Dartford v Ebbsfleet United

Dartford will be up against local rivals and National League South favourites Ebbsfleet United on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Darts have made a steady start to their campaign picking up ten points in six games. Their opponents have so far lived up to expectations winning their first four, however dropped points on Saturday leaves them second in the National League South.

Dartford bounced back from a 3-2 home defeat against Gosport Borough to win Saturday’s Kent derby at Hartsdown Park. Another pleasing performance over a misfiring Margate ensured the Darts earned a second away win of the season. Lee Noble scored his first of the campaign with half hour played as Tony Burman’s side dominated the first half. Making his first start since March, Lee Burns was dismissed to make life difficult on a slender lead. Any doubts were extinguished with twenty minutes to go when captain Elliot Bradbrook secured the three points.

Ebbsfleet United are sitting five points behind early pace setters Bath City with a game in hand. The Fleet opened their season with a 1-0 win over Basingstoke Town. A Jordan Parkes double gave Daryl McMahon’s side a 2-0 victory at Kent rivals Maidstone United before a third successive clean sheet and 2-0 triumph at St Albans City.

After 310 minutes of football, the Fleet conceded their first goal when Wealdstone took the lead but goals from Parkes and Danny Kedwell turned the match around. On Saturday, it was Ebbsfleet United’s turn to come from behind after finding themselves two down at home to Whitehawk. The second half comeback was completed when former Dart, Matthew Godden scored then ex Ipswich Town player Danny Haynes netted the equaliser.

When the fixture list came out it was a surprise to some that the Darts would meet the Fleet so early in the season. Many expected the Kent derby to take place over the festive period.

It’s been almost two years since the last meeting against Ebbsfleet United in a F.A Cup qualifier. The Darts were under pressure to progress being in the higher division at the time.

After a draw at Stonebridge Road the tie went back to Princes Park which Dartford edged in a 1-0 victory. The Fleet missed a penalty in the first game and once again a spot kick ended up the deciding factor.

Elliot Bradbrook took his chance from 12 yards on his 200th Dartford appearance, putting Tony Burman’s side ahead. Alan Julian became the hero and Anthony Cook the villain as the latter had his penalty saved by the Darts goalkeeper.

The last league meeting at Princes Park came on Boxing Day in 2012. Dartford came from a goal down to take all three points with three unanswered goals. Fleet’s Liam Enveer-Marum scored just after half time but the Darts hit back thanks to a Harry Crawford brace and an Elliot Bradbrook effort.

Both sides have slipped down the Kent pecking order in recent seasons and are keen to return to the National League. The Darts will be determined to put right back to back bottom four finishes in that division.

The Fleet have pressure to succeed due to the financial backing the club is receiving. The club is looking to return to the top flight of non-league football in their third campaign back in the National League South.

Ebbsfleet United hope to be in the Football League sooner rather than later and after a disappointing 2014/15 campaign by their standards, this season has started brightly, with the exception of their abandonment at Stonebridge Road just over a fortnight ago.

Returning back to Princes Park will be central defender Tom Bonner who was instrumental in Dartford’s promotion to the National League. Making over 100 appearances for the Darts, the 27 year old’s performances earned him a move to Cambridge United but injury curtailed his playing time with the U’s.

Kenny Clark also featured for Burman and was part of the 2013/14 squad that finished in the bottom four. Clark was used as a central defender and midfielder that season and made over 30 appearances. In the same campaign, Matthew Godden spent time on loan at Princes Park, the striker scored five goals in nine league games.

Whilst the Darts have recent National League experience at their disposal, the Fleet’s squad is stronger in size. In the summer, manager Daryl McMahon added to his squad which includes newly signed Jordan Parkes from Hemel Hempstead Town, the striker scored 21 times for the Tudors last term.

Danny Kedwell brings experience up front, the former Gillingham and AFC Wimbledon man is in his first full season with the Fleet. The fact another former Dart, Charlie Sheringham has missed games through injury and Adam Cunnington has been used sparingly, despite averaging a goal every other game, shows the depth and quality available to McMahon, a reflection of the kind of budget Ebbsfleet United are working with.

Bragging rights will be up for grabs this Bank Holiday and since the Fleet have changed their name, the Darts are unbeaten in the last three home meetings against their local rivals.

Head to Head

Ebbsfleet United wins: 107 / Dartford wins: 116 / Draws 90

Current League Form

Dartford (WLWDWL) Ebbsfleet United (WWWWD)
Margate  A  2-0 Whitehawk  H  2-2
Gosport Borough  H  2-3 Wealdstone  A  2-1
Concord Rangers  A  3-2 Weston Super Mare  H  A-A
Sutton United  H  2-2 St Albans City  A  2-0
Eastbourne Borough  H  1-0 Maidstone United  A  2-0
Hemel Hempstead Town  A  0-1 Basingstoke Town  H  1-0

Previous Meetings

29.10.2013 Dartford 1 Ebbsfleet United 0
26.10.2013 Ebbsfleet United 1 Dartford 1
01.01.2013 Ebbsfleet United 2 Dartford 2
26.12.2012 Dartford 3 Ebbsfleet United 1
28.12.2010 Ebbsfleet United 2 Dartford 1
28.08.2010 Dartford 1 Ebbsfleet United 1

On This Day
After five games of the 2009/10 Isthmian Premier League campaign the Darts had won their first four before drawing. The unbeaten run continued at AFC Hornchurch with goals from Lee Burns and Elliot Bradbrook. Two years ago, Dartford were beaten by Lincoln City at Princes Park. Elliot Bradbrook’s goal was just a consolation after the Imps went in at half time two up. Twelve years ago Dartford played Bashley, winning a F.A Cup tie 1-0 at home. The two sides had met on the same day five years prior when Bashley won by a single goal in the Southern League Southern Division.

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