Chester v Dartford

Dartford visit the Deva Stadium for the very first time to take on newly promoted Chester on Saturday.

The Darts travel North West in hope they can return to winning ways in the Conference Premier, after defeat at home to Lincoln City last weekend. Following the 2-0 triumph over Tamworth, Tony Burman’s side hosted the Imps and were two down inside half an hour. Elliot Bradbrook pulled back the deficit and a controversial refereeing decision which denied the Darts a penalty, prevented the points being shared.

On Tuesday night Nathan Collier, Tyrone Sterling, Alex Woodyard and Ryan Hayes featured in a much changed starting eleven against local rivals Welling United in the Kent Senior Cup. Burman also gave starts to newly added squad members Jay Porter, George Monger, Uche Ibemere and Mohamed Eisa.

Eisa struck first with a deflected effort giving the Darts a lead going into half time. Welling United hit back in the second half with a Loick Pires goal but Dartford stretched their lead to 3-1 with strikes from Woodyard and substitute Brima Daramy. The Wings managed a consolation through Loui Fazakerley, the defender scored the final goal of the evening but it was Dartford who progressed to the next round with a 3-2 victory.

Chester have pedigree at this level despite technically never playing in the Conference Premier. Formerly known as Chester City the club was dissolved after 125 years whilst participating in the top flight of non league. Only three years ago did the new Chester side start their journey back up the football pyramid smashing records along the way.

Managed by Neil Young since the club formed, Chester have won a treble of back to back promotions wining league titles on each occasion. Last season’s Conference North Team of the Year amassed 107 points last term with a goal difference of plus 71 and set six new records for the league.

In contrast the 2013/14 campaign has been far from successful for the Cheshire club who currently lie third from bottom, but would be a position lower if it wasn’t for Aldershot Town’s points deduction. Key losses over the summer in midfielder Antoni Sarcevic to Fleetwood Town and last season’s top scorer Nathan Jarman, who moved to North Ferriby United hasn’t helped the cause.

Young has pulled of a coup by capturing former Manchester United, Southampton and Stoke City defender Danny Higginbotham only last week. The 34 year old has ‘fallen in love with football again’ after moving from League One side Sheffield United. Despite five straight defeats for the newly promoted club, Higginbotham couldn’t have wished for a better start.

In the early kick off last weekend against Wrexham, the Blues claimed their first scalp of the season in the much anticipated derby. Paul Linwood headed the first goal from the six-yard after five minutes. Lewis Turner then made it 2-0 on 17 minutes with the help of twin brother Nathan who set the defender up. Young has urged his side not to relax after victory against the Welsh club and to use the win to push his side to more rewarding performances.

Team News

Dartford’s starting line up will be much changed from Tuesday nights cup match at Welling United with a number of more experienced players returning to the side. Mat Mitchel-King missed the defeat at home to Lincoln City through injury and Tony Burman has no suspension concerns.

Chester will be without Ashley Williams who has appeared in four of the Blues fixtures this term, starting twice. The midfielder was dismissed in Saturday’s win at Wrexham for violent conduct and will miss three games.

Current Form

Chester (WLLLLL) Dartford (LWLLLW)
Wrexham A 2-0 Lincoln City H 1-2
Forest Green Rovers H 1-2 Tamworth A 2-0
Kidderminster Harriers A 1-3 Braintree Town H 0-2
Woking H 0-2 FC Halifax Town H 0-2
Hereford United H 0-2 Aldershot Town A 0-3
Barnet A 0-3 Alfreton Town H 1-0


4 – number of goals scored by Dartford and Chester this season, only Tamworth have netted fewer.

22 – Chester have used 22 players, along with FC Halifax who were promoted from the Conference North with the Blues. No other team has used more players this term.

34 – The Blues have attempted the fewest shots at goal, hitting and missing the target 17 times.

315 – the number of minutes it took Chester to register their first Conference Premier goal.

321 – the number of minutes Dartford went without scoring a goal before the 2-0 win at Tamworth.


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