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Dartford v St Albans City

Dartford may have missed out on equalling a club record on Saturday but they have a chance to extend their unbeaten league run as they host St Albans City.

The Darts have had the extraordinary run of nine straight wins halted, yet in the National South they have won six of their last eight, drawing two in a run spanning two months. St Albans City have also hit form over the three matches taking maximum points and scoring ten goals in their last two league fixtures.

Last season Dartford struggled to break down a St Albans City side bottom of the table. Andy Pugh turned out to be the match winner with both goals in a 2-0, the last coming in stoppage time to calm any nerves around Princes Park. On the final day of the campaign, the Saints went on to record their first ever victory in normal time against the Darts in a commanding 4-0 win.

On the weekend, The Darts crashed out of the F.A Cup against last year’s National South champions Sutton United in a topsy-turvy affair. Dartford fell behind three times, the first after just 41 seconds but on each occassion pegged the U’s back. In a crazy opening 23 minutes Dartford found themselves 3-2 down. Elliot Bradbrook scored from the edge of the box and from the spot whilst Duane Ofori-Acheampong fired into the roof of the net. Maxime Biamou, Roary Deacon and Ross Stearn all notched a brace for the visitors in an entertaining 6-3 cup tie.

One of four teams yet to lost at home this term, Dartford know three points will take them above thri opponents and potentially into the playoff places. Tony Burman had a full squad to select from on the weekend with Tom Bonner returning, who slipped back into the first team.

Since February and a change in manager St Albans City have vastly improved. From bottom when they played Dartford last time at Princes Park to sixth this term, the Saints have the best record over the last nine months of the teams in the National South.

Ian Allinson, who led Boreham Wood to promotion to the National League in 2014/15 continues to work wonders in Hertfordshire. St Albans City have netted five in their last two league games beating Truro City 5-0 and Bishop’s Stortford 5-1. Whilst the Saints were commanding from the start against Truro City they had to wait an hour to break the deadlock against Bishop’s Stortford, courtesy of former Dartford defender Tom Bender, the left back made 20 appearances for the Darts in 2014/15.

Another familiar face at Clarence Park is Josh Hill, who had a short spell under Tony Burman in 2013/14 making just five appearances. Dartford will have to keep an eye on Louie Theophanous, the division’s third top scorer with 13 goals behind Wealdstone’s Elliot Benyon and Maidenhead United’s Dave Tarpey.

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

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

St Albans City (WWWDLL)
Won 5-1 v Truro City (H)
Won 5-0 v Bishop’s Stortford (A)
Won 2-1 v Gosport Borough (H)
Lost 1-3 v Ebbsfleet United (A)
Drew 2-2 v Hemel Hempstead Town (H)
Drew 1-1 v Maidenhead United (A)

Last Six Meetings
St Albans City 4 Dartford 0 (30/04/2016 – National South)
Dartford 2 St Albans City 0 (06/02/2016 – National South)
St Albans City 1 Dartford 2 (02/04/2011 – National South)
Dartford 2 St Albans City 2 (22/03/2011 – National South)
Dartford 1 St Albans City 1 (25/11/2008 – F.A Trophy)
St Albans City 0 Dartford 0 (22/09/2009 – F.A Trophy)

Stats
Dartford conceded six goals for the first time at Princes Park on Saturday. The F.A Cup tie was the highest aggregate score matching the 7-2 wins against Witham Town and Burgess Hill Town and the 5-4  loss versus Aveley.

In the National South, the Darts went the whole of October without conceding a goal. The Dartford defence have kept three clean sheets in a row.

Elliot Bradbrook ended the F.A Cup campaign with seven goals in four games.

Last season St Albans City were bottom after 30 games but the last 12 fixtures saw a dramatic turnaround with eight wins, two draws and 2 defeats. During that run of form the Saints had the second highest points average (2.17) behind champions Sutton United (2.71). This term St Albans City have averaged two points a game.

On This Day
Dartford’s last league win on 8 November came in 1986 when they beat Gosport Borough in the Southern League Premier Division. Since then the Darts drew with Cambridge City 1-1 in the F.A Trophy and Banbury United 2-2 in the Southern League Division One East. A 2-1 defeat to Harrow Borough eight years ago in the Isthmian Premier League was followed by a F.A Cup win over Bromley in 2014, the match ended 4-3 in the first round.

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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St Albans City v Dartford

Dartford need something close to a miracle to make the playoffs this weekend, when they visit relegation threatened St Albans City.

The Darts travel to Hertfordshire needing to win by five clear goals and even that may not be enough. Tony Burman’s side hope Hemel Hempstead Town and Whitehawk draw with each other so they secure a top five finish.

St Albans City, on the other hand know survival is in their hands. The Saints need to match Havant and Waterlooville’s result in order to stay up.

Dartford enter the final game of the season on the back of a Kent Senior Cup victory. The Darts claimed the cup for the eleventh time when they beat Charlton Athletic 3-1 in the final. Elliot Bradbrook opened the scoring before the Addicks drew level, Ronnie Vint netted the second and Ben Francis added a third.

The Darts came from behind twice in their last league game against Oxford City, Elliot Bradbrook scoring a brace to earn what still could be a crucial point. Dartford have only lost once in their last seven outings and are unbeaten in their last three.

Burman will be without defender Callum McNaughton who has a fractured metatarsal and goalkeeper and Deren Ibrahim, out with a dislocated shoulder. Lee Noble has been struggling with a groin injury and George Sykes with illness.

St Albans City have been given a ray of light since the arrival of manager Ian Allinson. The former Boreham Wood boss took charge at Clarence Park with the Saints bottom of the National South.

Allinson’s first match after his appointment was the 2-0 defeat against Dartford. The Hertfordshire club went on to win just one in his first six games in charge, a 6-0 victory over Whitehawk.

Fortunes soon turned and one defeat in their last nine league games have given St Albans City the chance of National South football next season. A fortnight ago, another 6-0 triumph over relegation rivals Havant and Waterlooville has given them the advantage going into the final day.

Attacking midfielder Louie Theophanous has impressed this term with 17 league goals, the same as Dartford’s captain Elliot Bradbrook. Whilst former Dart, Tom Bender could line up against his old club.

Saturday will be the first meeting between the two sides for four years. Lee Burns scored his first goal of that campaign when his hopeful long ranged header looped over the City defence and into the net. 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.

Dartford manager, Tony Burman knows the challenge ahead of him he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “St Albans are full of experienced players. Ian Allinson’s gone in there and done a great job and he’ll be trying to win the game – but so will we”, he added: “We’re came in on Thursday just to do attacking play and shooting because we need a lot of goals”, he continued: “Who knows? The league’s brought up some funny results and we’ll just have to see what happens come quarter to five”.

Head to Head

St Albans City wins: 0 / Dartford wins: 6 / Draws: 4

Current League Form

St Albans City (DWDWLW) Dartford (DDWLWD)
Wealdstone A 1-1 Oxford City H 2-2
Havant & Waterlooville H 6-0 Basingstoke Town H 0-0
Hemel Hempstead Town A 2-2 Maidstone United A 2-1
Maidenhead United A 1-0 Truro City A 0-3
Maidstone United H 1-2 Maidenhead United H 2-0
Eastbourne Borough H 3-1 Ebbsfleet United A 1-1

Last League Meeting at Clarence Park

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

Goalscorers: Lee Burns (23), Jack Pallen (85); Tony Battersby (55)

The Darts Lineup: Andrew Young, Billy Burgess, Tom Bonner, Joe Bruce, Paul Goodacre, Tom Champion, Lee Noble, James White, Charlie Sheringham, Lee Burns, Danny Harris (sub used: Ryan Hayes, Jack Pallen, Elliot Bradbrook)

Previous Meetings (* – F.A Cup / ^ – F.A Trophy)

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
04.10.1988* St Albans City 2 Dartford 4
01.10.1988* Dartford 1 St Albans City 1
15.09.1973* Dartford 4 St Albans City 1
19.03.1898 Dartford 3 St Albans 1
09.10.1897 St Albans 1 Dartford 4

** = St Albans City won 4-2 on penalties

On This Day

It’s been four years since Dartford won on the final day of the season and that was against Maidenhead United. The 3-2 victory in 2011 came before draws at Truro City, back to back last day defeats against Nuneaton Town and another stalemate versus Lincoln City. Charlie Sheringham, Jack Pallen and Ryan Hayes put the Darts three up against the Magpies before surviving a late fightback from Maidenhead United.

 

 

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

Last Ten Yearsmfc last 10 years

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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

Last Ten Yearsocfc last 10 years

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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

Last Ten Yearssacfc last 10 years

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

10 – April and May – Mission Complete

Oh Jackie Pallen!

Dartford entered the final month of the season in twelfth position and five points behind a top ten finish. Over April The Darts would play another seven league fixtures and a Kent Senior Cup Semi Final.

Lee Burns scores his first

It was a windy day in Hertfordshire which played a huge part in the result against St Albans City. Dartford started off well and forced Conor Gough into a save which he spilt then gathered up and Charlie Sheringham headed wide. Half way through the first forty five Dartford cleared their lines, Lee Burns flicked on a routine header thirty five yards from goal, and the wind carried the ball which bounced by the penalty spot. Dartford fans watched on in disbelief as Gough watched the bouncing ball sail over his head and into the net. What a way to score your first goal of the season, bizarre indeed. Burns celebrated in style, having recently become a father he cradled the tiny Lee Noble, typical Burnsy, no one could be happier. The crowd started to sing, “Where were you when Burnsy scored?” about time we all thought.

Early into the second half The Darts threatened with a couple of headers but it was the home side that made their chance count.  A long ball fell into Tony Battersby’s path and he neatly finished equalising for The Saints. The side at the bottom of the table came back into the game and when Paul Goodacre committed a foul a penalty was awarded. Battersby stepped up to make it two, struck his shot and smashed the cross bar.

Young Jack Pallen was given a start up front and when there was five minutes to go he chased down the ball forcing the St Albans defender into a mistake. Pallen was through one on one with Gough then slotted the ball beyond the keeper, Jack won the match.

St Albans City 1 Dartford 2 – Highlights

A Trip to the Coast

The emergence of Jack Pallen saw a change to the playing staff. Carl Rook went out on loan and Tony Burman signed winger James Rogers.  The Darts made the journey to the coast to take on Ramsgate in the Kent Senior Cup Semi Final. Now the side had got this far and silverware was in our grasp this competition mattered because it had been fifteen years since Dartford reached a cup final.

Sheringham's spot kick

The Rams held Dartford in the first half as both sides failed to score in the opening forty five minutes. In the second half,  Ramsgate failed to clear a corner and Tom Champion scuffed a half volley towards goal, Charlie Sheringham instinctively blasted the ball into the roof of the net from a couple of yards out, 1-0.

The lead was doubled when Jack Pallen was felled in the box and Sheringham converted the spot-kick for his fourth goal in this year’s competition. And just to make sure the tie was finished off ten minutes from time when Ryan Hayes stylishly cut inside to polish off Ramsgate with goal number three. The Darts had made it through to the Bank Holiday May finale.

Ramsgate 0 Dartford 3 – Kent Senior Cup Semi Final Highlights

Playing Without Fear

The win at St Albans City meant Dartford booked their place in next seasons Conference South. However, Tony Burman was determined for his side to finish in the top ten and play to the end. This type of attitude showed against the in form Woking who had taken an impressive 38 points from their last 45.

The first half was more than dramatic at Princes Park. Elliot Bradbrook was deemed to have handled in his penalty box. The decision was harsh considering Bradbrook was facing the opposite direction and the ball hit is hand. The experienced former football league player Elvis Hammond stepped up, the Dartford fans waited for the spot kick. Hammond struck the ball; Andrew Young guessed right, the ball rolled past the post and the scores stayed level.  The penalty count levelled up when Lee Noble was bundled to the floor giving Charlie Sheringham the opportunity to put Dartford in front. Sheringham stepped up, the Dartford fans waited for the spot kick. Sheringham struck the ball; Andy Little guessed right, the ball rolled past the post and the scores stayed level, déjà vu.

With fifteen minutes left to play in the first half no one could afford to blink, it was all action. Andrew Burgess took a free kick from way out on the right and his effort flew over Young into the far top corner. It was a goal Dartford fans had seen Ryan Hayes score on many occasions, this time the goal went against The Darts. Woking deserved the lead but were left completely stunned.

In the space of four minutes the following took place. Dartford won a corner on the left which was sent into the box by Lee Noble. Elliot Bradbrook rose the highest and headed in the equaliser. A couple of minutes later Lee Burns played a short pass into Jack Pallen who spotted a diagonal run by Sheringham. Pallen picked out his fellow striker, Sheringham slid in to win the ball. Sheringham got to his feet the quickest and lifted the ball over the Little into the goal. Unbelievably it did not stop there when Sheringham flicked the ball into Pallen’s path he expertly blasted in the third, what a turnaround.

Charlie Sheringham lifts the ball goalwards

The Darts played with confidence in the second half but failed to increase the lead and when Woking’s Adam Doyle was dismissed the game looked over.  With seven minutes remaining the visitors won another penalty, the third of the game. Craig Dobson was on duty after Hammond’s earlier miss, he scored to give The Cards a life line but it was all too late.

Dartford 3 Woking 2 – Highlights

Super Mario Defeats The Darts

With a cup final place in the bag and a placed in next year’s Conference South, Dartford’s top ten quest was dealt three fatal blows in the space of a week. Boreham Wood destroyed The Darts back in October with the help of Mario Noto and he was at it again.

Charlie Sheringham gave The Darts the lead to make amends for his second penalty miss in consecutive games.  The striker failed to score after Lee Noble won a penalty and his spot kick was saved.  Dartford won penalty number two when Tom Bonner was hauled down, this time Sheringham went down the middle to give The Darts the lead.

Noto again: Mario takes The Darts apart

A minute before the break Mario Noto curled a superb free kick beyond Andrew Young to level. After the restart Noto beat Young for a second time when another curled effort was unstoppable. For the second game in a row a third penalty was awarded which gave Noto the chance to complete a hat trick, he did. To make things worse The Wood netted a fourth through David Bryant and Lee Burns was sent off.  Noto had now scored five of Boreham Wood’s seven goals against Dartford.

Dartford 1 Boreham Wood 4 – Highlights

Fogden Strikes Again

In a jam packed week Dartford travelled to Hampshire on a Monday night to face Havant and Waterlooville. The pitch at Westleigh Park wasn’t pretty and neither was the result. After a few chances for Tony Burman’s side the home team opened the scoring on thirty three minutes. Dartford’s defence were caught napping and Sammy Igoe’s cross was turned into the net by Wes Fogden. Dartford pushed for an equaliser knowing victory against The Hawks will aid their top ten finish and potentially damage Havant and Waterlooville’s chances. It wasn’t to be and the Hampshire side took the three points.

Havant and Waterlooville 1 Dartford 0 – Highlights

Dress Rehearsal

Defeat against Havant and Waterlooville meant the Good Friday match against Bromley was crucial. It was Havant and Bromley in Dartford’s way to gate crashing the top ten. The fixture at Hayes Lane was also a dress rehearsal for the Kent Senior Cup Final. The dress rehearsal was a disaster.

The Ravens took the lead through Jerry Nnamani and three minutes later Jerrome Sobers doubled their advantage. Charlie Sheringham gave Dartford a lifeline from the spot before half time but two second half goals from Warren McBean and Leon McKenzie completed Bromley’s victory.

Bromley 4 Dartford 1 – Highlights

A Glorious Day

Three defeats in a row and the return of Jon Main in a Dover Athletic shirt had the Dartford fans up for this fixture. The rivalry between Dartford and Dover in the last five years had increased as their paths have crossed more recently. Like Good Friday the sun was beaming down and inside Princes Park the atmosphere was cooking. It is fair to say that Dover has had the upper hand over Dartford for some time but after the 2-0 win by The Darts in November the double was on.

The game started at pace and continued throughout the first half. The Dartford midfield worked tirelessly and combined some good moves but neither side could fashion a goal scoring chance until mid-way into the first forty five. Lee Noble lined up a corner on the left and sent the cross into the crowded box. Charlie Sheringham lost his marker with a run to the near post and flicked the ball into the opposite corner, Princes Park erupted.

Lee Noble and Lee Burns linked up well on the edge of the box and Burns’ volley was parried wide by Ross Flitney. Noble then led a counter attack which failed to materialise and his curling effort later on just missed the target. Noble was everywhere dictating the middle of the park and setting up attacks. Dover survived the first half only a goal down.

Dartford end their home campaign on a high

Ten minutes into the second half Burns played the ball inside to Elliot Bradbrook. The captain laid the ball off to Tom Champion and side footed the ball tamely towards goal, a slight deflection later and the lead was doubled, The Darts were ecstatic. Three minutes on and Andrew Young punted a goal kick to the half way line. Charlie Sheringham headed the ball onwards, Burns flicked on with his head and Danny Harris pounced onto the ball and expertly lobbed Flitney, 3-0 the crowd went crazy. The Dartford players celebrated with the fans, Dover players looked on head in hands and stunned.

To the credit of a handful of Dover fans who kept supporting their club and making noise The Whites tried to get back into the game but found Dartford difficult to break down. Adam Birchall was kept quiet and his only major chance one on one with Andrew Young saw The Darts goalkeeper come out on top. Ross Flitney had to twice tip shots over the bar in the Dover goal as Dartford attempted to increase their lead. After a corner was kept alive Noble took a pop at goal inside the eighteen yard box, Sheringham reached out a leg controlled the ball and poked the ball with the outside of his foot passed Flitney, 4-0 to The Darts, what a way to finish Princes Park’s league campaign for 2010/2011.

Dartford 4 Dover Athletic 0 – Highlights

In at Number Ten

30 April 2011 and Dartford’s long season was to end at Maidenhead United. Whilst The Darts were playing for top ten finish their opponents needed just a point to stay up. Dartford needed to win and hope Bromley were defeated by Eastleigh.

The first half passed by with the home side happy to see out the game and use up time. At the break all looked well for both sides because Bromley and Thurrock were two goals down at the interval. In the second half The Darts threw a spanner in the works when Charlie Sheringham latched onto Ryan Hayes through ball to lob Steve Williams in the Maidenhead goal. A second goal followed fifteen minutes later when Jack Pallen and Sheringham combined on the edge of the box. Pallen finished netting his second league goal of the season, the academy player was settling in just nicely. Two turned to three in the seventy second minute when Ryan Hayes hit a right footed volley sweetly into the corner.  The season was ending on a high, Bromley were still two goals down and Thurrock had managed to pull their game back to 3-2. The Darts partied, The Magpies were on edge.

Maidenhead were not finished yet and substitute Craig Faulconbridge’s glancing header with eleven minutes on the clock gave The Magpies some impetus. Jefferson Louis pulled another goal back with five minutes remaining; surely The Darts wouldn’t throw it away? Then in the dying moments of the season Louis turned his man, fired in a shot, over the cross bar. A close call in the end as the game finished 3-2.

Knowledge of results from elsewhere arrived at York Road. Farnborough 3 Thurrock 2, Maidenhead was safe. Bromley 0 Eastleigh 2, Dartford had gate crashed the top ten.

Braintree Town departed the Conference South as champions. Farnborough Town and Ebbsfleet United overcome Woking and Chelmsford City in the playoffs respectively. Ebbsfleet United won the playoff 4-2 to join Braintree in the Conference National. St Albans City and Lewes were relegated and Thurrock was given a reprieve due to the demise of Rushden and Diamonds in the league above, Bishop’s Stortford moved to the Conference North. Joining the Conference South for 2011/2012 is Sutton United and Tonbridge Angels from the Isthmian Premier League as well as Salisbury City and Truro City from the Southern Premier League. The new adventure awaits.

Maidenhead United 2 Dartford 3 – Highlights

For The Win?

Last time Dartford made it to a cup final was in 1996 so it had been a long time coming. Bromley had won the Kent Senior Cup in 2007 when they retained the prize. The two sides drew 2-2 at Princes Park back in September but the 4-1 defeat to Bromley on Good Friday was still fresh in the memory of players, staff and supporters. The final was to be held at Princes Park and crowd of 2025 made the effort to see who would be crowned champions of Kent.

Tony Burman stuck with Deren Ibrahim in goal who had played in every round, the rest of the team was as you would expect as The Darts aimed to win their third piece of silverware in four years. An expectant crowd wanted to taste glory again and typically a mix of excitement and nerves filled Princes Park.

Dartford started steadily passing the ball around in midfield using their full backs to good effect. Tom Champion won possession and played the ball back to Paul Goodacre. Tom Bonner received the pass and touched the ball inside to Elliot Bradbrook. Bradbrook exchanged a one two with Lee Noble then played the ball wide to Matt Jones. Jones knocked the ball wide to Ryan Hayes who was making his two hundredth start, he cut inside and whipped in an in swinger. Noble was on the end of it unmarked, the header went wide. A promising opening, Noble kicked the post knowing he should have scored.

The Darts celebrate the opener

Bromley hit back when Ibrahim was forced into a reaction save at the near post and the resulting corner was scrambled clear. The next chance came from Dartford when Danny Harris was given space and his curler was deflected out for a corner. Twenty minutes had passed and Hayes swung the corner towards goal, Charlie Sheringham nodded the ball across the crowded six yard box and Bradbrook poked the ball in, just what the Captain ordered.

Straight from kick off Bromley directly carved their way through the Dartford team, Harry Harding was one on one with Young, what a waste from the Bromley player as he blasted the ball over, Dartford went to sleep and were let off. The first half was suddenly over it had all gone so quickly and The Darts had the narrow advantage.

Five minutes into the second half and Bonner took a throw in the corner of the Bromley half, his throw was laid back to him and a first time cross bounced through three Bromley defenders. Hayes was waiting, looked up and calmly picked out the far corner with a side footed shot, Dartford doubled their lead. Hayes ran to the corner flag slid on his knees got up and ‘sang’ using the flag as a microphone. Dartford fans sang knowing silverware was in their grasp.

The Darts started to play with more confidence, Sheringham’s spin and shot went harmlessly over, Hayes tricked his way down the left side, Bromley were on the edge as Dartford won another corner. Hayes swung the ball underneath the goal posts, Craig Holloway fumbled and after fifty five minutes Dartford were three to the good. Hayes was congratulated and out came his imaginary guitar.

Dartford fans were starting to have fun knowing the cup was as good as theirs and if anyone had doubts they didn’t on the hour. Sheringham’s vision picked out Hayes and his first time low cross to the far post reached Harris who was lurking to tap the ball in, 4-0. The players knew the job was done. Although Bromley pulled one back through Warren McBean fifteen minutes from time, Dartford won the Kent Senior Cup for the tenth time in their history.

Dartford F.C - Kent Senior Cup Winners

The celebrations went on into the evening, a third trophy in four years. Back in January, who would have thought Dartford would finish in the top ten and win a cup? Tony Burman, his staff, his players, and supporters had achieved the best set of results since 1989. Dartford Football Club finished tenth in the Conference South, reached the last sixteen of the F.A Trophy, the first round of the F.A Cup and is now the Champions of Kent.

Dartford 4 Bromley 1 – Kent Senior Cup Final Highlights

Kent Senior Cup Final Presentation

Dartford for the win!

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Braintree Town 42 27 8 7 78 33 +45 89
2 Farnborough 42 25 7 10 83 47 +36 82
3 Ebbsfleet United 42 22 12 8 75 51 +24 78
4 Chelmsford City 42 23 8 11 82 50 +32 77
5 Woking 42 22 10 10 62 42 +20 76
6 Welling United* 42 24 8 10 81 47 +34 75
7 Dover Athletic 42 22 8 12 80 51 +29 74
8 Eastleigh 42 22 6 14 74 53 +21 72
9 Havant & W 42 16 10 16 56 51 +5 58
10 Dartford 42 15 12 15 60 60 0 57
11 Bromley 42 15 12 15 49 61 -12 57
12 Weston-super-Mare 42 15 8 19 56 67 -11 53
13 Basingstoke Town 42 13 10 19 50 63 -13 49
14 Boreham Wood 42 12 11 19 56 67 -11 47
15 Staines Town 42 11 14 17 48 63 -15 47
16 Bishop’s Stortford 42 13 6 23 48 79 -31 45
17 Dorchester Town 42 10 14 18 49 59 -10 44
18 Hampton & Richmond 42 9 15 18 43 60 -17 42
19 Maidenhead United 42 10 10 22 43 70 -27 40
20 Thurrock 42 8 13 21 50 77 -27 37
21 Lewes 42 9 9 24 34 70 -36 36
22 St Albans City** 42 7 13 22 39 75 -36 24

*Welling United deducted five points

**St Albans City deducted ten points

Stuart Maidment

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

 

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

9 – March – Heading To Safety

Lucky Winner

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

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

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

Callum Reynolds

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

Dartford 1 Basingstoke Town 0 – Highlights

The Late Show

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

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

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

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

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

Captain Bradbrook makes it two for The Darts

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

Dartford 3 Maidenhead United 0 – Highlights

Darts Demolish Whitstable

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

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

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

Draw at The Camrose

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

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

Ryan Hayes scores with a fantastic solo effort

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

Basingstoke Town 2 Dartford 2 – Highlights

Goalless

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

Dartford 0 Eastleigh 0 – Highlights

The Darts are defeated at Wheatsheaf Park

Staines Massive

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

Staines Town 2 Dartford 0 – Highlights

Charlie Finds His Goal Scoring Boots

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

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

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

Charlie Sheringham celebrates another goal

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

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

Dartford 2 St Albans City 2 – The Highlights

Super Shezza

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

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

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

Dartford 3 Lewes 0 – Highlights

Marching On

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

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

*Welling United deducted five points

**St Albans City deducted ten points

Stuart Maidment

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