Rss

Archives for : Playoffs

Congratulations Dartford FC

Dartford reached the pinnacle of non league football for the first time in 26 years with a playoff victory against Welling United.

At a sold out Princes Park fans packed into the stadium an hour before kick off to create a fantastic atmosphere. Flagzilla was given a cameo back and forth across The Academy End as Darts supporters waited in anticipation. Up the other end the 1000 segregated Welling United fans were in great voice, there was no better place to be on Sunday 13 May 2012.

Tony Burman named an unchanged side from the semi-finals for The Darts. Jamie Day selected Lee Clarke who returned from his suspension which kept him out of the second leg, Andy Sambrook was replaced. Dartford had home advantage after securing a runners up spot, The Wings finished third seven points behind.

The Darts started the brighter and pressed the Welling defenders. Danny Harris put pressure on Ben Martin and continued his constant pursuit of lost causes which he had done terrifically all season.

With four minutes on the clock Lee Noble gained possession, attacked the space and sweetly struck a shot from almost 25 yards. The ball rippled the back of Craig Holloway’s net and Princes Park erupted. The tricky winger scored the winner in the semi final first leg from similar distance this time there was no deflection.

Noble showed his tremendous form with excellent deliveries into the box but Welling’s Martin and his central partner Jack Parkinson dealt with the crosses.

Welling United ceased control of possession and settled into the final by passing the ball and using the width. Loick Pires and Jack Obersteller linked up well but Dartford’s Lee Burns admirably defended at right back with the assistance of James Rogers tracking back.

Dartford fans suffered a scare when Luis Cumbers charged down a couple of attempted clearances, with the number 9 clean through referee Paul Rees blew his whistle for handball. Moments later Joe Healy was on the end of a positive Welling move but he could only blast his shot high and wide.

In truth the first half was a tight affair but Noble’s wonderful strike gave the home side a crucial advantage. Forty five minutes away from Conference Premier football the match was still in the balance.

The Darts looked more comfortable after the break and the first chance of the second half fell to Elliot Bradbrook. Dartford’s captain managed to send a header towards a struggling Holloway but the goalkeeper parried the ball to safety.

Bradbrook caused further problems but another header failed to reach Harris who was waiting to pounce and was cleared by Parkinson. Dartford fans continued the amazing support and spurred on their team. Harris and Bradbrook created further chances but the Welling defence were equal to the attacks.

In the final five minutes The Wings tried to save a long season and Pires went down in the box. Wings supporters desperately claimed a penalty, Mr Rees correctly waved play on. The visitors failed to conjure up anything to note with Wells confidently catching anything directed at him in the Dartford goal.

When the fourth official allocated four minutes of injury time The Darts kept the ball in Welling’s half for the majority of the added moments. As the referee moved towards the players tunnel he blew the final whistle. Dartford had done it, a third promotion in six years for Tony Burman, the club, the players and the fans.

What a memorable day.

Dartford v Welling United (Conference South Playoff Final)

Semi Final First Leg | Semi Final Second Leg | Recent Meetings | Season So Far | The Managers | The Players | Statistics | Conference South Playoff History

Dartford will hope to make history on Sunday by returning to the top flight of non league football for the first time since 1986.

The Darts face Kent rivals Welling United at Princes Park after finishing higher up in the Conference South by one position and seven points. Dartford finished runners up whilst The Wings ended up in third place and so the top two playoff teams go head to head.

A huge crowd is expected for the final especially considering the largest attendance at Princes Park this season was when the two sides last met there. The 2559 spectators that turned up that day is also Welling United’s biggest away attendance this season.

After the second leg on Sunday Tony Burman spoke to PURE DFC, he said: “I’m very proud and delighted with the way the team has been consistent all season. This is a good squad of players we’ve got and I think they deserve to be in the playoff final”. He added: “No one can take away that we’ve had a fantastic season and it’s been a pleasure to work with the players”.

Burman will fully focus on the winner takes all match and believes his team is up for the challenge, he commented: “We’ll be ready; our preparations have been excellent for all the games. I’ve got to give Steve (Mosely) and Paul (Sawyer) all the credit for the training sessions and the way we prepare for games, they’ve been an absolute rock for me”, he continued: “I said to the players they have to look forward to days like this and times like this. This is what we want to do, we want to move the club forward and that is what we are trying to do”.

Dartford’s boss will not be underestimating his opponents in the final, he said: “Welling are a decent side, Jamie (Day) has got them playing really well and it’s what happens on the day”.

Semi Final First Leg

Basingstoke Town 0 Dartford 1 – Highlights

In the semi final first leg Dartford defeated fifth place Basingstoke Town but a solitary goal. The first match at The Camrose was controlled by The Darts for the first twenty five minutes. On six minutes, James Rogers hit a volley on the edge of the box which was tipped over by Basingstoke goalkeeper Ashley Bayes. Dartford seemed to be ‘knocking on the door’ until The Stokes Shaun McAuley’s excellent long range effort was superbly saved by Louis Wells mid way through the first half.

Lee Noble scored the decisive goal in the first leg

Dartford had a shaky moment soon after when Tom Champion’s header looped over Wells and just wide of his own goal. Up the other end Danny Harris snapped at a shot which Bayes kept out with his legs and Luke Wilkinson came close to guiding the ball goal-wards on thirty eight minutes. Then on the stroke of half time Basingstoke players called for handball which was turned down by the official but they still had a chance to clear their lines. The Stokes attempted clearance fell to Lee Noble on the edge of the eighteen yard box and he struck a low shot taking a minor deflection into the corner of the goal.

Basingstoke Town dominated the second half and deserved to come away with a draw. Matt Warner hit a speculative effort over from thirty five yards just before the hour, Jay Gasson headed wide on the hour and Wells denied the same player two minutes later. With twenty two minutes left McAuley missed an open goal when Delano Sam-Yorke’s driven cross whizzed past Wells and with three quarters of the goal to aim at McAuley somehow side footed wide. The Stoke continued to pressure but the defiant defence of Dartford held out to take back a 1-0 lead.

Sutton United 1 Welling United 2

Welling United travelled to Ganders Green Lane and also came away with a slender lead. In the opening five minutes Welling’s Luis Cumbers pressured goalkeeper Kevin Scriven who managed to clear his lines. The U’s goalkeeper was kept on his toes by saving a Loick Pires free kick twenty minutes in. Sutton’s Craig Dundas set up Alan Payne who placed his shot wide before the deadlock was finally broken mid way through the first half. Dean Cracknell crossed ball and lurking at the back post was Lee Clarke to nod The Wings in front. A few long range efforts from Sutton United closed the first half with Welling in front.

The U’s put The Wings on the back foot at the start of the second half and Dundas hit a decent shot from distance. On sixty five minutes Sutton’s Michael Boateng tested Craig Holloway who had to tip the ball to safety. The equaliser arrived when Watkins beat Ben Martin and his cross was turned in by Holloway for an own goal. In response to throwing away a goal lead Welling United grabbed a winner after a brilliant bursting run from Pires who centred for Joe Healy to flick the ball home. In injury time Dunda’s almost levelled the tie for a second time but his effort was deflected wide.

Back to top

Semi Final Second Leg

Dartford 2 Basingstoke Town 1

The Darts secured a place in the final with an improved performance and an unchanged side from the first leg. Basingstoke Town replaced Jide Ogunbote with Ross Adams who missed the first leg through suspension.

The first major chance came on eighteen minutes when Adams headed straight at Louis Wells. The Darts later won the first corner of the match and Lee Noble’s cross was hacked away towards Danny Harris whose header drifted over. Wells so often called upon in the previous leg saved well from Tim Sills half an hour in. Dartford won a free kick on the edge of the box but Noble’s curling effort sailed over the bar. After Sills headed at Wells again the best opportunity arrived in injury time at the end of the first half. Delano Sam-Yorke pounced on some uncertain defending and clean through on goal he fired into the side netting.

Elliot Bradbrook scores with his head in the second leg

James Rogers looked to have increased Dartford’s aggregate lead five minutes into the second half. Six yards out Rogers swept the ball towards goal but Ashley Bayes pulled off a terrific reaction stop to deny the midfielder. On fifty six minutes another well taken free kick from Noble was met by the head of Elliot Bradbrook which looped into the far corner, Dartford had a two goal advantage. A few more set pieces caused The Stoke problems but from out of nowhere the visitors levelled the score on the night. Sam-Yorke cut the ball back to Shaun McAuley just inside the edge of the box and he smashed the ball beyond Wells.

Five minutes later controversy favoured The Darts when Harris bundled the ball over the line. Noble’s corner wasn’t dealt with by the Stoke’s defence and after Jacob Erskine landed on the ball a goalmouth scrambled ensued. Harris forced the ball over the line much to Basingstoke’s dismay. The away team protested resulting in Bayes and McAuley getting a caution from the official.

Dartford’s opponents pushed for the two goals required to force extra time. Sills dragged a shot wide and Sam-Yorke’s ‘goal’ was flagged offside, the striker was subsequently booked for his protests. Basingstoke hit the crossbar with nine minutes left and from the rebound Ogunbote failed to beat Wells. A minute later all chances of a Basingstoke comeback were dashed when Sam-Yorke’s reckless tackle brought down Adam Green, a straight red challenge was punished with a second yellow card instead and so the striker was dismissed.

Welling United 0 Sutton United 0

Welling United were forced to make one change for the second leg due to Lee Clarke’s suspension. Replacing The Wings scorer in the first leg was Andy Sambrook. Sutton United made three changes with Wayne Shaw in goal for the suspended Kevin Scriven, Romone McCrae replaced Leroy Griffiths and Tony Taggart came in for Stefan Payne.

The Kent side had lost just once at home all season but this did not deter Sutton United. The opening moments of the match was nervy but The U’s created chances, Paul Telfer’s attempted scissor kick flew over and Taggart’s shot was directed straight at Craig Holloway. The Welling United goalkeeper was thanked on twenty five minutes when McCrae squandered a one on one chance which Holloway saved. Craig Watkins had the last of the first half chances but he could not get his shot away with Holloway out of position.

The Wings woke up on fifty two minutes Loui Fazakerley fired wide from the angle and minutes later Luis Cumbers crossed for Loick Pires whose diving header was kept out by Shaw. For the rest of the match Welling suffered a barrage of attacks from Sutton United. Craig Watkins was denied by Holloway who parried the ball and Taggart’s follow up deflected to safety. Substitute and former Dartford striker Bradley Woods-Garness took a pot at goal but failed to score. In injury time The U’s forced corner after corner until Watkins was left unmarked at the back post, his shot agonisingly found the side netting and Welling held on to their 2-1 aggregate lead.

Back to top

Recent Meetings

Over the last two seasons Dartford have played Welling United four times in the Conference South. Whilst this season Dartford came out on top, Welling United were the better side in 2010/11.

The last meeting between the two clubs recorded the start of Dartford’s incredible home run in the league. Having failed to win their last two home matches The Darts went into their New Years fixture needing a win to pressure Woking at the top and put some distance between them and The Wings. The match was delayed for fifteen minutes as 2559 fans made their way into Princes Park.

Dartford 1 Welling United 0 – Highlights

Danny Harris flicks in the winner at Princes Park

Welling United deserved to go home with a draw but an outstanding goalkeeping performance from Louis Wells ensured Dartford kept a clean sheet. With little action in the first half the second forty five was more entertaining. Danny Harris blasted his shot over just after the restart before Dean Cracknell hit the crossbar for The Wings.

The away team should have taken the lead when Jack Evans’ shot from long range was stopped by Wells, Ben Martin and Jack Parkinson had attempts cleared off the line before the latter hit the woodwork. Against the run of play Ryan Hayes sent in a corner and a glancing header was flicked in the net by Harris’ head. Dartford defender Tom Bonner had a header cleared off the line by Jack Obersteller and the Welling defender was superbly denied by Wells later on. Pugh had a number of chances to equalise but The Darts came out 1-0 winners.

Welling United 1 Dartford 1 – Highlights

At Park View Road this Boxing Day fixture ended dramatically. Dartford were the better team for the first half hour and had two attempts by Jon Wallis to show for it. On thirty eight minutes full back Matt Jones tripped Loick Pires and Welling won a penalty. Lee Clarke stepped up and the home team went in front.

Louis Wells saves from Lee Clarke to set up a dramatic finish

Elliot Bradbrook headed wide early in the second half and on the hour Joe Healy was sent off reducing The Wings to ten men. Welling created their best chances with a man down, Andrew Pugh curled wide and hit the woodwork whilst Luis Cumbers missed a good chance. In injury time a second penalty was awarded to Welling when the assistant referee flagged for a handball on Tom Bonner. Louis Wells saved Clarke’s spot kick, the Dartford keeper set up a counter attack and Ryan Hayes crossed for Lee Noble to head in a last gasp equaliser.

Dartford 1 Welling United 1 – Highlights

Last season Dartford’s Lee Noble returned back from a loan spell at Concord Rangers and early on he set up Jon Main, his shot was tipped round the post. At the other end Joe Bruce was turned by Andrew Pugh and his curling effort was bravely blocked by Billy Burgess. Former Dart, Jamie Day took a free kick but his effort dipped just over the cross bar.

In the second half, Loui Fazackerley crossed for Liam Bellamy who nodded wide. Elliot Bradbrook dug out an opportunity but his sliced volley scraped the side netting. Then just past the hour The Wings took the advantage. After a number of testing corners they finally made one count when Jack Parkinson headed in from six yards.

With eight minutes remaining Dartford won a free kick way out against the right touchline a good 30 to 35 yards out. Substitute Ryan Hayes struck the ball with power and swerve which beat Tom Lovelock at the near post to level the game.

Welling United 2 Dartford 1 – Highlights

Welling United got the better of Dartford on New Years Day in last season’s match at Park View Road. Lee Clarke opened the goal scoring three minutes before the break and Lee Cumbers made it two with ten minutes played in the second half. Adam Burchell controversially won The Darts a penalty with eight minutes to go which Carl Rook scored from.

A packed terrace watches the action at Park View Road

Back to top

Season So Far

Dartford F.C

Dartford set a target of reaching the playoffs and started off the season with a six match unbeaten run. The opener at Weston Super-Mare kicked off the new campaign on the front foot with a 4-0 win. Charlie Sheringham continued where he left off the previous season by netting a brace. The promising start of the season included creditable draws at Dover Athletic and Chelmsford City where The Darts struggled the season before. The first defeat arrived in September when Basingstoke Town won 3-2 at The Camrose.

Jacob Erskine celebrates a hat trick against Boston United

The Darts hit back with four straight wins and ending September joint top with Woking. The next month saw the departure of Charlie Sheringham who joined League One side AFC Bournemouth. Sheringham amassed thirty league goals in his eighteen months at Princes Park. Tony Burman was quick to replace the striker with Hampton and Richmond’s Jacob Erskine.

In October Dartford suffered back to back losses at Boreham Wood and at home to Truro City. The Cornwall side ended Dartford’s 100% home record and were only the first of two teams to win in the league at Princes Park.

Elliot Bradbrook continued to chip in with goals, Erskine opened his account at Thurrock and Adam Green scored in three consecutive matches as Dartford earned three victories and two draws leading up to the important match against Woking. In November Tony Burman signed Louis Wells from Staines Town and Tony Garrod from Farnborough Town to bolster the squad.

Nine points behind league leaders with two games in hand, a win would put Dartford in with a title challenge. However, Woking had other ideas and won 3-2, despite defeat The Darts did not give up and this set the tone of what was to come in the league.

Eventual champions Woking expected the title to be sewn up in early March but Dartford refused to lie down. At the end of 2011, Woking led the Conference South by 12 points with Welling United in second and Dartford back in fourth 17 points adrift.

What happened in 2012 was astonishing, after two last minute equalisers against Dorchester Town and Welling United to close 2011, The Darts went on an excellent run. Another five successive wins started at home versus Welling United followed by goals galore. Havant and Waterlooville and Hampton and Richmond were outplayed on their own patch as Dartford won 4-1 and 3-1 respectively. Staines Town suffered a 4-1 defeat and bottom side Thurrock were on the end of a 6-0 thrashing. In four games Tony Burman’s men scored 17 and conceded just 3. Comfortable in defence, helped by loan signing Connor Essam from Gillingham, Dartford racked up goals with Bradbrook adding six and Danny Harris four in this excellent run.

Luke Wilkinson has been an important loan signing this season

By the time the return fixture with Woking came round in mid February the lead at the top was cut to nine points with Dartford two games behind. A win at the Kingsfield Stadium would pile on the pressure at the top. Welling United were in third three points behind The Darts. Once again, Woking beat The Darts and so hopes of automatic promotion faded but once again Dartford kept going.

Central defender Connor Essam returned to Gillingham before the Woking match and after the game Burman signed Dagenham and Redbridge’s Luke Wilkinson on loan to replace him. Dartford won six of their next seven sweeping aside Basingstoke Town 4-1, Farnborough Town 3-0 and in their performance of the season defeated playoff contenders Sutton United 6-1. Only Maidenhead United took points off The Darts.

On 24 March the top two sides were beaten, Dartford lost to Dorchester Town which ended a seven game unbeaten run. Woking lost to Eastbourne Borough. With time running out Woking found form and goals and despite another run of seven games without defeat The Darts ended nine points short finishing on 88.

Dartford’s home form kept the title race alive until two weeks of the season to go. The Darts ended up with the best home record beating Woking on goal difference and Welling United by a point. No one defeated Dartford in the league at Princes Park in 2012.

Welling United F.C

Welling United went one game further to start their campaign scoring twenty times and beating Woking on the way in a seven match unbeaten run. The Wings led the table until 18 September 2011 but never returned to the summit. Dorchester Town were the first team to defeat Welling and two wins in seven left Welling in fourth but still three points off the top by October.

Form picked up again and Jamie Day’s side won five of the next six with Tonbridge Angels sharing a point. Only once did Welling win by more than a two goal margin but this just showed the resolve of the team. Hampton and Richmond were defeated 2-1, Truro City lost 3-2 and Salisbury City beaten 4-3 thanks to a last minute winner by Loick Pires.

Andy Pugh ended up top scorer for The Wings despite his move in January

From December onwards Welling United couldn’t put a winning run together stretching to just three on the spin during March. One point from nine over the festive period against playoff rivals, a loss at Sutton United and a draw and defeat against Dartford, left The Wings 12 points behind top spot in the New Year.

Although difficult to beat The Wings relied heavily on excellent home form where they were within two games from remaining unbeaten all season. January included a 5-1 victory versus Truro City but mixed results left the side comfortable in the top five. In the last seventeen fixtures Welling were only to lose three more times winning ten and drawing four.

For all the goals The Wings scored at the beginning of the season they have dried up since the departure of top scorer Andrew Pugh back in January 2012. However it is now at the other end Jamie Day’s are excelling conceding two in their final eight games, keeping a league seasons best five consecutive clean sheets between 20 March 2012 and 9 April 2012. Welling United finished third, seven points behind Dartford in a creditable season.

Back to top

The Managers

Tony Burman – Dartford FC

Since the club returned home in 2006 Tony Burman has brought success off the field managing The Darts to two promotions as champions and a county cup over the last five years. This is now Burman’s second spell as a permanent manager but he has also stood in as a caretaker boss when needed.

Tony Burman in his second spell as permanent manager

When Dartford reformed in 1993 the former striker was appointed boss asThe Darts had to rebuild from the Kent League. In only his second season in charge he led the side to a runners up spot losing out on goal difference, tasting defeat in the league just once.

Despite league disappointment he won the Kent Senior Trophy beating Chatham Town 3-0 and promotion to the Southern League East. Due to work commitments Burman resigned from the club handing over the managers job to Gary Julians.

In 2001, Burman returned as manager after Dartford parted company with Julians but only as a caretaker. Tommy Sampson was finally appointed and remained in charge until January 2005. In came Burman again as ‘caretaker manager’ but he went permanent for his second spell in charge.

Burman’s second spell has seen Dartford return home in 2006, win the Isthmian League North in 2008 and the Isthmian Premier League two years later.

Last season The Darts reached the first round of the F.A Cup for the first time since 1989, won the Kent Senior Cup and finished a respectable tenth in the Conference South.

This season, Burman has led The Darts to a runner up spot, a playoff final appearance and almost retained the county cup losing out to Hythe Town.

The Dartford manager also boasts an excellent goalscoring record for Dartford when he played up front for the club between 1981 and 1987. Burman was the club’s top scorer six seasons in a row, still a club record.

Jamie Day – Welling United FC

Jamie Day during his spell with The Darts

Former Dartford midfielder is new to management and has done an excellent job for Welling United. He rejoined The Wings from Dartford to take up the player manager position.

In November 2009 he rejoined Welling United and guided them to seventh place and ninth the following season.

Last season Day kept Welling United in playoff contention all season but with two games to go they dropped out the top five.

This season is Day’s best finish as player manager in which he has weighed in with five goals of his own.

Formerly an Arsenal trainee and AFC Bournemouth player he was signed by The Wings in 2004 after spells at Dover Athletic and Crawley Town. In a three year spell as a player he played eighty nine times for Welling United scoring twelve. Day went on to join Grays Athletic in 2008 two years before they resigned from the Conference Premier.

At Dartford he made fifty five appearances between 2008 and 2009 starting ten of the first eleven league games in Dartford’s Isthmian Premier League title season.

Back to top

The Players

Dartford F.C

Tony Burman named an unchanged side in the second leg and it was the same team that started eight of the last ten league fixtures. As second place had been sewn up the matches at Sutton United and Boreham Wood gave other players a run out.

Louis Wells will be expected to start between the sticks and over the two legs against Basingstoke Town he played a key role in Dartford reaching the final.

At full back on the right Lee Burns has stepped in since the injury to Matt Jones who is now available for selection. Burns started as a striker and was Dartford’s top scorer with twenty two goals when The Darts won the Isthmian Premier League, his versatility means he is comfortable going forward too. On the other side Adam Green has been ever present in the Conference South this season and is the only Dartford player to have featured in every league game. Powerful at set pieces and penalty taker he has scored seven in the league.

The centre back pairing of Tom Bonner and loanee Luke Wilkinson has blossomed. They have played 16 times together in the Conference South (including playoffs) and during that spell have kept seven clean sheets. Bonner was recognised by his peers just losing out in the Player’s Player of the Year and Wilkinson has been a threat at set pieces netting four league goals.

Team photo from the start of the 2011/2012 season. Louis Wells, Jacob Erskine and Luke Wilkinson joined the squad later

Dartford have options out wide with Lee Noble who has kept the loyal Ryan Hayes out the side and James Rogers who has been reliable since signing from Dover Athletic last season. Noble became the first player to retain The Leach/Towersey Memorial Shield winning the most man of the matches voted by members of the PURE DFC forum. As back up Ryan Hayes has excelled in Kent derbies and can be a threat from off the bench.

In the centre of midfield captain Elliot Bradbrook has had his best season with The Darts so far. The Player’s Player of the Year scored the opener in the second leg to add to his fourteen league goals. Tom Champion takes the more defensive role of the two and is always looking to bring the ball down. He has moved into centre midfield since the injury to playmaker Jon Wallis.

Up front a combination of power and pace has worked well for The Darts. Jacob Erskine signed a day after the departure of then top scorer Charlie Sheringham. Erskine on his day can be excellent which he showed with his hat trick in the F.A Trophy against Boston United. In the league he netted eleven in twenty nine appearances and that excludes three goals he scored for Hampton and Richmond earlier in the season. The pace comes from Danny Harris the winner of the John Stevens Memorial Player of the Year voted by the fans. Harris had to bide his time on the bench in the earlier months of the season but has taken his chances literally, top scoring for The Darts with fifteen league goals.

Welling United F.C

The Wings have experience between the posts in Craig Holloway who has played for a host of Conference South clubs. Welling’s number one also played in the Kent Senior Cup Final last season for Bromley which Dartford won 4-1.

At full back on the left Jack Obersteller has been starting regularly and was one of Jamie Day’s first signings. The other full back position has been shared amongst a few players but recently Loui Fazakerley has played there despite having experience as a right midfielder. Adam Sambrook has also had a go at right back and is equally comfortable in the centre.

In the middle of defence is former St Albans City centre back Ben Martin who has made an impression at Park View Road. Usually he is partnered by Anthony Acheampong who took a while to break in to the first team squad due to injuries.

Welling United line up for this seasons team photo

In midfield The Wings have versatility, Scott Kinch was signed form Tonbridge Angels after being released by the club. Kinch played against The Darts back in September and was on the receiving end of a 3-1 defeat. Dean Cracknell is in his second spell at Welling United after returning from Thurrock and is a tough tackling midfielder.

Jamie Day can count on Jack Parkinson and Lee Clarke to score goals and support the forwards. Captain, Parkinson has netted nine times in the league this season trebling his total from last season. Clarke was suspended for the second leg on Sunday but will be a threat if selected. He has scored eight league goals to add to the fifteen from last season and became The Wings top scorer in the Conference South on forty two goals in total. Day can also call upon Joe Healy for width and a good work ethic.

Loick Pires is a pacey and skilful and caused Dartford trouble at Park View Road in December. Out of the players still at the club he has top scored for The Wings this season with a dozen goals. Louis Cumbers has scored one less goal than Pires and last season netted fourteen times so can be dangerous around in the box.

Back to top

Statistics

Dartford lead the head to head record against Welling United over the twenty six previous meetings. The Darts have a superior home record with the away matches evening out.

Played Won Drawn Lost For Against
Total 26 13 5 8 41 33
Home 12 7 3 2 17 12
Away 14 6 2 6 23 21

The Darts never dropped out of the top four all season and neither did Welling United once they got into the playoff spots early doors. In total the two clubs spent a combined eight matches at the summit with The Wings holding the lead for longer.

Both sides have set season records in 2011/2012 with Dartford scoring in the most amount of games including scoring in twenty one consecutive matches from 21 August 2011 to 28 January 2012. Welling United won the most matches in a row, joint with Boreham Wood and Farnborough. Here is a comparison of Dartford and Welling’s longest sequences home and away.

In all league games 2011/2012

DFC

WUFC

Consecutive Wins

5

6

Consecutive Draws

2

2

Consecutive Defeats

2

1

Consecutive Clean Sheets

2

5

Number of Clean Sheets

12

14

Consecutive Scoring

21

11

Scored in a Game

38

35

Consecutive Blanks

1

2

Number of Blanks

4

7

Without a Win

3

3

Without a Draw

10

9

Without a Defeat

7

7

Consecutive Without Clean Sheets

7

5

Games Without Clean Sheet

30

28

Dartford have home advantage in the final and set a season’s best of eight consecutive home wins from 2 January 2012 to 31 March 2012, a run which started against Welling United. Only Chelmsford City stopped The Darts from scoring at Princes Park in the league meaning they scored at home in the most amount of matches. Welling United set a record recently with four consecutive away clean sheets all in their final four away fixtures of the season. Here is a comparison of Dartford’s longest sequences at home versus Welling United’s away.

Home vs Away 2011/2012

DFC

WUFC

Consecutive Wins

8

3

Consecutive Draws

2

1

Consecutive Defeats

1

3

Consecutive Clean Sheets

3

4

Number of Clean Sheets

6

6

Consecutive Scoring

19

6

Scored in a Game

20

17

Consecutive Blanks

1

2

Number of Blanks

1

4

Without a Win

2

4

Without a Draw

8

9

Without a Defeat

11

4

Consecutive Without Clean Sheets

7

9

Games Without Clean Sheet

15

15

In the Conference South this season both sides have scored one hundred and sixty eight goals between them. Whilst The Darts are most productive in the final fifteen minutes scoring twenty three and conceding just six, The Wings have their best spells in the fifteen minutes before scoring twenty one and conceding just the once.

Goal Timings

DFC For WUFC For DFC Against

WUFC Against

0-15

9 13 12

13

16-30

18 12 7

5

31-45

10 13 4

7

First Half

37 38 23

25

46-60

16 9 5

7

61-75

13 21 6

1

76-90

23 11 6

14

Second Half

52 41 17

22

Total

89 79 40

47

Back to top

Conference South Playoff History

When the Conference South was formed in 2004 the playoff final was contested between a Conference South club and a Conference North club. Since 2006 a club from each league earned a place in the Conference Premier via the playoffs.

No team has finished 5th and been promoted. Eastbourne Borough were the closest winning the Conference South Playoff Final but lost in the South versus North Playoff showdown in 2005. Twice has fourth place achieved promotion, Ebbsfleet United are the only third place team to win the final and three runners up teams have gone up after playoff victories. A one goal margin has been enough on three occasions and a two goal margin twice.

Since 2006 three of the promoted teams won both legs of their semi-finals, here is how the playoffs have been played out over the last five seasons.

2010-2011 – Ebbsfleet United defeated Chelmsford City in the semi final 4-1 and 2-1 before overcoming Farnborough in an exciting 4-2 triumph. The Fleet were without a win in the last three league fixtures winning just four of their last ten.

2009-2010 – Bath City denied Chelmsford City a place in the final by winning 3-0 on aggregate. The Romans became the second team to not concede a goal in the playoffs winning the final 1-0 versus Woking. Like Ebbsfleet they went three without a win at the end of the league campaign.

2008-2009 – Hayes and Yeading are the only side to bounce back from a first leg deficit. After a 4-2 defeat to Eastleigh at home they won 4-0 in the away leg. In the final they beat the unfortunate Hampton and Richmond 3-2. Hayes and Yeading were unbeaten in their last fifteen league games are were the form team winning 10 in a row in that run, a Conference South record shared with Weymouth.

2007-2008 – Eastbourne Borough are the only club to have won the Conference South playoff twice. Only the first time they lost out in a North versus South Playoff. The Sports beat Braintree Town 5-0 on aggregate and Hampton and Richmond in the final 2-0.

2006-2007 – Salisbury City are the only side to have drawn in the semi-finals and gone on to win the final. The Wiltshire club drew 1-1 with Bishop’s Stortford before knocking them out with a 3-1 triumph. The Whites then went on to beat Braintree Town 1-0 in the final.

Back to top

* Pictures courtesy of Dave Adkins. Goal timings taken from bbc.co.uk. Team photo’s taken from www.dartfordonline.com and www.pitchero.com/clubs/wellingutd

Conference South Playoff Previews

Dartford v Basingstoke Town (1-0 on aggregate)

Dartford take a slender lead going into Sunday’s Conference South Playoff Second Leg at Princes Park.

On Wednesday night Lee Noble’s fine strike on the stroke of half time ensured The Darts gained what could be a crucial advantage.

Danny Harris celebrates his hat trick goal in February

James Rogers had a shot tipped over by the experienced Ashley Bayes and the Basingstoke Town goalkeeper also denied Danny Harris from close range. Louis Wells pulled off a stunning save to keep the scores level until Noble put The Darts in front with an excellent drilled shot from the edge of the box.

Basingstoke Town controlled the second half and a resilient display from Dartford’s defence ensured they went home with a clean sheet. Wells continued to make important saves and after a number of goal line clearances by The Darts, Basingstoke’s Shaun McAuley missed an open goal. The Darts managed to hold on and will hope to make home advantage in the second leg on Sunday count.

Tony Burman spoke to PURE DFC after the first leg, he said: “You want to get something from the away game whether it’s a draw or a win. We’ve managed to win the game”, he added: “I thought we were organised and I felt the players did excellent. We know it’s half time and it’s not done by a long way”.

Earlier in the season Danny Harris put in a fantastic performance netting a hat trick in a win 4-1.  Harris opened the scoring two minutes before the break with a great finish drilled low into the net. In the second half The Darts upped their game and Harris doubled his goal tally for the night by following up Tom Champion’s header with one of his own. Three minutes later a Basingstoke Town free kick was bundled over the line by Stuart Lake to half the deficit. With twelve minutes remaining substitute Tony Garrod sealed the match thanks to some hard work from Harris. The icing was on the cake nine minutes from time when Harris completed a hat trick with a curling effort into the bottom corner.

Dartford also won the meeting at Princes Park last season when a calamitous own goal by Callum Reynolds separated the two sides. After Lee Noble’s deflected shot hit the cross bar the ball hit Reynolds on the way down and over the line.

The Darts will be hoping to add to their home successes in 2012 and progress to the final which will be staged on their own turf.

Did you know…

Dartford finished the season with the best home record in the Conference South amassing 49 points the same as Woking. The Darts finished with a better goal difference of +33 to Woking’s +25

The Darts recorded 8 consecutive home wins from 2 January 2012 to 31 March 2012 the best home run by any Conference South club this season, In 2012 they only dropped four points at Princes Park when they drew their last two home matches

Basingstoke Town are currently on their best league run away from The Camrose. The Dragons are unbeaten in six having won five and drawing the final game of the season which clinched a playoff spot.

The Dragons suffered the heaviest away defeat of the season when they last played Dartford at Princes Park on 27 February 2012

Welling United v Sutton United (2-1 on aggregate)

Welling United also won there away fixture on Wednesday night to take a goal lead into the second leg.

Lee Clarke will miss the second leg through suspension but he made amends with the opening goal after 24 minutes. Dean Cracknell’s cross was finished by Clarke’s diving header to give The Wings the lead.

Sutton United levelled in the second half after 66 minutes when The U’s top scorer Craig Watkins sent in a cross which deflected and wrong footed goalkeeper Craig Holloway.

The Wings grabbed a winner just four minutes later when tricky Loick Pires picked out Joe Healy who flicked the ball beyond Kevin Scriven to make it 2-1.

Jamie Day knows his side still has a job to do and urges his side to finish off the job. The player manager hopes to guide The Wings to the top flight of non league football for the first time since 1999/2000.

Paul Doswell hopes his side overturns a 2-1 deficit

Sutton United manager Paul Doswell believes the first goal is important and his side is still in with a chance. The U’s manager aims for the same approach as Wednesday and does not want to ‘go gung-ho’ from the start.

Last time the two sides met at Park View Road the fixture ended 0-0.  The Wings will be encouraged by almost going unbeaten at home for the entire season. The only league defeat suffered happened three weeks ago when Eastleigh got the better of Welling United. The U’s have had a patchy season away from home and since the turn of the year they have scored just nine times on the road winning on three occasions.

Did you know…

Welling United went an incredible 19 games without defeat at home this season and ended up with the third best home record. The Wings were two games away before their only defeat from going unbeaten all season at home. Only Newport County AFC managed to go unbeaten at home in the Conference South in 2009/10.

On two occasions Sutton United managed three consecutive clean sheets on the road in the league. Only Boreham Wood went longer without conceding an away goal.

The U’s lost their final away fixture but have not been defeated in successive away league games this season.

Conference South Playoff Preview

Basingstoke Town (5th) v Dartford (2nd)

Dartford will have to overcome Basingstoke Town over two legs to reach the playoff final and be in with a chance of promotion.

The Darts finished runners up in only their second season in the Conference South. Thanks to an incredible 2012 and keeping the title race alive longer than expected, Tony Burman’s side can be proud of what they have achieved so far but we hope to go a step further.

Dartford face a first leg playoff tie at The Camrose on Wednesday night

From the outset the playoffs were the main target for Dartford and since the first match in August they have remained in the top five. With many people writing off the title when Woking were 17 points clear at the end of 2011, The Darts did cut the deficit to four points at one stage before their chances ended on 14 April 2012.

Dartford’s form has included 15 wins, 3 draws and 2 defeats in 2012, where The Darts have dropped just four points at Princes Park this year and they were in their last two home fixtures. On their travels Dartford three of their last four fixtures drawing the final game of the season 1-1 down at Truro City. Barry Hayles looked to have won the match with three minutes to spare but good work from Tony Garrod set up Jacob Erskine in injury time to level with the last kick of the league season.

Luke Wilkinson returned for The Darts after his suspension and his pairing with Tom Bonner at the back has been solid since he joined on loan from Dagenham and Redbridge. Elliot Bradbrook has chipped in with 14 goals from midfield, Danny Harris top scored with 15 goals and will test defences with his pace.

Basingstoke Town gatecrashed the playoffs last week stealing the final spot from Chelmsford City. The Dragons spent most of the season hovering around the top ten but are the form side going into the play offs. Eight wins from their final ten fixtures propelled them into the top five. The Hampshire club staved off Chelmsford City on the final day with a 1-1 away draw at Welling United, Chelmsford failed to beat champions Woking to ensure Basingstoke Town finished four points clear.

Delano Sam-Yorke has often been a thorn in Dartford's side

It is no surprise the form Basingstoke Town are on coincides with Delano Sam-Yorke’s return from injury. The striker has top scored for the Hampshire club with 14 goals including one against The Darts, he also scored twice at The Camrose against Dartford last season. Manager Jason Bristow was only appointed in February replacing Frank Gray. Bristow is able to call upon the experienced Tim Sills up front who has netted a dozen times and midfielder Shaun McAuley who has ten goals to his name.

At The Camrose over the past two seasons Basingstoke Town have the advantage. In September, Delano Sam-Yorke opened the scoring on six minutes when he was left with too much space to power the ball beyond Derren Ibrahim. Charlie Sheringham scored from the penalty spot after a retake ten minutes later and Adam Green’s deflected free kick put The Darts ahead. The lead lasted just two minutes when Toby Little’s free kick wrong footed Ibrahim. Shaun McAuley put away a second half winner on 53 minutes.

Last season the journey to Hampshire in March ended in a 2-2 draw. Sam-Yorke opened the scoring in the first minute with supporters still taking up position on the terrace. The lead didn’t last long when Ryan Hayes scored from an excellent solo effort just three minutes later. Danny Harris put The Darts in front mid-way through the first half and Sam-Yorke equalised fifteen minutes later. The second half was just as entertaining with the woodwork being hit by both sides but both teams failed to score.

Did you know…

Dartford have scored in the most amount of league games, netting at least one goal 38 times out of 42

The Darts have lost just twice in their last 22 league matches

Dartford also have the tightest defence conceding 0.95 goals per league game

Basingstoke Town have lost one out of their last eleven league games

The Dragons’ 5th place finish was their highest in the Conference South

Sutton United (4th) v Welling United (3rd)

Sutton United have had a tremendous first season in the Conference South despite getting off to the worst possible start. After losing 5-0 to Woking in their opener they entered the top five back in September and never looked back. Under the guidance of Paul Doswell, The Surrey club consistently put runs together to finish in fourth place.

Sutton United have lost just three league games in two years at home

Up front The U’s have been grateful for the goals Craig Watkins have scored as well as midfielder Harry Beautyman’s. In the last two seasons Sutton United can rely on the solid foundations provided by just three league defeats at Ganders Green Lane. Highlights have include a five game winning streak in February and March and a ten match unbeaten run in September and October resulting in 26 goals and only five conceded. During that spell The U’s recorded their biggest win of the season beating Salisbury City 5-0.

Last season’s Isthmian Premier League champions have eased off a bit towards the tail end of their campaign by winning twice in the final eight fixtures. The run started with a 6-1 defeat at Dartford and as the goals have dried up The U’s are the most out of form team out of the playoff contenders.

The Wings led the Conference South in September for six games before the eventual champions Woking took control. Welling United looked at one stage contenders to pip Dartford and Woking but that was short lived back in early March. After a win at Chelmsford City, The Wings were six points behind top spot. Without back to back away wins since August, inconsistency on their travels denied Welling United a better challenge for the title.

Jamie Day: During his spell with The Darts, now managing Welling United

Jamie Day’s team dropped out of the playoffs with two games to go last season and after two years of financial difficulties a third place finish is more than credible. The Wings lost Andrew Pugh to Cambridge United in January and his 16 league goals is still more than any other Welling player. In fact only two players in the Conference South have scored more times. Despite the departure of the prolific scorer the Kent club have a more than capable squad.

At Ganders Green Lane the two sides were involved in a seven goal thriller back in December. Tommy Kavangah scored from 25 yards to give Sutton a twelfth minute lead. A minute later the scores were level when Welling’s Pugh tucked away from eight yards. The goals continued to flow when Beautyman drilled in the third of the game after just 16 minutes. The sides went in level at half time when on 25 minutes Luis Cumbers made it 2-2.

With the first half being a difficult act to follow the second 45 minutes lived up to expectations. Three goals in five minutes started off when Cumbers completed a brace in the 73rd minute to put the Kent side in front with a well taken volley. However in the space of a minute it was level again with a Sam Page header and the turnaround was completed thirteen minutes from time as Craig Watkins nodded in the winner from a yard out.

Did you know…

Sutton United have kept the most clean sheets this season. The U’s have not conceded in 16 of their league games, only matched by Woking

The U’s finished in the highest league position since the Conference South was formed. Previously they spent four years in the division recording 15th, 13th and 14th place finishes before relegation in 2008 as the bottom club

Welling United have scored 37 goals on the road this season, only Woking have netted more times away from home

The Wings are unbeaten in four away fixtures, a season’s best. Even better, they have not conceded away from home in the last six hours and forty four minutes of football

Records versus playoff teams

Team Won Drawn Lost For Against Points GD
Dartford 4 1 1 15 6 13 +9
Sutton United 3 1 2 8 11 10 -3
Welling United 1 3 2 6 7 6 -1
Basingstoke Town 1 1 4 6 11 4 -5