Dartford v Margate

Dartford see out the year in top form and next up is newly promoted Margate at Princes Park.

An eight match unbeaten run in the National South leaves the Darts two points away from the playoff places, with a game in hand.

Dartford host newly promoted Margate for the first time in over five years hoping to record a double. Earlier in the season, the Darts won 2-0 at Hartsdown Park in August. Lee Noble opened the scoring with a header from Barry Cogan’s cross. The Darts were then reduced to ten men after Lee Burns received a second yellow card. Despite the setback, Elliot Bradbrook added a second to seal a well-deserved victory.

December could see boss Tony Burman in with a chance of picking up Manager of the Month. His team have picked up four wins from four, the latest on Boxing Day away to Chelmsford City. The 1-0 victory was Dartford’s third in a row and the second in which Andy Pugh netted the winner. This time the striker DESCRIBE GOAL.

Pugh’s form means fellow striker, Tom Bradbrook will need to prove his worth as he comes back from injury. Bradbrook is expected to return to the squad on Monday after missing the last four games. Lee Burns made way for the impressive Tom Gardiner on Boxing Day, the full back failed a late fitness test. Gardiner slotted into the defence with ease as the Darts kept a third consecutive clean sheet, the first time since March 2011.

During Dartford’s Isthmian Premier league winning season, Margate left Princes Park stunned in March 2010. James Pinnock capitalised on a defensive mishap and netted the winner just after the hour. The visitors stayed organised and desperate for the points they grabbed all three.

Since reforming, the Darts have beaten Margate twice at home in seven attempts. In a league fixture, the last home victory came 18 years ago. Despite a slow start to 2015/16, Tony Burman will feel his side has every opportunity to end the run as they aim towards the playoffs.

The Gate are struggling in their first National South campaign back after a ten year absence. Terry Brown who guided the club to promotion last term is no longer the man in charge. At the beginning of December, Brown described the month as key for the club. A day later, following a 3-0 defeat to fellow strugglers St Albans City, Brown departed Margate. In stepped club captain Nikki Bull and coach Jamie Stuart, who continue the fight against relegation.

Margate took ten matches to record their first win in the league, leaving the coastal side on the back foot. Consecutive victories over Eastbourne Borough and Gosport Borough were followed by inconsistent results and sitting at the wrong end of the table.

Bull’s managerial reign has got off to a flyer with double 1-0 wins against playoff chasers Gosport Borough and Maidstone United. Similarly to the Darts, a striker has scored the winner in both matches, this time Freddie Ladapo is the man, Margate’s top scorer this season.

Former Dart, Nathan Green is likely to return to Princes Park having made 15 appearances under Tony Burman last season. The defender signed in the summer by Terry Brown can also be used in midfield.

New boss, Nikki Bull has added goalkeeper Chris Lewington to the squad. The 27 year old impressed Dagenham and Redridge when he was at Leatherhead. Lewington made 120 appearances for the Daggers in the Football League before joining Colchester United, where he played just once.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 45 / Margate wins: 42 / Draws: 28

Current League Form

Dartford (WWWWDW) Margate (WWLWDL)
Chelmsford City  A  1-0 Maidstone United  H  1-0
Whitehawk  A  1-0 Gosport Borough  H  1-0
Basingstoke Town  A  1-0 St Albans City  A  0-3
Havant & Waterlooville  H  4-2 Hemel Hempstead Town  A  2-1
Maidstone United  H  1-1 Bath City  H  1-1
Hayes & Yeading United  H  2-0 Whitehawk  H  2-6

Last Meeting at Princes Park

23 March 2010 – Dartford 0 Margate 1 – attendance 907

Darts lineup – Andrew Young, Billy Burgess, Adam Gross, Adam Flanagan, Jon Beales, Danny Dafter, Ryan Hayes, Danny Harris, Allan Tait, Lee Burns, Elliot Bradbrook (subs used: Carl Rook, Rob Haworth, James White)

Previous Six Meetings (* – F.A Trophy)

23.02.2010 Dartford 0 Margate 1
18.08.2009 Margate 0 Dartford 4
07.03.2009 Margate 2 Dartford 2
02.12.2008 Dartford 3 Margate 2
11.10.2008 Dartford 0 Margate 1
12.11.2005* Margate 0 Dartford 1

League Stats

With one game left of the calendar year, Dartford’s record has been won 13, drew 11, lost 16, scoring 46 and conceding 54.

8 – the Darts are on the longest current sequence of unbeaten runs, five teams have managed reaching double figures (Ebbsfleet United, Truro City and Oxford City recorded 11, whilst Maidstone United and Whitehawk notched up ten)

3 – clean sheets in a row for Dartford for the first time in almost five years. The Darts last kept three consecutive clean sheets between 22 February 2011 and 5 March 2011 when the beat Dorchester Town, Basingstoke Town then Maidenhead United in the Conference South.

27 – points Dartford have taken against teams in the bottom half of the National South. The Darts have won nine out of ten and lost just once to Wealdstone

On This Day

Dartford’s last fixture on 28 December was a local derby against rivals Ebbsfleet United five years ago. The Fleet ran out 2-1 winners at Stonebridge Road as the Darts were reduced to nine men. Derek Duncan’s free kick gave the Fleet the lead before Elliot Bradbrook levelled. Joe Bruce was sent off when he conceded a penalty which Callum Willock scored. James White became the second Dartford player to be dismissed after a second caution. Thirteen years ago, the Darts were involved in an entertaining 3-3 home draw with Burnham and in 1998 beat former landlords Erith and Belvedere 2-0.

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