Dartford v Burgess Hill Town

The F.A Cup returns and has paired Dartford with Burgess Hill Town, two sides who last met almost eight years ago in the Isthmian Division One South.

Thirteen goals in the last two meetings against the Hillians, including arguably the best goal seen at Princes Park provide fond memories for Darts fans.

On the opening day of Dartford’s homecoming season, three months before the Darts moved into their new home, a memorable away day gave Dartford the best possible start. In a 6-1 victory, fans favourite Brendon Cass opened his season with a hat trick, John Farley recorded his only goal of 2006/07 and Jay May notched a brace.

At Princes Park, the Darts opened 2007 in even more style putting a further seven past the Hillians. Cass grabbed another hat trick against the Sussex club but it was David Martin’s wonder strike which got the terraces talking, the winger later earned a deal with Championship side Crystal Palace. Defender, John Guest and no other than Ryan Hayes were the other two scorers on the day in an astounding 7-2 win.

This season Dartford have become draw specialists in recent weeks sharing the spoils in four of their last five fixtures. The most recent was the 1-1 draw with Aldershot Town. Mid way through the first half the Shots took the lead when Josh Scott beat Jason Brown after good work from striker Brett Williams. A couple of second half substitutions helped the Darts get back in the game, Peter Sweeney and Lee Noble brightened things up with Sweeney getting more involved.  The midfielder found Harry Crawford advancing who crossed to Andy Pugh for the equaliser. Brown made some important saves to ensure Dartford ended the afternoon with a point, however Tony Burman’s side did slip into the bottom four.

The Darts boss was disappointed with the first half last weekend, he told “When our goalkeeper’s had the most possession out of our 11 players on the field.I’m thinking ‘what the hell’s going on?’ Why on earth we kept passing it back to him from the halfway line is beyond me”. However, the second half display was improved and Burman felt his side could have done more to take all three points, he added: “We went more positive and got the ball forward and started to cause them problems”, he continued: “When you get a goal back like that, you’re looking for your team to kick on and raise the tempo because they’ve got the enthusiasm because you’ve scored – but it wasn’t to be”.

Burman is unlikely to dwell on the fact Dartford have a fine record against their F.A Cup opponents, and knows a tricky tie is expected against the Isthmian Division One South leaders. Whilst Dartford have since climbed up to the Conference Premier, this weekend’s opponents Burgess Hill Town remain in the same division and are hoping to create their own piece of history.

Unbeaten in all competitions, the Hillians approach the F.A Cup on the back of a stunning 15 consecutive wins. The Sussex side have opened up a nine point lead as they set the early pace. Never before have Burgess Hill Town made it to the F.A Cup first round proper, however they have made it to the fourth qualifying stage on two occasions. In 1999, a 4-1 defeat away to Hereford United ended a run that included eight games and three replays. In 2008, the Hillians missed out after losing 3-0 to Harlow Town.

Burgess Hill Town began their cup run back in August when they hosted Sussex League side Eastbourne Town in the Preliminary Round. A home tie at their Green Elephants Stadium may not have been a vintage performance but substitute Lee Harding netted the only goal with 11 minutes to go.

Rob O’Toole was the hero in the First Qualifying Round scoring a hat-trick at Croydon. The Hillians got off to a great start when O’Toole tapped in after two minutes. Croydon levelled before half time when Tristan Toney curled the ball beyond goalkeeper Josh James. O’Toole and Toney traded goalscoring blows once more to leave the scores at 2-2, and with seven minutes remaining O’Toole scored the winner to conclude the five goal thriller.

Hampshire club Fleet Town were swept aside in the next round on their own patch. By half time Burgess Hill Town had built up an unassailable 3-0 lead. Greg Luer’s brace either side of O’Toole’s fourth F.A Cup goal of the campaign was added to by Scott Kirkwood in the second half.

A fortnight ago, the Hillians caused their biggest upset in their excellent run. Drawn away to Conference South club Sutton United, Ian Chapman’s side entered Gander Green Lane as underdogs. Kirkwood was the first to put the ball passed former Dartford goalkeeper Alan Julian after only four minutes. The hosts came out of the blocks quickly in the second half and equalised through Michael Spillane. Burgess Hill Town left it to the final fifteen minutes to march into the next round. Luer put the Sussex club ahead and with three minutes to go, Dann Perry took his chance to seal a shock victory.

Last weekend Burgess Hill Town commenced their F.A Trophy campaign and got off to a winning start. Hosting Aveley of the Isthmian Division One North, the Hillians won the tie with a Luer penalty just after half time. Manager, Ian Chapman used his squad handing starts to Perry and Lee Harding who have mainly featured from the substitutes bench.

The Sussex club were promoted from their County League in 2003 winning promotion to the Southern League Eastern Division. In their only campaign in that particular division, Burgess Hill Town met Dartford and lost both matches. Since then, the Hillians have completed 10 years in the Isthmian League in Division One.

Team News

Lee Burns has been missing with injury sustained against Grimsby Town at the beginning of the month. Peter Sweeney’s return last weekend and Lee Noble’s second half appearance continues the duo’s recovery.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 4 / Burgess Hill Town wins 1 / Draws: 0

Current Form (* – F.A Cup / ** – F.A Trophy / *** – League Cup)

Dartford (DDLDDW) Burgess Hill Town (WWWWWW)
Aldershot Town H 1-1 Aveley** H 1-0
Macclesfield Town H 1-1 Sittingbourne A 4-0
Bristol Rovers A 0-1 Sutton United* A 3-1
Grimsby Town H 1-1 Redhill*** A 3-1
Welling United A 2-2 Guernsey A 2-0
Nuneaton Town A 2-1 Mertsham H 2-0

Previous Meetings

13.01.2007** Dartford 7 Burgess Hill Town 2
19.08.2006** Burgess Hill Town 1 Dartford 6
28.10.2003^ Dartford 0 Burgess Hill Town 3
21.10.2003* Dartford 2 Burgess Hill Town 1
20.08.2003* Burgess Hill Town 0 Dartford 1

*Southern League Division One Eastern / **Isthmian Division One South / ^ Southern League Cup

F.A Cup Performances (Last Ten Years)

Season Dartford Burgess Hill Town
2013/14 1st Rd v Salisbury City 2Q v Bromley
2012/13 4Q v Forest Green Rovers Pre v Littlehampton Town
2011/12 4Q v Bromley Pre v Thamesmead Town
2010/11 1st Rd v Port Vale 2Q v Metropolitan Police
2009/10 3Q v Chelmsford City Pre v Chipstead
2008/09 2Q v Hampton and Richmond 4Q v Harlow Town
2007/08 3Q v Bromley 1Q v Dover Athletic
2006/07 1Q v Hastings United Pre v Maidstone United
2005/06 Pre v Dorking 1Q v Walton and Hersham
2004/05 1Q v Dorking Pre v Brockenhurst


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