Rss

Archives for : Woking

Woking v Dartford

Dartford face a top of the table clash on Saturday when they aim to close the gap on Woking to eight points.

The stand out fixture of the weekend is expecting a large crowd as the two best supported sides battle for the title and automatic promotion to the Conference Premier.

When the two sides have come up against each other over the last two years then goals have been easy to find. Last seasons corresponding fixture ended in an entertaining 2-2 draw. The Darts were struggling at the wrong end of the Conference South and Woking were in a disappointing mid table position.

Dartford got off to a tremendous start when Ryan Hayes opened the scoring with a deft lob on seven minutes. Experience former football league stirker Elvis Hammond equalised mid-way through the first half. The Cards went into the break with a lead courtesy of Craig Faulconbridge’s header in first half stoppage time.

In the second half it did not take long for parity to be restored. Only five minutes had been played when loanee and debutant George Purcell finished in style. Since November 2010 the two clubs have been in excellent form. Woking boast the best record in the last calendar year and Dartford have won their last five league matches.

Both clubs have also enjoyed 3-2 victories at Princes Park bringing the total number of goals in the last three meetings to 14. In fact, Dartford’s only defeat in the last 13 Conference South matches was against Woking in December. The Surrey club stormed into a two goal first half lead with both goals coming from set pieces. Alan Inns opened the scoring after four minutes and Craig Doyle netted three minutes before the break. James Rogers pulled a goal back mid way through the second half and as Dartford pushed for an equaliser a clearance from Louis Wells was punished by Hammond with two minutes to play. The Darts refused to lie down and Erskine grabbed a consolation.

Earlier this season, James Rogers scores a diving header to keep Dartford's chances of a come back alive

Woking remain favourites for the Conference South title thanks to a superb run of 17 matches unbeaten in which they dropped a miserly six points. Garry Hill knows his side is capable of scoring goals with the likes of Hammond on ten league goals and Moses Ademola on 11 but The Cards have dried up a little of late. At the back the Surrey club have kept 12 clean sheets, the best in the league this season.

The Darts are no stranger to scoring themselves having netted the most goals in the Conference South and have not failed to score in the league since 27 August 2011, 22 games ago.

Statistics (league only)

Woking (1st) v Dartford (2nd)

Current Form

Last five Woking matches at home Last five Dartford matches away
Won 3-2  v Bromley Won 4-1 v Staines Town
Lost 0-1 v Staines Town Won 3-1 v Hampton and Richmond
Won 1-0 v Farnborough Won 4-1 v Havant and Waterlooville
Won 4-1 v Sutton United Drew 1-1 v Welling United
Won 1-0 v Eastleigh Drew 2-2 v Eastleigh

Attendances

Woking average home attendance: 1628 (1st)

Highest home attendance: 3014 v Farnborough / Lowest: 1196 v Boreham Wood

Dartford average away attendance: 787 (2nd)

Highest away attendance: 1815 v Welling United / Lowest: 378 v Staines Town

Did you know…

Woking’s run of 17 matches unbeaten is the longest without defeat this season in the league shared with Chelmsford City.

Woking have kept 12 clean sheets, the most in this seasons Conference South.

In the second half, Dartford have scored the most goals (33) and conceded the fewest (11).

Just eight goals have been conceded in the last fifteen minutes by The Darts (3 goals) and The Cards (5 goals) this season, the tightest two defences in the final part of the match.

 

 

 

Dartford v Woking

Dartford face their toughest test on Tuesday night in the rearranged fixture against league leaders Woking at Princes Park.

Both sides are in excellent form as they aim for promotion to the Conference Premier. The Darts are eight matches unbeaten in the league and cup, whilst Woking were last defeated in the Conference South thirteen games ago, dropping a miserly four points on the way.

Charlie Sheringham lifts the ball goalwards in last season's encounter

Last season the clubs entertained a sizeable crowd with The Darts running out 3-2 winners. The Surrey side travelled to Princes Park as an in form side back in April. In a game with five goals, three penalties and a red card no one in the stands could afford to blink. Woking’s Elvis Hammond missed a penalty early on and Charlie Sheringham levelled the penalty miss count. Andy Burgess scored a Ryan Hayes-esque free kick on the half hour to give The Cards a deserved lead.

Then in the space of four minutes the unthinkable happened. Elliot Bradbrook rose the highest to nod home a Lee Noble corner on thirty eight minutes, Sheringham made amends two minutes later with a cute chip over the onrushing goalkeeper and Jack Pallen blasted in the third to make it three goals in four minutes before the break. The second half witnessed the sending off of Adam Doyle and the third penalty of the day was awarded but this time converted by Woking’s Craig Dobson.

The Darts completed a third straight win of the week on Saturday. After winning 3-1 against Dover Athletic in the league and triumphing 4-1 versus Folkestone Invicta in the county cup, Tony Burman’s team beat Brackley Town 3-0 in the F.A Trophy first round.

A cross by Ryan Hayes won a dubious penalty which the referee awarded for handball. Elliot Bradbrook stepped up to placed a powerful shot into the top corner. In the second half Lee Burns and Jacob Erskine traded one two’s up the pitch and Erskine curled a delightful shot in off the bar to make it two. Erskine then netted his fifth Dartford goal of the season when he slid in to make it 3-0.

Moses Ademola scorer of ten league goals for The Cards

Whilst Dartford were in F.A Trophy action on Saturday, The Cards were busy beating Sutton United comfortably. Garry Hill’s team won 4-1 and stretched their lead at the top of the table to nine points. The Surrey club have so far put together the longest unbeaten league run of the season and won eleven of those thirteen matches. More ruthlessly Woking have been scoring for fun netting thirty two times and conceding just eight goals.

Woking have a strong squad and with a strong attack, Moses Ademola (10 league goals), Wayne Gray, Paris Cowan-Hall and Elvis Hammond (all on seven league goals) coupled with the tightest defeat in the Conference South this season they look favourites for promotion. Although Ademola and Cowan-Hall have recently picked up injuries and are unlikely to feature.

The Darts will assess the fitness of Lee Noble who took a knock at Folkestone, Lee Burns and Danny Harris were also substituted on the weekend against Brackley Town due to injuries.

Statistics (league only)

Dartford (3rd) versus Woking (1st)

Current Form

Last five Dartford matches at home Last five Woking matches away
Won 3-1 v Dover Athletic Won 3-0 v Dover Athletic
Drew 1-1 v Weston Super-Mare Won 4-1 v Truro City
Lost 1-2 v Truro City Won 1-0 v Staines Town
Won 3-1 v Tonbridge Angels Won 1-0 v Dorchester Town
Won 2-1 v Staines Town Won 4-2 v Bromley

Attendances

Dartford average home attendance: 1226

Highest home attendance: 1558 v Dover Athletic/ Lowest: 937 v Hampton and Richmond

Woking average away attendance: 872

Highest away attendance: 1214 v Welling United/ Lowest: 478 v Bromley

Goals For and Against

Minutes Dartford Goals For Woking Goals For Dartford Goals Against Woking Goals Against
0-15 8 (21%) 9 (19%) 6 (28%) 3 (20%)
16-30 6 (16%) 6 (12.5%) 5 (24%) 1 (7%)
31-45+ 6 (16%) 6 (12.5%) 2 (10%) 4 (26%)
46-60 4 (11%) 6 (12.5%) 3 (14%) 1 (7%)
61-75 7 (18%) 7 (14.5%) 3 (14%) 4 (26%)
76-90+ 7 (18%) 14 (29%) 2 (10%) 2 (14%)

Did you know

Last season Dartford and Woking were the best supported clubs in the Conference South. The Darts averaged home attendances of 1171 whilst The Cards averaged 1167. This season Woking are top of the attendance charts averaging 298 more than Dartford in second place.

Woking’s thirteen game unbeaten run in the league can only be matched by Chelmsford City, both sides last lost in the Conference South on the 3 September 2011. However no one can better their current winning away streak of five this season.

The Cards have kept the most clean sheets this term with ten in total, five at home and five away.

Dartford and Woking have conceded the least amount of second half goals, The Darts have conceded eight and The Cards have conceded seven.

In last season’s fixtures Dartford and Woking conjured up an impressive nine goals. The sides drew 2-2 in November and The Darts won 3-2 in April. No other Dartford fixture except Boreham Wood produced as many goals in the two meetings.

*Attendances taken from http://www.bluesqsouth.com and minutes of goals taken from http://news.bbc.co.uk

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 Six – A look back on 2010/2011

6 – The Wonder of You

The Birth of Flagzilla

It had been just over two decades since Dartford’s last appearance in the F.A Cup First Round. For the first time ever Princes Park would host a Football League side in a competitive match. A sell-out crowd was expected and four days before the big day a sell-out was announced. The unlucky Dartford supporters who were unable to buy tickets did get a second chance when Port Vale returned some of their allocation.

Walking towards Princes Park, Vale fans displayed their away shirts looking for decent public houses. Dartford supporters were already there lubricating their vocal chords, the build-up was friendly; the charm of the F.A Cup had entered the town. The Darts were under no pressure, had nothing to lose but dreamed of what might happen. The Port Vale following, aware of a possible cup upset, was still confident enough to pull through. After all Micky Adam’s side were flying high in League Two in second position.

As three o’clock approached the atmosphere was cranked up a notch. F.A Cup fever had reached its peak and what better way to celebrate than unleashing Dartford’s new signing. Paid by the fans, its black, its white and its pure dynamite…Flagzilla made its debut.

Flagzilla warms up the action at against Port Vale

Dartford started with intent and in the opening minutes left Port Vale shell shocked. In the commentary box Gary Clark and Paul Philpot described the action: “Burns across field to Hayes, Hayes left footed looking for Danny Harris, Harris, Danny Harris is through, Danny Harris, ohhhhhhhhhh off the line”. The crowd gasped, The Darts were incredibly denied, what a start, the crowd were lifted, as if the match wasn’t enough in the first place!

After a Hayes free kick flashed wide, The Darts grew in confidence, the performance was steady and with the Princes Park crowd behind Tony Burman’s men the nerves had disappeared. Half way through the first half a controversial moment arrived, Carl Rook laid the ball off but Vale midfielder Gary Roberts miss controlled the ball. Michael Shinn stood his ground to win the ball, Roberts lunged two footed and Shinn was fouled. Tony Burman and Paul Sawyer were incensed at the side of the pitch; nearly every player got involved as a brawl broke out, Shinn made no fuss, surely a red card and advantage Dartford. The referee called the Captains over and spoke to Roberts and Shinn. Yellow card, Roberts was lucky to stay on the pitch.

The Darts looked more like the Football League side and almost went in front when Lee Burns fired wide. Then Carl Rook worked tirelessly to hold up the ball, Hayes’ trickery created a crossing opportunity and when it found the feet of Rook he scuffed the shot into Stuart Tomlinson’s hands.

Bradbrook nets a shock opener

Rook and Hayes battled on down the left and when Hayes persistence paid off he was brought down on the edge of the box near the goal line.  “So it’s a free kick about a yard outside the penalty area and three yards from the touchline. Shinn and Hayes now stand over the ball, I think it’s going to be Hayes, it is. Delivers it in, a cross, YEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH. CAPTAIN ELLIOT BRADBROOK, GOAL TO DARTFORD, GOAL!” Princes Park erupted, The Darts were in front.

At half time Dartford fans could not quite believe what was happening, forty five minutes away from glory. If you thought about it too hard then nerves would kick in, the only cure was to sing a long, get behind the boys and hope time would tick along quickly to four forty five. Port Vale feared the worst, Micky Adams made a triple substitution. The second half kicked off…

The Vale played with more urgency but Dartford stayed strong and continued to create chances. Paul Goodacre headed straight at Tomlinson, Hayes sent a free kick over, the clock ticked away. The Darts defence were resolute, Harris was the Patron Saint of Lost Causes troubling Port Vale with his pace, Hayes troubled The Vale with his trickery and Rook worked hard to keep possession up top on his own. Charlie Sheringham then entered the equation as Tony Burman swapped him with the tired Rook. Six minutes remained.

McCombe saves Vale

A hopeful through ball was played forward from The Vale midfield, Hayes swiped at the ball to cut it out about 30 yards from goal, and the slice on the ball spun it towards Andrew Young’s touchline. Out came Young who caught the ball, unfortunately he was unable to save the corner. Tommy Fraser went over to take the corner kick; right footed he swung the ball out towards the middle of the six yard box. Players were tugging at each other, jostling for position when the ball broke loose to John McCombe who bundled the ball towards goal, heartbroken, silence. Port Vale escaped Princes Park with a draw.

The full time whistle blew and the Dartford faithful proudly clapped every player off the park. Time passed and everyone had time to reflect on an exhausting day, no one knew whether to be proud or gutted, in the end we settled for both…six minutes, just six more minutes.

Dartford 1 Port Vale 1 – F.A Cup First Round Highlights

Away Day Blues are Dover

Searching for the first away victory in the league Dartford were on a high after their F.A Cup heroics. Over recent years Dover Athletic had got the better of The Darts and had just come off the back of an F.A Cup giant killing themselves. The Whites had famously defeated Gillingham to make national headlines. A Tuesday night at The Crabble turned out to be satisfactory night for Tony Burman and his men. Both sides were tired and Dover looked the better side creating better chances. Dartford dug deep and was certainly up for it.

Ryan Hayes opened the scoring  after just eleven minutes, Hayes sent in one of his corners which goalkeeper Ross Flitney let slip, fortunate or poor goalkeeping it did not matter, 1-0. Andrew Young was kept very busy and again put in another outstanding performance. Eight minutes into the second half Michael Shinn brought down the ‘unstoppable’ Adam Birchall. Birchall scorer of eleven goals in Dover’s opening twelve league matches picked himself up to take the penalty, Young saved. Dover pushed on, continued to create chances and spurn them. Then on 82 minutes The Darts launched a counter attack, Elliot Bradbrook crossed towards Ollie Berquez who nodded in to win the game for sure. Only the travelling faithful witnessed a terrific win for The Darts, the away press were allowed no cameras.

First Defeat at Home

Dorchester Town were next up at Princes Park, confidence was high in the Dartford dressing room after the past week. The problem was that the players had one eye on the F.A Cup replay in three days’ time. With the match level at half time, The Magpies exploded into action in the second half. Ryan Moss scored in the sixty fourth minute when he followed up from Andrew Young’s fine save.  A break away from Dorchester two minutes later resulted in a second goal, this time taken by Mark Jermyn from six yards. Dartford tried to find a way back but was caught out for a third time when experienced midfielder Nick Crittenden finished off a counter attack in the eighty seventh minute. To rub salt into the wound Moss completed a brace in the final minute, Dartford were well and truly beaten.

Dartford 0 Dorchester Town 4 – Highlights

An Evening in Burslem

Two coach loads travelled up to Burslem on a Tuesday night not expecting victory but still hoping for a giant killing. Even with the dodgy air conditioning this did not deter the Dartford faithful from a memorable occasion. Micky Adams learnt from the first match and played a stronger side. The winners would take on Accrington Stanley or Morecambe at home in round two. The coaches arrived and fans from both sides mingled in the bar, bottles of Titanic Ale went down well until seven forty five arrived. The Darts travelling contingent of just over three hundred entered Vale Park which looked huge compared to the non-league surroundings we had got used to in recent years. Dartford flags were draped over the spare seats and nonstop singing throughout the ninety minutes made sure this was an evening to be proud.

A tribute to the travelling support

Dartford supporters gather at Vale Park in the F.A Cup First Round Replay

The wide pitch was used to full affect by Port Vale, playing with width, using their wingers and overlapping full backs, Dartford were stretched. Football League experience paid off and from the outset The Vale controlled the game.

The boys gave it their all but it was a step too far. The support was fantastic, 314 fans travelled but it sounded like we took 500. Andrew Young was kept busy and had a super game but he was unable to keep out Marc Richards’ penalty on seven minutes.  Eight minutes later the lead was doubled when Richards netted his second. Sean Rigg scored number three on 56 minutes and Justin Richards scored the goal of the night with fifteen minutes left.

Dartford fans could be excused for thinking they had lost 4-0, after all we did score five imaginary goals. Altogether now, “let’s pretend, let’s pretend, let’s pretend we’ve scored a goal” cue cheering and goal celebrations. After the third imaginary goal the Dartford supporters really didn’t let the defeat spoil their party. “Let’s pretend, let’s pretend, let’s pretend we’ve scored a goal” cue cheering and goal celebrations, “four nil and you ****** it up, four nil and you ****** it up”. What a comeback, oh no wait a minute why not make it five, we never did have our match with Accrington Stanley.

Dartford players applaud the support, the fans applaud back

Dartford players and staff applauded the crowd, appreciating the tremendous support. The support applauded back appreciating the tremendous effort put in by the players and staff. It was a night to be a proud Dartford fan, the fans belted out Elvis Pressley’s Wonder of You, scarfs displayed above heads, the evening closed.

Port Vale 4 Dartford 0 – F.A Cup First Round Replay Highlights (1st Half)

Port Vale 4 Dartford 0 – F.A Cup First Round Replay Highlights (2nd Half)

Now for the Trophy

One cup run ended, another one began. The F.A Trophy represented Dartford’s only realistic, albeit slim chance to reach Wembley. Not since Peter Taylor was in charge at Watling Street had The Darts came close to a repeating their run to the final in 1974. Of course, this was a long way off but you never know.

Dartford returned to Ship Lane to take on Thurrock who held The Darts in their league match back in September. Thurrock had not won any of their opening fourteen league matches and was propping up the Conference South table, in their match before meeting Dartford they recorded their first win against Staines Town.

Rook scores twice

Carl Rook headed in an eighteenth minute goal to give The Darts some breathing space. Before the opener, there was little to choose between the two sides.  Thurrock looked for a way into the tie but could not break down the Dartford defence. With eight minutes left Rook doubled his tally from six yards out to secure a place in the First Round. Next up…Crawley Town.

After the F.A Trophy tie Tony Burman confirmed Lee Noble had been given a chance to prove his worth at Concord Rangers and Ollie Berquez also went out on loan to Billericay Town.

Thurrock 0 Dartford 2 – F.A Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round Highlights

Debutant arrives

Tony Burman was in the loan market again and on 23 November 2010 announced the arrival of George Purcell from York City. Purcell was to make his first start against Woking, three times F.A trophy winners.

The Darts were off to a tremendous start when Ryan Hayes opened the scoring with a deft lob on seven minutes for Dartford. Hayes ran to the away end, back facing the audience and celebrated with a jig, a great finish from the winger. Woking looked strong up front and had the experience of former football league stirker Elvis Hammond who equalised mid-way through the first half. Woking passed the ball well and when Hammond went through his scuffed effort wrong footed Andrew Young and trickled into the Dartford net. The Cards then went into the break with a lead courtesy of Craig Faulconbridge’s header in first half stoppage time, the cross was pin point and the header was well placed beyond Young.

In the second half it did not take long for parity to be restored. Only five minutes had been played when loanee and debutant George Purcell finished in style. With a looped ball forward Purcell chased onto the ball waited for the bounce then almost karate kick like lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper, an exquisite finish, top goal indeed. Purcell was lively all afternoon and was foiled twice by Andrew Little in goal and blasted two opportunities over the crossbar. The game ended 2-2 to leave Dartford in eighteenth place, three points above the bottom three.

Woking 2 Dartford 2 – Highlights

November Completed

Cup games and wintery conditions made the league campaign slightly unsettled during November. Bromley and Braintree Town shared top spot. Ebbsfleet United continued where they left off in October and were now unbeaten in ten matches. Havant and Waterlooville finished the month on four consecutive wins. Braintree Town and Staines Town played out an astonishing 4-4 draw, Welling thrashed St Albans City 6-0 and Thurrock lifted themselves out of the bottom three by winning two in a row.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Braintree Town 16 10 3 3 29 11 +18 33
2 Bromley 16 9 6 1 26 17 +9 33
3 Welling United* 17 10 3 4 35 22 +13 27
4 Chelmsford City 14 8 3 3 27 18 +9 27
5 Dover Athletic 14 8 2 4 29 19 +10 26
6 Ebbsfleet United 14 7 5 2 22 12 +10 26
7 Farnborough 16 8 4 4 28 19 +9 28
8 Havant and W 13 6 4 3 20 11 +9 22
9 Eastleigh 15 6 4 5 24 18 +6 22
10 Bishop’s Stortford 17 7 2 8 19 30 -11 23
11 Staines Town 16 5 6 5 23 21 +2 21
12 Weston-super-Mare 17 6 4 7 20 27 -7 22
13 Woking 16 5 5 6 16 20 -4 20
14 Maidenhead United 15 5 3 7 15 25 -10 18
15 Dorchester Town 16 5 4 7 19 20 -1 19
16 Hampton and Richmond 16 4 7 5 19 23 -4 19
17 Basingstoke Town 14 4 3 7 12 17 -5 15
18 Dartford 15 3 6 6 20 25 -5 15
19 Thurrock 16 2 6 8 20 30 -10 12
20 Lewes 17 3 3 11 15 24 -9 12
21 St Albans City 16 1 7 8 15 31 -16 10
22 Boreham Wood 14 1 4 9 16 29 -13 7

*Welling United deducted five points

 

Stuart Maidment

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