Dartford v Braintree Town

Dartford face fellow part timers Braintree Town with both clubs looking to finish as the highest semi professional team in the country.

The Darts can complete a rare league double over a Conference Premier club after defeating the Irons back in September. Dartford dominated possession at Cressing Road and were rewarded with two goals and a clean sheet. In the midst of the teams best run of the season, Tom Bonner opened the scoring by taking advantage of Ryan Hayes’s free kick. Jacob Erskine doubled the lead with an well taken header, again Hayes was the provider. The Darts kept their two goal half time cushion to see out the second half.

Tony Burman’s side are in tenth spot leading the way in the standings over Braintree Town and Woking, the other part time clubs challenging for the highest finish by a semi professional team. The accolade will be closely contested as a single point separates the three clubs.

Dartford failed to increase the gap between them and the Irons on Tuesday night despite taking the lead against Grimsby Town. Jack Evans scored his second goal of the season following up Nathan Collier’s double attempt in the 26th minute. The Darts worked extremely hard on and off the ball edging the first half. Grimsby Town secured a playoff spot in the final fifteen minutes when first Andy Cook equalised then former Braintree Town full back Aswad Thomas scored with two minutes remaining.

Burman spoke to BBC Radio Kent after the defeat  claiming the sides were only separated by experience, he said: “It’s the experience of a full-time side. They see games out, they keep plodding away and we had the opportunities to go 2-0 and where we didn’t take them, we paid the price”.

Mariners goalkeeper James McKeown helped the visitors to victory with a couple of outstanding saves, Burman added: “Their keeper has had some great games against us. He pulled off a fantastic save in the first half and an equally fantastic save from Danny Harris at 1-1”.

Last season Braintree Town were the Conference Premier’s surprise package much like Dartford are this term. In the clubs second season at the summit of non league football it has been much tougher. Alan Devonshire’s side occupy twelfth place after a recent spurt of form moved the Irons away from danger in February and March, since then the Irons have been inconsistent.

This week Braintree Town lost 1-0 away to Newport County who also secured their playoff spot with Grimsby Town. Conor Washington scored for the Welsh side just after half time firing past Nathan McDonald in the Irons goal. On the weekend the Essex club won 2-1 against an in form Hyde side. James Mulley scored and set up Ben Wright for the second just before the break and Hyde’s Jamie Milligan pulled a goal back late on.

Up front the Essex club rely on Sean Marks and Dan Holman who have netted the majority of league goals. Former favourite Wright is now back at Cressing Road on loan from Forest Green Rovers, the 24 year old top scored for Braintree Town last season. At the back the they have the experience of Dean Wells and former Norwich City youngster Sam Habergham. Whilst Mulley and Kenny Davis often feature in midfield.

Two seasons ago Dartford put in two exceptional performances against the eventual Conference South champions. In the space of twelve days the Darts won 1-0 at Princes Park with a 79th minute goal from captain Elliot Bradbrook then followed up the victory with 1-1 draw in Essex. On loan striker John Main levelled the scoring on 38 minutes after the Iron took the lead just five minutes in through a Billy Burgess own goal.

Team News

Tom Champion returns from his two match ban after picking up ten cautions this season. Winger Ryan Hayes missed Tuesday nights defeat with a shoulder injury. Louis Wells is still suffering from ankle ligament damage.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Braintree Town wins: 2 / Draws: 1 / Dartford Goals: 4/ Braintree Town Goals: 7

Current League Form

Dartford (LWWDLW) Braintree Town (LWLWLW)
Grimsby Town H 1-2 Newport County A 0-1
AFC Telford United A 2-0 Hyde FC A 2-1
Woking H 4-1 Southport H 1-3
Newport County A 0-0 Ebbsfleet United H 3-1
Hereford United A 0-1 Kidderminster Harriers A 1-2
Gateshead H 3-0 Alfreton Town H 2-1

Last Meeting

25 September 2012 – Braintree Town 0 Dartford 2 – Att: 721

Goalscorers: Bonner (17), Erskine (34)

The Iron Lineup: Naisbitt, Peters, Bailey-Dennis, Wells, O’Connor, Mulley, Quinton, Symons, Sparkes, Marks, Holman (subs used: Dawkin, Sheppard)

The Darts Lineup: Bettinelli, Burns, Bonner, Arber, Rose, Champion, Bradbrook, Hayes, Harris, Erskine, Wallis (subs used: Rogers, Birchall, Crawford)

Match Stats

Previous Meetings (FAT = F.A Trophy / Fr = Friendly)

25.09.2012 Braintree Town 0 Dartford 2
12.02.2011 Braintree Town 1 Dartford 1
01.02.2011 Dartford 1 Braintree Town 0
20.07.2002 (Fr) Braintree Town 3 Dartford 0
03.11.2001 (FAT) Dartford 0 Braintree Town 3

Did you know..

Alan Devonshire is one of two Conference Premier managers to have won the F.A Cup as a player. Devonshire lifted the F.A Cup for West Ham United in 1980. The Hammers, then a second division side shocked Arsenal in a 1-0 win. Justin Edinburgh also picked up the cup for Tottenham Hotspur in 1991, the Newport County boss was part of the Spurs team that beat Nottingham Forest 2-1.

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