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Chester v Dartford

Dartford make the mid-week trip to Chester just three days after their survival chances took a major blow.

Fortunes of the two clubs have contrasted over the last twelve months. The two sides were both reprieved at the end of last season having finished in the bottom four. Chester have grabbed the second chance with both hands whilst Dartford’s grip on the Conference Premier is loosening.

A last minute weekend defeat at the hands of Alfreton Town has made the Darts task very difficult. From the remaining ten games Tony Burman’s side have to recover an eleven point gap from Saturday’s opponents.

Chances went begging in the first half with Elliot Bradbrook and Andy Pugh missing opportunities. Pugh came close a few more times but the Reds goalkeeper Jason Mooney was equal to his efforts. Alfreton Town completed a third consecutive win without conceding a minute from time when Tom Shaw scored the winner.

In their last campaign, Chester finished in heartbreaking fashion. Steve Burr’s side were ‘relegated’ on the final minute of the final matchday on goal difference. With Hereford United and Salisbury City losing their Conference Premier status, the Blues like Dartford were given a second chance. Burr has now guided Chester to tenth spot in a much improved season.

On the weekend, the Blues came from two goals down to dent the title hopes of Grimsby Town. Ollie Palmer and John-Paul Pittman put the Mariners ahead but the comeback began with fifteen minutes to go. Ben Heneghan cut the deficit in half and John Rooney penalty six minutes from time levelled the match.

It’s not the first time Chester have come from a goal down, as Dartford know from their home game four months ago. Lee Noble volleyed home a Ryan Hayes cross to give the Darts a lead. Two minutes into the second half top scorer and captain Elliot Bradbrook increased the advantage. Within three minutes Chester began to turn the match around, Craig Mahon scored two in four minutes before Matty Hughes made it 3-2. A fourth arrived in the closing stages, Barnsley loanee Rhys Oates completed the comeback. The last meeting at the Deva Stadium ended 0-0 back in September 2013.

Dartford’s form has improved over the last six matches in comparison to the previous ten when they lost nine. Although the Darts have won once in the last six fixtures they have picked up points against Bristol Rovers, Aldershot Town and FC Halifax Town. Meanwhile, Chester have lost just twice from their last nine games, winning five and drawing twice.

Head to Head

Chester wins: 2 / Dartford wins: 0 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

Chester (DWLLWW) Dartford (LDLDWD)
Grimsby Town  H  2-2 Alfreton Town  H  0-1
Torquay United  A  1-0 FC Halifax Town  A  0-0
Wrexham  A  0-1 Woking  H  1-3
Eastleigh  H  0-1 Aldershot Town  A  1-1
Lincoln City  A  1-0 AFC Telford United  A  3-2
Welling United  A  3-1 Bristol Rovers  H  2-2

Last League Meeting at the Deva Stadium

7 September 2013 – Chester 0 Dartford 0 – Att: 2587

Chester Lineup: Danby, Kay, Linwood, McIntyre, Higginbotham, Harrison, L Turner, N Turner, Mills, Titchiner, Chippendale (subs used: Seddon, Lindfield, Reed)

Dartford Lineup: Julian, Clark, Collier, Fry, Burns, Hayes, Noble, Bradbrook, Woodyard, Harris, Birchall (subs used: Rogers)

Match Stats

cfc v dfc

Previous Meetings

25.11.2014 Chester 2 Dartford 4
07.03.2014 Dartford 0 Chester 1
07.09.2013 Chester 0 Dartford 0

Dartford v Alfreton Town

Dartford are going to need to make their home matches count in the relegation scrap starting this weekend in their six pointer against Alfreton Town.

Sitting eight points behind their opponents with a game in hand, Dartford know a win will be vital especially when the two sides meet again before the month is out. The last two home fixtures against Alfreton Town have been favourable to the Darts and Tony Burman hopes to keep the perfect record against the Derbyshire side.

Last season an opening day victory over the Reds gave Dartford a promising start. The winning goal came from a piece of skilful play from Adam Birchall. The striker weaved his way along the touchline and finished from an acute angle. In the previous campaign, the Darts put in a dominating display with a resounding 5-1 win. Harry Crawford’s hat trick, Jacob Erskine’s strike and Elliot Bradbrook’s header helped Dartford record their biggest Conference Premier win in 27 years.

The Darts approach a crucial period of their campaign on the back of a well earned draw up at FC Halifax Town. A first league clean sheet in 31 games whilst playing over 70 minutes with ten men would normally be a great result, however teams at the bottom picked up more points leaving Dartford further adrift. Burman fielded a slightly changed side to that who lost 3-1 at home to Woking. Jason Brown was replaced by Deren Ibrahim, Peter Sweeney made his first league start since New Years Day due to Elliot Bradbrook’s absence. When Lee Burns was sent off after 19 minutes the pack needed shuffling once more.

Just one defeat in their last five league fixtures, Dartford are showing form similar to October where draws need converting into wins. The Darts can also look to the fact they are unbeaten against the bottom seven and have only dropped points against Welling United from the bottom five.

Alfreton Town were one of those teams winning at the wrong end of the table as they defeated Kidderminster Harriers 2-0. A second victory and clean sheet in a row left manager Nicky Law delighted with his side. John Johnston scored his third goal in five league gamed and Karl Hawley made sure of the three points. The result on the weekend followed a 1-0 away win at AFC Telford United which was settled by Luke Graham’s strike.

The Reds began their campaign with seven straight defeats but have slowly climbed out of danger zone. The Reds managed to string a four game unbeaten run after their terrible start and have won all their games against the bottom six. Law expressed his delight last week at moving out of the bottom four for the first time since September. The Derbyshire club have also received backing off the field lately when they secured a £250,000 boost from American investors.

Team News

Ryan Hayes and Jason Brown didn’t travel to the Shay on the weekend due to aggravated injuries picked up in training. Tom Bradbrook is still out with a groin injury but his successful operation means he may return before the season ends. Lee Burns will be suspended for the straight red card he received against FC Halifax Town on Saturday.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Alfreton Town wins: 2 / Draws: 0

Current League Form

Dartford (DLDWDL) Alfreton Town (WWLLDW)
FC Halifax Town  A  0-0 Kidderminster Harriers  H  2-0
Woking  H  1-3 AFC Telford United  A  1-0
Aldershot Town  A  1-1 Aldershot Town  H  2-3
AFC Telford United  A  3-2 Braintree Town  A  1-2
Bristol Rovers  H  1-1 Forest Green Rovers  H  2-2
Dover Athletic  A  1-6 Southport  H  4-2

Last Meeting at Princes Park

10 August 2013 – Dartford 1 Alfreton Town 0 – Att: 1202

Goalscorers: Birchall (42)

Dartford Lineup: Julian, Clark, Mitchel-King, Fry, Cornhill, Noble, Bradbrook, Burns, Hayes, Prior, Birchall, (subs used: Rogers, Harris, Woodyard)

Alfreton Town Lineup: Atkins, Wood, Franklin, Westwood, Law, Bradley, Fenton, Shaw, Meadows, McGrath, Clayton (subs used: Wishart, Ramsey-Dickson)

Match Stats

dfc v atfc stats1

Previous Meetings

21.12.2013 Alfreton Town 2 Dartford 1
10.08.2013 Dartford 1 Alfreton Town 0
05.01.2013 Alfreton Town 3 Dartford 2
01.09.2012 Dartford 5 Alfreton Town 1

Stats

Deren Ibrahim last kept a clean sheet in the league for Dartford on 3 March 2012. During the 1-0 Conference South win at Tonbridge Angels Ibrahim came on as a substitute for the injured Louis Wells. His last full league game for the Darts resulting in a clean sheet was on 25 October 2011 in Dartford’s 3-0 away win at Thurrock.

The last time Dartford kept back to back clean sheets in the league was just under a year ago. A goaless draw at Lincoln City on 5 April 2014 was followed by a 1-0 win five days later at home to Grimsby Town

Alfreton Town have conceded Town have conceded the most number of fouls in the Conference Premier. Excluding last weekend the Reds had given away 419 free kicks.

 

FC Halifax Town v Dartford

In a bid for Conference Premier survival Dartford face familiar opponents FC Halifax Town for the fourth time in almost two months on Saturday.

Dartford’s task was made even harder in mid-week with a defeat at home to Woking and on the same night FC Halifax Town lost to struggler’s Southport, leaving the Darts six points from safety.

Tony Burman is keen to put the 3-1 loss against Woking behind the team. Despite drawing level through Nathan Green’s fine strike, the Cards played better in the second half with two goals by John Goddard. The Darts boss was unhappy with the goals his side conceded including Yemi Odubabe’s opener.

Burman admits that confidence and belief has been knocked due the result on Tuesday, which came after picking up four points from six in their previous two matches. With twelve games remaining and four of those against fellow relegation threatened teams, the Darts need to start picking up wins. he#s

Victory is something Dartford could do with tasting when they take on FC Halifax Town. In the three meetings this term the Shaymen have the upper hand. The Yorkshire club came away from Princes Park with a 2-1 win in January despite playing the final twenty minutes with nine men. Harry Crawford’s early strike was a temporary highlight for the Darts as the visitors came from behind. Matty Pearson levelled before Lois Maynard was sent off for violent conduct. FC Halifax Town took the lead through Scott Boden’s spot kick which the Shaymen held on to despite James Bolton also receiving his marching orders.

In the F.A Trophy the Shaymen were two up before the interval when striker Richard Peniket was left unmarked to score from close range. The lead was doubled with a Matty Pearson header. The introduction of Ryan Hayes gave the Darts hope with the winger scoring directly from a corner and in the final minute Rory McAuley forced a replay.

When the replay finally went ahead at Droylsden’s Butcher’s Arms, Dartford were eliminated from the F.A Trophy. Once more FC Halifax Town were two up by half time with goals from Marc Roberts and Scott Boden. The returning Andy Pugh pulled one back for Dartford before Steve Williams put the tie beyond doubt. FC Halifax Town are now five unbeaten against Burman’s side with four wins and a draw.

The Shaymen are playing catch up in terms of games and points, with four matches in hand and seven points behind fifth place Forest Green Rovers a play-off spot is still possible. Neil Aspin guided his side to the play-offs last season falling short in the semi-final, this time he’s hoping to go one better.

FC Halifax Town may have lost their last league game but up until then they were unbeaten in 2015, including four league wins one of which at Princes Park. Scott Boden is one to watch with ten league goals to his name this season, Lois Maynard can be a threat from midfield as well as a strong candidate in defence.

Team News

Tom Bradbrook has had a successful groin operation, the 27 year old striker last played on 13 January against FC Halifax Town but could return to action before the end of the season. Max Cornhill has left the club after two years, the midfielder made 51 starts and 17 substitute appearances, scoring nine times for the Darts.

Head to Head

FC Halifax Town wins: 4 / Dartford wins: 1 / Draws: 2

Current League Form

FC Halifax Town (LDWWWW) Dartford (WDLLLL)
Southport  A  0-1 Woking  H  1-3
Kidderminster Harriers  A  0-0 Aldershot Town  A  1-1
Braintree Town  H  1-0 AFC Telford United  A  2-3
Dover Athletic  H  3-2 Bristol Rovers  H  2-2
AFC Telford United  A  1-0 Dover Athletic  A  1-6
Dartford  A  2-1 FC Halifax Town  H  1-2

Last League Meeting at the Shay

19 August 2013 – FC Halifax Town 2 Dartford 0 – Att: 1296

Goalscorers: Gregory (49), Holsgrove (54)

FC Halifax Town Lineup: Glennon, Toulson, McManus, Pearson, Roberts, Maynard, Ainge, Smith, Gregory, Wilson, Holsgrove (subs used: Williams, Marshall)

Dartford Lineup: Julian, Clark, Mitchel-King, Burns, Rogers, Cornhill, Bradbrook, Noble, Harris, Prior, Birchall (subs used: Collier, Woodyard)

Match Stats

fcht v dfc

Previous Meetings (* – F.A Trophy)

13.01.2015* F.C Halifax Town 3 Dartford 1
24.01.2015* Dartford 2 FC Halifax Town 2
13.01.2015 Dartford 1 FC Halifax Town 2
14.12.2013 Dartford 1 FC Halifax Town 2
17.08.2013 FC Halifax Town 2 Dartford 0
06.02.2013* Dartford 3 FC Halifax Town 2
30.01.2013* FC Halifax Town 1 Dartford 1

On this Day

Dartford’s last win on 7 March was way back in 1989 when they beat Atherstone United 3-0 in the Southern League Cup semi-final first leg. The Darts went on to reach the final beating Burton Albion to lift the cup.

 

 

Dartford v Woking

A fixture packed March begins with Dartford determined to close the gap to safety when they host play-off chasers Woking.

With the weather causing postponements, the Darts will have to cram in two games a week this month as they play catch up. If Tony Burman’s side take advantage of the games in hand then the season’s final stages will be tense. Dartford still have fixtures to fulfil against Southport, Alfreton Town and Nuneaton Town but will first need to focus on Woking.

The Darts dropped a place in the league on the weekend with a creditable 1-1 draw at Aldershot Town. An Elliot Bradbrook header in the first half gave Dartford a precious lead. The visitors had to settle for a point though when substitute Tristan Plummer equalised on the hour. Woking approach their fourth successive league match away from home having lost once in their last seven overall, The Cards have picked up two wins in that time with the latest on the weekend against Lincoln City.

Earlier in the season Dartford were unlucky not to have grabbed their maiden victory of 2014/15. The Darts matched the Cards in yet another mid-week fixture at the Kingfield Stadium, a ground where they normally struggle. Rory McAuley put Dartford in front with a header and in the final minute substitute Giuseppe Sole equalised. Burman was pleased with the performance that night, he told kentonline.co.uk: “We were all really gutted after the game because we’d done so well”, he added: “I would have accepted one point before the game but it was a difficult pill to swallow”.

Dartford have fond memories of their last meeting with Woking in a season similar to this term. A much needed win was achieved in style as they brushed the Cards aside in a 5-1 victory. Having fallen a goal behind to Scott Rendell’s strike, a minute later on loan striker Alex Wall equalised. The match turned when the visitors had Joey Jones dismissed leaving Woking with ten men. The Darts cashed in on the extra man advantage with four goals without reply, Wall scored his second before Max Cornhill added a brace of his own, in the last minute Lee Noble made it 5-1.

Over the last four years the two clubs have battled out some entertaining encounters at Princes Park. Whilst in the Conference South both games ended 3-2 with a win apiece. Since promotion to the Conference Premier, the Darts have dominated the last two home performances winning 4-1 and the aforementioned triumph last season.

Although recent home results against Garry Hill’s side have been excellent it may be hard to replicate this time round. The Cards have had a satisfying campaign to date surprising a few pundits by reaching second in the Conference Premier on more than one occasion. However, the Surrey club have failed to keep the momentum going and since December have found wins hard to come by.

Promoted with Dartford almost three years ago, the Cards opened this season impressively with a nine match unbeaten run. Even after a three game losing the streak the Cards bounced back with three victories of their own. An inconsistent spell pre December turned into a poor run and since their win at home to Altrincham they have won once in eleven league games (excludes Saturday’s fixture at Lincoln City).

Manager, Hill has enjoyed the services of striker Scott Rendell who has notched 15 league goals in 25 appearances prior to Saturday’s game. Giving the 29 year old a helping hand up front is crowd favourite Giuseppe Sole. Often used as a substitute, Sole has managed nine league goals in just 13 starts and 20 appearances off the bench. In central midfield the reliable Josh Payne has played in all but two league matches for the Cards and could be another to watch.

Team News

Andy Pugh returns from suspension after missing the 1-1 draw with Aldershot Town on the weekend. Jamie Richards has extended his loan spell until the end of the season. Ryan Hayes who suffered from a hamstring strain was on the bench against the Shots and managed to play the last fifteen minutes.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 4 / Woking wins: 4 / Draws: 2

Current League Form

Dartford (WDLLLL) Woking (WDLWDD)
AFC Telford United  A  3-2 Lincoln City  A  2-0
Bristol Rovers  H  2-2 Kidderminster Harriers  A  1-1
Dover Athletic  A  1-6 Barnet  A  1-2
FC Halifax Town  H  1-2 Alfreton Town  A  3-0
Kidderminster Harriers  H  1-2 Bristol Rovers  H  0-0
Braintree Town  A  0-3 Gateshead  H  0-0

Last Meeting at Princes Park

18 February 2014 – Dartford 5 Woking 1 – Att: 1002

Goalscorers: Rendell (4), Wall (5), Wall (45), Cornhill (56), Cornhill (74), Noble (90)

Dartford Lineup: Julian, McAuley, Sterling, Mitchel-King, Woodyard, Cornhill, Stevenson, Burns, Bradbrook, Wall, Harris (subs used: Noble, Suarez, Swallow)

Woking Lineup: Beasant, Jones, McNerney, Johnson, Nutter, Betsy, Payne, Ricketts, Goddard, Sole, Rendell (subs used: Marriott, Wright, Murtagh)

Match Stats

dfc v wfc

 

Previous Meetings (* – F.A Cup)

12.08.2014 Woking 1 Dartford 1
18.02.2014 Dartford 5 Woking 1
12.11.2013 Woking 3 Dartford 0
01.04.2013 Dartford 4 Woking 1
14.08.2012 Woking 1 Dartford 0
18.02.2012 Woking 1 Dartford 0
13.12.2011 Dartford 2 Woking 3
09.04.2011 Dartford 3 Woking 2
27.11.2010 Woking 2 Dartford 2
21.10.1972* Dartford 3 Woking 2

Aldershot Town v Dartford

Dartford have only managed one league fixture this month and hope to make that two with a visit to Aldershot Town this weekend.

Weather conditions have prevented the Darts from action with a number of postponements this February. It seems so long ago since Tony Burman’s side earned a creditable home draw against Bristol Rovers, which was followed up with an important win versus AFC Telford United.

Claiming all three points at the New Bucks Head is so far the only league fixture fulfilled by the Darts this month. Potentially the away trip to AFC Telford United  could turn out to be crucial in Dartford’s bid for survival. At the start of the match Burman’s side were eight points adrift, going into injury time an opportunity to close the gap was slipping away until a last minute own goal changed the mood as the Darts secured a 3-2 triumph.

Andy Pugh showed why he has been missed with some decent performances since coming back from injury. The striker opened the scoring in Shropshire but his sending off means he will be missed again this weekend. Tom Dallison could make his second start in a Dartford shirt after making his début against AFC Telford United. The teenager signed on loan from Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion is likely to partner Rory McAuley at the back.

Last season the Darts were outplayed in Hampshire and know this time a decent result will help build momentum. The Shots made home advantage count 18 months ago by recording their first win of the campaign. Lee Noble’s early cross against the crossbar was the closest the Darts came to scoring. Aldershot Town looked comfortable throughout which was reflected by goals from Brett Williams, Manny Oyeleke and Aaron Wickham.

Since the 3-0 defeat the two sides have played out consecutive 1-1 draws at Princes Park. Earlier this season, Josh Scott’s first half goal was cancelled out by Pugh. Last term ten men Aldershot Town scored late on to deny Dartford an important win. Elliot Bradbrook’s penalty was not enough for the Darts as Williams scored a last minute 30 yard stunner.

Up until recently Aldershot Town’s form caused enough concern for chairman Shahid Azeem to act. Last month Andy Scott was sacked after a run of one win in nine games. Captain Chris Barker has been appointed as caretaker manager and after a loss in his first fixture has led the Shots to consecutive wins. If it wasn’t for those back to back wins against fellow relegation threatened Welling United and Alfreton Town, the Hampshire club would be in the thick of a battle. As it is the Shots have a eight point cushion with 12 games to go, but still need to go away to four of the current top five.

The Darts will be well aware of the potential threat of Brett Williams who scored twice against Dartford last season. The 27 year old has scored 12 this term to add to the 24 league goals in 2013/2014. At the other end of the pitch goalkeeper Phil Smith will be familiar after spending a spell at Princes Park, the former Portsmouth shot stopper played three times in Dartford’s last league campaign.

Team News

Andy Pugh will be suspended for his red cared at AFC Telford United a fortnight ago. Ryan Hayes could return after missing the 3-2 win with a hamstring injury. Christian Doidge has had his loan spell extended whilst Jamie Richards is due to play his final game of his current loan, Burman is keen to keep the 20 year old defender for longer.

Aldershot Town have signed Fulham left-back Tom Richards on a youth loan deal and Rochdale defender Sean McGinty also on loan. Joshua Scott is suspended after being dismissed against Alfreton Town last weekend

Head to Head

Aldershot Town wins: 6 / Dartford wins: 4 / Draws: 7

Current League Form

Aldershot Town (WWLLLL) Dartford (WDLLLL)
Alfreton Town  A  3-2 AFC Telford United  A  3-2
Welling United  H  2-1 Bristol Rovers  H  2-2
Altrincham  A  0-1 Dover Athletic  A  1-6
Kidderminster Harriers  H  0-1 FC Halifax Town  H  1-2
Lincoln City  A  0-3 Kidderminster Harriers  H  1-2
AFC Telford United  H  1-2 Braintree Town  A  0-3

Last Meeting at the ESS Stadium

13 August 2013 – Aldershot Town 3 Dartford 0 – Att: 2138

Goalscorers: Williams (18), Oyeleke (61), Wickham (87)

Aldershot Town Lineup: Morris, Oastler, Goodman, Webster, Barker, Stanley, Rowlands, Oyeleke, Molesley, Williams, Paterson (subs used: Douglas, Roberts, Wickham)

Dartford Lineup: Julian, Clark, Mitchel-King, Burns, Rogers, Cornhill, Bradbrook, Noble, Hayes, Prior, Birchall (subs used: Collier, Woodyard, Harris)

Match Stats

aldershot v dfc stats

Previous Six Meetings (* – F.A Cup)

18.10.2014 Dartford 1 Aldershot Town 1
25.02.2014 Dartford 1 Aldershot Town 1
13.08.2013 Aldershot Town 3 Dartford 0
16.11.1968* Dartford 3 Aldershot Town 0
18.11.1964* Aldershot Town 1 Dartford 0
14.11.1964* Dartford 1 Aldershot Town 1

Stats

7 – Dartford have gone seven games unbeaten against sides in the bottom seven which includes Aldershot Town

39 – league games since Dartford last won back to back league games, against Hyde and Macclesfield Town in March 2014

43 – league fixtures since Aldershot Town were involved in a no score draw, only Barnet have gone longer (63 games). Dartford’s last goalless draw was 28 matches ago, their last clean sheet in the Conference Premier.

1986 – The last time Dartford played less than two league games in February was 29 years ago. Whilst in the Conference Premier the Darts won their only league match in February against Altrincham 3-2

1991 – Was the last time only two league fixtures were fulfilled in February, Dartford drew both Southern League Premier games 1-1 against Dorchester Town then Atherstone United

Since reformation Dartford have won three and lost once on 28 February. Slade Green were beaten 4-1 in 1996, Yate Town defeated 5-2 two years later and Tooting and Mitcham United were beaten 3-1 six years ago. Corby Town won against the Darts 3-0 back in 2004.

AFC Telford United v Dartford

There will be no love lost on Valentine’s Day when Dartford face fellow relegation battlers AFC Telford United this weekend.

Victory for the Darts will not only complete a rare double it could help close a seven point deficit on Southport, who are placed above the dreaded drop zone. AFC Telford United are one place and point below Tony Burman’s side and have recently shown signs of life, the Conference North champions are keen to avoid a return to the second tier of non league football.

Throughout this month starting this weekend, Dartford will be up against three sides in the bottom section of the league standings. A home match versus mid-table Gateshead follows this weekend’s clash with AFC Telford United. Then two away days at Alfreton Town, currently level with Southport and Aldershot Town, who are just two points above safety, awaits the Darts.

Burman may not feel the fixture against the Bucks is the be all and end all this campaign, but the Darts boss knows closing the deficit over Southport is important for the club, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We’ve got to close the gap, if we can win our next two or three games, it could be a different picture. But if we lose those games, it becomes more drastic and it will be difficult”.

Earlier this season Dartford finished August with a home win against the Bucks but had to come from behind. With ten minutes remaining of the first half Tony Gray put the visitors in front. Fortunes turn around with Luke Daley scoring his first goal for the Darts, and his only so far, the midfielder struck a precise equaliser from twenty yards out. Andy Pugh netted what turned out to be the winner leading to plenty of praise from his boss after the match.

Pugh has struggled this term scoring just two league goals in only 16 appearances. The former Cambridge United striker first suffered an achilles injury followed by a torn testicle. Returning at the end of January, the 26 year old has made two consecutive substitute appearances and added his third of the season in the F.A Trophy against FC Halifax Town. The Darts may have been knocked out in a 3-1 defeat but at least they can concentrate on the league. Burman knows the value of having Pugh back, especially when it’s proven difficult to bring more fire-power to Princes Park, he likened Pugh to a new signing and feels the striker is looking sharp, aided by the fact he is training with the academy during the day.

After a demoralising 6-1 loss at Kent rivals Dover Athletic, Dartford recorded back to back 2-2 draws with FC Halifax Town in the trophy then respectably with Bristol Rovers. Ryan Hayes has taken most of the plaudits of late with three goals in as many games, the creative winger added to his goal scored from a corner against Kidderminster Harriers by repeating the feat versus FC Halifax Town and Bristol Rovers.

For a side who had to wait a dozen games to record their first win back in the Conference Premier signs of recovery are appearing. AFC Telford United will move above Dartford if they can record a win and are now under the guidance of Steve Kittrick. The former Guiseley boss replaced Liam Watson who led the Bucks back to the Conference Premier last term. Kittrick has moved the Shropshire club up one place and has only tasted defeat once in the league. Two wins, three draws and a loss is mid-table form since the 57 year old took over in December.

During the January transfer window, Kittrick has been trying to make his mark signing Ben McLaughlin on loan from Everton, John Disney from Chester, midfielder Danny Ventre and defender Glenn Matthews. Tony Gray remains the biggest threat up front with 11 goals this season, a quarter of the amount scored by the Bucks.

Last time at the New Bucks Head, the Darts avenged a 4-1 home defeat with a 2-0 triumph. Charlie Sheringham made the difference against an already relegated Bucks, who at the time stretched their winless streak to 30 games. The on loan striker scored one and made an assist setting up Jason Prior. The Darts went ahead when Prior netted his first goal for the Darts, Sheringham doubled the lead early in the second half.

Team News

Nathan Green is likely to return after being cup tied against FC Halifax Town. Latest signing Jamie Richards will also be availble after missing the F.A Trophy loss. Mat Mitchel-King left the club and has signed for St Neots Town. Andy Pugh continues to get match fit and will hopefully add more minutes to his recovery.

AFC Telford United’s new defensive signing Ian Sharps will be pressing for a competitive start having come through ninety minutes in the 2-0 win over a Birmingham City Under 21s’ side on Wednesday evening.

Head to Head

AFC Telford United wins: 14 / Dartford wins: 16 / Draws: 8

Current League Form

AFC Telford United (DLWWDD) Dartford (DLLLLL)
Eastleigh A 3-3 Bristol Rovers H 2-2
FC Halifax Town H 0-1 Dover Athletic A 1-6
Wrexham A 4-0 FC Halifax Town H 1-2
Aldershot Town A 2-1 Kidderminster Harriers H 1-2
Nuneaton Town A 0-0 Braintree Town A 0-3
Nuneaton Town H 4-4 Braintree Town H 0-2

Last Meeting at the New Bucks Head

13 April 2013 – AFC Telford United 0 Dartford 2 – Att: 1375

Goalscorers: Prior (11), Sheringham (49)

AFC Telford United Lineup: Young, Salmon, Briscoe, Rooney, Trainer, Leslie, Smith, Spray, Williams, O’Neil, Adaggio (subs used: Bradley, Meechan, Ford)

Dartford Lineup: Somogyi, Rose, Arber, Bonner, Burns, Wallis, Bradbrook, Noble, Hayes, Prior, Sheringham (subs used: Rogers, Evans, Collier)

Match Stats

afctu v dfc stats

Previous Six Meetings

30.08.2014 Dartford 2 AFC Telford United 1
06.04.2013 AFC Telford United 0 Dartford 2
07.10.2012 Dartford 1 AFC Telford United 4
02.11.1985 Telford United 2 Dartford 1
07.09.1985 Dartford 2 Telford United 1
30.04.1985 Telford United 1 Dartford 2

Stats

0:25 – the quickest goal scored in the league this season by Dartford’s Ryan Hayes against Kidderminster Harriers

6 – games since the Bucks recorded a home win in the Conference Premier

10 – points obtained by AFC Telford United at home, the lowest total in this season’s Conference Premier

27 – league matches since Dartford’s last clean sheet on 23 August 2014 versus Torquay United, the longest streak in the Conference Premier this term

96:17 – the latest goal scored in the league this season by AFC Telford United’s Kyle Perry against Altrincham

Dartford v Bristol Rovers

Dartford will need to be up to the task of hosting an in form Bristol Rovers side looking to return to League Two at the first attempt.

Undoubtedly the Darts will be underdogs despite home advantage as they look to close the gap on those above them in the Conference Premier. Dartford have lost nine of their last ten league games whilst the Pirates boast the longest unbeaten record this season. The West Country side have not lost in the league since mid October stretching back 14 games.

Tony Burman celebrated ten consecutive years in charge last weekend with a 2-2 draw in the F.A Trophy. FC Halifax Town took the lead on 12 minutes through Richard Peniket and were two up just before the break when Matty Pearson nodded past Jason Brown. With current form against the Darts the tie looked done and dusted, but a spirited second half forced a replay. Substitute Ryan Hayes scored direct from a corner for the second time this season and defender Rory McAuley volleyed a late leveller. In injury time, a disallowed goal for offside denied Dartford progression to the last eight.

After a disappointing 6-1 defeat to rivals Dover Athletic in their last league fixture, Burman has been given the green light to continue as manager with the board backing the boss. New co-chairman Steve Irving told www.kentonline.co.uk before the F.A Trophy games: “Tony is integral to what we’re doing going forward, both as a director and manager”, he added “Tony is the right man. We will do everything we can to support him”.

A new face may well take part on the weekend with the signing of Jamie Richards from Plymouth Argyle. The left sided 20 year old will be with the Darts on loan for initially a month. His last club was Linfield in Northern Ireland where he spent six months, the defender has made three appearances for his parent club Plymouth Argyle. Out of contract Mat Mitchel-King departed the club this week, the centre back has now joined St Neots Town closer to where the 31 year old works. Mitchel-King made 70 appearances for the Darts in all competitions over the last season and a half.

The story is the complete opposite across the other side of England, Bristol Rovers under former Salisbury City boss Darrell Clarke have gelled. A slow start over the first seven games left the Pirates in 15th. Then came an unbeaten run of nine including five straight victories. In that run without a loss they beat Dartford 1-0 at the Memorial Ground. Top scorer Matt Taylor fired in a first half penalty to win the match but the fixture was marred by reports of Darts goalkeeper Jason Brown suffering racial abuse, an incident later dealt with by Bristol Rovers officials.

Despite the negativity of that night, the Pirates are in third spot with a game in hand over leaders Barnet. Clarke’s side will not want to lose any ground as they chase down an eight point deficit in a bid to return to the Football League. Expectations are high for the West Country club and the best defence in the Conference Premier has helped them mount a challenge. It’s been a fortnight since their last game against Woking which saw a second consecutive clean sheet in a 0-0 draw.

Intentions during the January window have been clear with the permanent signing of Jermaine Easter and loan deal for Adam Dawson. Easter has plenty of Football League experience most recently with Millwall and Crystal Palace. Dawson signed for Leicester City two years ago but has been out on loan with Notts County and this term Nuneaton Town. Nathan Blissett strengthens the forward line joining from Kidderminster Harriers.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 0 / Bristol Rovers wins: 2 / Draws: 0

Current League Form

Dartford (LLLLLW) Bristol Rovers (DWDWWW)
Dover Athletic  A  1-6 Woking  A  0-0
FC Halifax Town  H  1-2 Nuneaton Town  A  2-0
Kidderminster Harriers  H  1-2 Torquay United  H  1-1
Braintree Town  A  0-3 Macclesfield Town  H  4-0
Braintree Town  H  0-2 Torquay United  A  2-1
Wrexham  A  3-1 Gateshead  H  3-2

Previous Meetings (* – F.A Cup)

07.10.2014 Bristol Rovers 1 Dartford 0
08.12.1934* Dartford 0 Bristol Rovers 1

Stats

9 – Dartford have conceded the most penalties in the league this campaign

12 – matches since Bristol Rovers lost an away league game, the longest current sequence in the league

26 – league games since Dartford kept a clean sheet against Torquay United

6009 – Expect a large turnout of Bristol Rovers fans, the biggest supported club in the Conference Premier this season has an average gate of just over 6000

Dover Athletic v Dartford

Dartford’s current form is dividing opinion on the terraces but the club will need to stick together in a crucial Kent derby against Dover Athletic this weekend.

Tony Burman will hope he can lead his side to a league double over Dover Athletic after beating them 2-1 at home earlier in the season. The Darts visit the Crabble seven points from safety and on the back of four straight league defeats. One win and eight defeats has seen the club pick up just three points from the last 27 available. Meanwhile, Dover Athletic have settled in their first season back and are currently unbeaten in eleven Conference Premier matches.

Burman watched his side slump to a 2-1 home defeat in midweek despite having a two man advantage. Harry Crawford scored his second in as many games as early as the ninth minute. FC Halifax Town’s Matt Pearson tapped in the equaliser just passed the half hour mark. Just before the break the Shaymen were reduced to ten men when Lois Maynard was dismissed for violent conduct on Lee Noble. The visitors went ahead from the penalty spot when Rory McAuley was penalised for handball. Scott Boden stepped up and put FC Halifax Town in the lead with twenty minutes remaining. Moments after the penalty, James Bolton was then red carded for an awful foul on Max Cornhill but the Shaymen held on with nine left on the pitch.

Pressure is mounting on Burman and urges everyone to get behind the team, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We need everybody’s cause, on and off the field, to (get out of trouble). Unfortunately, the place isn’t like that at the moment”, he added:”I’ve got to take full responsibility because it’s my team that’s out there. We’ve got ourselves into a rut and there’s not much else that can go wrong”.

At least Dartford enter Saturday’s fixture unbeaten in four league matches against Dover Athletic. During the two year spell the clubs met in the Conference South, the Darts won three and drew the other game. Last time at the Crabble a crowd of 1455 witnessed an entertaining 2-2 draw which ended Dartford’s 100% record. A quick start by the visitors had Dartford ahead after 30 seconds when Charlie Sheringham followed up a rebound. Former Darts striker George Purcell levelled the score and in first half injury time Elliot Bradbrook put Dartford in the lead once more. Dover Athletic ended their opponents perfect start to the campaign when Billy Bricknell made it 2-2 on the hour.

In the season before Dover Athletic were brought down to earth on their own patch following their F.A Cup exploits at Gillingham. The Darts won 2-0 thanks to goals from Ryan Hayes and Ollie Berquez. At Princes Park, Dartford won both fixtures 4-0 and 3-1 respectively. Last term the two sides did met in the Kent Senior Cup quarter final in which Dover Athletic won 3-0 on their way to the final, which they lost to Ebbsfleet United.

Dover Athletic’s season has turned around having been second from bottom after eleven games, the Whites had only two wins and a draw to show for their efforts. Since then they have only lost twice in the league and went 16 games unbeaten in all competitions until Premier League side Crystal Palace knocked them out of the F.A Cup third round. Chris Kinnear’s side have only played once in the league this year beating Kent rivals Welling United 2-0 on New Years Day. Victory gave them a festive double over the Wings and sandwiched in between was a creditable 2-2 draw at league leaders Barnet. Two cup competitions have been on the agenda in 2015 keeping confidence at the Crabble high, Dover Athletic also remain in the F.A Trophy and are unbeaten in eight home matches in the Conference Premier.

The Darts could face some former players, full back Tyrone Sterling was at Princes Park last season making 38 league appearances and Connor Essam spent two loan spells with the club. Stefan Payne can be a threat up front, the former Gillingham striker has so far netted 11 league goals for the Whites. During the January transfer window Soloman Taiwo and Adam Mekki have been signed on a permanent basis but former Dartford defender Tom Bonner has chosen to move on to rivals Ebbsfleet United.

Team News

Elliot Bradbrook has been struggling with a knee injury which kept the captain out of the F.A Trophy win at Burgess Hill Town and defeat to FC Halifax Town. Should Bradbrook return he will make his 250th start for the club. Goalkeeper Jason Brown should return after missing recent fixtures due to a back injury and personal reasons. Lee Burns, if selected will make his 250th appearance, 15 of which have come from the substitutes bench.

Head to Head

Dover Athletic wins: 34 / Dartford wins: 32 / Draws: 23

Current League Form

Dover Athletic (WDWDDW) Dartford (LWLLLL)
Welling United A 2-0 FC Halifax Town H 1-2
Barnet A 2-2 Kidderminster Harriers H 1-2
Welling United H 4-0 Braintree Town A 0-3
Altrincham A 2-2 Braintree Town H 0-2
Torquay United H 2-2 Wrexham A 3-1
Gateshead A 2-1 Eastleigh A 0-2

Last Meeting at the Crabble

23 August 2011 – Dover Athletic 1 Dartford 0 – Att: 1455

Goalscorers: Sheringham (1), Purcell (20), Bradbrook (46), Bricknell (61)

Dartford Lineup: Young, Jones, Green, Bonner, Goodacre, Champion, Hayes, Wallis, Sheringham, Bradbrook, Graham (subs used: Harris, Noble, Burns)

Previous Six Meetings (* Kent Senior Cup )

26.12.2014 Dartford 2 Dover Athletic 1
04.03.2013* Dartford 0 Dover Athletic 3
03.12.2011 Dartford 3 Dover Athletic 1
23.08.2011 Dover Athletic 2 Dartford 2
25.04.2011 Dartford 4 Dover Athletic 0
09.11.2010 Dover Athletic 0 Dartford 2

Stats

6 – Dover Athletic have won all six matches against teams below them in the league and have yet to concede a goal

8 – the penalty conceded against FC Halifax Town on Tuesday night means Dartford have given away the most penalties in the league, joint with Lincoln City

9 – Dover Athletic have hit the woodwork the most times in the league matching Bristol Rovers total

25 – seconds were on the clock when Ryan Hayes scored against Kidderminster Harriers over a week ago, the quickest goal in this season’s Conference Premier

34 – number of fouls Lee Noble has conceded without picking up a yellow card

 

Dartford v FC Halifax Town

The Darts return to league action this week facing FC Halifax Town for the fifth time since the Yorkshire club reformed.

Dartford are in desperate need of points as they look for their first home win in the Conference Premier for two months. Tony Burman’s side have dropped to third from bottom after a run of seven defeats in eight league matches.

Most recently an early one goal lead was overturned by Kidderminster Harriers in the final ten minutes. Ryan Hayes scored directly from a corner with just 45 seconds on the clock. The visitors could thank Marvin Johnson for his brace to deny Dartford a much needed victory. Burman recognised that the fitness levels of his players was a factor in the 2-1 loss, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “I thought the lads worked really hard – and unfortunately that work-rate in the first half caused us problems in the second half. The players’ fitness levels probably weren’t quite up to what they should be because of not playing or injuries”.

Over the Christmas and New Year period the Darts suffered back to back losses against Braintree Town. Meanwhile, Southport picked up a win to extend the gap to safety and Alfreton Town’s draw with Torquay United put them above Dartford. With over half the campaign gone the January transfer window could be important to maintaining Conference Premier status.

Burman has already moved in the transfer marker giving Nathan Green his début against Kidderminster Harriers and releasing defender Tom Bender, after his short term contract finished. The Dartford boss has made his intentions clear by confirming he is on the look out to improve the squad, he said: “With the transfer window opening I have made a number of approaches for players to strengthen the team; some will be loan deals and I’m hoping that others will be permanent deals like Nathan’s”.

Since the New Year the injury list has shortened with Lee Burns returning on New Year’s day and Callum Driver returning to action. Andy Pugh has missed much of the campaign through injury and has been out for two months. Due to the delicacy of the injury the striker will not be rushed back into action but he has started light training.

On the weekend the Darts grabbed a morale boosting last minute winner to reach the F.A Trophy’s last 16. With captain Elliot Bradbrook missing from the line up, his brother Tom won a penalty which was stuck away by Harry Crawford, the strikers seventh in all competitions. Pat Harding equalised for hosts Burgess Hill Town six minutes before half time. It was left to Danny Harris to strike the decisive goal condemning the Hillians to only there second defeat of the season, both coming against Dartford.

FC Halifax Town enjoyed a first season in the Conference Premier since reforming. At the tail end of last term they put an incredible run of ten wins from 14 games, including seven clean sheets in a row. Missing out on a Wembley place via the playoffs did not deter the Yorkshire club this season. The Shaymen topped the table after five games with maximum points, however they have been unable to maintain momentum.

Since that early form the Shaymen have been inconsistent only once recording back to back wins since. A spell of three victories in 14 games pushed the club down to eleventh, however ground had been gained again over December. Aspin’s side are keen to start league action in 2015 having suffering consecutive postponements at home to Gateshead and away to Southport. The Yorkshire side have to look back to the end of September to find their last away win in the league when they beat Alfreton Town.

Just over a year ago, FC Halifax Town completed a double over Dartford with their win at Princes Park. The second half was dominated by the Shaymen and they were rewarded with goals from Joe Ironside and Josh Wilson. The Darts managed to claw one goal back late on when on loan defender Connor Essam halved the deficit.

The only other meeting between the two sides at Princes Park came in the F.A Trophy fourth round replay. After a 1-1 draw at the Shay, the Darts finally shrugged off their opponents in a close contest. Dartford came from a goal down to lead 3-1 thanks to goals from Lee Noble, Elliot Bradbrook and Ryan Hayes. FC Halifax Town’s Dan Gardner grabbed his second of the night with a minute to go to set up a nervy finish. Bradbrook still had time to miss a penalty which in the end didn’t prove decisive.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / FC Halifax Town wins: 2 / Draws: 1

Current League Form

Dartford (LLLWLL) FC Halifax Town (LDWLWW)
Kidderminster Harriers  H  1-2 Chester  H  0-2
Braintree Town  A  0-3 Gateshead  A  2-2
Braintree Town  H  0-2 Nuneaton Town  H  2-0
Wrexham  A  3-1 Torquay United  A  1-2
Eastleigh  A  0-2 Forest Green Rovers  H  1-0
Forest Green Rovers  A  1-2 Alfreton Town  H  2-0

Last Meeting at Princes Park

14 December 2013 – Dartford 1 FC Halifax Town 2 – Att: 952

Goalscorer: Ironside (63), Wilson (74), Essam (83)

Dartford Lineup: Julian, Sterling, Essam, Clark, Burns, Bradbrook, Noble, Martin, Stevenson, Godden, Birchall  (subs used: Cornhill, Harris)

FC Halifax Town Lineup: Glennon, McManus, Maynard, Pearson, Ainge, Roberts, Marshall, Smith, Gardner, Wilson, Ironside (subs used: Worthington, Holsgrove)

Match Stats

dfc v fcht

Previous Meetings (* – F.A Trophy)

14.12.2013 Dartford 1 FC Halifax Town 2
17.08.2013 FC Halifax Town 2 Dartford 0
06.02.2013* Dartford 3 FC Halifax Town 2
30.01.2013* FC Halifax Town 1 Dartford 1

Dartford v Kidderminster Harriers

Dartford will hope to avenge their defeat against Kidderminster Harriers earlier in the season and repeat the home win from last term.

The Harriers ran out winners in August by a solitary Kyle Storer goal in a competent performance. The Darts were difficult to break down but going forward failed to register a shot on target that day.

During the previous two season’s Dartford have enjoyed good results against Kidderminster Harriers, including taking six points of the Worcestershire side during the last campaign. At Princes Park, Jason Prior’s close range effort came off Harriers defender Lee Vaughan which gave his side the belief to go on and win. Elliot Bradbrook put the Darts two up six minutes after the break and a third arrived when Danny Harris finished from twelve yards.

Away from home Dartford completed a 2-1 victory to erase the memory of the previus season’s 5-1 loss. The Darts got of to a sensational start by taking a 2-0 half time lead. After just two minutes Alex Woodyard’s excellent cross was met by Max Cornhill, who headed his first league goal for the club. Twenty minutes later débutante Alex Wall shot across the goal and Andy Pugh netted the rebound, for his first for the club. Harriers halved the deficit three minutes into the second half when Gash bundled in from close range but Dartford hung on.

The most memorable triumph since Dartford’s return to the Conference Premier, was the 1-0 home win in August 2012. Substitute Lee Burns headed the vital winner after 36 minutes from a Ryan Hayes corner. Marcus Bettinelli crowned his Princes Park début with a fine display which saw the Darts win a Conference Premier game for the first time in 26 years.

Two defeats against Braintree Town of the festive period has left the Darts seven points behind Southport. A win on Sunday will close the gap on the Merseyside club who are involved in the F.A Cup third round this weekend. Tony BUrman has already used the January transfer window by bringing in 23 year old Nathan Green. The left sided player was a free agent having been released by Dagenham and Redbridge. Burman commented: “I’d like to welcome Nathan to the club on a permanent basis and he will go straight into the squad for Sunday’s game against Kidderminster Harriers. With the transfer window opening I have made a number of approaches for players to strengthen the team; some will be loan deals and I’m hoping that others will be permanent deals like Nathan’s”.

Kidderminster Harriers are chasing down a playoff spot a solitary point behind Eastleigh in fifth. Now in their tenth consecutive season in the Conference Premier, the push to return to the Football League has been taking its toll on Kidderminster Harriers. After finishing runners up two years ago Kidderminster Harriers haven’t reached the same level, but they still continue to knock on the playoff door. Gary Whild’s team started this season with a decent seven game unbeaten during September, October and November. However inconsistencies have played a part in the club looking at the playoffs for promotion.

Over the Christmas period, Harriers won on Boxing Day at Forest Green Rovers before losing consecutive fixtures. Southport beat Kidderminster Harriers and then Forest Green Rovers won on New Year’s Day to avenge their defeat.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 13 / Kidderminster Harriers wins: 13 / Draws: 7

Current League Form

Dartford (LLWLLL) Kidderminster Harriers (LLWWWL)
Braintree Town  A  0-3 Forest Green Rovers  H  2-4
Braintree Town  H  0-2 Southport  H  0-1
Wrexham  A  3-1 Forest Green Rovers  A  3-2
Eastleigh  A  0-2 Lincoln City  H  2-1
Forest Green Rovers  A  1-2 Nuneaton Town  H  3-1
Chester  H  2-4 Altrincham  A  1-2

Last Meeting at Princes Park

21 September 2013 – Dartford 3 Kidderminster Harriers 0 – Att: 1020

Goalscorer: Prior (34), Bradbrook (51), Harris (61)

Dartford Lineup: Julian, Clark, Fry, Burns, Bradbrook, Noble, Collier, Woodyard, Hayes, Prior, Harris (subs used: Sterling, Ibemere, Birchall)

Kidderminster Harriers Lineup: N Vaughan, L Vaughan, Demetriou, Grimes, Gowling, Byrne, Fowler, Dance, Gittings, Gash, Malbon (subs used: Jackman, Lolley, Johnson)

Match Stats

dfc v khfc stats

 

Previous Five Meetings (* – Friendly / ** – F.A Trophy)

16.08.2014 Kidderminster Harriers 1 Dartford 0
21.01.2014 Kidderminster Harriers 1 Dartford 2
21.09.2013 Dartford 3 Kidderminster Harriers 0
22.12.2012 Kidderminster Harriers 5 Dartford 1
25.08.2012 Dartford 1 Kidderminster Harriers 0