Chelmsford City v Dartford

Dartford look to continue their fine form on Boxing Day, when they travel across the Thames to face Chelmsford City.

When the fixture list was announced pre-season, the Darts and the Clarets seemed an unusual festive pairing. On Saturday, they meet for the first time since Dartford’s promotion winning campaign.

The form of both sides is contrasting with Dartford recording the most points in the last six fixtures, whilst Chelmsford City have taken the least. Victory for the Darts could move them into the National South playoffs.

Tony Burman’s side stretched their unbeaten run in the National South to seven last weekend, with their third consecutive away win. Andy Pugh finally scored for the Darts, ending a three month drought. The striker’s shot made its way through a crowded penalty area, which turned out to be the winner. With Pugh netting the only goal, Elliot Bradbrook’s run of scoring ended after five consecutive league matches.

At the other end of the pitch, Dartford have now kept two consecutive clean sheets, the first time in the league since April 2013. Burman praised his defence after Saturday’s match against Whitehawk, who were the league’s top scorers, he told “We defended very well”, he continued: “I thought we thoroughly deserved the win. Deren Ibrahim hasn’t had a save to make against one of the top-scoring teams in this league”.

Victory at the Enclosed Ground moved the Darts up to seventh, two points behind the playoffs with a game or two in hand over those above them. The win in Sussex, followed a well earned triumph at Basingstoke Town and an entertaining victory in their last home game versus Havant and Waterlooville.

Burman is hoping the momentum will continue, he added: “We’ve started December really well and we’ve spoken about getting to the end of February still being involved (in the play-off race)”.

Chelmsford City have lost much of their early season promise, which saw them in the top four by mid-September. The Clarets lost just twice in their opening ten fixtures, they have won just twice since.

The Essex club host the Darts on the back of three consecutive defeats. Excluding a county cup triumph, Chelmsford City have gone three months without a home win and are lacking goals at Melbourne Park, scoring once in their last five on their own turf.

Last weekend, the Clarets were beaten by Wealdstone to continue their recent poor home form. Wesley Parker and Bradley Hudson-Odoi scored for the visitors as the Stones won 2-0. Defeat comes off the back of home league losses against Eastbourne Borough, Truro City and Oxford City. The only point picked up in that time at the Melbourne Community Stadium was versus league leaders Ebbsfleet United. The Clarets have also lost recently to Hampshire side Gosport Borough.

Despite recent form, Chelmsford City have shown flashes of inspiration recording a 5-2 victory over Concord Rangers, their last home win back in mid-September. Just before the current losing streak, the Clarets travelled to play Hayes and Yeading United and recorded a 5-0 victory.

The Essex club now has two former Darts in their ranks. Defender, Rory McAuley made 70 appearances for Dartford before making the switch across the Thames in the summer. Last term, midfielder Luke Daley turned out 38 times for the Darts, in his only season with the club.

Both sides will be desperate to provide more value than the two encounters in the 2011/12 season. In August 2011, the match at the Melbourne Community Stadium ended 0-0, the same scoreline  was recorded eight months later at Princes Park.

Team News

Tom Gardiner continues to try a regain a place in the starting eleven. Barry Cogan’s absence meant Tom Wynter played in midfield last weekend, however Cogan is likely to be fit for selection. Striker, Tom Bradbrook was left out of the 1-0 win at Whitehawk, after turning his ankle in training. Ryan Hayes was missing from the starting eleven with a chest infection, although he did make the bench last week.

Head to Head

Chelmsford City wins: 50 / Dartford wins: 34 / Draws: 18

Current League Form

Chelsmford City (LLLWLL) Dartford (WWWDWW)
Wealdstone  H  0-2 Whitehawk  A  0-1
Gosport Borough  A  1-2 Basingstoke Town  A  1-0
Eastbourne Borough  H  0-3 Havant & Waterlooville  H  4-2
Hayes & Yeading Utd  A  5-0 Maidstone United  H  1-1
Truro City  H  1-2 Hayes & Yeading Utd  H  2-0
Bath City  A  0-2 Bishop’s Stortford  A  2-1

Last Meeting at Melbourne Community Stadium

27 August 2011 – Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0 – attendance 1013

Darts lineup – Andrew Young, Matthew Jones, Adam Green, Tom Bonner, Paul Goodacre, Tom Champion, Ryan Hayes, Jon Wallis, Chalrie Sheringham, Elliot Bradbrook, Richard Graham (subs used: Danny Harris, Lee Burns, Lee Noble)

Previous Six Meetings (* – F.A Cup)

07.04.2012 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 0
27.08.2011 Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0
03.01.2011 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2
30.08.2010 Chelmsford City 2 Dartford 0
10.10.2009* Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 4
12.03.2001 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1


On This Day – Boxing Day stats

Dartford’s Boxing Day record is mixed since reforming with four wins, three draws and six defeats.

Dartford have lost their last two against Braintree Town (0-2) and Welling United (1-2).

Three years ago, they beat Ebbsfleet United 3-1 with goals from Harry Crawford (2) and Elliot Brdbrook.

Dartford last played away on Boxing Day against Welling United in the National South four years ago which ended 1-1.

The most memorable win was in 2007 when Canvey Island were blown away as the Darts romped to a 6-1 win, Steve Norman, Ryan Hayes, Brendon Cass, Jay May, Eddie McClements and Jamie Coyle were the scorers that day.

The most played team over Boxing Day since reforming is Erith and Belvedere, the two sides met three times during the Southern League Division One era.

Twenty years ago Dartford lost their only game in the Kent League. A 1-0 defeat to Furness proved crucial as the Swanley based side later won the title on the final day, in a showdown against the Darts.

The last Boxing Day away win came in 2006 when Dartford beat Chatham Town 3-2 in the Isthmian Division One South.

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