Dartford v East Thurrock United

Dartford will look to bounce back from their New Year’s Day defeat with their first ever win over East Thurrock United on the weekend.

The Darts host this season’s draw specialists after narrowly losing away to rivals Ebbsfleet United. The result left Dartford outside of the playoff spots but they remain in a strong position with a game in hand. Despite slipping out of the top five, the Darts did manage to beat their rivals on Boxing Day to take three points out of six over the festive period.

East Thurrock United have been a tough side to crack this term. In their first ever campaign in the National South, the Essex club have only been beaten four times, only league leaders Maidenhead United and Chelmsford City have lost fewer. The Rocks have drawn 12 of their 23 games this season, including their last two against Essex rivals Concord Rangers.

So it’s hardly surprising that when Dartford last faced John Coventry’s side it ended all square back in September. Ben Marlow scored for East Thurrock United from a spot kick, and when Tom Bonner conceded his second penalty of the afternoon, the Rocks should have gone two up. This time Deren Ibrahim made a fine save to deny Marlow giving the Darts a lift. Fortunately for Tony Burman’s side Ryan Hayes equalised from a cross to salvage a point.

Although Dartford have been beaten twice in three league games, they have only lost once at Princes Park in the National South. Tom Wynter will serve the final game of his suspension after his red card at Maidenhead United. New signing Tom Murphy managed a substitute appearance on New Year’s Day as he looks to settle in with the squad.

Potentially returning to Princes Park for the first time since leaving the Darts in the summer, Lee Burns could face his former team mates. Burns spent seven seasons with Dartford making 272 appearances scoring 33 times. He was pivotal in Dartford’s Isthmian Premier League title campaign as a striker when he top scored with 23 goals and won Player of the Year..

East Thurrock United are two places below Dartford and eight points behind. The Rocks are the sixth highest scorers this term and were the top scorers with 107 goals in last season’s Isthmian Premier League. John Coventry has masterminded the club’s rise to the National South, the highest level the club as ever played.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 0 / East Thurrock United wins: 2 / Draws: 1

Current League Form
Dartford (LWLWWW)
Lost 0-1 v Ebbsfleet United (A)
Won 2-1 v Ebbsfleet United (H)
Lost 0-5 v Maidenhead United (A)
Won 2-1 v Poole Town (H)
Won 3-0 v Bishop’s Stortford (A)
Won 2-0 v Hemel Hempstead Town (H)

East Thurrock United (DDWLDW)
Drew 1-1 v Concord Rangers (H)
Drew 1-1 v Concord Rangers (A)
Won 5-1 v Truro City (H)
Lost 0-1 v Wealdstone (A)
Drew 1-1 v St Albans City (h)
Won 3-2 v Whitehawk (A)

Previous Meetings
East Thurrock United 1 Dartford 1 (10/09/2016 – National South)
Dartford 0 East Thurrock United 3 (30/04/2005 – Southern League Division One East)
East Thurrock United 2 Dartford 1 (38/08/2004 – Southern League Division One East)

On This Day
Dartford seem to recover well from all the New Year festivities, the Darts have won seven of their last eight matches on 7 January. The last victory came five years ago at Havant and Waterlooville with Elliot Bradbrook and Danny Harris both netting a brace. Arlesley Town are the side to take points off the Darts on 7 January in the last 56 years, the last triumphant opponents were Worcester City in 1961. In the Southern Premier League, Dartford beat Alvechurch (1989) and Hastings United (1984) both 2-1 and Grantham 4-0 in 1978. Ashford United were thrashed 5-0 in the 1971 Kent Floodligh Cup fixture, Charlton Athletic defeated 2-0 in a 1969 friendly and in 1967, Merthyr Tydfil were beaten 4-1 in the Southern League First Division.

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