St Albans City v Dartford

February will be an important month for Dartford and they begin with a trip to Clarence Park to face St Albans City this weekend.

The Darts return to the venue where they have lost in their last two attempts without scoring. However, it was Dartford who came out on top earlier in the season when they met at Princes Park back in October. Starting the afternoon level on points with the Saints, a 2-1 victory moved the Darts three points ahead of their opponents to cement first place in the National South. Elliot Bradbrook headed the hosts in front before St Albans City levelled through Charlie Walker. Lyle Della-Verde was involved in the eventual winner when his cross was turned in by former Dart, Tom Bender.

Dartford’s win ended a run of three defeats in a row against the Hertfordshire club, who had kept clean sheets in each of those encounters. Dartford last beat St Albans away from home in 2011 when Lee Burns’ header from 30 yards bounced over the goalkeeper and helped the Darts to a 2-1 victory. Since then, Dartford travelled to Hertfordshire in April 2016 with a glimmer of hope of reaching the playoffs, only to end the campaign on a whimper. The Saints ran out 4-0 winners with two goals from James Kaloczi, a Becka-kah Dembele own goal and Louie Theophanous strike. Almost a year later Charlie Walker’s goal was enough to separate the two sides as the hosts won 1-0 to complete a double over the Darts. Earlier in the campaign, the Saints ended Dartford’s unbeaten home record with goals from Sam Merson and Bender.

Last weekend, Dartford beat one of the form teams of the National South to open a three point lead at the top of the table. Despite their opponents Whitehawk propping up the division, the Darts came through with a 3-1 home win. Ronnie Vint, who celebrated his century of starts for the club before the game opened the goalscoring. The defender scored after the Hawks failed to clear their lines from a Ryan Hayes free kick. The visitors were level on 56 minutes through David Ijaha, but Andy Pugh’s brace a day before his birthday secured another important three points.

Manager Tony Burman spoke to after the game, he said: “I was really pleased with the performance of the players throughout the ninety minutes, Whitehawk are a much improved side and now have some excellent players. It was very important to gain three points which helped us to reach our targets for the end of the month. Although our opponents caused us some problems I felt we managed them very well and probably in the second half when we had a spell with some good delivery from set pieces we could have increased our goals tally.  It is very important that we stay focused in what we want to achieve as we have another tough month coming up”.

The Darts are still searching for more consistencies in their away showings. With five wins, five draws and four defeats Dartford are currently three league matches unbeaten away from Prince Park in the National South, including home form they have not lost in their last seven league outings.

Striker, Danny Mills who has made nine starts and two substitute appearances, has had his loan spell extended until the end of the season. Burman told “I am delighted to have Danny on board for the rest of the season. It now means I have a formidable strike force to pick from for our run in, and with his experience covers any problems that may occur. Danny’s attitude and work rate has been spot on”.

Another former Dart that could be involved on the weekend is Tom Gardiner, who moved to the Saints due to work commitments last season. The defender was was named on the bench last weekend and made an appearance in their 7-2 smashing of East Thurrock United. The headlines belonged to Merson who netted four in the rout to take his tally to 13 league goals for the season, three behind Dartford’s Alfie Pavey who sits third in the scoring charts.

Guided by the experience of Ian Allinson, St Albans City have gone six National South fixtures at home without defeat. Similar to the Darts, the away form is holding the Hertfordshire back as they sit in sixth place. However, the Saints know if they win on the weekend as well as their game in hand then they could be level with Dartford once more.

Head to Head
St Albans City wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 7 / Draws: 4

Current League Form

St Albans City (WDWLDW) Dartford (WDWDWL)
East Thurrock United H 7-2 Whitehawk H 3-1
Eastbourne Borough A 1-1 Chippenham Town A 2-2
Chelmsford City H 2-1 Havant & Waterlooville H 1-0
Hemel Hempstead Town A 0-2 Concord Rangers A 1-1
Hemel Hempstead Town H 2-2 Welling United H 4-1
Wealdstone A 3-1 Hungerford Town A 0-1

Previous Meetings

28.10.2017 Dartford 2 St Albans City 1
25.03.2017 St Albans City 1 Dartford 0
08.11.2016 Dartford 0 St Albans City 2
30.04.2016 St Albans City 4 Dartford 0
06.02.2016 Dartford 2 St Albans City 0
02.04.2011 St Albans City 1 Dartford 2

Dartford are unbeaten against the current top six winning three and drawing three.

The Saints have taken just four points from 18 against teams in the top six, all of those came at home.

Pugh has now scored ten league goals for the Darts this term in 12 starts and eight substitute appearances. The striker has netted five in his last six National South appearances.

St Albans City have scored 29 home goals this term, the second highest in the division behind Dartford (37).

On This Day
Dartford have yet to concede a goal on 3 February since reforming. In the only two fixtures on this day, the Darts drew 0-0 at home to Cray Wanderers in 2007 and beat Herne Bay 2-0 in the Kent League back in 1996. In the Southern Premier League, the Darts drew 1-1 with Burton Albion in 1990 and three years prior they beat Folkestone 1-0 in the Kent Senior Cup quarter-final. The last defeat came in 1979 when Dartford lost 1-0 to Hillingdon Borough in the Southern Premier League.

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