Welling United game, he continued: “We know we’ve got to be professional and consistent and get four or five wins on the bounce. If we do that then that group (at the top of the league) will get smaller and it will help us hopefully to pull away from them”.

Head to Head
Welling United wins: 7 / Dartford wins: 17 / Draws: 10

Current League Form

Dartford (WDLWDW) Welling United (LLLDDW)
Welling United A 3-2 Dartford H 2-3
Braintree Town H 1-1 Chelmsford City A 1-4
Hungerford Town A 0-1 East Thurrock United H 0-3
Poole Town A 1-0 Hemel Hempstead Town A 2-2
Wealdstone H 3-3 Concord Rangers H 3-3
Gloucester City H 4-1 St Albans City A 2-1

Previous Meetings

26.12.2017 Welling United 2 Dartford 3
28.02.2017 Welling United 0 Dartford 0
22.11.2016 Welling United 2 Dartford 2
06.09.2016 Dartford 2 Welling United 1
19.10.2015 Dartford 3 Welling United 1
11.11.2014 Dartford 2 Welling United 1

Stats
It’s been 16 years since the Darts won on New Year’s Day when they beat Sittingbourne 5-2 in the Southern League Division One East. Since then, Dartford have lost five out of six and drew the other, including the defeat to Welling United in 2011.

Dartford have won four of the last five matches against the Wings at Princes Park.

If selected, Andy Pugh will make his 100th start for Dartford.

In 2017, Dartford collected 85 points in 44 games averaging at 1.93 points per game. Only on one occasion would that points average be enough to win the National South. Bromley won the title in 2014/15 with 77 points from 40 games.

On This Day
Dartford have won one New Year’s Day fixture since reforming and that was the 5-2 victory against Sittingbourne in 2001. That was the start of seven away days in a row on this day which has resulted in one draw and five defeats. The draw came in 2013 against Ebbsfleet United when the Darts conceded a last minute equaliser. Jon Wallis scored a free kick before Harry Crawford doubled the lead, Nathan Elder netted both goals for the Fleet. The last home match at home on the 1 January was in 1999, which saw Dartford draw 0-0 with Margate in the Southern League South Division and five years before that the Darts lost 3-2 at home to Alma Swanley.

Welling United v Dartford

Tony Burman will come up against a former player in the dugout when the Darts take on local rivals on Boxing Day.

Dartford will make the short journey to Park View Road to play Welling United, managed by Jamie Coyle. The Wings boss made 140 appearances for the Darts and was part of the team that won the Isthmian Division One North and Isthmian Premier leagues, in 2008 and 2010. The ex-Dartford defender is making a good start to his managerial career with his side currently eleventh in the National South four points off a playoff spot.

The Darts took four points from Welling United last term with the away match ending in a 0-0 draw back in February. It was the fourth time in a row at Park View Road that the two sides shared the points in the league. In September 2014, the National League meeting ended 2-2 with the Darts equalising on both occasions. Harry Beautyman put the Wings ahead but Peter Sweeney levelled for Dartford. The game was just 14 minutes old when Jamal Fyfield scored again for Welling United, but for the second time Elliot Bradbrook squared up the score.

Eight months previous, early goals settled another draw this time Dartford loanee Jim Stevenson had the visitors in front. However, Ross Lafayette’s penalty eight minutes later secured a 1-1 draw. The Boxing Day fixture six years ago also ended up 1-1 on a dramatic afternoon. Lee Clarke opened the scoring for Welling United and after Joe Healy was sent off it looked like the Wings would hold on. In the last minute, Clarke had the chance to secure victory but missed his penalty, then Dartford went down the other end and Lee Noble headed in the equaliser.

After taking on Braintree Town on the weekend, in a match that saw the top two battle it out, Welling United will provide a different test for the Darts. Burman spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and said: “Welling are going through a transitional period but with all due respect to them, it’s a period at the right end of the table”, the Dartford boss added: “They’ve got players who we know and vice-versa, it will about what happens on the day”, he continued: “The bragging rights are there, it’s not the be all and end all but it’s nice to pick up the points over the Christmas period”.

Braintree Town started Saturday’s game well looking to build from the back and put the Darts under pressure. However, against the run of play some great work from Tom Murphy on the left saw him cross the ball to Andy Pugh who tapped in the opener on 17 minutes. The Darts grew into the first half after the goal until their opponents tried to get back on level terms, which they managed from a counter attack finished off by Marcel Barrington on the stroke of half time. The second half played out with no further goals and left the Darts clinging on to top spot on goal difference, level with four other teams on 39 points.

Burman commented after the game courtesy of www.kentonline.co.uk: “Hopefully we can get the few wins together we need but nothing happens in December, nothing happens in January. You’ve got to keep up there among the pack”, he added: “If we make a gap, great, but it just doesn’t work like that sometimes”.

Alex Brown served his one match suspension against the Iron and will be available for selection. Nathan Collier made his first start since returning to the Darts taking Brown’s place in midfield. Former Welling United striker Alfie Pavey has been named on the bench since returning from a chest infection, Burman said when speaking to www.kentonline.co.uk: “It’s well-publicised that Alfie’s had some breathing problems over the last few weeks, which has hampered him when the weather’s got cold”.

One of the outstanding players so far this campaign, Lee Noble was also left on the bench with Burman confirming to www.kentonline.co.uk: “”When I got here, he was out doing the warm-up,” he said. “He’s come through the warm-up on his own and I decided to put him on the bench. When he did the warm-up with the players, he’s come back in and his calf stiffened up so we had a little problem there”.

Meanwhile, Welling United were at title challengers Chelmsford City on the weekend and a costly start made the afternoon difficult for the Wings. After just a couple of minutes the Clarets were in front when Matthew Johnson scored for the hosts. Former Dart, Luke Daley volleyed home a second after six minutes and Kudus Onyenuga made it 3-0 before the half was over. Chris Dicksom added a fourth in the second half and Welling United’s Bradley Goldberg scored a consolation.

The Wings have won once in their last five outings which has seen them drop slightly off the playoff pace. Over September and October they managed a run of six wins from seven games which put the amongst the crowded field. Joe Healy is their main marksman this term with nine National South goals, whilst former Darts, Coyle and Tom Bradbrook have four goals each. Brother of Dartford captain Elliot, Tom last played at the beginning of the month in Welling United’s 2-2 draw with Truro City, the striker who made 103 appearances for Dartford and scored 24 times, wasn’t in the squad for the Wings defeat at Chelmsford City.

Head to Head
Welling United wins: 7 / Dartford wins: 17 / Draws: 10

Current League Form

Dartford (DLWDWL) Welling United (LLDDWL)
Braintree Town H 1-1 Chelmsford City A 1-4
Hungerford Town A 0-1 East Thurrock United H 0-3
Poole Town A 1-0 Hemel Hempstead Town A 2-2
Wealdstone H 3-3 Concord Rangers H 3-3
Gloucester City H 4-1 St Albans City A 2-1
Truro City A 1-3 Wealdstone H 1-2

Previous Meetings

28.02.2017 Welling United 0 Dartford 0
22.11.2016 Welling United 2 Dartford 2
06.09.2016 Dartford 2 Welling United 1
19.10.2015 Dartford 3 Welling United 1
11.11.2014 Dartford 2 Welling United 1
30.09.2014 Welling United 2 Dartford 2

Stats
Dartford’s last league victory at Welling United was in 1983. The Darts won 4-0 and since then have lost one and drawn the last four.

Over 90 minutes, Dartford are unbeaten in seven against the Wings. The Darts have lost just once in their last 13 against Welling United. Including the penalty shoot out loss in last season’s Kent Senior Cup, then the Darts have lost twice in that time.

The Darts are clinging on to top spot and clinging on to the best attacking record. Dartford are still the top scorers with 44 goals, but Braintree Town and East Thurrock United are just one behind.

On This Day
This will be the sixteenth Boxing Day fixture for Dartford since reformation and their record stands at won six, drawn three, lost six. In the time, the Darts have beaten rivals Ebbsfleet United twice in 2012 and 2016. Harry Crawford’s brace and Elliot Bradbrook’s goal earned Dartford a 3-1 win in 2012. Four years later, Tom Bonner’s header against his former side and Duane Ofori-Acheampong’s strike gave the Darts a 2-1 victory. The biggest score was racked up in 2007 when Dartford beat Canvey Island 6-1 in an Isthmian Division One North fixture. On that day six different scorers helped the Darts to the three points, Steve Norman, Ryan Hayes, Brendon Cass, Jay May, Eddie McClements and Jamie Coyle.

Dartford v Braintree Town

The top two go head to head at Princes Park this weekend as the Darts host second place Braintree Town.

Joint leaders on points Dartford have a superior goal difference and only victory will guarantee another weekend at the top of the National South. Braintree Town are level on points but so too are Hampton and Richmond Borough, in fact the top seven are separated by just one win.

Dartford met the Iron earlier in the season back in August. After an uninspiring opening day, the Darts played their first away match of the campaign against the Essex club, who are now looking to bounce back to the National League after relegation last term.

The Darts had to show their fighting spirit over four months ago, to earn a draw from 2-0 down. Braintree Town went in at half-time in the driving seat with goals from Karl Oliyide and Billy Crook. In the second half, Lee Noble’s header back to Tom Murphy pulled a goal back, but the goalscorer was forced off through injury. The equaliser came from captain Elliot Bradbrook who headed home after Tom Bonner nodded the ball back across goal from a corner. On that evening, Warren Mfula made his first start and Richard Sho-Silva his debut.

It’s been over five years since Dartford beat Braintree Town when Tom Bonner and Jacob Erskine scored the only two goals of the game. Since then, the Darts failed to score in the last five meetings against the Iron before the 2-2 draw this season. Dartford’s last two campaigns in the National League saw Braintree Town complete the double against the Darts on both occasions.

Tony Burman will be hoping his side can show the mentality needed by his players to beat a title challenger. In the last league fixture, Dartford lost 1-0 away to lowly Hungerford Town but an improved performance in the F.A Trophy earned them a replay against National League side Boreham Wood.

The replay on Tuesday night turned out to be a long evening for the Darts as they went out of the F.A Trophy on penalties.  A dramatic injury time equaliser from Shaun Jeffers sent the replay into extra time with Dartford agonisingly on the verge of progressing to the second round. The Darts had earlier gone in front when Ryan Hayes curled in the opening goal six minutes into the second half. With just under twenty minutes remaining, Woods top scorer Bruno Andrade levelled the tie. However, minutes later Mills scored his first for the Darts to regain the lead. Shaun Jeffers popped up in stoppage time to keep Boreham Wood in the F.A Trophy and send the match into extra time.

No goals in the extra thirty minutes meant Dartford had to deal with the pressure of spot kicks. Unfortunately it was all too much despite Elliot Bradbrook scoring the first. Tom Murphy, Lyle Della-Verde and Alfie Pavey all missed from 12 yards whilst the hosts scored all their attempts to win 3-1 on penalties.

Nathan Collier could make his first start since returning to the Darts, he has missed the last two matches because he was cup tied. Alex Brown will serve his one match suspension for the red card he received in the F.A Trophy draw with Boreham Wood.

Braintree Town also played their replay on Tuesday night against Brackley Town of the National North, who they drew with 0-0 on the weekend. Like Dartford’s match, the sides still couldn’t break the deadlock going in at half time goalless. Then six minutes into the second half Brackley Town’s Matt Lowe gave the hosts the lead and with just over ten minutes left, Shane Byrne made it 2-0 to knock out the Iron in the first round.

The Irons have been steady all season and expiring defeat just once in their first nine games gave Brad Quinton’s side some foundations to build on. In that time, they won five, drew three and lost once. Whilst the last month has been patchy in form for Braintree Town, like the Darts they have failed to break away from the chasing pack but have put themselves well in contention of promotion.

In their last league outing the Iron beat Eastbourne Borough at home 3-2. Twice the Essex club had to come from behind, Phil Roberts netted his thirteenth and fourteenth of the season to equalise on both occasions, the striker is currently the top scorer in the National South. The winner came from the penalty spot which Bill Crook converted from 12 yards.

Head to Head
Braintree Town wins: 6 / Dartford wins: 2 / Draws: 3

Current League Form

Dartford (LWDWLW) Braintree Town (WLDLWW)
Hungerford Town A 0-1 Eastbourne Borough H 3-2
Poole Town A 1-0 Wealdstone A 1-3
Wealdstone H 3-3 Truro City H 1-1
Gloucester City H 4-1 Weston-super-Mare H 0-1
Truro City A 1-3 Poole Town A 3-0
St Albans City H 2-1 Bognor Regis Town H 3-0

Previous Meetings

08.08.2017 Braintree Town 2 Dartford 2
01.01.2015 Braintree Town 3 Dartford 0
26.12.2014 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
18.04.2014 Braintree Town 1 Dartford 0
24.08.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
11.04.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 0

Stats
Dartford have yet to play any of the current top seven at home this season, on the road against those same teams the Darts have picked up six points from 18.

In contrast Braintree Town have yet to beat a top half team on the road and have conceded 12 goals in three matches against those they have played.

The Darts are the top scorers in the division with 43 goals, Braintree Town are second with 42 goals.

At the half way stage of the season Dartford games have averaged 3.14 goals a game against a league average of 3.01.

On Tuesday night, Ronnie Vint made his 100th appearance in a Darts shirt, his 94th start for the club.

On This Day
Dartford have drawn four of their last five games on 23 December with the most recent coming eleven years ago in the Isthmian Division One South. A 2-2 away draw with Walton casuals was secured with goals by Ryan Hayes and Jay May. Three of those matches, all away from home have ended in 1-1, Histon in 2000 (Southern League Division One East), Hastings United in 1978 and Telford United in 1972 (both Southern Premier League). In the middle of those fixtures the Darts beat Merthyr Tydfil 4-2 at home in a F.A Trophy first round replay back in 1986.