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Pre-Season Preview

Dartford begin their preparations this month for the up and coming National South campaign, with a series of pre-season friendlies. Pure DFC takes a look at July’s opponents in the build up to the 2017/18 season.

Millwall – Saturday 8th July at Princes Park
Links with the Lions continue with another friendly at home against the League One playoff winners. Neil Harris guided Millwall back to the Championship after a two year absence, finishing last season in sixth. The Londoners bounced back from playoff final disappointment in 2016 by winning at Wembley in May, defeating Bradford City. Steve Morison’s winner five minutes from time secured promotion. The Lions also enjoyed a decent F.A Cup reaching the last eight and beating three Premier League teams on the way. AFC Bournemouth, Watford and Leicester City were dispatched, but quality showed in the quarter final derby when Tottenham Hotspur won 6-0. Since moving to Princes Park, the Darts have hosted five friendlies against the Lions all ending in defeats. Tony Burman has used links with the Bermondsey based club in the past, most notably the signing of current squad member Keaton Wood.

Gillingham – Tuesday 11th July at Princes Park
The Gills will be the second side to visit Princes Park this summer, the League One club just kept above the relegation zone last term. The highest ranked Kent club in English football return to the home of the Darts after a friendly almost a year ago, Ryan Hayes scored for Dartford in a 2-1 defeat. Twice the Darts have played the Gills in the Kent Senior Cup since moving to Princes Park and in 2015, Tom Wynter and Jack Simmons scored as Tony Burman’s side won 2-1, atoning for the 7-3 loss in the competition the season before. The Dartford versus Gillingham friendly has been a regular pre-season fixtures in recent times with the Gills winning all six since 2009.

Phoenix Sports – Saturday 15th July at Phoenix Sports Ground
Based in Barnehurst, Phoenix Sports became champions of the Southern Counties East League in 2015 tasting defeat just once. In the same season they reached the fifth round of the F.A Vase. Two seasons have past and in each of those campaigns they have recorded their highest ever league position, in the Isthmian Division One North. Switching to the Division One South this summer will mean a whole set of new opponents for Steve O’Boyle’s team, who have a number of former Darts in their ranks such as Dajon Golding, Richard Seixas and Ashley Probets. Dartford won a friendly 2-1 last summer with goals from Ellis Brown and Ben Francis, the year before Tom Bradbrook netted both in a 2-0 victory.

Sutton United – Tuesday 18th July at Princes Park
Dartford host one of the heroes of last season’s F.A Cup in their third pre-season warm up. Rewind back to November and the Darts lost an entertaining F.A cup first round fixture 6-3 against the U’s. Dartford pegged the visitors back three times until Paul Doswell’s side ran away with the tie. The National League club went on to knock out Cheltenham Town, AFC Wimbledon before famously beating Leeds United 1-0. A home fifth round tie versus eventual winners Arsenal ended in a respectable 2-0 loss. Sutton United enjoyed a decent return to the National League last term having won the National South the season before, the Surrey club finished twelfth thanks to their home form which has been excellent over the last few years.

Cambridge United – Saturday 22nd July at Princes Park
Whilst Dartford were reprieved in the National League, Cambridge United secured a place in the Football League via the playoffs beating Gateshead in the final, that was three years ago. The U’s are now led by former Crystal Palace and Leeds United midfielder Shaun Derry, who guided Cambridge United to an eleventh place finish in League Two last time out. Tom Bonner will face his former club who he joined from the Darts back in 2013, the defender made 13 appearances but injuries prevented the 29 year old from making a bigger impact. During Dartford’s stay in the National League they recorded a famous 2-1 victory at the Abbey Stadium in 2012. Tony Burman’s side remained unbeaten against the U’s during that two year period with three consecutive draws.

Bromley – Tuesday 25th July at Princes Park
Dartford’s penultimate friendly this summer will be against National League side Bromley. The Darts have enjoyed a decent record against their opponents winning five of the last six, including the Kent Senior Cup final six years ago. This time the Darts will be up against former winger Luke Wanadio, who had an excellent time in his only season at Princes Park scoring 13 goals last season. Tyrone Sterling is another former player now with Bromley, the full back signed in May from Dover Athletic. Neil Smith helped the club avoid second season syndrome in the National League by leading them to tenth last term, the club’s highest ever finish. The last meeting between the two sides came in an entertaining F.A Cup tie with Dartford winning 4-3 thanks to goals from Danny Harris, Ryan Hayes, Elliot Bradbrook and his brother Tom.

Thamesmead Town – Saturday 29th July at Princes Park
The Mead head South for their new campaign switching from the Isthmian Division One North to South. Over recent years Dartford have shared close ties with the club and will be landlord’s to Thamesmead Town this season in a groundshare agreement. During a three year period in the nineties the Darts met their tenants six times in the Kent League winning three, drawing two and losing once. Last summer Ben Francis scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 friendly victory versus the Mead, whilst in 2014 Andy Pugh netted the winner. Dartford also won 2-0 in 2011 and 2012 and 5-0 in a behind closed doors friendly in October 2010. Thamesmead Town did beat the Darts 3-2 nine years ago and 2-1 the year before that.

Dartford v Sutton United

Dartford have the chance to equal a club record, when they take on Sutton United in the F.A Cup first round this weekend.

Entering the cup tie on the back of nine consecutive wins, another victory will not only see the Darts in the hat for round two, it will also see the club match the ten game winning run last set in 1996. Despite their excellent form, Dartford will be slight underdogs against a Sutton United team who went up as National South champions last term.

The U’s in the division above have a proud history in the F.A Cup causing a famous upset 27 years ago by beating top flight former F.A Cup winners Coventry City. Both sides will believe this season’s first round tie is winnable but if history is anything to go by then it could well be a closely run contest.

Last season, during a period where both Dartford and Sutton United were still finding their feet, the two sides drew for the first time ever. Tom Bradbrook opened the scoring with a diving header, Micky Spillane levelled for the visitors before Tom Bradbrook put the Darts back in front, when Ross Worner’s clearance hit Bradbrook’s face. Jamie Collins scored a late equaliser in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Princes Park. The reverse fixture saw Sutton United outclass Dartford 2-0 as they marched on towards the National South title.

Dartford, unbeaten for two months in all competitions spanning 12 games last reached the F.A Cup second round just two years ago, the first time they achieved that feat since 1984. However reaching the top two flights has improved the Darts cup runs having made it to the first round four times in the last seven campaigns.

This term, Tony Burman’s side have been drawn away in all three of the previous qualifying rounds. Overcoming Chelmsford City and Slough Town 3-2, they then went on to defeat Tonbridge Angels 3-0 in what has been a tricky run to round one.

Sutton United have only needed to negotiate the fourth qualifying round, however they did beat National League leaders Forest Green Rovers 2-1 with a last minute winner from Roarie Deacon. The U’s came from behind at home, Ross Stearn scoring the equaliser.

The Surrey club, unbeaten in five have been far beater on their own 3G pitch then on their travels. In the National League they sit in a respectable thirteenth winning six out of nine at Gander Green Lane. Away from the Borough Sports Ground, the U’s have won just once and that was on the second weekend of the season.

Paul Doswell’s squad has tones of Eastleigh influences, his former club. Defender, Jamie Collins is amongst Sutton United’s top scorer this term, Dean Beckwith is a regular at the back whilst Dan Spence and Craig McAllister also played for the Spitfires.

Nicky Bailey is one of two former Football League players to watch, the former Charlton Athletic and Middlesbrough midfielder has scored five times this season and is the U’s playmaker. Signing a new contract extension last month along with Bailey, Kevin Amankwaah continues to impress for the Surrey club in defence.

Dartford and Sutton United have met in the F.A Cup once before back in 1978. The Darts ran out 2-0 winners and reached the first round.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 5 / Sutton United wins: 5 / Draws: 1

Current Form (all competitions)
Dartford (WWWWWW)
Won 1-0 v Oxford City (H) – National South
Won 1-0 v Bath City (A) – National South
Won 3-0 v Tonbridge Angels (A) – F.A Cup
Won 5-0 v Truro City (A) – National South
Won 2-1 v Cray Wanderers (A) – Kent Senior Cup
Won 3-2 v Slough Town (A) – F.A Cup

Sutton United (DDDWWL)
Drew 2-2 v York City (A) – National League
Drew 2-2 v Maidstone United (H) – National League
Drew 1-1 v Southport (A) – National League
Won 2-1 v Forest Green Rovers (H) – F.A Cup
Won 4-1 v Woking (H) – National League
Lost 1-3 v Dover Athletic (H) – National League

Last Six Meetings
Sutton United 2 Dartford 0 (23/01/2016 – National South)
Dartford 2 Sutton United 2 (15/08/2016 – National South)
Sutton United 0 Dartford 1 (14/04/2012 – National South)
Dartford 6 Sutton United 1 (20/03/2012 – National South)
Dartford 0 Sutton United 2 (06/02/2010 – Isthmian Premier)
Sutton United 0 Dartford 3 (22/09/2009 – Isthmian Premier)

Stats
4 – Dartford have gone four games without conceding a goal. The last time Dartford managed this feat was from 16 February 2008 to 1 March 2008 on the way to the Isthmian Premier League title.

5 – Elliot Bradbrook has scored in every round this season, netting two against Chelmsford City and Slough Town and once versus Tonbridge Angels.

11 – The Darts have scored in their last eleven consecutive games in all competitions.

On This Day
It’s been five years since the Darts played on Guy Fawkes Day when they beat Salisbury City in the National South. Dartford were behind after just 80 seconds but fought back to win 2-1. Jon Wallis scored from a free kick and Jacob Erskine won a header colliding with the on rushing goalkeeper Conor Gough who was stretchered off.  A decade ago, Dartford thrashed Aveley 5-1 in the Southern League Division One East. In 1994, the Darts had a mini striker crisis as Micky Collins left and replacements Ricky Bennett and Dean Bowey were cup tied. However, that didn’t put youngsters Nicky Knight and Darren Skey off, helping Dartford romp to a 6-2 Kent League Cup triumph over Greenwich  Borough.

Sutton United v Dartford

Dartford could climb above Sutton United this weekend if they can claim a victory at Gander Green Lane.

The two in form National South teams go head to head as third meets fourth in the league’s game of the day. The Darts, unbeaten in 11 league matches take on the U’s, unbeaten in seven. Another away win for Tony Burman’s side will make it five in a row on the road and take them a point ahead of their opponents.

During a period where both Dartford and Sutton United were still finding their feet, the two sides drew for the first time ever back in August. In the tenth meeting between the two clubs, Tom Bradbrook opened the scoring with a diving header from Ryan Hayes in-swinging free kick. Micky Spillane levelled for the visitors with a rasping volley ten minutes before the break. Tom Bradbrook put the darts back in front in the second half, his endeavour was rewarded when goalkeeper Ross Worner’s clearance hit the striker in the face rebounding into the net. Dartford were denied all three points with five minutes to go, Jamie Collins equalised for the U’s.

Earlier in the week Burman expressed the need for Dartford to keep picking up the points, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “The next two games are massively tough, two away games and we’ve got to hopefully get something from those two games. We know they’re going to be difficult but we’re moving in the right direction”.

Although the first of the two matches was postponed on Tuesday night, Sutton United will provide a stern test in a busy month. Burman commented: “It will be a real test for us to see how far we’ve come in a short space of time”, he added: “Sutton were one of the clubs tipped for the play-off positions at the start of the season and they’ve been on a similar run to what we’ve been on”, he continued: “They’ve got some experienced players and we know it’s going to be a tough game but these are the games you want to be involved in. We’re just behind Sutton and we’re looking forward to a very good game of football”.

One player Burman is keen to keep fit is in form striker Andy Pugh. The 26 year old has started just 14 times this season and is starting to find the back of the net more often. Pugh vows to keep himself fit rather than setting a goal target, but it was his two goals against Bath City that got the Darts on their way to a 4-1 victory last weekend. Ryan Hayes volleyed in a third before Bath City’s David Pratt grabbed what turned out to be a consolation for the visitors. Callum McNaughton added his name to the score sheet heading home a Barry Cogan corner, his first league goal in a Dartford shirt.

The Darts are aiming for their fifth away win in a row after beating  Chelmsford City, Whitehawk and Basingstoke Town 1-0 and Bishop’s Stortford 2-1. Lee Noble is hoping to be available for selection, however Lee Burns is still overcoming injury.

Sutton United are also in top form, last weekend the U’s impressive run continued in the cup when they battled past National League North side Curzon Aston. A first half Jamie Collins goal was enough to separate the sides and progress the Surrey club into the last 16 of the F.A Trophy. A few days before getting through the trophy tie, Sutton United also reached the quarter final of the Surrey Senior Cup beating Corinthian Casuals 3-1.

In their last National South fixture St Albans City were demolished 5-0 and during the seven match unbeaten run the U’s have scored 20, almost three goals a game and conceded just three.

Paul Doswell has been in charge since 2008 after a spell managing Eastleigh, a club he keeps in close contact with. The Sutton United boss is content with the players available and claims he gets to work with “a very tight knit squad, who for the last three months have improved and gelled as a unit”.

Doswell’s squad is full of Eastleigh influences and has plenty of Football League experience. Defenders, Dean Beckwith, Jamie Collins and Dan Spence have all represented the Spitfires as well as midfielder Dan Wishart, formerly of Alfreton Town. Stuart Fleetwood, ex Charlton Athletic and Craig McAllister former Crawley Town also played for the Hampshire club and have plenty of Football League experience.

Away from the Eastleigh connections, Sutton United have a valuable pair of strikers. Top scorer Dan Fitchett has good pedigree at this level having played for Salisbury City, and crowd favourite Craig Dundas is approaching a century of goals for the club and the 400 appearance mark.

Head to Head

Sutton United wins: 4 / Dartford wins: 5 / Draws 1

Current League Form

Sutton United (WWDWWW) Dartford (WDDWWW)
St Albans City  A  5-0 Bath City  H  4-1
Basingstoke Town  A  2-0 Chelmsford City  H  1-1
Maidenhead United  H  2-2 Margate  H  1-1
Hayes & Yeading Utd  A  3-1 Chelmsford City  A  1-0
Concord Rangers  A  3-0 Whitehawk  A  1-0
Havant & Waterlooville  A  3-0 Basingstoke Town  A  1-0

Last Meeting at Borough Sports Ground

14 April 2012 – Sutton United 0 Dartford 1 – attendance 756

Goalscorers: Tony Garrod (58)

Darts lineup – Louis Wells, Lee Burns, Adam Green, Tom Bonner, Luke Wilkinson, Lee Noble, Ryan Hayes, James Rogers, Jacob Erskine, Elliot Bradbrook, Tony Garrod (Subs used: Jack Pallen, Matthew Jones, Richard Graham)

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

15.08.2015 Dartford 2 Sutton United 2
14.04.2012 Sutton United 0 Dartford 1
20.03.2012 Dartford 6 Sutton United 1
06.02.2010 Dartford 0 Sutton United 2
22.09.2009 Sutton United 0 Dartford 3
04.04.2009 Sutton United 1 Dartford 0
15.11.2008 Dartford 2 Sutton United 3
25.10.1988+ Dartford 1 Sutton United 2
04.11.1978* Sutton United 0 Dartford 2
04.01.1978^ Dartford 2 Sutton United 0

Stats

4 – Dartford’s current run of four away wins in a row is the first time they have managed this feat since 2010. The Darts last recorded four consecutive league away victories between 18 March 2010 and 15 April 2010 when they beat Horsham 3-1, Kingstonian 6-2 which clinched the Isthmian Premier League title, Harrow Borough 1-0 then Waltham Abbey 4-0.

12 – If Dartford remain unbeaten then they will be without a loss for 12 games, the longest unbeaten run in this season’s National South.

Dartford have the fourth best away defence and take on Sutton United with the best home attack and second best home defence.

The Darts boast the biggest win in this fixture just under four years ago. On their way to promotion to the National League, Dartford won 6-1 with six different scorers. Lee Noble, Adam Green, Danny Harris, Luke Wilkinson, Elliot Bradbrook and Jacob Erskine all netted for the Darts that day.

On This Day

Dartford have not managed a win in their last six games on 23 January. Most recently in 2010, the Darts drew 1-1 against Carshalton Athletic thanks to a Jamie Coyle goal. In the a division lower, three years earlier Dartford lost 2-1 to Molesley in the Isthmian Division One South. Draws against Margate in 1999 and Yeovil Town in 1971 sandwiched defeats to Dorchester Town in 1988 and Worcester City in 1982. So you have to go back 51 years for the last win, back in the Southern Premier League against Tonbridge, the Darts claimed a 3-1 win.

Dartford v Sutton United

The Darts aim to keep a perfect home record going this weekend when they welcome Sutton United to Princes Park.

Dartford have fond memories of hosting the U’s from the last time the two sides met in the National South. A prolific afternoon in front of goal saw the Darts thrash Sutton United 6-1

Five of the players in today’s squad were involved that day with three getting on the score sheet. Goals from midfielder Lee Noble and an Adam Green penalty three minutes apart had Dartford two up. Sutton United’s Harry Beautyman pulled a goal back only for Danny Harris to score a third before the break.

Second half goals from Luke Wilkinson, Elliot Bradbrook and Jacob Erskine turned the match into a rout. Lee Burns and Ryan Hayes were also involved making substitute appearances.

Victory for Tony Burman’s side was the first at home against the U’s in 34 years. Another triumph will make it three in a row after beating the Surrey club twice just over three years ago.

On Tuesday night, Dartford made one change to the starting eleven that lost 1-0 to Hemel Hempstead Town on the opening day. Ryan Hayes replaced Danny Harris as the Darts hosted Eastbourne Borough, also looking for their first points.

The evening got off to a great start for the Darts, man of the match Jack Simmons crossed towards the near post where Tom Bradbrook nodded home with only six minutes on the clock. In the second half, Burman’s side showed encouraging signs and although another goal didn’t materialise the Darts beat Eastbourne Borough to kick start their campaign.

Simmons spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk after the game and said: “It’s been a good start, the most important thing is that we got the three points and are off the mark now. But it’s only one game so we’ll build again and get ready for the weekend”.

Sutton United, who have failed to win on the opening day since returning to the National South in 2011 continued their form last weekend. Up against Isthmian Premier league champions Maidstone United they were beaten 2-0 with the Stones goals coming from Joe Healy and Alex Akrofi.

Defeat was followed up with a win away to Havant and Waterlooville. Manager, Paul Doswell made two changes bringing in Dan Wishart and Matthew Spillane at the expense of Kevin Amankwaah and Ross Stearn.

The Surrey club made a breakthrough when Dan Fitchett scored after 37 minutes. In the second half, defender Simon Downer was substituted and Jamie Collins who replaced him put the visitors two ahead to seal the first three points of the season for his side.

Over the summer, the Sutton United boss has used his Eastleigh connections by signing Dean Beckwith, Dan Spence and the experienced Craig McAllister, all three made their first starts last weekend. Striker Stuart Fleetwood, another former Eastleigh player had to settle with coming off the bench which he repeated on Tuesday night. Midfielder, Glen Southam formerly of Dover Athletic was also part of the Eastleigh side who won the National South in 2014.

The Darts could have been facing former goalkeeper Jason Brown who had moved to the U’s in the summer, however the former Welsh international decided to pursue a coaching role leaving Doswell short. Ross Worner was eventually snapped up from AFC Wimbledon, who also made his début at home to Maidstone United.

Sutton United are likely to use crowd favourite Craig Dundas up front. The striker has made over 350 appearances for the Surrey side and is a crowd favourite having won eight end of season player awards during his time with the U’s.

Although the campaign has only just begun, both sides will be keen to add to the three points collected over the opening two fixtures.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 5 / Sutton United wins: 4 / Draws: 0

Last Meeting at Princes Park

20 March 2012 – Dartford 6 Sutton United 1 – Att: 1022

Goalscorer: Noble, Green (pen), Harris, Wilkinson, Bradbrook, Erskine; Beautyman

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

Previous Meetings (* F.A Cup / ^ F.A Trophy / + Club Call Cup)

14.04.2012 Sutton United 0 Dartford 1
20.03.2012 Dartford 6 Sutton United 1
06.02.2010 Dartford 0 Sutton United 2
22.09.2009 Sutton United 0 Dartford 3
04.04.2009 Sutton United 1 Dartford 0
15.11.2008 Dartford 2 Sutton United 3
25.10.1988+ Dartford 1 Sutton United 2
04.11.1978* Sutton United 0 Dartford 2
 14.01.1978^  Dartford  2  Sutton United 0

On This Day (since reforming)

Dartford 3 Horsham 2 – Six years ago Elliot Bradbrook made an immediate impact on his competitive début for the Darts. The midfielder scored a brace at Princes Park in a 3-2 victory against Horsham. On the opening day of the Isthmian Premier league 2009/10 season, Dartford had to come from behind to win. Horsham’s Russel Eldridge had the visitors ahead before Bradbrook took the game by the scruff of the neck. In ten second half minutes Bradbrook scored, won a penalty which captain Adam Flanagan netted, then gave the Darts a two goal cushion. At the end Pat Harding grabbed a consolation for Horsham but it was Dartford who triumphed.

National League South Season Preview 2015/2016 – Part Five

Sutton United | Truro City | Wealdstone | Weston-Super-Mare | Whitehawk

Sutton United

Founded: 1898 / Ground: Borough Sports Ground

A famous name in non league football thanks to a F.A Cup third round win, against holders Coventry City in 1989. Sutton United were a Conference Premier side back then but have spent most of their time in the Isthmian League. Joining the Conference South when non league was restructured, the club were relegated in 2007/08. The U’s spent just three season’s away winning the Isthmian Premier League after two playoff attempts, including a runner up spot behind Dartford. The Surrey club reached the playoffs twice in the Conference South in four seasons, but last term finished mid table.

SuttonunitedLast Season

Conference South: 15th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 3rd Round

League Top Scorer: Jessy Reindorf & Dan Fitchett (6 goals)

Average Attendance: 548

The Manager – Paul Doswell

Making his name at Eastleigh, Paul Doswell led the Hampshire club through three consecutive promotions to take the Spitfires from the Wessex League to the Conference South. Doswell had an immediate impact at Eastleigh, appointed in 2002 he won the Wessex League title in the same year. Two playoff triumphs followed and the first season in the Conference South his side finished a creditable eighth. Leaving Eastliegh in 2006 it wasn’t until two years later he joined Sutton United. Success has continued with two playoff appearances in the Isthmian Premier League before winning the league title. In the Conference South Doswell has made a further two playoff appearances and came runners up against his old side Eastleigh in 2013/14.

The Summer

Connections with Eastleigh remain sound for Paul Doswell by signing a trio of players. Dean Beckwith, Dan Spence and the experienced Craig McAllister move from the Silverlake Stadium to the Borough Sports Ground. Striker Stuart Fleetwood, another former Eastleigh player will provide goals and has had spells with Forest Green Rovers, Luton Town and Hereford United. Last season’s goalkeeper for the Darts, Jason Brown had joined but left without playing a match to concentrate on coaching. That meant Doswell had to search for a goalkeeper again finding AFC Wimbledon’s Ross Worner. Tom Bolarinwa comes in from Cray Wanderers and Ross Stearn from Bath City.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

14 April 2012 – Sutton United 0 Dartford 1 – view highlights

Dartford may have taken all three points but results elsewhere meant they couldn’t catch Woking at the top of the table. A counter attacking move starting from the Darts own half ended with Tony Garrod scoring the winner.

20 March 2012 – Dartford 6 Sutton United 1 – view highlights

One of Dartford’s finest performances since Princes Park opened. The Darts thrashed eventual runners up Sutton United in some style. Lee Noble and an Adam Green penalty three minutes apart had the hosts two up. Harry Beautyman pulled a goal back then Dartford raced away. Danny Harris before the break, Luke Wilkinson, Elliot Bradbrook and Jacob Erskine turned the match into a rout.

Next Meetings

Saturday 15 August 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 23 January 2016 at Borough Sports Ground

Last Ten Yearssufc last 10 years

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Truro City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Treyew Road

If ever there is example of how a chairman can influence a club then Truro City fall in to that category. An F.A Vase triumph nine years ago and promotion the same season was only the start. Three consecutive league titles moved the Cornwall club through the regional divisions into the Southern Premier. After only two attempts the Southern Premier League was won and then wheels began to fall off. A winding up petition in August 2011 caused uncertainty and chairman Kevin Heaney stepped down. The club were relegated back to the Southern League in 2012/13, however they have enjoyed a swift return winning the playoffs in May.

Truro-city-football-clubLast Season

Southern Premier: 3rd

F.A Cup: 1st Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Did not enter

League Top Scorer: Craig Duff (18 goals)

Average Attendance: 417

The Manager – Steve Tully

At just 35 years old Steve Tully is one of the youngest managers in this season’s National South. The former full back spent his playing days in the West Country representing Torquay United, Weymouth and Exeter City making over 100 appearances for each club. He joined Truro City as a player in 2013 and in March 2014 became player manager. In his first role as boss Steve Tully guided Truro City back to the National League South with a playoff triumph over St Neots Town.

The Summer

It’s been quiet at Treyew Road with only three signings being made. Martin Rice makes the short journey across the Devon/Cornwall border moving from Torquay United, the goalkeeper returns to the club after spending three years at Truro City. Midfielder, Aaron Dawson has limited experience at Exeter City and Torquay United, the 23 year old can also play in defence. On loan left back Conor Riley-Lowe will be at Treyew Road for at least the next six months.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

28 April 2012 – Truro City 1 Dartford 1
With a playoff spot secured the final match of the season played out evens. Dartford fans made their way across the country to enjoy a celebratory weekend. Former Premier League striker Barry Hayles scored for Truro City with three minutes left. Dartford’s Jacob Erskine equalised with virtually the last kick of the game.

22 October 2011 – Dartford 1 Truro City 2 – view highlights
Truro City took full advantage of slack defending, Adam Green and Andrew Young got things mixed up leaving Andrew Watkins to tap in for the visitors. A couple of minutes later Paul Goodacre scored an own goal giving the Cornishmen a two goal lead. Tom Bonner halved the deficit after Truro City were reduced to ten men.

Next Meetings

Saturday 19 September 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 13 February 2016 at Treyew Road

Last Ten Yearstcfc last 10 years

 

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Wealdstone

Founded: 1899 / Ground: The Vale Stadium

It may have taken a while but Wealdstone have returned to the level they were at in the late eighties. Whether they can return to the heights of the early eighties is another matter, the Middlesex club won the Alliance Premier League and F.A Trophy double but were relegated from the Conference in 1988. The Stones sunk as far down as Isthmian Division Three before their current manager was appointed. Since then four promotions in twenty years, including the most recent Isthmian Premier League title in 2013/14, has seen Wealdstone get back to the second tier of non league. Three years ago they embarked on a F.A Trophy run to reach the last four and last season finished a creditable twelfth in the Conference South.

wealdstoneLast Season

Conference South: 12th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Jefferson Louis, Scott McGleish and Matt Ball (8 goals)

Average Attendance: 720

The Manager – Gordon Bartlett

By far the longest serving manager in this season’s National South, Gordon Bartlett has been in charge of Wealdstone since 1995 and involved in non league coaching for 25 years. At Southall and Yeading before he joined the Stones he guided both clubs to Wembley reaching F.A Vase finals. Since taking over at the Middlesex club he has won four promotions, including the Isthmian Division Three and Premier titles, seventeen years apart. The school teacher also had a playing career with Portsmouth, Denver Dynamos in the United States of America, Brentford, Slough Town and Hayes.

The Summer

Budget plays a part any any level and Wealdstone have had to look at divisions below the National South over the summer. With the exception Ryan Hope who won promotion with Boreham Wood, each signing has come from the National South or lower. Dale Binns has plenty of experience at this level having played for **********, he joins from Sutton United. Tom Cadmore missed out on promotion at Whitehawk last term and he also moves to the Stones. From the Isthmian and Southern Leagues comes in Bradley Hudson-Odoi from Metropolitan Police, Josh Urquhart from Harlow Town and Josh Hutchinson from Potters Bar Town, Oliver Duffy has arrived from Hanwell Town.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

21 February 2012 – Wealdstone 1 Dartford 0

An upset was caused a week later as Wealdstone’s Lee Chappell scored the decisive goal to take the Stones to the next round. The Isthmian Premier leaguers held on to defeat the Darts, a division higher, and went on to reach the last four in an excellent trophy run.

14 February 2012 – Dartford 2 Wealdstone 2 – view highlights

An entertaining F.A Trophy third round tie ended with the Wealdstone levelling twice. Danny Harris scored first before Richard Jolly equalised. Lee Noble had the Darts ahead once more until Chris O’Leary forced a replay ten minutes from time.

Next Meetings

Saturday 3 October 2015 at the Vale Stadium

Tuesday 26 January 2016 at Princes Park

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Weston-Super-Mare

Founded: 1887 / Ground: Woodspring Stadium

The Somerset club boast a proud record in that they have never been relegated in their 128 year history. Weston-Super-Mare did however come close on three occasions when reprieves saved the club in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Over the last five years the Seagulls have improved into a mid-table side and three season’s ago they recorded their highest ever league finish, two places outside of the Conference South playoffs. The forthcoming season will be Weston -Super-Mare’s twelfth consecutive in the National League South and that comes after twelve campaigns in the Southern League.

Weston-super-Mare_AFC_logoLast Season

Conference South: 17th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: Dayle Grubb (11 goals)

Average Attendance: 287

The Manager – Ryan Northmore

A career change was forced upon Ryan Northmore when a number of knee operations led to coaching. The former goalkeeper made over 200 appearances for the Seagulls and won Player of the Year three seasons in a row. As a player he turned out for Torquay United before making his way in non league football. Spells at Team Bath, Woking and Dorchester Town before returning to Weston-Super-Mare as boss, he officially retired from playing just three years ago. Northmore has been heavily involved in  working with Weston-Super-Mare’s academy side and in November 2014 was named caretaker manager. The 34 year old impressed enough last term to make the vacant managers job his own.

The Summer

Returning to Weston-Super-Mare for a third spell is 25 year old Tristan Plummer. The winger was unable to hold a first team place whilst at Bristol City, Hereford United and Aldershot Town. Two other signings come from Southern Premier League side Paulton Rovers, Danny Wring is added to the midfield and Scott Wilson could provide goals up front. Joe McClennan returns to Weston-Super-Mare after leaving the club previously for Bath City.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

12 November 2011 – Dartford 1 Weston-Super-Mare 1 – view highlights
Even with a man advanatge Dartford failed to capitalise. The visitors left when Matt Villis got on the end of a goal mouth scramble.  Adam Green made the game all square with a well driven shot. James Price was red carded with just under twenty minutes remaining.

13 August 2011 – Weston-Super-Mare 0  Dartford 4 – view highlights

The campaign couldn’t get off to a better start for the Darts. An away trip West and Charlie Sheringham’s brace put three points on the board. Elliot Bradbrook and Tom Bonner had earlier put Dartford two goals to the good.

Next Meetings

Saturday 12 September 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 5 March 2016 at Woodspring Stadium

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Whitehawk

Founded: 1945 / Ground:Enclosed Ground

Only five years ago Whithawk were playing in the Sussex League where they had been throughout their history. Finally winning the title in 2009/10, the club excelled at a rapid rate. A playoff defeat in their début Isthmian Division One South was soon forgotten when they won the championship the following campaign. A consecutive title followed moving Whitehawk out of the Isthmian Premier League to the Conference South. The Sussex club survived their first term finishing nineteenth, six points from safety. Last season the Hawks reached the playoff final with a fourth place finish losing out to Boreham Wood, the clubs best ever league performance.

Whitehawk_F.C._logoLast Season

Conference South: 4th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Danny Mills (18 goals)

Average Attendance: 258

The Manager – Steve King

In the space of just five years, Steve King took Lewes from Isthmian League Division One South to the Football Conference with three titles and that was just the beginning of his managerial career. At this level he has finished in each of the top four positions and in the league below added a further title with Farnborough. Another spell at Lewes was followed by leading Macclesfield Town in the Confereence Premier, who he took to the F.A Cup fourth round bowing out to eventual winners Wigan Athletic. In February 2014, he retunred to management and was denied another promotion this time with Whitehawk losing the playoff final to Boreham Wood.

The Summer

Steve King possesses enough confidence in his squad which very nearly gained promotion to the National League. Rather than bringing in new blood, King has concentrated on securing players in last years squad. Paul Lorraine, who joined Dartford briefly before the Darts were reprieved will be part of the Whitehawk defence. In midfield Sergio Torres brings his experiences with Wycombe Wanderers, Peterborough United and Crawley Town. Last season’s top goalscorer Danny Mills remains at the Enclosed Ground and will be looking to add to the 18 he scored last term.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

4 September 1982 – Dartford 5 Whitehawk 2

Carl Laraman scored a hat trick and was the star of this F.A Cup preliminary round fixture. The Darts went on to win comfortably against the Sussex club representing their regional division. Dartford were spending their first campaign back in the Southern Premier following relegation from the Alliance Premier League the season before.

Next Meetings

Saturday 19 December 2015 at Enclosed Ground

Saturday 12 March 2016 at Princes Park

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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


Sutton United v Dartford

Dartford travel to Gander Green Lane on Saturday and hope to move a step closer to securing a top two finish and complete a double over Sutton United.

The Darts sit in second place seven points behind leaders Woking with only three games to go. Mathematically the title is not yet over, however a win for Woking on Saturday will end all hopes. To secure second spot Dartford have a six point cushion and one more win from the final three matches should be enough, The Darts have a 17 goal advantage over third place Welling United.

Noble celebrates his delightful goal against Sutton United

Just under a month ago Dartford emphatically beat Sutton United in an incredible 6-1 victory. Lee Noble opened the scoring at Princes Park when he chipped goalkeeper Kevin Scriven. Four minutes later Adam Green scored a penalty  to double the lead and Harry Beautyman pulled a goal back with a well taken header on the half hour mark.

In the second half Dartford stunned their opponents which started off with Danny Harris’ diving header. Luke Wilkinson powered in another header and Elliot Bradbrook made it 5-1 with an effort from 25 yards. Jacob Erskine became the sixth different scorer for The Darts to earn a tremendous result.

Over the Easter period The Darts were held 0-0 at home to Chelmsford City before recording their 24th league win of the season on Easter Monday. What made Dartford’s win more pleasing was the 2-1 triumph away at Bromley was thier first at Hayes Lane in the league since 1975.

Danny Harris netted his 15th league of the season by capitalising on Moses Swaibu’s slip. Harris ran thorugh on goal and calmly side footed beyond goalkeeper Joe Welch to give The Darts the lead on 22 minutes. Four minutes later Lee Noble delivered a delicious free kick which Luke Wilkinson headed home for his fourth goal in Dartford colours. The game could have been put to bed before Michael Malcolm scored a free kick for Bromley with 13 minutes to go. Tony Burmen’s men weathered the Bromley pressure to hold on to a victory.

The U’s should be a tougher prospect on their home patch having gone unbeaten in the Isthmian Premier League last season and lost just twice in the Conference South during 2011/2012.

Sutton United almost confirmed a playoff place of their own on Saturday with a win over Dover Athletic. The 2-0 triumph at The Crabble increased their lead over The Whites to ten points meaning they cannot drop out the top five, unless Basingstoke Town win all five of their remaining fixtures. First half goals from Tony Taggart and Craig Watkins earned the U’s their eleventh home win of the season.

Paul Doswell’s side have had an excellent first season in the Conference South and their only loss in the last 13 matches was against Dartford. The U’s have occupied a playoff position since mid September and reached the second round of the F.A Cup

Team News

Jon Wallis has a fractured bone on his ankle, Richard Graham is expected to be available next weekend. Deren Ibrahim is out with a dislocated shoulder for the rest of the season. Danny Harris will be suspended for his sending off against Maidenhead United.

Sutton United will be missing Simon Downer through suspension for his red card against Hampton and Richmond. Lewis Hunt is currently out injured so Paul Doswell has recalled Osa Obamwonyi from his loan spell at Bognor Regis Town.

Statistics (league only)

Sutton United (4th) v Dartford (2nd)

Current Form

Last five Suton United matches at home Last five Dartford matches away
Drew 1-1 v Bromley Won 2-1 v Bromley
Won 3-2 v Chelmsford City Won 1-0 v Eastbourne Borough
Drew 1-1 v Eastbourne Borough Lost 0-1 v Dorchester Town
Won 2-0 v Havant and Waterlooville Drew 1-1 v Maidenhead United
Won 3-2 v Weston Super-Mare Won 1-0 v Tonbridge Angels

Attendances

Sutton United average home attendance: 652

Highest home attendance: 1332 v Maidenhead United/ Lowest: 357 v Eastleigh

Dartford average away attendance: 857

Highest away attendance: 2528 v Woking / Lowest: 355 v Maidenhead United

Did you know…

Only Woking have lost fewer games than Dartford and Sutton United. The Darts and The U’s have only lost six times each in the Conferrence South this season

Whoever wins on Saturday will boast the best record against the other teams in the playoffs, a draw will mean Sutton United maintain a better record over Dartford

Team Pld W D L F A PTS GD
Sutton United 5 3 1 1 11 13 10 -2
Dartford 5 2 3 0 8 2 9 +6
Welling United 6 1 3 2 7 8 6 -1
Chelmsford City 6 0 3 3 6 9 3 -3

 

Dartford v Sutton United

Dartford were back to winning ways on Saturday and hope to keep the momentum going at home against Sutton United on Tuesday night.

Winter weather disturbed the fixture last month and so it will be take two this time round. The Darts have found the Surrey club a difficult proposition over the two seasons spent in the Isthmian Premier League losing three of the last four meetings between the sides.

Dartford last met Sutton United at Princes Park two years ago on their way to the Isthmian Premier League title. Approaching half time James Norwood gave the visitors a lead by sticking a low shot beyond Andrew Young. With 11 minutes remaining Sam Gargan made sure the away side went home with all three points. Despite defeat Dartford went on to win the league ahead of The U’s by a staggering 18 points.

Danny Dafter craftily flicks in an attempt from a Ryan Hayes corner

In November 2008 the visitors triumphed again in an entertaining five goal affair. David Hughes scored Sutton’s first and The U’s went into the break two up thanks to Chukki Eribenne’s turn and shot. The Darts started the second half well and pulled a goal back from a Danny Dafter flick at the near post. Sutton won a controversial penalty even though the foul took place outside the box, nonetheless Eribenne converted the spot kick to score the eventual winner. Rob Haworth nodded a consolation late on as The U’s ended up 3-2 winners.

Dartford did their bit on the weekend by defeating Havant and Waterlooville 3-1 at Princes Park. With Woking winning as well The Darts have kept within eight points of the league leaders and have a game in hand. The victory also helped Tony Burman’s team look more likely to cement a playoff position as they have a 15 point cushion going into the last nine games.

However it wasn’t all plain sailing against The Hawks when the visitors took an early lead. Sam Pearce neatly finished a move that started from a corner in the eighth minute. To make matters worse the away side broke from goalkeeper Dan Thomas to win a penalty at the other end. Scott Jones got the better of Tom Bonner to give The Hawks the opportunity to double the advantage. Luckily Steve Ramsey failed to take his chance just after 15 minutes and blasted the spot kick over Louis Wells goal.

Mid way through the first half The Darts were back on level terms with a flowing move that started with Jon Wallis in midfield. Wallis kept possession releasing Danny Harris who found Jacob Erskine. The striker put in a low cross and Lee Noble was on the end of a well worked equaliser.

Luke Wilkinson powers in a header for his first ever Dartford goal

It wasn’t until the final ten minutes of the league encounter that Dartford could think about the three points. Ryan Hayes made an impression having come off the subs bench, his toe poked cross was flicked towards goal by fellow substitute Tony Garrod but Harris got the final touch from close range. With three minutes remaining the games was settled by defender Luke Wilkinson, the loanee from Dagenham and Redbridge towered above everyone to head home a Hayes corner for his first goal in a Darts shirt.

The Darts have yet to face Sutton this season who have made great progress in both league and cup. The U’s suffered a baptism of fire in their opening fixture of the season with a crushing 5-0 defeat at home to Woking. Undeterred by their loss they put an excellent run together.

Sutton United entered the playoffs on 10 September 2011 and have not dropped out since. A run of one defeat in fourteen after the opening game has helped Paul Doswell’s side accumulate enough points to maintain in a top five position. So far the Surrey club have adapted well to the Conference South. To add to the early season successes they have also excelled in this years F.A Cup reaching the second round. The U’s knocked out Conference Premier side Kettering Town before bowing out to League One club Notts County.

The U’s are in outstanding form having been beaten in the league just once in 16 matches. A tough side to beat on the road they are making good use of their home fixtures. Winning just twice in their last eight away fixtures from Gander Green Lane they have drawn four and have kept successive clean sheets in their last two games on their travels.

On the weekend they completed the double over playoff rivals Chelmsford City winning 3-2 against The Clarets for the second time this season. Craig Dundas opened the scoring after just 36 seconds which was cancelled out by Chelmsford’s Warren Whitely. Craig Watkins missed a penalty for Sutton and so former Southampton midfielder Paul Telfer took the next spot kick to give The U’s a 2-1 lead. Leroy Griffiths netted a third before a consolation goal was scored by Dave Rainford.

Manager Paul Doswell has had a successful first term in the Conference South with Sutton United. The Isthmian Premier League champions last season are aided by striker Craig Watkins who has scored 13 Conference South goals this season and midfielder Harry Beautyman who has netted ten times in the league.

It should be a tough match for The Darts considering recent form against The U’s. Between the two clubs only two league defeats have been suffered in 2012.

Team News

Tom Bonner will make his 100th Dartford start if he is selected by Tony Burman on Tuesday night. Signed from Ilkeston Town in the summer of 2010 the defender has scored eight goals for The Darts.

James Rogers will be available after serving his three match ban for his red card in the F.A Trophy replay at Wealdstone. Elliot Bradbrook is still waiting to play a full ninety minutes since returning from injury and Richard Graham will be out for approximately two more weeks with minor ligament damage.

Sutton United’s new signing Craig Braham-Barrett from Havant and Waterlooville is suspended after his sending off on 6 March 2012 against his former club.

Statistics (league only)

Dartford (2nd) v Sutton United (4th)

Current Form

Last five Dartford matches at home Last five Sutton United matches away
Won 3-1 v Havant and Waterlooville Drew 0-0 v Eastbourne Borough
Won 3-0  v Farnborough Won 1-0 v Thurrock
Won 4-1 v Basingstoke Town Lost 0-4 v Eastleigh
Won 2-0 v Salisbury City Drew 1-1 v Maidenhead United
Won 6-0 v Thurrock Won 3-2 v Chelmsford City

Attendances

Dartford average home attendance: 1244

Highest home attendance: 2559 v Welling United/ Lowest: 783 v Basingstoke Town

Sutton United average away attendance: 643

Highest away attendance: 1730 v Woking / Lowest: 232 v Boreham Wood

Did you know…

The Darts equalled their longest winning league streak at Princes Park this season with Saturday’s victory. Dartford have now won six in a row at home in the Conference South. The record has not been matched or bettered by any other team in the 2011/2012 campaign.

Dartford have conceded just two goals in their last six home league games.

When it comes to scoring goals in the last fifteen minutes only Tonbridge Angels have scored more than Dartford and Sutton United. The Darts have scored 19 times in the last fifteen minutes and The U’s have netted 18.

 


Dartford v Sutton United

This weekend hopefully sees the visit of newly promoted and playoff contenders Sutton United at Princes Park.

Winter weather has disturbed Dartford’s schedule over the last fortnight with a number of postponements so staff, players and fans will be desperate for this game to go ahead.

Princes Park suffers wintry conditions

Dartford aim to make it eight straight wins in all competitions and maintain their one hundred percent start to 2012. The leagues top scorers have had plenty of rest since their extra time Kent Senior Cup triumph at Tonbridge Angels on the final day of last month.

Facing Sutton United should be a tough task for Tony Burman’s team. Over the two seasons in the Isthmian Premier League, The Darts have won once to Sutton United’s three triumphs.

The Darts last met Sutton United at Princes Park two years ago on their way to the Isthmian Premier League title. James Norwood gave the visitors a lead approaching half time sticking a low shot beyond Andrew Young. With eleven minutes remaining Sam Gargan made sure the away side went home with all three points. Despite defeat Dartford went on to win the league ahead of The U’s by a staggering eighteen points.

In November 2008 the visitors triumphed again in an entertaining five goal affair. David Hughes scored Sutton’s first and The U’s went into the break two up thanks to Chukki Eribenne’s turn and shot. The Darts started the second half well and pulled a goal back from a Danny Dafter flick at the near post. Sutton won a controversial penalty even though the foul took place outside the box, nonetheless Eribenne converted the spot kick to score the eventual winner. Rob Haworth nodded a consolation late on as The U’s ended up 3-2 winners.

The Darts have yet to face the Surrey side who have made great progress this season in both league and cup. The U’s suffered a baptism of fire in their opening fixture of the season with a crushing 5-0 defeat at home to Woking. Undeterred by their loss they put an excellent run together.

Danny Dafter craftily flicks in an attempt from a Ryan Hayes corner

Sutton United entered the playoffs on 10 September 2011 and have not dropped out since. A run of one defeat in fourteen after the opening game has helped Paul Doswell’s side accumulate enough points to maintain in a top five position. Over the last three months wins have turned to draws. Although the Isthmian League Champions have tasted defeat on only three more occasions they have only picked up two victories in their last eleven league matches.

So far the Surrey club have adapted well to the Conference South. To add to the early season successes they have also excelled in this years F.A Cup reaching the second round. The U’s knocked out Conference Premier side Kettering Town before bowing out to League One club Notts County.

Recently Sutton’s away form has been mixed, they have drawn with mid table sides Dorchester Town, Boreham Wood and Maidenhead United, defeated Chelmsford City  3-2 in an entertaining match and lost heavily to Eastleigh and Woking.

Paul Doswell strengthened the squad earlier this month by signing former Dagenham and Redbridge captain Anwar Uddin. In September he captured Joel Ledgister who impressed at Hampton and Richmond. Ledgister scored four league goals for The Beavers and added another two in the Conference South whilst with The U’s.

He can also rely on striker Craig Watkins who has scored 12 Conference South goals this season and his midfielder Harry Beautyman who has netted seven times in the leaue. Doswell raided one of his former clubs in the summer by capturing Anthony Riviere who scored for Eastleigh against Dartford last season and Tony Taggart who also joined Sutton United from The Spitfires.

Statistics (league only)

Dartford (2nd) v Sutton United (5th)

Current Form

Last five Dartford matches at home Last five Sutton United matches away
Won 6-0 v Thurrock Lost 0-4 v Eastleigh
Won 1-0  v Welling United Drew 1-1 v Maidenhead United
Drew 1-1 v Dorchester Town Won 3-2 v Chelmsford City
Lost 2-3 v Woking Drew 1-1 v Boreham Wood
Won 3-1 v Dover Athletic Lost 1-4 v Woking

Attendances

Dartford average home attendance: 1304 (2nd)

Highest home attendance: 2559 v Welling United/ Lowest: 924 v Dorchester Town

Thurrock average away attendance: 657 (9th)

Highest away attendance: 1730 v Woking / Lowest: 232v Boreham Wood

Did you know…

Dartford’s win against Thurrock secured their best winning league sequence since competing in the Conference South

In 2012, The Darts league record is won 5, drawn 0, lost 0, scored 18, conceded 3

Sutton United have the fourth best away record in the league, Dartford have the third best

The U’s are only one of three teams to have kept three consecutive clean sheets away from home, the other two teams are Boreham Wood and Dorchester Town