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Dartford v Tamworth

Dartford will need the crowd to be full of support against Tamworth to help the club avoid relegation in their last home game of the season.

The Darts are hoping to secure Conference Premier football next campaign and will not want to follow in the footsteps of their visitors. Relegated Tamworth will be dropping down a step to the Conference North returning to the division they won five years ago.  A rare double is on the cards if Dartford win after they beat their visitors 2-0 back in August with goals from Danny Harris and Kenny Clark.

A year prior, back in August 2012, the Darts started their recent Conference Premier adventures with a home defeat against the Lambs. On the opening day of the season the Staffordshire club spoiled the party thanks to Adam Cunnington’s brace. Peter Till was on target just before half an hour and Cunnington gave the visitors a two goal advantage. On the stroke of half time Elliot Bradbrook’s free kick gave Dartford their first Conference Premier goal in 26 years. Cunnington extended the Lambs lead with fifteen minutes to go and Harry Crawford scored what turned out to be a mere consolation.

After last season’s eighth place finish, the Darts have had a tougher campaign enduring a club record equalling ten straight league defeats. With a few loan signings results picked up, including a run of three consecutive wins, and slowly the gap to safety was closing until Dartford picked up just one point in nine against their relegation rivals. A last gasp draw versus Aldershot Town was followed by losses against Southport and Chester.

Spirited displays over the next six matches pulled Dartford within a point of safety. For a few moments last weekend they were out of the bottom four but a later Danny Wright strike for Forest Green Rovers put the Darts back in. Prior yet another crucial fixture Tony Burman urged the fans to get behind the team to give his side precious support. On Good Friday, a defeat at Braintree Town has left the club perilously close to Conference South football next term.

Tamworth’s 2-0 away defeat on Saturday, their tenth in a row on the road confirmed relegation to the second tier of non league football. On Friday, the Staffordshire club beat fellow struggler’s Hereford United helping Dartford’s cause.

The Lambs have struggled since the turn of the year which saw Marcus Law lose his job. Dale Belford has stepped in once more, the goalkeeper has played in every Conference Premier match for Tamworth and temporarily managed the club in 2011.

The Lambs, like last season have used the most players in the league surpassing 40 but two of those will be familiar to the Darts. Matthew Godden is currently on loan and has scored five times in ten games up to 12 April. The 22 year old striker netted five in nine for Dartford. It was hoped that Godden, on loan from Scunthrope United could score the goals to help the Lambs. Experienced strikers such as Justin Richards, Nick Chadwick and Darren Byfield have not worked out as well as they had hoped, the trio notching just seven goals between them.

Jack Evans has been a regular in the Tamworth starting eleven making 34 league appearances before the Easter fixtures, the 21 year old featured on loan at Princes Park last season scoring two league goals for the Darts in 15 appearances.

Up to Saturday, Tamworth were the lowest scorers in the Conference Premier with bottom club Hyde. On the road the Lambs have lost ten in a row, in that spell they have twice gone four games without scoring. Another blank against Southport means the Staffordshire club have failed to score in 22 of their 43 league matches, the most blanks by any club this season.

Selected Fixtures

Woking v Aldershot Town
Cambridge United v Chester
Hereford United v Alfreton Town
Southport v FC Halifax Town

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Tamworth wins: 2 / Draws: 0

Current Form

Dartford (LLWDLW) Tamworth (WLLLDL)
Braintree Town H 0-1 Hereford United H 1-0
Forest Green Rovers H 0-1 Southport A 0-2
Grimsby Town H 1-0 Luton Town A 0-2
Lincoln City A 0-0 Gateshead A 0-5
Luton Town H 1-2 Lincoln City H 0-0
Macclesfield Town H 2-1 Chester A 0-2

Last League Meeting At Princes Park

6 November 2012 – Dartford 2 Tamworth 3 – Att: 915

Goalscorers: Till (27), Cunnington (40), Bradbrook (45), Cunnington (76), Crawford (79)

The Darts Lineup: Wells, Burns, Bonner, Arber, Green, Noble, Bradbrook, Champion, Rogers, Harris, Erskine(subs used: Hayes, Wallis, Crawford)

The Lambs Lineup: Breedon, Tait, Oji, Marshall, Barrow, Kelly, Till, Kerry, Marna, Wright, Cunnington (subs used: Gudger, Liabo)

Match Stats

dfc v tfc stats

Previous Meetings

26.12.2013 Tamworth 0 Dartford 2
01.12.2013 Tamworth 3 Dartford 2
11.08.2012 Dartford 2 Tamworth 3

 

Tamworth v Dartford

Dartford will wish for their goal drought to end on Bank Holiday Monday as they seek victory against Tamworth at the Lamb Ground.

When the Darts visited the Lambs in December they suffered a second defeat to their opposition. The home side repeated the opening day scoreline edging out Tony Burman’s men by a single goal in five.

On loan defender Semi Ajayi put the Darts in front with a header on his debut but the tide turned when Tom Bonner was sent off for deliberate handball, Tamworth’s Scott Barrow scored from the resulting penalty. With twenty minutes remaining Danny Harris scored to put the side with ten men ahead. The lead lasted until the final five minutes, Barrow netting his second penalty which Burman felt was ‘a bit harsh’. Tamworth took the lead for the first time that afternoon when the now retired ex Premier League midfielder Lee Hendrie scored the winner two minutes from time.

Adam Birchall remains the only player to have netted for the Darts this season in the opening day victory against Alfreton Town. Yet again Burman’s side failed to breach the opposition defence on the weekend going down to a 2-0 home defeat versus Braintree Town. The loss is Dartford’s third in succession, a run similar to the start they made last term. Alan Massey gave the Iron a second half lead with a header and former Ebbsfleet United striker Liam Enveer-Marum finished the Darts off in the final minute.

Like Dartford, the Lambs lost two players to Cambridge United in the summer. The most influential was Adam Cunnington who scored 21 league goals for the Staffordshire club last term, netting a brace against the Darts in last season’s opener. The 25 year old striker teams up with former Darts, Tom Bonner and Tom Champion.

The Lambs replacement for Cunnington is experienced striker Justin Richards, the new number nine has started three matches but has yet to open his account in front of goal. The 32 year old was part of the Port Vale side that knocked Dartford out of the F.A Cup first round after a replay in November 2010. More experience has been brought to the Lamb Ground with the signings of former Northern Ireland international Tony Capaldi and defender Wayne Thomas.

Another familiar face will be Jack Evans who often came off the substitute bench for the Darts, the defender spent a loan spell at Princes Park last campaign scoring twice in 15 appearances as a midfielder. The former Gillingham youngster was signed by Dale Belford to replace Tait and has so far played all four matches under the Lambs boss.

In their opening four games Tamworth have picked up two more points than the Darts remaining unbeaten at home thanks to two draws. The season started with a 1-0 away victory over newly promoted Salisbury City, Wayne Thomas scoring the winner in the first half. A goalless draw followed at home to Barnet and a creditable 2-2 stalemate versus Wrexham, Jake Jones gave Tamworth the lead and Darren Byfield scored a late equaliser. On Saturday, the Lambs travelled to Hereford United and were beaten by a solitary goal which saw Duane Courtney red carded.

Team News

Dartford were back to full strength on Saturday, Tyrone Sterling made his debut and Ryan Hayes returned to action.

Last Meeting at The Lamb Ground

1 December 2012 –  Tamworth 3 Dartford 2 – Att: 832

Goalscorers: Ajayi (16), Barrow (56 pen), Harris (70), Barrow (85 pen), Hendrie (88)

The Lambs Lineup: Severn, Tait, Courtney, Oji, Taylor, Kelly, Baldock, Kerry, Barrow, Moke, Cunnington (subs used: Till, Wright, Hendrie)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Burns, Ajayi, Bonner, Rose, Champion, Bradbrook, Hayes, Noble, Harris, Erskine (subs used: Rogers, Crawford, Collier)

Match Stats

tamworth v dartford stats
Stats

3 – The percentage of shots that have turned into goals for Dartford, the lowest ratio in this season’s Conference Premier

29 – Corners won by Tamworth in the first four matches, more than any other side this campaign

318 – Minutes since Dartford’s last league goal

The last time Dartford went three league games without a goal was five years ago during their first Isthmian Premier League season. The barren spell lasted from 16 August 2008 to 23 August 2013 and was broken on Bank Holiday Monday which resulted in a win.

Tamworth v Dartford

 

In the first of the return fixtures Dartford travel to The Lamb Ground on Saturday and hope to avenge their opening day loss to Tamworth.

Adam Cunnington stole the show for Tamworth back in August claiming the crucial goals to inflict defeat on the Darts. Former Fleetwood Town midfielder, Peter Till opened the scoring for the visitors and Cunnington doubled the lead. On the stroke of half time Elliot Bradbrook neatly tucked away a free kick to lift Princes Park’s hopes. Cunnington hit a super strike in the second half with fifteen minutes remaining, the strikers second was enough to seal an away win despite Harry Crawford’s début goal.

It was a harsh lesson for Tony Burman after the clubs first Conference National fixture in 26 years but he was pleased with what he witnessed, he told PURE DFC on the opening day: “We’ve played pretty well – I’m disappointed we’ve not got all three points to be honest. We’ve made three mistakes on the goals, and we’ve been punished”.

Elliot Bradbrook's free kick beats Tony Breedon in the Tamworth goal www.photodivauk.wordpress.com

Fortunes have since changed with Dartford rising to fifth in the table even though they lost their opening three fixtures. Away from home a strong defence has built a great foundation for the team who have now gone just over four and half matches without conceding on their travels. Marcus Bettinelli, Mark Arber, Tom Bonner, Lee Burns and Richard Rose has helped the club go five matches unbeaten away from Princes Park.

On Saturday the Darts progressed in the F.A Trophy beating Isthmian Premier League side Kingstonian 4-0. New loan signing Semi Ajayi conceded a penalty in the opening minutes giving the K’s the chance to shock their visitors. Marcus Bettinelli kept out Andre McCollin’s spot kick to deny the hosts.

Jacob Erskine opened the goalscoring from close range after a tidy piece of build up play by Dartford. The K’s were reduced to ten men when Simon Huckle’s challenge on Elliot Bradbrook was deemed a straight red card. In the second half, Ajayi made himself a nuisance from a set piece which Bradbrook flicked into the goal with his head. Danny Harris spurned a few opportunities before expertly curling the ball beyond Rob Tolfrey and Nathan Collier wrapped up proceedings with a calmly taken fourth.

Tamworth have hit their worst form of the season after a promising start to their campaign. After their first four matches the Lambs were in third place and unbeaten. Four wins and ten defeats later has seen the club struggle of late especially at home. The Lamb Ground has witnessed the fewest goals in the league (19) and the lowest amount scored by a home team (7). Marcus Law’s team have now gone 299 minutes without a league goal. Another blank on Saturday will equal the clubs previous Conference Premier record set in 2009 when they suffered a four game barren spell at the Lamb Ground.

One player to watch is striker Adam Cunnington who has scored 12 league goals in 20 starts, more than half of the squad’s total. Former team mate of Mark Arber at Dagenham and Redbridge the 25 year old has settled into life with Tamworth. One cap England international Lee Hendrie has made all his appearances in the last seven league matches with the Lambs and brings experience to the midfield.

Without a win in six league fixtures the Staffordshire club took on Lincoln City last weekend in the F.A Trophy. Their visitors were unbeaten in ten and were dispatched by Lloyd Kerry’s hat trick in a 3-1 victory. The Lambs came from behind to progress in the competition and picked out Corby Town in round two.

Team News

Mark Arber remains sidelined after suffering a fractured jaw against Southport a fortnight ago. Harry Crawford returns from his three match ban and will be available for selection. Defender, Semi Ajayi could make his league début for the Darts after signing on loan from Charlton Athletic.

Jean Paul Marna left Tamworth by mutual consent returning to France. The 31 year old striker has suffered from an achilles injury this season and has made just three starts and a substitute appearance in the Conference Premier this season.

Current League Form

Tamworth (DDLLLL) Dartford (DWLWDL)
Cambridge United A 1-1 Southport H 2-2
AFC Telford United H 0-0 Luton Town A 2-0
Macclesfield Town A 0-2 Forest Green Rovers H 0-1
Grimsby Town H 0-1 Mansfield Town H 2-0
Ebbsfleet United H 0-1 Barrow A 0-0
Hyde A 1-2 AFC Telford United H 1-4

Last Meeting

11 August 2012 – Dartford 2 Tamworth 3 – Att: 1370

Goalscorers: Till (27), Cunnington (40), Bradbrook (45), Cunnington (76), Crawford (79)

The Darts Lineup: Wells, Burns, Bonner, Arber, Green, Noble, Champion, Bradbrook, Rogers, Erskine, Harris (subs used: Hayes, Wallis, Crawford)

The Lambs Lineup: Breedon, Tait, Oji, Marshall, Barrow, Kelly, Till, Kerry, Marna, Wright, Cunnington (subs used: Gudger, Liabo)

Match Stats

Season Stats

18 – Dartford have used the fewest players in the league this season. Tamworth have used 27 players the second highest in the Conference National in 2012/13.

126 – The amount of shots off target recorded by the Lambs in the league this season, more than any other club

1106 – Tamworth’s average home attendance in the Conference Premier this campaign

2562 – Dartford’s average away attendance is the highest in the league this term

Most goals have been scored or conceded in the last fifteen minutes of the first half in matches involving the two sides…

Did you know…

Tamworth defender Tom Marshall is living two dreams at the moment. When the 25 year old is not playing for the Lambs he is busy creating basslines in his band Stubblemelt. Check out the indie rockers at www.stubblemelt.com.

Dartford v Tamworth

 

Dartford return to Conference Premier action for the first time in 26 years on Saturday with a home fixture against Tamworth.

This weekends league opener will be the first time Princes Park has tasted top flight non league football after The Darts won promotion via the playoffs three months ago.

After a a promising pre season which included wins over West Ham United, Leyton Orient and Arsenal, Tony Burman will be hoping his side will make the most of the home advanatge and get off to a flying start.

Added to last seasons squad are former Dagenham and Redbridge defenders Mark Arber and Richard Rose. Both players have impressed in recent friendlies and will be in contention to make their débuts. Nathan Collier, who joined from Hampton and Richmond could also make his first appearance in a Dartford shirt.

Rose became the third signing of the summer and has gained experience at Gillingham and Hereford United before loan spells with Bristol Rovers and Longford Town. The 29 year old has featured at right back but is able to fill in across defence and midfield and made a handful of appearances with The Daggers last season.

At the last minute Harry Crawford has agreed to wear the number 21 shirt. The 20 year old striker has opted to move across the Thames after he was released by Southend United at the end of last season. Crawford has also spent a loan spell with Kent rivals Dover Athletic in 2010.

Saturday will be the first time the two sides have contested against each other in league or cup. Tamworth will visit Princes Park with seven years of Conference Premier experience, although this was interrupted by a two year stint in the Conference North. Since The Lambs have returned to the top they have safely finished below mid table on all three occasions.

Manager, Marcus Law has been mostly around the Northern League scene before a spell at Kettering Town. Now boss of Tamworth he has made a host of signings including former Premier League midfielder Lee Hendrie. The 35 year old earned one cap with England some 14 years ago as a substitute against the Czech Republic.

With the loss of last season’s top scorer Iyseden Christie, Law swooped to sign Adam Cunnington from Dagenham and Redbridge and winger Peter Till from Conference Premier champions Fleetwood Town.

The Lambs had a difficult ending to last season with just two wins in the final half of the campaign. However, Tamworth’s warm up for the season opener has included a victory over West Bromwich Albion, a draw against Crewe Alexandra and a defeat at home to Bristol Rovers.

Did you know…

On Saturday it will be 26 years, 4 months and 25 days since Dartford won their last Conference Premier fixture. Then known as the Alliance Premier League The Darts beat Barrow 3-2 at Watling Street.

Last Five Opening Day Results

The Darts

2011 Weston Super-Mare 0 Dartford 4 Conference South
2010 Dartford 2 Havant & Waterlooville 2 Conference South
2009 Dartford 3 Horsham 2 Isthmian Premier
2008 Hendon 3 Dartford 0 Isthmian Premier
2007 Dartford 2 Maldon Town 2 Isthmian Division One (N)

The Lambs

2011 Barrow 1 Tamworth 1 Conference Premier
2010 Tamworth 4 Eastbourne Borough 2 Conference Premier
2009 Stevenage 1 Tamworth 1 Conference Premier
2008 Droylsden 1 Tamworth 1 Conference North
2007 Tamworth 4 Burscough 2 Conference North