Altrincham v Dartford

Dartford face Conference North playoff winners Altrincham on Non League day travelling to Moss Lane for the first time in nearly thirty years.

Coming off the back of their first win of the season the Darts climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-1 home win against AFC Telford United. The Conference North champions took the lead ten minutes before half time through Tony Gray but the second half saw a change in fortune. Luke Daley scored his first for the club with a well taken shot from 20 yards and Andy Pugh completed the turnaround.
Tony Burman along with the home support was relieved that his side recorded a win and spoke to, he said: “We’ve won the game and everyone’s gone home happy. It’s a little bit of a relief. In all fairness to the supporters, they want to get behind the players, they’re here to support their club. It’s not been great over the last year or so, with what’s happened, but we’re building again. The longer you go without that win, it becomes a monkey on your back”.

The Darts boss also praised striker Andy Pugh, adding: “He’s been full-time at Cambridge and it’s done him the world of good. He doesn’t mind dropping off in the hole. When you’re playing 4-4-2 and you’re playing against teams who play three in the middle of the park, sometimes you can get a little bit overrun. What we do is that the forward has to come in deeper in the hole and try to pick that third man up. Pughy’s decent at it and when he gets the ball, he’s intelligent”.

Peter Sweeney was allowed to play a more central role in midfield and with Danny Harris coming on Dartford gained impetus. Harris spent last week in talks with Burman about his future with the club and opted to stay at Princes Park to fight for his place.

Away from Princes Park, Dartford have gained just one point at Woking and have found their travels difficult, last picking up an away win at Hyde in March.

Altrincham are still getting to grips with their return to the Conference Premier picking up one win in their opening six matches. A home win against relegated League two side Bristol Rovers was sandwiched between defeats against Aldershot Town, Lincoln City and more recently Southport, Gateshead and Nuneaton Town.

Lee Sinnott has asked his strikers to be more clinical in front of goal, he told the Non League Paper: “We had a lot of possession but things petered out a bit in the final third today. If you’re not going to ask enough questions, you’re not going to get the answers that you want. We didn’t show that spark”.

The Altrincham boss is confident his side will move in the right direction, he commented: “This team is capable of scoring goals and we will get better as the season goes on. If we do that, we’ll get more points”. One player who has known where the goal is Damian Reeves, the striker has scored 115 goals in 170 appearances for Alty and has grabbed the attention of a number of league clubs in the past.

Dartford’s history against their hosts is all set in the eighties with two memorable F.A Trophy wins at the Quarter Final stages. Tony Burman will recall being part of the 1981/82 and the 1984 to 1986 squads. Darts leading appearance maker Steve Robinson will be remembered for the same era with players such as Peter Taylor and Andy Hessenthaler involved in the last meeting between the two sides in 1989.

The last trip to Moss Lane ended without a goal in the Gola League against a strong Altrincham side who finished fourth and won the F.A Trophy. On that day in September 1985, John Still was in charge of the Darts but by the time Alty visited Watling Street in February 1986 he had resigned.

Head to Head

Altrincham wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 4 / Draws: 1

Last Meetings
Dartford 1 Altrincham 0 – F.A Trophy Quarter Final – 11 March 1989

Club favourite Steve Robinson scored a 55th minute winner to put the Darts into the F.A Trophy semi final. Dartford playing a league below Altrincham ended the season as runners up in the Southern League. The clubs met at the same stage eight years earlier when Dartford ran out 3-1 winners at Watling Street.

Dartford 3 Altrincham 2 – Conference Premier – 1 February 1986

This may sound familiar, Dartford had little joy in the second successive Conference Premier campaign. Known as the Gola League the Darts were relegated but victory over Altrincham was one of the few highlights. At the time Dartford were managerless following John Still’s resignation eleven days earlier.

Altrincham 0 Dartford 0 – Conference Premier – 21 September 1985

In an experimental season where teams were awarded two points for a home win and three for an away win, Dartford drew 0-0 in the north west. The Robins went on to finish fourth, win the F.A Trophy for a second time in their history beating Runcorn  and reached the fourth round of the F.A Cup triumphing over Chorley, Blackpool, Birmingham City on the way to defeat against York City.

Previous Meetings (* F.A Trophy Quarter Final)

11.03.1989* Dartford 1 Altrincham 0
01.02.1986 Dartford 3 Altrincham 2
21.09.1985 Altrincham 0 Dartford 0
27.04.1985 Altrincham 2 Dartford 1
29.09.1984 Dartford 1 Altrincham 0
13.03.1982 Dartford 0 Altrincham 1
24.10.1981 Altrincham 2 Dartford 0
14.03.1981* Dartford 3 Altrincham 1


5 – Steven Gillespie received the quickest yellow card this season from coming on as a substitute. Gillespie had only been on the pich for 5 minutes and 43 seconds before being cautioned against Gateshead

13 – number of games since Dartford recordd back to back league wins

14 – Dartford and Altrincham have not won by more than a goal in their last 14 league matches

16 – Altrincham’s Steven Gillespie has had the most shots per goal this season

364 -Luke Daley’s goal agaisnt AFC Telford United ended Dartford’s goal drought of 364 minutes

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