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Dartford v Oxford City

Dartford host their first game for just over a month when they welcome Oxford City to Princes Park this weekend.

The Darts have been on tour since their triumph over Concord Rangers at the end of September, travelling to the outskirts of London as well as back and forth from Kent to the West of England. During that time Tony Burman has overseen a perfect record and an eight match winning streak going back to 13 September.

Unbeaten at home this campaign the Darts will be full of confidence, especially after their latest away victory over Bath City. In a tight affair the National South fixture looked to be heading for a goalless draw until Luke Wanadio scored his third of the season to seal the three points. A fifth consecutive triumph on their travels in all competitions means Dartford are seventh in the league and a point off the playoffs.

Last term the Darts slipped up in their quest for a playoff spot when they played Oxford City. A last minute penalty from Elliot Bradbrook salvaged a point, but all three were needed to give Dartford a chance of reaching the top five. The spot kick was Bradbrook’s second of the afternoon, both of his goals came after Oxford City took the lead through Matty Wichelow then Julen Lafuente.

Oxford City started with promise last term outscoring the majority of opponents reaching second place in November. The rest of the campaign fizzled out as the club finished twelfth. This time the Nomads are closer to the relegation places and currently occupy eighteenth place, three points above the drop zone.

Justin Merritt’s side have only won twice since the opening day victory over Welling United, picking up just nine points from the last 42 available. Wins away to Bath City and Poole Town are the Nomads highlights so far, but on three separate occasions they have managed to lose three league games in a row. A 0-0 draw in a six pointer against Weston-super-Mare last weekend equals their best run this season of two league matches unbeaten.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 1 / Oxford City wins: 1 / Draws: 2

Current League Form
Dartford (WWWWDW)
Won 1-0 v Bath City
Won 5-0 v Truro City (A)
Won 2-1 v Concord Rangers (A)
Won 2-0 v Margate (A)
Drew 1-1 v East Thurrock United (A)
Won 2-1 v Welling United (H)

Oxford City (DWLLLD)
Drew 0-0 v Weston-super-Mare (H)
Won 3-1 v Poole Town (A)
Lost 0-1 v East Thurrock United (H)
Lost 0-3 v Whitehawk (A)
Lost 1-3 v Maidenhead United (H)
Drew 1-1 v Truro City (H)

Last Meetings
Dartford 2 Oxford City 1 (23/04/2016 – National South)
Oxford City 2 Dartford 1 (15/09/2015 – National South)
Oxford City 2 Dartford 4 (04/11/2008 – F.A Trophy)
Dartford 3 Oxford City 3 (01/11/2008 – F.A Trophy)

Stats
Dartford have won eight games in a row in all competitions beating their best run since January 2012.

Another victory will equal the run set twenty years ago between 20 March 1996 and 27 April 1996. With eight Kent League wins and a Kent Senior Trophy triumph the Darts won nine in a row. The club record of ten consecutive wins was set just eight days before. If it wasn’t for a draw with Deal Town between the two winning streaks, a Dartford victory against the coastal club would have set a staggering record of 20 wins in a row.

The Darts have kept three clean sheets in a row for the first time since December. Dartford won three back to back away games 1-0 in the National South. This time the trio of away wins and clean sheets have came in league and cup with the Darts scoring nine without reply.

Only league leaders Maidenhead United (8) and local rival Ebbsfleet United (10) have conceded fewer goals than Dartford (12) in this season’s National South.

On This Day
Local rivals Ebbsfleet United visited Princes Park in a F.A Cup replay  three years ago. The fourth qualifying round tie ended with Dartford earning the bragging rights thanks to an Elliot Bradbrook winner from the spot. Victory ended a run of four straight loses on 29 October against Bromley in the F.A Cup fourth qualifying round five years ago, Stamford Town in 2005, Crawley Town in 1996 and Deal Town in the F.A Vase back in 1994. Prior the winless sequence the Darts had won six in a row between 1977 and 1991, proceeding to the F.A Cup first round on three occasions in 1983, 1988 and 1989.

National League South Season Preview 2016/2017 (O-T)

 Oxford City | Poole Town | St Albans City | Truro City

Oxford City

Founded: 1882 / Ground: Marsh Lane

Switched from the National North to the South at the beginning of last season, the Nomads were in their fourth season at this level. Oxford City with their Spanish influence started the campaign scoring goals and racking up the points. Up until mid November, only eventual relegated side Havant and Waterlooville had beaten them albeit twice. That left the Oxfordshire club in second spot and one of the front runners to keep pace with Ebbsfleet United. After their second defeat to the Hawks, Oxford City slipped down the table tasting victory just twice in the following fourteen attempts. Three consecutive wins including a 5-1 win versus Concord Rangers gave them a chance of a playoff place but then they took just two more points in their final eight matches. 

OCFCLast Season

National South: 12th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Runners-up

League Top Scorer: Bradley Bubb (18 goals)

The Manager – Justin Merrit

Ten years ago Justin Merritt became Player Manager for the Nomads in a spell that lasted almost three years. In that time Merritt guided Oxford City to the Southern Premier League beating Uxbridge in a playoff final. The first campaign in the higher division saw the club miss out on a top five finish by three points but they were unable to repeat the feat languishing in mid-table the following season’s. Merritt stepped down in August 2009 but returned two years ago, this time in the National North. Once again Merritt’s side missed out on a playoff spot by just a point this time and a switch to the National South started with promise before a mid-table finish. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Oxford City wins: 1 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

23.04.2016 Dartford 2 Oxford City 2
15.09.2015 Oxford City 2 Dartford 1
04.11.2008 Oxford City 2 Dartford 4
01.11.2008 Dartford 3 Oxford City 3

Next Meetings

Saturday 29 October 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 25 February 2017 at Marsh Lane

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Poole Town

Founded: 1880 / Ground: Tatnam Ground

A year ago The Dolphins led the Southern Premier League going into the final game of the season. Their opponents Corby Town were second and the two met in a winner takes all showdown. Poole Town lost and were unable to recover in the playoffs. Last term, the Dorset club bounced back in style winning the championship. During the crucial run in, Poole Town dropped just two points in the final eight fixtures conceding just once. The Dolphins scored three or more in a game on fourteen occasions and kept 25 clean sheets, more than half of the league games they played.  

Last SeasonPooleTownFC

Southern Premier: 1st

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Qualifying Round

County Cup: Quarter-final

League Top Scorer: Marvin Brooks (16 goals)

The Manager – Tom Killick

Since joining Poole Town twelve years ago, the Dorset club have been looking upwards. In his first full season with the Dolphins, Killick led them to promotion, won three consecutive Wessex League titles and thee Southern League Division One South and West championship. Two years ago, Killick’s side were narrowly beaten to the Southern Premier League, his only other setback was a playoff defeat in 2012. The Poole Town boss responded by winning yet another title with Poole Town taking them to the National South. Over 600 games in charge of the Dorset club he has an impressive win ratio of 67%. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 14 / Poole Town wins: 15 / Draws: 5

Previous Meetings

14.03.1992 Dartford 4 Poole Town 0
02.11.1991 Poole Town 0 Dartford 0
06.04.1991 Poole Town 1 Dartford 0
24.11.1990 Dartford 0 Poole Town 0
14.03.1983 Dartford 0 Poole Town 1
08.03.1983 Poole Town 2 Dartford 3

Next Meetings

Saturday 3 December 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 29 April 2017 at Tatnam Ground

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St Albans City

Founded: 1908 / Ground: Clarence Park

If one team summed up St Albans City then it was Whitehawk. When the sides faced each other in October the Saints were thrashed 6-0. The Hertfordshire club spent the majority of the campaign battling the drop picking up a meagre five wins from their first thirty. The club looked doomed to relegation back to the Southern Premier League after a two year absence. In February the turning point arrived under the stewardship of the experienced Ian Allinson. It was St Albans City’s turn to thrash Whitehawk 6-0 and from then on they lost just two of their last dozen games, against the two promoted sides Sutton United and Maidstone United. Over their last three games they beat relegation rival Havant and Waterlooville 6-0 and signed of in style with a 4-0 victory over Dartford. 

stalbansLast Season

National South: 18th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi-Final

League Top Scorer: Louie Theophanus (18 goals)

The Managers – Ian Allinson

A seventeen year playing career including a five year spell with Arsenal and a managerial career spanning twenty seven years, Allinson is full of experience. The former Colchester United, Stoke City and Luton Town winger has had most of his success at Boreham Wood as a manager. In charge at the Wood from 2008, he won promotion twice through the playoffs taking the un-fancied Hertfordshire club to the National League. In October 2015 he resigned due to work commitments but was back in the dugout with rivals St Albans City. The 58 year old turned the Saints fortunes around leading them to National South safety winning eight out of fifteen league games since being at the helm.  

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 6 / St Albans City wins: 1 / Draws: 4

Previous Meetings

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
22.03.2011 Dartford 2 St Albans City 2
25.11.2008 Dartford 1 St Albans City 1
22.11.2008 St Albans City 0 Dartford 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 15 October 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 25 March 2017 at Clarence Park

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Truro City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Treyew Road

If one club in the National South has been on a roller coaster ride over the last few years then it’s Truro City. Their speedy rise to the National South eventually led to financial problems resulting in relegation to the Southern Premier. Even though the White Tigers were absent for two years their return to the National South last term looked as though they were never away. In their first season back they reached the playoff semi-final and from February they maintained a top five place, finally finishing fourth. The hard work was done when they lost just one in 22 games between September and mid-March. Although the campaign ended with one win in seven the Cornwall club had a fine return. 

Truro-city-football-clubLast Season

National South: 4th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Did not enter

League Top Scorer: Isaac Vassell (10 goals)

The Manager – Lee Hodges

Three years ago Truro City parted company with Lee Hodges, which seemed harsh considering the state the club were in at the time. In 2010, he took over the White Tigers as Caretaker Manager and won the Southern Premier League title in his first season. In the National South the club nearly went out of business due to financial mismanagement meaning Hodges lost his job, the Cornwall club could no longer afford him. Now the former midfielder inherits a side back in the National South who reached the playoffs last term. Taking over from Steve Tully, Hodges will feel there in unfinished business at Treyew Road. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 0 / Truro City wins: 3 / Draws: 1

Previous Meetings

05.04.2016 Truro City 3 Dartford 0
19.09.2015 Dartford 0 Truro City 1
28.04.2012 Truro  City 1 Dartford 1
22.10.2011 Dartford 1 Truro  City 2

Next Meetings

Saturday 8 October 2016 at Treyew Road

Saturday 18 March 2017 at Princes Park

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Dartford v Oxford City

Dartford have two games left to try and get into the playoffs, starting with their final home game against Oxford City.

The Darts are one of eight teams attempting to take the final two places whilst Oxford City’s chances ended last weekend. With Maidstone United and Ebbsfleet United set for the playoffs, Dartford could become the third Kent club making the top five.

Tony Burman watched his side drop two points to relegated Basingstoke Town last weekend in a 0-0 draw. He told www.dartford.com after the game: “It needed us to score early in the game to open things up a little bit. We huffed and puffed but the players gave a good account of themselves, we just couldn’t break the five man defence”.

With no midweek fixture Burman is hoping some respite may work to his squad’s advantage, he added: “It’s going to be a busy two weeks for some of the teams. It’s a welcome rest for us to get some of the players who have injuries to come back into the frame”.

Goalkeeper, Dean Gardikiotis made his debut replacing the Deren Ibrahim who was out with a dislocated shoulder. Barry Cogan missed out with a hamstring injury, Lee Noble with a groin strain and Callum McNaughton has a fractured metatarsal. Defender, Paul Lorraine was absent through illness and is still waiting his first start for the Darts. Danny Harris and Tom Bradbrook made the bench after suffering with injury problems recently.

Dartford have now lost just once in their last six outings and are now three unbeaten at Princes Park. The clean sheet against Basingstoke Town was the tenth for the Darts this term, their fifth at home.

The Darts current form has kept them in with a chance which pleases Burman, he commented: “I’m pleased we’re challenging for the playoffs that was the aim. We all know we’ve had two difficult years in the top league. I feel we’ve managed to come back this season and we’ve kept our own”, he continued: “It’s been strange league and we’ve done well, to go in to the last two games with something to play for, I think it’s a credit to the players”.

Earlier in the season when Burman’s side were finding their feet, the Darts faced a free scoring Oxford City team in second place. Ryan Hayes expertly found Andy Pugh to set up the only goal of the first half. Top scorers in the National South at the time, Oxford City pressed in the second half and were rewarded with an equaliser by Jon Arzamendi and a winner from Kynan Isaac.

Last weekend, Oxford City’s chances of reaching the playoffs took a final blow at the expense Hemel Hempstead Town. Both sides were eyeing up fifth spot in a game that drifted in the first half, but the Tudors hit two quick goals before half time through Morgan Ferrier and Graeme Montgomery. Hemel Hempstead Town added another in the second half courtesy of Michael Richens and Oxford City’s Lee Henderson made it 3-1.

City have been efficient in front of goal this term with Bradley Bubb the main marksman. The 27 year old has plenty of experience at this level with Havant and Waterlooville, Farnborough Town and Basingstoke Town. The Grenada international has scored 17 times for Oxford City this term and has football league experience as well.

Manager, Justin Merritt is about to complete a second campaign in charge and led City in the National North last term. Oxford City missed out of the playoffs by a point and inconsistencies this season could cost them again. Merritt’s side have brushed aside opponents at times beating Truro City 6-0 and Concord Rangers 5-1. They have drawn all three against the top two in the division, they host Sutton United on the final day. Yet City have failed to beat struggling teams Havant and Waterlooville, Hayes and Yeading United and Basingstoke Town, they also lost 5-2 to Weston-Super-Mare.

Up until mid-November it looked promising for Oxford City but two wins in 15 attempts derailed the side. After last weekend’s result, City have one point in their last six league outings.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Oxford City wins: 1 / Draws 1

Current League Form 

Dartford (DWLWDW) Oxford City (LLLDLL)
Basingstoke Town H 0-0 Hemel Hempstead Town A 1-3
Maidstone United A 2-1 Whitehawk A 0-2
Truro City A 0-3 Hayes & Yeading Utd H 2-2
Maidenhead United H 2-0 Bishop’s Stortford A 0-3
Ebbsfleet United A 1-1 Truro City H 1-2
Bishop’s Stortford H 3-1 Basingstoke Town A 0-2

Last Meeting at Princes Park

1 November 2008 – Dartford 3 Oxford City 3 – view highlights – attendance: 749

In a set of entertaining F.A Trophy Second Qualifying ties, Dartford’s Cody McDonald poached the opener after two minutes. The visitors levelled with a superb curling effort from Jon Gardner. McDonald headed the Darts back in front and completed a hat trick after half time. The visitors forced a replay with goals from Andy Gunn and a last minute header by Steve Jackman.

Previous Meetings (* – F.A Trophy)

12.12.2015 Oxford City 1 Dartford 2
04.11.2008* Oxford City 2 Dartford 4
01.11.2008* Dartford 3 Oxford City 3

Stats

Dartford last won their final home league game of the season five years ago against Dover Athletic. The Darts won 4-0 with two goals from Charlie Sheringham and one each from Tom Champion and Danny Harris.

15 – number of league goals scored at home by the Bradbrook brothers. Tom has netted eight times at Princes Park in the National South this season, one more than Elliot. The total scored by the duo account for 45% of Dartford’s league goals scored at home.

30 – points taken by the Darts at home this season, the best return since the 2012/13 campaign in the National League

1039 – the average league attendance at Princes Park this season.

2251 – highest attendance at home this term when the Darts played Ebbsfleet United on 31 August 2015

738 – lowest league attendance at Princes Park versus Havant and Waterlooville on 5 December 2015

On This Day

Dartford won eleven of their last thirteen matches on 23 March stretching back to 1964. Margate are the only team to beat the Darts when they met six years ago. Gravesend and Northfleet were lucky enough to get a draw in 1971 when the sides met in the Kent Floodlight Cup. Gateshead were the last team to be beaten by Dartford when a Ryan Hayes inspired performance earned the Darts three points in the Conference Premier. After coming on as a substitute Hayes scored two and set up Charlie Sheringham in a 3-0 win. Between 1974 and 2004, the Darts won five in a row beating Fleet Town (2004), Sittingbourne (2002), Northwich Victoria (1985), Romford (1976) and Chelmsford City (1974). Folkestone Town and Gloucester City were the other sides defeated by Dartford in 1970 and 1968 respectively.

Oxford City v Dartford

Dartford meet Oxford City for the first time in seven years this week hoping to record consecutive wins.

For the first time the two sides are up against each other in a league fixture, having previously played in two entertaining F.A Trophy second qualifying matches. The Darts won a replay at Marsh Lane 4-2 having drew 3-3 at Princes Park, back in 2008.

The Darts form has been somewhat mixed this season leaving them mid table. Approaching Saturday’s home game, the Darts had gone two matches without scoring which almost stretched to three. Weston Super Mare were the weekend’s visitors and they almost went home with all three points.

Ronnie Vint’s defensive error let in Dayle Grubb with ten minutes to go who put the Seagulls a goal up. Sitting bottom of the league, Weston Super Mare were hoping to get off the foot of the table. A late Dartford fightback turned round fortunes, Danny Harris headed the equaliser from a corner with two minutes remaining and a Clayton Fortune own goal cruelly snatched victory away from the visitors. The Darts continue their run of not recording a successive win, lose or draw this term.

Tony Burman highlighted the importance set pieces played in the win, he spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and said: “We’ve said about the importance of the restarts, set-pieces, it’s something we’ve been strong at for most of the season and it’s paid off in the end”.

The Dartford boss was confident of turning the deficit around even without playing well, he added: “I believed we could get back into the game, even though we went 1-0 down. It showed good character to do that especially after the two chances that we missed prior to getting the goal back”, he continued: “People have got to realise what level we’re playing at. As much as you want to play lovely football, at the end of the day, you have to get a result”.

Noble who took part in an under 21 match last week returned to first team action after recovering from a chest infection. Lee Burns was suspended allowing Vint to start in the defensive back four. Barry Cogan had to settle for a place on the bench whilst Kaka Dembele made his second successive start.

If questions have been asked about the attacking prowess of the Darts, the same can’t be said about Tuesday’s opponents Oxford City. The Nomads are the current top scorers with 20 goals including a 6-0 away win at Truro City.

Another away victory at Concord Rangers on Saturday kept Oxford City in a healthy third spot. The 2-0 triumph was their fourth consecutive clean sheet. Summer signing Julen Fafuente opened the scoring and former Dart, Max Cornhill scored an own goal.

Last season was spent in the National North where they finished sixth. Under Justin Merrit and head coach Enrique Guillen their has been a Spanish vibe at Marsh Lane. A trio of Spaniards joined the club over the summer Jon Arzamendi, Carlos Pifarre and Fafuente to add to the three already there.

Dartford will be familiar with coming up against striker Bradley Bubb, the Grenadian international was at Farnborough and Basingstoke Town the last time the Darts played at National South level. Bubb, who signed from Havant and Waterlooville in the summer has scored five goals this season.

Previous Meetings

4 November 2008 –  Oxford City 2 Dartford 4 – view highlights

Another six goals but this time Dartford came out on top. City’s Jon Gardner put the hosts in the lead which was cancelled out by Cody McDonald’s fourth of the tie. Steve Butterworth, Lee Noble and once more McDonald again increased the Darts advantage. James Saulsbury’s spot kick halved the deficit for Oxford City as the match ended 4-2.

1 November 2008 – Dartford 3 Oxford City 3 – view highlights

In a set of entertaining F.A Trophy Second Qualifying ties, Dartford’s Cody McDonald poached the opener after two minutes. The visitors levelled with a superb curling effort from Jon Gardner. McDonald headed the Darts back in front and completed a hat trick after half time. The visitors forced a replay with goals from Andy Gunn and a last minute header by Steve Jackman.

Current League Form

Oxford City (WDWWLD) Dartford (WDLWLW)
Concord Rangers  A  2-0 Weston Super Mare  H  2-1
Whitehawk  H  0-0 Bath City  A  0-0
Truro City  A  6-0 Ebbsfleet United  H  0-1
Weston Super Mare  H  3-0 Margate  A  2-0
Havant & Waterlooville  A  1-2 Gosport Borough  H  2-3
Basingstoke Town  H  2-2 Concord Rangers  A  3-2

On This Day

Dartford’s return to the now named National League hit one of many high points three years ago. Hosting recently relegated Hereford United, another experienced Football League side, the home fans may not have been quite ready for what was in store. The Darts brushed the Bulls aside in a confident 4-0 win with goals from Ryan Hayes, James Rogers, Danny Harris and Jon Wallis. The previous two fixtures on 15 September ended 1-1 both in the F.A Cup first qualifying round. In 2007, Dartford were held by Sittingbourne and six years before that Deal Town.

National League South Season Preview 2015/2016 – Part Four

Maidenhead United | Maidstone United | Margate | Oxford City | St Albans City

Maidenhead United

Founded: 1869 / Ground: York Road

A proud record is held by Maidenhead United in that York Road is the oldest senior football ground continuously used by the same club. For nine of those years they have had the same manager in Johnson Hippolyte in charge, stability is important to the club. Now the Berkshire side feel it is time to push up the pyramid and in the summer Maidenhead United welcome a familiar face in town. Fresh ideas, experience and a bit of backing could see the Magpies enjoying a more comfortable campaign than they are used to. Over the last six seasons, Maidenhead United have finished no higher than sixteenth, so flirtation with relegation has been the norm at York Road.

Maidenhead UnitedLast Season

Conference South: 18th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Dave Tarpey (20 goals)

Average Attendance: 406

The Manager – Alan Devonshire

A former England international as a player, Devonshire returns to Maidenhead United after managerial experience with the club in the late nineties. The former West Ham United midfielder played over 350 games for the Hammers winning the F.A Cup in 1980. The 59 year old knows a thing or two about being an underdog and proved this at former club Braintree Town. When he took over in May 2011, Braintree Town had just won promotion to the Conference Premier for the first time in their history. At Cressing Road, he improved the club each season until last term. Devonshire also impressed at Hampton and Richmond, who he took from the Isthmian Division One to the Conference Premier.

The Summer

Contacts at a former club has come in handy for Maidenhead United’s new boss. Devonshire has signed three from Braintree Town and one he worked with whilst with the Iron. Defenders Ryan Peters and Alan Massey, creative midfielder James Mulley and goalkeeper Carl Pentney all move from Braintree Town. When the Iron spent their first campaign in the Conference Premier striker Ben Wright was amongst the goals, he links back up with Devonshire. Josh Huggins follows Wright from Havant and Waterlooville. Dean Inman from Hayes and Yeading, Jake Reid from Dover Athletic and Rene Steer from Boston United also bulk out the Magpies squad. Last season’s top scorer with 20 goals Dave Tarpey signed a new contract at York Road. To make way for the host of signings there has been something of a clearout including former Dartford striker Jacob Erskine.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

31 March 2012 – Dartford 2 Maidenhead United 1 – view highlights
A playoff spot was clinched by Dartford as the two sides met for the second time in just over a fortnight. Jacob Erskine tucked the ball in the net just before the hour and Luke Wilkinson doubled the lead. Paul Semakula pulled one back for the visitors. Daniel Brown was dismissed for Maidenhead United and Danny Harris followed for the Darts.

13 March 2012 – Maidenhead United 1  Dartford 1 – view highlights
The hosts had to grind out a result when they were left with ten men meaning Dartford dropped valuable points. Alex Wall opened the scoring for the Magpies then Reece Tison-Lascaris was sent off. Danny Harris scored the equaliser for Dartford who pushed for a winner to no avail.

Next Meetings

Saturday 21 November 2015 at York Road

Saturday 2 April 2016 at Princes Park

Last Ten Years

mufc last 10 years

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Maidstone United

Founded: 1992 / Ground: Gallagher Stadium

The only former Football League club in the National League South, Maidstone United had to make their way back up from the Kent League. Off field mismanagement led to the Stones being declared bankrupt in 1992 and being forced out of the Football League. Progress was made up to 2007 when they won a place in the Isthmian Premier League with three promotions. A relegation followed after three campaigns and progress stalled until their new Gallagher Stadium opened in 2012. Crowds flocked back and the club flourished ever since, an average attendance of 200 fifteen years ago is now just under 2000. One of two sides to have installed a 3G pitch, the Stones were the first to host an F.A Cup proper match on that particular surface.

maidstoneLast Season

Isthmian Premier: 1st

F.A Cup: 2nd Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Jay May (22 goals)

Average Attendance: 1846

The Manager – Jay Saunders

Entering a fifth full season in charge Jay Saunders was appointed caretaker manager in March 2011. The former Gillingham midfielder made the most of his opportunity and at the end of the 2010/11 campaign he was given the role permanently. Over the last three seasons the Saunders has added three honours to his list. The Isthmian Division One South playoff was won followed by the Isthmian League Cup . Last term the 35 year old guided Maidstone United to the Isthmian Premier League title after a close contest with runners up Hendon. If he continues the good work at the Gallagher Stadium then come the end of the campaign Saunders will have guided the new look Stones to their highest position since reforming.

The Summer

A host of former Dartford players will be at the Gallagher next season. Jamie Coyle will remain part of the managerial team, the former Darts defender made 140 appearances for the club. On the pitch, Callum Driver left Princes Park in the summer in favour of the Stones. James Rogers impressed last season and signed a new contract to stay at the Gallagher Stadium, he also won the Supporters Player of the Year award. Former loanee Matt Bodkin has also agreed to remain with Maidstone United. One impressive capture over the break is former Welling United midfielder Joe Healy he joins Mitchell Pinnock from Bromley, Manny Parry from Grays Athletic, Simon Johnson from Eastbourne Borough and Bobby-Joe Taylor from Cambridge United.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

20 March 2010 – Dartford 3 Maidstone United 0 – view highlights

The double over Kent rivals was completed a fortnight later  by the champions elect. Danny Dafter finished at the far post to give the Darts the lead. Lee Burns tapped in late in the first half and a trademark Ryan Hayes curler made victory convincing in the second half.

7 March 2010 – Maidstone United 0 Dartford 1 – view highlights

It took ten minutes for Dartford to get their noses in front when Ryan Hayes crossed for Lee Burns to score. In difficult conditions where the pitch was sandy and the ball bobbling about, the Darts held on to the slender lead to take all three points.

Next Meetings

Saturday 14 November 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 9 April 2016 at the Gallagher Stadium

Last Ten Yearsmaidstone last 10 years

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Margate

Founded: 1896 / Ground: Hartsdown Park

The Seaside town of Margate peaked at the turn of the millennium when they won the Southern Premier League under Chris Kinnear. The Gate had their place in the top flight of non league which lasted three season’s without finishing in the bottom four. Reaching eighth place in their first campaign, two years later they were demoted to the Conference South because of ground grading issues. Whilst Hartsdown Park was being redeveloped the Gate suffered another relegation the following season. The Kent club returned to their home in 2005 and spent the next ten years in the Isthmian Premier League. Margate rarely threatened to leave the division they were in until last term when they beat an in form Hendon to clinch victory in the Playoff final.

MargateFCLast Season

Isthmian Premier: 3rd

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: Frederick Ladapo and Ryan Moss (22 goals)

Average Attendance: 682

The Manager – Terry Brown

Promotion was a must for Terry Brown last season and winning the playoffs may have kept him in the job. Seems harsh ater finishing third but high expectations have been set by Margate by appointing a successful manager. Starting out at Hayes, where he began hi playing career, Brown was in charge for nine years taking the Middlesex club from relegation candidates in the Isthmian Premier League to third in the Conference Premier. Frustrated with the budget he moved to Aldershot Town where he won promotion to the Conference Premier at the first attempt. The following campaign saw the Shots lose the playoff final. Most notably, Brown led AFC Wimbledon into the Football League and kept the Dons in League Two in his final full season at the club.

The Summer

During a short spell with Dartford, Nathan Green impressed on the wing but decided to move to the coast joining the Gate. Soloman Taiwo switches his allegiance from another Kent club moving from Dover Athletic making Margate his sixteenth club. Christian Jolley helped Newport County to Football League promotion two years ago and will be part of Margate’s strike force. Terry Brown made a double signing from Maidenhead United by capturing David Hunt and Danny Green. Former Aldershot Town defender Glenn Wilson will add experience at the back and is joined by Millwall’s Jake Goodman. Last season’s top scorers Frederick Ladapo and Ryan Moss also signed new contacts to remain at Hartsdown Park.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

23 March 2010 – Dartford 0 Margate 1 – view highlights

Princes Park was left stunned when the league leaders were undone by Margate. James Pinnock capitalised on a defensive mishap and netted the winner just after the hour. The visitors stayed organised and desperate for points at the other end of the table grabbed them.

18 August 2009 – Margate 0 Dartford 4 – view highlights

A training ground free kick routine had Dartford one up after seven minutes. A Ryan Hayes faked to cross but slid the ball through to Jamie Day who finished the move. Margate couldn’t cope with John Beales’ long throw in’s and twice the Darts benefited through Rob Haworth then Lee Burns. Alan Tait came on as a substitute and added to the scoreline.

Next Meetings

Saturday 29 August 2015 at Hartsdown Park

Monday 28 December 2015 at Princes Park

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Oxford City

Founded: 1882 / Ground: Marsh Lane

Over the last ten years Oxford City have steadily moved up the non league pyramid. Champions of the Spartan South Midland League in 2005/06 set City on their way. That campaign finished in dramatic circumstances with Oxford City taking the title on goal difference. After two attempts the club were promoted again this time via the playoffs to the Southern Premier League. A runners up place and another playoff triumph three years ago completed their journey to the second tier of non league. In the Conference North results have been mixed, a tenth place finish was followed up with surviving relegation. Last season City narrowly missed out on the top five to remain in the second tier of non league, making a début in the National League South.

OCFCLast Season

Conference North: 6th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Quarter-Final

League Top Scorer: Adi Yussuf (26 goals)

Average Attendance: 321

The Manager – Justin Merrit

A second spell in charge of City having guided the Oxfordshire club to the Southern Premier League via the playoffs. With business interests on the side, Justin Merritt resigned just two matches into the 2009/10 campaign to concentrate on a sports coaching company. The 40 year old returned to Marsh Lane last summer replacing Mike Ford, who took Merritt’s place after his first spell. The difference this time is that Merritt will have to work with Enrique Guillen, the Spaniard who has been promoted to head coach. The current Oxford City boss has also won honours with Oxford City Nomads and managed Witney Town.

The Summer

The Spanish connections remain strong with a trio of Spaniards joining up with those already at the club. Jon Arzamendi moves from Real Union, Carlos Pifarre from Olimpic de Xativa and Julen Fafuente from Deportivo Alaves. Experienced player at this level, Bradley Bubb has signed from Havant and Waterlooville having had spells with various Hampshire clubs. Midfielder at Solihull Moors last term, Reece Fleet will be at Marsh Lance this season. Craig Hill will give Laurie Walker competition in goal both players signing from Aston Villa and Hemel Hempstead Town respectively. Cheltenham Town duo Omari Sterling-James and Jamal Lawrence agreed a loan deal, Mark Bell joins from Chesham United and Kynan Isaac from Luton Town.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

4 November 2008 –  Oxford City 2 Dartford 4 – view highlights

Another six goals but this time Dartford came out on top. City’s Jon Gardner put the hosts in the lead which was cancelled out by Cody McDonald’s fourth of the tie. Steve Butterworth, Lee Noble and once more McDonald again increased the Darts advantage. James Saulsbury’s spot kick halved the deficit for Oxford City as the match ended 4-2.

1 November 2008 – Dartford 3 Oxford City 3 – view highlights

In a set of entertaining F.A Trophy Second Qualifying ties, Dartford’s Cody McDonald poached the opener after two minutes. The visitors levelled with a superb curling effort from Jon Gardner. McDonald headed the Darts back in front and completed a hat trick after half time. The visitors forced a replay with goals from Andy Gunn and a last minute header by Steve Jackman.

Next Meetings

Tuesday 15 September 2015 at Marsh Lane

Saturday 23 April 2016 at Princes Park

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St Albans City

Founded: 1908 / Ground: Clarence Park

The Hertfordshire clubs finest moment came nine years ago, a playoff victory earned St Albans City a place in the Conference Premier. The Saints only managed one season in non league’s top division finishing bottom of the table. Four years in the Conference South ended with relegation to the Southern Premier League and a ten point deduction. Financial concerns worried the faithful at Clarence Park prior dropping out of the Conference, however the club enjoyed better league positions in the Southern League. Rewarded with another playoff triumph just a year ago returned St Albans City to the Conference South where they finished mid table last term.

stalbansLast Season

Conference South: 13th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi-Final

League Top Scorer: John Frendo (11 goals)

Average Attendance: 570

The Managers – John Gray & Graham Golds

The only managerial joint partnership in the National League South, John Gray and Graham Golds have worked together in the managers role for two and half years. The pair have guided St Albans City to promotion to the Conference South and appearances in the first and second rounds of the F.A Cup and F.A Trophy. Gray and Golds were appointed after a successful spell as caretaker managers, the duo replaced David Howell who was dismissed after a poor run of results. Over the last two and half years, Gray and Golds have guided the club through better days.

The Summer

New signings have been sparse for St Albans City over the summer, Jack Lampe has joined from Concord Rangers, Billy Medlock from Sutton United and Lewis Hilliard from St Neots Town. Defender, Ben Martin returns to the club having previously left for Boreham Wood.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

2 April 2011 –  St Albans City 1 Dartford 2 – view highlights

Lee Burns scored his first goal of the campaign when his hopeful long ranged header looped over the City defence and into the net. Relegated, St Albans City pegged the Darts back through Tony Battersby and almost went in front from the spot. Jack Pallen came off the bench to score the winner with four minutes remaining.

22 March 2011 – Dartford 2 St Albans City 2 – view highlights

A late penalty miss denied the Darts all three points when Ryan Hayes hit the woodwork in the final minute. The visitor led through Inih Effiong and led until Charlie Sheringham equalised. Sheringham completed his brace before Dartford had James White sent off. Ollie Kelly grabbed a point for St Albans City in an unexpected draw.

Next Meetings

Saturday 6 February 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 30 April 2016 at Clarence Park

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