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Post match interview – Wealdstone (H)

Interview with Tony Burman following the 2-2 draw with Wealdstone in the FA Carlsberg Trophy.

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.

 

 

 

Stats and Trends – 14th February 2012

1914: (A) Woolwich – L0-5
1923: (H) Folkestone – L1-3 (Kent Senior Shield)
1925: (A) Ashford Railway Works – L1-4
1931: (H) Guildford City – W3-1
1935: (A) Fulham Reserves – W1-0
1948: (A) Cheltenham – W3-1
1953: (A) Headington United – L1-2
1959: (A) Ashford Town – L0-2 (Kent Senior Cup)
1968: (H) Hastings United – W5-0
1970: (A) Salisbury – L1-3
1972: (A) Atherstone Town – W1-0 (FA Trophy Replay)
1975: (A) Romford – L0-3
1976: (A) Folkestone and Shepway – W2-1
1981: (A) Salisbury – W1-0
1984: (A) Welling United – W2-0 (Southern League Cup Semi Final, 1st Leg)
1987: (A) Runcorn – D1-1 (FA Trophy)
1989: (A) Dover Athletic – L1-2 (Southern League Cup, 1st Leg)
1998: (H) Bashley – W2-0
2004: (A) Erith and Belvedere – L0-2
2009: (H) Billericay Town – W2-0

 

Against our visitors – last five matches

29/10/1991 – Home – Won 4-1
30/08/2008 – Home – Drew 2-2
11/04/2009 – Away – Drew 0-0
29/08/2009 – Home – Drew 1-1
20/04/2010 – Away – Drew 1-1

Versus Wealdstone Played Won Drawn Lost For Against
Total 28 11 9 8 55 37
Home 14 7 3 4 31 15
Away 14 4 6 4 24 22

 

Dartford v Wealdstone

It may be third time lucky on Tuesday night if Dartford and Wealdstone manage to complete their F.A Trophy Third Round tie.

The Darts will be eyeing up a Quarter Final spot when they host The Stones in the last sixteen of the F.A Trophy. Having progressed in one cup competition in their last fixture, The Darts will hope to reach the last eight for the first time since 1989. That season the F.A Trophy run ended in the semi-finals to eventual runners up Macclesfield Town.

Preparation for Tuesday night’s game has been restricted due to the poor weather conditions meaning Dartford have yet to play a match this month. The Darts have met Wealdstone four times over the last three and a half seasons with every meeting ending in a draw. You have to go back to 1991 since The Darts last won against The Stones which ended 4-1 at Watling Street.

 

Lee Burns equalises in the last meeting against Wealdstone at Princes Park

In Dartford’s championship winning season two years ago the two sides played out a 1-1 draw at Princes Park. Chris O’Leary didn’t give fans time to blink when he scored after 47 seconds but a Lee Burns equaliser ensured both sides shared a point. In the return fixture Lee Noble gave The Darts the lead which was cancelled out by Rob Fitzgerald as the scoreline was repeated. Three years ago both sides failed to score in a goalless draw at St George’s Stadium but the earlier meeting at Princes Park ended 2-2 with goals by Rob Haworth and Danny Dafter.

The Darts enter Tuesday’s cup tie a division higher than their opponents. The Stones currently occupy eleventh position in the Isthmian Premier League making them the second lowest team left in the competition. Despite their mid table standing Wealdstone have only been beaten six times in the league only leaders Billericay Town have lost fewer games and conceded less goals.

Managed by Gordon Bartlett and unbeaten in seventeen matches, their 2-0 victory over Tooting and Mitcham on Saturday was their first triumph in the league in five attempts. The Middlesex club’s solid foundations at the back is complimented with a promising strike force. Richard Jolly has scored nine times during the F.A Trophy run so far.

Jolly had scored 117 goals for The Stones in 178 appearances for The Stones before his third spell with the club. This season he rejoined Wealdstone and has netted an incredible 29 goals already in all competitions. Britt Assombalonga had also been a player to watch during The Stones cup run but he has since signed for Braintree Town.

Road To Wembley

Erskine celebrates his hat trick

 

Second Round

Dartford 4 Boston United 2

For a successive season The darts made it through to the last sixteen with an excellent performance against Conference North side Boston United. Spearheaded by former Premier League striker Jason Lee The Pilgrims could not handle Dartford’s work ethic and passing. Jacob Erskine decided to take the cup tie into his own hands and his audacious back heel opened the scoring early on. The lead was cancelled out when Spencer Weir-Daley nodded in from a corner. The second half came to life when  Erskine somehow flicked in number two. Lee Noble reacted the quickest to make it three before Leon Constantine pulled back a goal for The Pilgrims. It was Erskine completing a well deserved hat trick which sealed the tie and the striker took home the match ball.

Wealdstone 2 AFC Barrow 1

The Stones caused an upset when they beat 2010 F.A Trophy winners AFC Barrow. The Bluebirds took the lead just before half time thanks to Richie Baker. Undeterred Wealdstone fought back in a gripping cup tie. Jolly showed his worth with a superb volley to level the scores. Then on the hour Assombalonga made a name for himself when he was lurking at the far post to smash in the winner.

First Round

Brackley Town 0 Dartford 3

The Darts negotiated their way into round two with a comfortable display in Northamptonshire. Dartford were awarded a dubious penalty which Elliot Bradbrook scored from placing a powerful shot into the top corner. In the second half Lee Burns and Jacob Erskine traded one two’s up the pitch before Erskine curled a delightful shot in off the bar. Erskine then slid in to make it 3-0 and secure Dartford’s passage to round two.

Wealdstone 5 Uxbridge 0

Yet again Wealdstone made home advantage count in some style when they swept aside neighbours Uxbridge who play in the Southern League Division One Central. Once again Jolly took home the match ball with a successive F.A Trophy hat trick but it took 39 minutes for the deadlock to break when Jolly headed in his first. His second came moments later when he finished from an acute angle. Britt Assombalonga put The Stones three ahead with a fine 20 yard strike then followed the strike up with another goal. The fifth came from Jolly as he also tried his luck from distance.

Tom Champion after his goal on Tuesday night

Third Qualifying Round – Replay

 

Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1

At the second attempt Dartford knocked out Eastbourne Borough in a replay. Tom Champion’s long range effort in the second half was a stunning way to open the scoring. After a second goal from Danny Harris, Eastbourne Borough were awarded a bizarre penalty when two Borough players fell over each other. Former Dart Carl Rook scored a consolation goal which wasn’t enough to complete a comeback.

Wealdstone 4 Banbury United 0

Jolly netted a hat trick to help The Stones cruise into the first round. However the scoring was opened by Chris O’Leary’s volley nineteen minutes into the match. Two minutes later the lead was doubled when O’Leary provided a pass for Jolly who slotted in his first. Jolly scored number three when he received Dyer’s cut back and calmly finished the move. The hat trick was completed when Jolly smacked in Wealdstone’s fourth.

Third Qualifying Round

Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 0

Dartford’s F.A Trophy adventures started at Priory Road in blustery conditions. The Darts dominated the first half but had with very few chances. Jacob Erskine powered a header wide and a couple of long range efforts never really tested Clark Masters in the Eastbourne goal. Eastbourne’s Ben Watson squandered a one on one with Louis Wells in the second half and Dartford’s Adam Green hit the woodwork from a swirling cross. James Rogers almost won it in the last minute when his volley was acrobatically cleared off the line.

Banbury United 0 Wealdstone 0

The Stones travelled away from home to draw 0-0 in the third qualifying round against Southern Leaguers Banbury United. Like Dartford at the same stage of the F.A Trophy they were involved in a tense and scrappy affair in blustery conditions. The Stones had to try again and faced their fifth fixture in the competition.

Second Qualifying Round – Replay

Wealdstone 2 Margate 1

Alex Dyer was the hero late on when his winning goal prevented a repeat of the scoreline from the previous match against Margate. Jolly opened the scoring half way from the first period and the one goal advantage was cancelled out on fifty minutes by Kwesi Appiah’s penalty.

Second Qualifying Round

Margate 1 Wealdstone 1

A disappointing game was lit up when Scott Fitzgerald’s cheeky lob at Hartsdown Park earned The Stones a replay. Margate had earlier taken the lead when former Dartford defender Richard Avery smashed in a loose ball to give the Kent club the lead.

First Qualifying Round

Wealdstone 3 Tooting and Mitcham 0

The Stones started their campaign back in October by easing passed fellow league side Tooting and Mitcham. Wes Parker opened the scoring with a header before the break and a penalty was tucked away by Scott Fitzgerald to give Wealdstone a two goal lead at half time. A third was added by Richard Jolly whose excellent control and strength staved off the defender and he slotted home.

Statistics

Dartford (2nd – Conference South) versus Wealdstone (11th Isthmian Premier)

Current Form (league and cup) – FAT = F.A Trophy

Last five Dartford matches at home Last five Wealdstone matches away
Won 6-0 v Thurrock Lost 1-2 v Lowestoft Town
Won 4-2 v Boston United (FAT) Drew 1-1 v Hendon
Won 1-0 v Welling United Drew 1-1 v Horsham
Drew 1-1 v Dorchester Town Won 5-0 v Wingate and Finchley
Lost 2-3 v Woking Drew 1-1 v Leatherhead

F.A Trophy Performances

Season Dartford Wealdstone
2010/2011 3rd Round Proper: Gateshead 1st Round Proper: Newport County
2009/2010 3rd Qualifying Round: Dover Athletic 3rd Qualifying Round: Farnborough
2008/2009 3rd Qualifying Round: St Albans City 2nd Qualifying Round: Tiverton Town
2007/2008 1st Qualifying Round: AFC Hornchurch 1st Round Proper: Weymouth
2006/2007 2nd Qualifying Round: Evesham United 3rd Qualifying Round: Merthyr Tydfil
2005/2006 3rd Qualifying Round: AFC Wimbledon 2nd Qualifying Round: Folkestone Invicta
2004/2005 1st Round Proper: Redbridge 2nd Round Proper: Team Bath
2003/2004 1st Round Proper: Ashford Town (Middlesex) 4th Round Proper: Maidenhead United
2002/2003 Preliminary Round: Salisbury City 1st Round Proper: Harlow Town
2001/2002 1st Round Proper: Braintree Town 1st Round Proper: Bishop’s Stortford

Did you know…

At this stage 23 years ago Dartford defeated Bishop Auckland 2-0 at Watling Street.

Wealdstone were name dropped in our last F.A Trophy ‘did you know’ because they beat Boston United in the 1984/85 final. More interestingly The Stones were the first ever side to complete the non league double of winning the top league (then known as the Gola League) and the F.A Trophy.

The Stones took part in the first ever televised broadcast of a football match in 1946 versus Barnet in the Athenian League. They were also involved in the first showing of a F.A Cup tie in 1949 when they played Colchester United.

Out of the sixteen teams remaining, 10 play in the Conference National, 2 take part in the Conference South, 1 club plays in the Conference North, 2 compete in the Isthmian Premier and 1 in the Northern Premier League

 

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

 


Stats and Trends – 11th February 2012

Matches on this day…


1893: (A) Royal  Artillery, Woolwich– Unknown (Friendly)
1899: (H) West Kent Regiment – W4-2 (Kent Senior Cup)
1905: (H) Orpington – W4-1 (Friendly)
1911: (A) Northfleet United – W1-0
1922: (A) Folkestone – W1-0
1928: (H) Grays Thurrock United – W2-0
1931: (A) Guildford City – W2-0
1933: (H) Aldershot Reserves – W1-0
1937: (A) Norwich City Reserves – L0-5
1939: (H) Cardiff City Reserves – L1-5 / (A) Erith and Belvedere – L0-1 (Kent Senior Cup)
1950: (A) Tonbridge – W2-1
1959: (H) Tonbridge – L1-3 (Southern League Cup)
1961: (A) Tunbridge Wells United – L0-2 (Kent Senior Cup)
1967: (A) Wisbech Town – W3-0
1984: (A) Witney Town – W1-0
1989: (A) Waterlooville – W4-1
2003: (H) Ashford Town – D1-1
2006: (H) Rothwell Town – L0-1

 
Against our visitors – last five matches

25/10/1989 – Home – Lost 1-2 (Clubcall Cup)
15/11/2008 – Home – Lost 2-3
04/04/2009 – Away – Lost 0-1
22/09/2009 – Away – Won 3-0
06/02/2010 – Home – Lost 0-2

Versus Sutton United Played Won Drawn Lost For Against
Total 7 3 0 4 10 8
Home 4 1 0 3 5 7
Away 3 2 0 1 5 1

 

Stats and Trends – 8th February 2012

Third time lucky?

1896: (H) Sittingbourne – W6-0
1902: (H) Sheppey United – L2-3
1903: (H) Bromley – W5-2 (Kent Senior Cup)
1913: (H) Tunbridge Wells – W1-0 (Kent Senior Cup)
1928: (A) Southampton Reserves – L2-4
1930: (A) Aldershot Town – L0-2
1936: (A) Margate – L0-4
1939: (H) Norwich City Reserves – L0-3
1947: (A) Margate – W3-0 (Kent Senior Cup)
1950: (H) Hereford United – W1-0
1958: (A) Guildford City – L2-6
1964: (H) Yeovil Town – W2-0
1966: (A) Maidstone United – L1-4
1967: (H) Tonbridge – W4-0 (Kent Senior Cup)
1975: (A) Dover – L0-1
1982: (A) Dagenham – L1-2
1992: (A) Crawley Town – D1-1
1997: (A) Yate Town – L2-3
1999: (H) Newport IOW – L0-2
2003: (H) Spalding United – W2-1
2011: (A) Weston-Super-Mare – W1-0

 

Against our visitors – last five matches

29/10/1991 – Home – Won 4-1
30/08/2008 – Home – Drew 2-2
11/04/2009 – Away – Drew 0-0
29/08/2009 – Home – Drew 1-1
20/04/2010 – Away – Drew 1-1

Versus Wealdstone Played Won Drawn Lost For Against
Total 28 11 9 8 55 37
Home 14 7 3 4 31 15
Away 14 4 6 4 24 22

 

 

Stats and Trends – 7th February 2012

1891: (A) Horticultural College – W19-0 (Friendly)
1914: (H) Sheppey United – L1-2
1925: (H) RMLI (Chatham) – W3-1
1931: (A) Bath City – L0-2
1948: (A) Bromley – L0-2
1953: (H) Kettering Town – L0-3
1959: (H) Clacton Town – W4-0
1970: (H) Salisbury Town – W3-1
1976: (A) Ramsgate Athletic – D1-1
1977: (A) Bath City – L0-1
1981: (H) Dover – W1-0
1987: (H) Dudley Town – W5-0
1989: (H) Dover Athletic – W2-0 (FA Trophy Replay)
1998: (A) Fareham Town – W3-1
2000: (H) Ashford Town – W2-1 (Kent Senior Cup)
2004: (H) Newport IOW – W2-0
2006: (H) Uxbridge – L1-2
2009: (A) Heybridge Swifts – D0-0

Against our visitors – last five matches

29/10/1991 – Home – Won 4-1
30/08/2008 – Home – Drew 2-2
11/04/2009 – Away – Drew 0-0
29/08/2009 – Home – Drew 1-1
20/04/2010 – Away – Drew 1-1

Versus Wealdstone Played Won Drawn Lost For Against
Total 28 11 9 8 55 37
Home 14 7 3 4 31 15
Away 14 4 6 4 24 22

 

Stats and Trends – 4th February 2012

Matches on this day…


1893: (H) Erith – L2-3 – Friendly
1899: (H) Folkestone – W4-1
1905: (H) Limehouse Town – W6-2 – Friendly
1911: (H) Chatham – L1-3
1922: (H) Maidstone United – L0-1
1928: (H) Dulwich Hamlet Reserves – L1-3 – Friendly
1933: (H) Guildford City – W7-1
1939: (H) Arsenal Reserves – L1-4
1950: (A) Kidderminster Harriers – L0-1
1956: (A) Yeovil Town – D2-2
1961: (H) Bedford Town – D2-2
1967: (H) Margate – L2-3
1975: (H) Atherstone Town – D2-2
1984: (H) Cheltenham Town – W1-0
1989: (A) Dover Athletic – D0-0 – FA Trophy
1992: (H) Dover Athletic – L0-2 – Southern League Cup 2nd leg
1995: (A) Canterbury City – W2-0
2003: (A) Tonbridge Angels – L0-1

 
Against our visitors – last five matches

29/10/1991 – Home – Won 4-1
30/08/2008 – Home – Drew 2-2
11/04/2009 – Away – Drew 0-0
29/08/2009 – Home – Drew 1-1
20/04/2010 – Away – Drew 1-1

Versus Wealdstone Played Won Drawn Lost For Against
Total 28 11 9 8 55 37
Home 14 7 3 4 31 15
Away 14 4 6 4 24 22

 

January Review

What a start to 2012 for The Darts winning all five Conference South fixtures, moving up to second position and progressing to the third round of the F.A Trophy.

A successful January has left Dartford closer to league leaders Woking than at the end of the year and it all started in the Kent derby on second day of 2012. The Darts hosted a Welling United side who were occupying second place at the time and who drew with Dartford on Boxing Day. Although the sides were even at the interval, The Wings came out the better side in the second half keeping the excellent Louis Wells busy. But a Ryan Hayes corner headed back into danger by Tom Bonner and flicked in by Danny Harris earned an important win for The Darts.

Bradbrook opens up the Havant defence and scores

Havant and Waterlooville awaited Tony Burman’s team five days later and the journey down to Hampshire was worth it. Burman was delighted with the result and said: ““It was a really good performance, all the team was excellent, it was a good all round performance”. Elliot Bradbrook commenced his January scoring spree with a well taken opener, the hard working Harris put away a fantastic lob. The Hawks grabbed a goal back via Scott Jones in the second half, however Harris and Bradbrook netted again in a 4-1 victory.

Jason Lee’s Boston United visited Princes Park in the second round of the F.A Trophy. Jacob Erskine decided to take the cup tie into his own hands and his audacious back heel opened the scoring early on. The lead was cancelled out when Spencer Weir-Daley nodded in from a corner. The second half came to life when the Boston United fans decided to stay put on the terrace standing next to The Darts following. The fans were rewarded for their lively support when Erskine somehow flicked in number two. Lee Noble reacted the quickest to make it three before Leon Constantine pulled back a goal for The Pilgrims. It was Erskine completing a well deserved hat trick which sealed the tie and the striker took home the match ball.

The unbeaten run continued with three more wins in the Conference South. Approaching the first of the fixtures against bottom four teams Burman warned his side of complacency. The manager expressed his view that the next eight days were going to be tough and crucial. The players went about their job ‘professionally’ and added a further nine points to their total becoming the leagues top scorers in the process.

Hampton and Richmond who took the lead through James Simmonds on eight minutes were the first of the three clubs to suffer. Bradbrook equalised with a looping header but the best was yet to come. Bradbrook scored a goal of the season contender when his stunning long range volley put The Darts ahead. To rub salt into Hampton’s wound Erskine, a former player of theirs scored the third.

Three days later, for a second match in a row Dartford found themselves a goal down when Staines Town striker Ali Chaaban gave The Swans an advantage. Tom Bonner’s brave header on the stroke of half time ensured the sides were level at the break. Loanee Connor Essam scored his first Dartford goal in the second half with a powerful header and later on in the week his spell with The Darts was extended. Harris found the net with eighteen minutes to play and Adam Green’s deflection rounded up the triumph.

Ryan Hayes has now made 300 appearances for The darts

On Saturday Dartford became the leagues top scorers in some style. Hosting bottom club Thurrock who had not won in nine league matches The Darts took full advantage recording their biggest win in the Conference South. Bradbrook celebrated his 27th birthday by opening and closing the goalscoring. In between Harris blasted the ball into the net and James Rogers made it 3-0 inside the first forty five minutes. Lee Burns rifled in the fourth goal in the second half and on Ryan Hayes 300th appearance he set up Tony Garrod who scored his first for the club. The Darts demolished Thurrock 6-0 to record their biggest Conference South win.

It took 120 minutes of football for Dartford to stave off Tonbridge Angels in the Kent Senior Cup on Tuesday and complete a perfect start to 2012. The Angels led at half time when Chris Piper opened the scoring. Nathan Koranteng scored against Dartford for Boreham Wood earlier in the season and he was at it again for his new club to put Tonbridge two up. The cup holders looked down and out but were given a crucial lifeline when Hayes crossed for Jack Pallen to half the deficit. To complete the comeback Richard Graham equalised to send the tie into extra time and during the additional thirty minutes he netted his second of the night. The comeback was completed when Lee Burns netted the fourth to earn a semi final clash with Charlton Athletic.

All in all, January was an excellent month for The Darts. The club moved up two places and closed the gap on Woking. Bradbrook scored six goals in four games, Harris netted five goals in five appearances and Erskine claimed a hat trick. Essam continued to impress at the back and stays with The Darts for February and the club has progressed in league, F.A Trophy and Kent Senior Cup. To cap of a super month Tony Burman was awarded with Manager of the Month and Elliot Bradbrook won Player of the Month.

At the end of 2011, The Darts were seventeen point adrift of league leaders Woking. By the end of January the lead has been cut to eleven with The Darts having a game in hand. The deficit has been reduced making the fixture between the two sides on 18 February very important.

The reason Dartford have made ground is because Woking inexplicably slipped up first against Staines Town then versus Salisbury City. The Cards went down 1-0 to Staines who kept their first clean sheet of the season and inflicted Woking’s first home defeat, the result is probably the surprise result of the season so far. In losses came in between three victories for The Cards so they still have a cushion at the top for the time being.

Ali Chaaban scored a shock winner against Woking

Welling United and Chelmsford City who drew with each other Saturday occupy third and fourth. The Wings highlight of the month was a 5-1 home win against Truro City to keep them unbeaten at Park View Road. Chelmsford City were also shocked by Staines Town when they lost by a solitary goal but two wins keeps them in the playoff spot. The final team in the playoff zone is Sutton United who defeated Chelmsford City in a five goal thriller with a one goal margin.

The biggest movers in January were Dorchester Town who moved up five positions. New manager Alan Knight has started to see his team gel, the Dorset club has lost just once in fourteen league fixtures, keeping clean sheets in half of those matches. The Magpies are a win away from the play offs and only Weston Super-Mare stand between them in the league standings. Another big mover in the league were Maidenhead United. Also known as The Magpies the Berkshire club climbed four places to give them breathing space at the wrong end of the table.

One team on the slide is Eastbourne Borough dropping three places to eighteenth. The Sports picked up a solitary point in January out of a possible fifteen losing 4-1 and 5-1 in successive weeks. Their poor form has seen the Sussex club part company with manager Garry Wilson in an attempt to stop the rot.

Bromley did stop their rot winning for the first time in the league since 8 October 2011. A dreadful run of fifteen winless games left the club in the bottom three. The 3-0 victory over Weston Super-Mare lifted the Kent club from the drop zone leaving the bottom three the same as it was at the end of 2012.

Hampton and Richmond and Staines Town traded places numerous times in January both occupying the final relegation place during Bromley’s poor form. The Beavers beat The Swans on New Years Day to swap places and leap out of danger before a defeat against Dartford left them back in relegation. The Swans shocked Woking and Chelmsford City to capitalise on Hampton’s set backs but they then lost to Dartford as well to slip back into the bottom three.

One constant from the teams at the bottom is Thurrock who are having a torrid season. The Fleet are now seven points adrift and nine points from safety. The Essex club picked up some promising draws against Salisbury City, Sutton United and Havant and Waterlooville after wholesale changes from new manager Lee Goodwin. A trip to Princes Park compounded further misery for the club when they were demolished 6-0 to suffer the heaviest defeat this season.

Did you know…

3.09 – The average amount of goals per Conference South match this season

17 – The amount of different goalscorers Hampton and Richmond have had in the Conference South this season (including an own goal). The highest amount by any club this season, Dartford have had 16 different goalscorers also including one goal.

156 – The lowest recorded attendance so far this season in the league when Thurrock played Weston Super-Mare at Ship Lane on 20 August 2011.

3014 – The Woking versus Farnborough derby attracted the biggest attendance so far this season on Boxing Day