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Dartford v Ebbsfleet United

Dartford will not be meeting local rivals Ebbsfleet United in the Conference Premier this season but the sides meet in a friendly on Tuesday night.

League meetings last term resulted in the Darts feeling the festive spirit with a 3-1 win at Princes Park and a 2-2 stalemate at Stonebridge Road. In the first meeting Fleet top scorer Liam Enveer-Marum opened the scoring just after half time. A Harry Crawford double had Dartford ahead and the win was sealed by captain Elliot Bradbrook.

On New Years Day the honours were even thanks to last gasp equaliser by Ebbsfleet United’s Nathan Elder. Jon Wallis and Crawford put the Darts two up but Elder’s double ensured the points were shared.

Hayes

Ryan Hayes celebrates against the Fleet

The Darts remain winless during their warm up to their second season in the Conference Premier. After two draws the club has suffered two defeats with the latest at Bromley. Former Dartford striker Jay May, brother of Ben scored the winner at Hayes Lane to give the hosts a 1-0 victory. Pacey winger Lanre Azeez has featured for Tony Burman’s side in pre season having been part of Fleet’s youth team and senior squads. The 20 year old played in 30 of Ebbsfleet United’s matches last season starting 11 times.

Most of the summer football news in Kent has revolved around Ebbsfleet United’s survival and subsequent takeover. The MyFootballClub experiment finally succumbed and a group of Kuwati investors saved the Fleet. Advised by former Charlton Athletic Chief Executive Peter Varney,  KEH Sports Limited took over the club.

Ebbsfleet United have a new look management team with strong Charlton Athletic connections, former player Steve Brown is now in charge and his number two is Steve Gritt who managed the Addicks. Brown has raided Dover Athletic for Ben May, Shane Huke, Dean Rance, Daryl McMahon and Billy Bricknell with the majority of players familiar to Dartford’s time in the Conference South. Stacy Long returns to Stonebridge Road, his last spell ended with a F.A Trophy winners medal. The Fleet have also added Osei Sankofa, Michael Thalassitis, Aiden Palmer, Brandon Hall and Michael Corcoran to their ranks.

azeez

Azeez in action for the Fleet last season

Stepping in to replace Southend United on Tuesday night, the Fleet will be amongst the favourites in the Conference South following relegation last season. Last time Ebbsfleet United participated in the Conference South it was they who had the edge over Dartford, drawing 1-1 in August 2010 before winning 2-1 at home in December that year.

Ebbsfleet United have played just twice so far during pre season starting off against Isthmian Premier League side Thamesmead Town. Two goals each from Long and May with Rance getting on the score sheet as well handed the Fleet a 5-1 triumph. On Saturday they took on Maidstone United at the Gallagher Stadium and this time the Fleet were beaten 3-0.

East Thurrock United v Dartford XI

Also this week, a Dartford XI travel to Rookery Hill to face East Thurrock United on Wednesday night. The Essex club finished fifth in last season’s Isthmian Premier League having been promoted to the division two years ago. The Rocks have played Dartford six times and although they have never won a friendly against the Darts they have been victorious in their only two competitive matches.

Back in 2004/05, East Thurrock United did the double over Dartford with 4-0 and 3-0 wins in the Southern League East division. The Rocks ended up runners up behind Fisher Athletic that season with the Darts finishing 16th. In the four friendlies since, the Darts have won three and drawn one.

Ebbsfleet United v Dartford

 

Dartford open the New Year by facing local rivals Ebbsfleet United for a second time this week and hope to add to their Boxing Day victory.

The Darts recorded their first league win over the Fleet for twenty years on Wednesday to end their four game losing streak. Just after half time Liam Enver-Marum put Ebbsfleet United in front and four minutes later Harry Crawford started his festive goal cheer. The Dartford striker equalised before completing his brace putting the Darts ahead. Captain Elliot Bradbrook settled the score with ten minutes remaining to secure maximum points.

Tony Burman’s side then hosted an in form Cambridge United team on the weekend in a second consecutive fixture at Princes Park. The Darts put in a spirited and gutsy performance to end 2012 and come away with a well earned draw. Crawford’s swivel and turn half way through the first half put Dartford 1-0 up, the striker notched his third goal in two matches and tenth of the season. Michael Gash’s free kick on the stroke of half time found its way through the defence to tie the game. The visitors created more chances in the second half but were denied by the superb Marcus Bettinelli between the Dartford sticks.

Dartford manager Tony Burman was content with a point and told BBC Radio Kent: “We could have said on chances it was a fair result”, he added: “I’m just pleased we haven’t lost. We’ve taken four points off Cambridge which is a great achievement for us”. As recent weather conditions played havoc with pitches up and down the country the Darts have managed to fulfill their festive fixtures. Burman recognises the toll it’s taking on the players and is delighted with the commitment shown, he commented: “The players gave their all on Boxing Day and today and [having played] on heavy pitches, they’re absolutely shattered”.

Four points from the last six leaves Dartford nestling in seventh place and the draw versus Cambridge United keeps them ahead of the U’s. However, Burman’s side have lost their last three away matches. Meanwhile, The Fleet are struggling this season and after their loss on Boxing Day the club are second from bottom. Liam Daish’s side were left without a match on the weekend when their match at Kenilworth Road against Luton Town was called of due to a waterlogged pitch.

Ebbsfleet United have lost their last three league games conceding eleven goals in the process. The Fleet boss has suggested he may have to look towards the transfer market to get the club away from trouble. Daish spoke to BBC Radio Kent and said: “I know they’re working hard but there’s a bit of naivety there”, he added: “It needs to be addressed and it probably needs to be addressed with different personnel”.

The last meeting between the two sides at Stonebridge Road went the way of Ebbsfleet United as Dartford were beaten 2-1. Fleet defender Derek Duncan curled in a free kick for the opener on ten minutes. Four minutes later Ryan Hayes sent in a cross from a dead ball situation and Elliot Bradbrook headed the leveller. The match turned on 32 minutes when Calum Willock outpaced the last defender and won a spot kick. Joe Bruce was dismissed and Willock got up to put the Fleet ahead. To rub salt into the Dartford wound James White was also sent off after coming on as a substitute.

Head to Head

Ebbsfleet United wins: 107 / Dartford wins: 115 / Draws 88 / Dartford goals for: 476 / Ebbsfleet United goals: 454

Team News

Lee Burns failed a fitness test on Saturday and sat out the full ninety minutes for the first time in the league this campaign. Lee Noble was substituted against Cambridge United on the hour with a possible hamstring strain. Marcus Bettinelli continues his loan spell on a month to month basis but he can be recalled by Fulham at any time. Tom Bonner and Lee Noble remain one caution away from suspension for five yellow cards.

Prior the Boxing Day clash the Fleet lost the services of Patrick Ada after his contract was terminated by the club for his imprisonment. The loan spell of striker Matthew Godden ended when Scunthorpe United recalled the player. Nathan Elder had been out with injury before the game at Princes Park but the forward made a return that day. Moses Ashokodi has also been missed by the team in recent weeks through injury. Lian Enveer-Marum and Neil Barrett are currently on four cautions for the season and another yellow will rule them out of the Fleet’s next match.

Form

Ebbsfleet United (LLLDWW) Dartford (DWLLLL)
Dartford A 1-3 Cambridge United A 1-1
Mansfield Town A 1-4 Ebbsfleet United H 3-1
Cambridge United H 2-4 Kidderminster Harriers H 1-5
Grimsby Town H 1-1 Lincoln City A 2-4
Macclesfield Town A 2-1 Nuneaton Town H 0-1
Hyde H 3-2 Tamworth A 2-3

Last Meeting at Stonebridge Road

28 December 2010 – Ebbsfleet United 1 Dartford 2- Att: 2435

Goalscorers: Duncan (10), Bradbrook (14), Willock (32 pen)

The Fleet Lineup: Edwards, Stone, Lorraine, Easton, Duncan, Howe, Marwa, Phipp, West, Williams, Willock (subs used: Shakes, Ginty)

The Darts Lineup: Young, Burgess, Bonner, Bruce, Goodacre, Champion, Hayes, Sheringham, Purcell, Burns, Bradbrook (subs used: White, Berquez, Burchell)

Stats

Harry Crawford is still searching for his first away goal in the Conference Premier league this season

Dartford and Ebbsfleet United have now gone seven league matches without a clean sheet

The Darts recent record in the first New Year fixtures has seen one defeat in seven which happened at Welling United

2011/12 Welling United H 1-0
2010/11 Welling United A 1-2
2009/10 Cray Wanderers A 2-1
2008/09 Staines Town H 0-0
2007/08 Witham Town A 4-0
2006/07 Whyteleafe H 4-2
2005/06 Sittingbourne H 0-0

 

Dartford v Ebbsfleet United

Princes Park hosts the first Boxing Day clash between local rivals Dartford and Ebbsfleet United since 1989 when the clubs met in the Southern Premier League.

After 18 years apart the two sides will meet for the third time within the last two seasons. The Fleet got the better of Dartford in the Conference South as they returned to the summit of non league at the first attempt.

The two sides last met at Princes Park in August 2010 whilst playing in the Conference South. A bumper crowd of 2781 welcomed the old rivalry back for the first league fixture since 1992. A scrappy and competitive match ensued and a tense first half saw both sides level at the break without a goal to celebrate.

Ebbsfleet United took the lead just past the hour when a free kick was powerfully headed beyond John Whitehouse by Fleet’s Michael West. The Darts were only behind for a while and with 15 minutes to play Danny Harris was upended by Paul Lorraine in the penalty area. Charlie Sheringham took responsibility and netted the equaliser resulting in the match ending 1-1.

Dartford fans enjoy the build up before the first league meeting between the two sides in 18 years

At Stonebridge Road, the Darts found life tougher and the festive spirit was spoilt in a 2-1 defeat. After a frantic start Ebbsfleet United won a free kick and as Dartford were still setting up Derek Duncan curled in the opener on ten minutes. Again the Darts replied quickly when four minutes later Ryan Hayes sent in a cross from a dead ball situation and Elliot Bradbrook headed the leveller. The match turned on 32 minutes when Calum Willock outpaced the last defender Joe Bruce and won a spot kick. Bruce was dismissed and Willock got up to put the Fleet ahead. To rub salt into the Dartford wound James White was also sent off late on after coming on as a substitute.

Dartford may have hit a barren spell in the league of four consecutive losses but to be on the fringes of the playoffs, due the excellent form at the end of August and throughout September has left the Darts in a strong position. Tony Burman has worked well with a relatively small number of players and injury to Mark Arber coupled with a few suspensions has tested Dartford’s squad. The festive period will only add to the challenging demands of a part time side as the fixtures come thick and fast.

In the only Conference Premier game that survived the weekend washout Dartford suffered their heaviest defeat of the season. The Darts were a goal down inside four minutes, Cheyenne Dunkley finished like a striker hitting a shot into the corner of Marcus Bettinelli’s net. The lead lasted five minutes when Jacob Erskine’s firm header levelled the match rewarding the striker with his first league goal in three months. In form striker Jamille Matt put the Harriers back in front from close range on 32 minutes as the home side went into the break a goal to the good.

Matt added a further goal in the second half with 20 minutes to go, scoring his sixth league goal in five appearances. Substitute defender Mike Williams was only on the pitch for a couple of minutes when he made it 4-1 and a last minute strike by Lee Vaughan made it five.

Since the last meeting at Princes Park between the two clubs Ebbsfleet United still have Preston Edwards, Paul Lorraine and Tom Phipp as part of their squad regularly involved in matchdays. Up front 27 year old Nathan Elder has ten league goals to his name (up to 8 December) and almost had to give up the game three years ago when the striker suffered a serious eye injury. Recently the signing of Scunthorpe United forward Matthew Godden has added fire power in place of Elder as the 21 year old netted three times in his first three starts.

Whilst Tony Burman’s side have propelled up the Conference Premier ladder into playoff contention, Ebbsfleet United have struggled on the field and are fighting amongst the relegation contenders. Apart from a six match unbeaten run from mid October to the first day of December, the Fleet have found points hard to come by. Liam Daish’s side have picked up one point in their last three league fixtures which has included a 4-1 defeat at Mansfield Town and a 4-2 loss at home against Cambridge United. The Fleet

Off the field has also been concerning for Daish’s side. The Ebbsfleet United manager expressed his concerns before and after the match against Mansfield Town. Prior the fixture he backed up the concerns of Fleet Chairman Jessica McQueen and the lack of a sustainable financial plan. After the match Daish highlighted the lack of strength on the field with key players unavailable for selection his side lacked a physical presence.

It’s been 20 years since the Darts finished a league season ahead of the Fleet which happened to be Dartford’s last full season before reformation. In that season, Ebbsfleet United in their former guise as Gravesend and Northfleet finished rock bottom dropping into the Southern League (South Division). Two decades on and Dartford are enjoying bragging rights so far as they aim to stay ahead of their rivals.

Team News

Mark Arber returned to action featuring in the final twenty minutes on Saturday against Kidderminster Harriers. Lee Noble’s appearance from off the bench means the midfielder is one game away from making 200 appearances, which has included 139 starts and 25 goals. Tony Burman will get to choose from a full squad of players.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 114 / Ebbsfleet United wins: 107 / Draws 88 / Dartford goals for:against: 473:453

Form

Dartford (LLLLDW) Ebbsfleet United (LLDWWD)
Kidderminster Harriers A 1-5 Mansfield Town A 1-4
Lincoln City A 2-4 Cambridge United H 2-4
Nuneaton Town A 0-1 Grimsby Town H 1-1
Tamworth H 2-3 Macclesfield Town A 2-1
Southport A 2-2 Hyde H 3-2
Luton Town H 2-0 AFC Telford United A 2-2

Last Meeting at Princes Park

28 August 2010 – Dartford 1 Ebbsfleet United 1 – Att: 2781

Goalscorers: West (62), Sheringham (74 pen)

The Darts Lineup: Whitehouse, Burgess, Bonner, Bruce, Goodacre, Shinn, Hayes, Champion, Sheringham, Burns, Harris (subs used: Bradbrook, Rook, Noble)

The Fleet Lineup: Edwards, Henry, Duncan, Carew, Pooley, Lorraine, West, Marwa, Willock, Phipp (subs used: Easton, Benjamin)

Previous League Meetings

28.12.2010 Ebbsfleet United 2 Dartford 1
18.04.1992 Gravesend and Northfleet 1 Dartford 1
01.01.1992 Dartford 5 Gravesend and Northfleet 0
01.04.1991 Dartford 3 Gravesend and Northfleet 0
01.01.1991 Gravesend and Northfleet 3 Dartford 1
16.04.1990 Gravesend and Northfleet 1 Dartford 0
26.12.1989 Dartford 5 Gravesend and Northfleet 0

Stats

Dartford see most goal action in the final fifteen minutes of both halves. The charts below show the timings of goals scored for each club (top) and when each side are most vulnerable (below)

* picture courtesy of Dave Adkins and stats collated from www.bbc.co.uk/sport

Season Review Part Seven– A look back on 2010/2011

7 – December to mid-January – Up for the Cup, not for the League

Giant Killers

Like the previous month December opened with another cup game for The Darts against higher league opposition. Away to the future Conference League Champions in the first round of the F.A Trophy, Tony Burman’s side had a huge task to beat Crawley Town. League form was mixed but the cup exploits in previous months gave fans some hope.

Crawley Town were on the up, with financial backing to boot. In the summer, controversial manager Steve Evans had signed players with football league potential. He brought in prolific goal scorer Matt Tubbs from Salisbury City, Sergio Torres from League One’s Peterborough United and the reliable Richard Brodie from York City, for fees that would not look out of place in the higher realms of the football league, Crawley Town were criticised for their spending and were labelled the ‘Manchester City of non-league football’.

Dartford, a club rescued by its supporters in the early nineties, a club within their budget were up against Crawley Town who had been saved by one man with financial clout, a club chasing a dream getting ever closer to reality. Coupled with the managers past, Crawley Town were not everyone’s cup of tea.

Evans underestimated The Darts and made eight changes to the team who had just knocked out Swindon Town in the F.A Cup. With a depleted squad Burman stuck with his strongest eleven and after just nine minutes his side were in complete control. Three minutes had passed when Charlie Sheringham turned and volleyed Dartford in front, great start. Then unbelievably Ryan Hayes put in one of his in swinging corners which hit the far post and landed in the net, dream start 2-0 after just nine minutes.

Billy Burgess and Paul Sawyer

As expected The Red Devils came back into the game, Andrew Young made some good saves before Chris Flood hit the post. Flood caused problems again when his shot was parried by Young; Richard Brodie was waiting and pulled a goal back. Dartford’s post was struck for a second time but they dug deep as their goal led a charmed life. From out of nowhere Charlie Sheringham unleashed a 25 yard strike, a superb goal, 3-1.

With nine minutes to go Dartford were clinging onto victory and when Craig McAllister scored from the spot Crawley Town went all out attack. It took nine minutes for Dartford to build a 2-0 lead at the start of the match, it took nine minutes at the end to lose a two goal lead. In the final minutes Dean Howell scored a well taken free kick from the edge of the box. It wasn’t finished there because moments later The Red Devils ‘won it’ when Richard Brodie tapped home Steve Masterton’s cross. The Assistant Referee’s flag was raised, we almost threw the game away. Like the Port Vale draw it was hard to decide whether a draw was pleasing or not, so close, oh so close.

Tom is the Champion

Losing a 3-1 lead against Crawley Town in the first game was a massive blow. For some the giantkilling chance had gone but home advantage and another 90 minutes gave us hope again. Steve Evans included prolific goalscorer Matt Tubbs and experienced midfielder Sergio Torres in a much stronger line up, had the Sussex side learnt their lesson? Tony Burman replaced Danny Harris with Elliot Bradbrook for the replay in front of 605 supporters. Dartford did not want to repeat their last replay against higher league opposition that was for sure.

The cup tie was just five minutes old when Matt Tubbs went down in the box, the Red Devils claimed penalty, Evans made his feelings known, Mr Hopkins ordered play to continue. Again, the Dartford goal led a charmed life as Andrew Young made comfortable saves and the defence blocked numerous shots. Carl Rook was substituted before half time for Tom Champion, it was all Crawley Town in the first half but remained goalless at the break.

As the game went on Crawley became more urgent in their play, they did not let up using their pace and ability which saw them promoted to the football league at the end of the season. Lee Burns, Dartford’s top scorer last season was struggling to score this term. Crawley Town broke away and when the ball was centred Burns stuck out a foot, half volleyed the ball sped goal bound. Young was wrong footed, Burns looked on in horror, if this goes in then what an own goal. Young adjusted his body shape and from underneath the cross bar palmed the ball over, an incredible test of reflexes, Burns smiled in relief.

Tom Champion strikes a giant killing goal

Dartford were minutes from extra time when Ryan Hayes delivered a free kick which was cut out by the first man, luckily the ball went out for a corner. Hayes crossed with his left foot, the ball swung in to the six yard box. Michel Kuipers got through nine or ten players crowded in his area and palmed the ball away. Kuipers charged forward with his desperate Crawley defenders. The ball bounced once to the feet of Tom Champion standing eight yards out, Champion perfectly positioned volleyed the ball right footed, the crowd erupted with joy, the ball smashed the back of the net, Dartford had won it in the dying minutes of the match, giant killers.

Dartford 1 Crawley Town 0 – F.A Trophy First Round Replay Highlights

Derby Day Defeat

It had been a whole month without league football, rain, heavy snow, the harsh winter all limited the whole football world to a small amount of fixtures. Frustration and boredom settled in on Saturday afternoons nothing could replace football. What better way to return to action than the second derby between Dartford and Ebbsfleet United. The festive spirit was in full flow; fans of both sides passing on season greetings, pints flowing but when kick off signalled three o’clock, the action started and both sets of supporters made plenty of noise. No segregation added to the atmosphere and banter, non-league football, the festive spirit, against your rivals, there is nothing near as good.

Joe Bruce is dismissed

The derby started off frantically and on ten minutes The Fleet won a free kick when Michael West was blocked. The Darts were still setting up and so Derek Duncan took the opportunity to curl the free kick beyond Andrew Young and put The Fleet ahead. It was not long before Dartford was on level terms when four minutes later Ryan Hayes dangerous free kick was nodded in by Elliot Bradbrook. Ebbsfleet missed two more chances and reliable striker Calum Willock somehow missed an open goal from yards out. Willock was to make amends on the half hour mark when he went through on goal, Joe Bruce was caught the wrong side of Willock, legs tangled, Willock went down, Bruce was sent off, penalty. Willock dusted himself off and put The Fleet 2-1 in front at the break.

With a numerical disadvantage Dartford struggled to create chances. Ebbsfleet were denied three more times. James White entered the field of play on 66 minutes in place of Ryan Hayes to sure things up. White let Ebbsfleet know he arrived and his late tackle on Tom Phipp was rewarded with a caution after just 30 seconds on the field. Then moments later disaster struck, already down a man White’s rash tackle on Duncan left The Darts down to nine men, game over, no chance. Despite the uphill struggle Charlie Sheringham almost equalised, snatching an unlikely draw, he was denied by Preston Edwards and The Fleet triumphed in front of a bumper crowd of 2435.

Ebbsfleet United 2 Dartford 1 – Highlights

Winless at Welling

New Year, new start, new found optimism. Dartford faced a second Kent derby in four days against Welling United who were challenging at the top of the table. Managed by ex Dart and crowd favourite Jamie Day, The Wings were in financial trouble off the field but performing admirable on the field.

Loanee George Purcell brought the game to life when he turned ex Dart Jamie Coyle and unleashed a worldy from 25 yards, the cross bar rattled. The first quarter of the match was going to plan, Lee Burns deflected header went over and The Darts started brightly. But this was as good as it got for Tony Burman’s side.  For once Andrew Young looked shaky, a number of chances later and Welling went in front via Lee Clarke.

Carl Rook scores from the spot

The second half was a continuation of the first in that The Wings dominated. Young saved from Jamie Day’s free kick and from the resulting corner Lee Cumbers made it two, punishing some poor defending. Dartford fans were given hope with eight minutes to play. Adam Burchell went down under minimal contact and a controversial penalty was awarded, Carl Rook pulled one back but it was too late. The performance fell well short and Dartford fans were concerned.

The New Year, new start, new found optimism was on the verge of being lost, two defeats in a row against local rivals put Dartford in a tricky position.

Three in a Row

A third difficult match was to follow, home to Chelmsford City. The Essex side were in the playoffs pushing for promotion. The performance was better but in honesty it was not difficult to improve the efforts at Park View Road just days ago.

In the first half an awful injury to Tom Champion changed the mood on the terraces. An accidental clash of heads left Champion transported to East Grinstead hospital; he needed 30 stitches and serious patching up. Seven minutes into the second half Dartford took the lead when Carl Rook headed yet another one of Ryan Hayes’ in swinging corners.

Rook puts The Darts ahead

Chelmsford City manager Glenn Pennyfather had attacking options on the bench and he was not afraid to use the options available. Billy Bricknell was already on as a first half substitute and was joined by Rob Edmans and Stephen Reed early in the second half. The tactical move was crucial; Bricknell levelled the game on 58 minutes and the turnaround was completed five minutes later. A speculative header found its way to Edmans feet who tapped in for 2-1. The Clarets were in control and from the moment they lead they never looked like losing. Three defeats in a row, welcome to 2011.

Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2 – Highlights

Doom and Gloom

The Darts played Thurrock for the third time this season knowing that the Essex club were on an atrocious run with just two wins from nineteen league games. In fact, they had just conceded thirteen goals in two games losing 6-1 to Chelmsford City and 7-2 at home to Dover Athletic. The Fleet also departed company with manager Greg Lincoln who was replaced with Grant Gordon. Gordon made a few loan signings in an attempt to close the gap on their opposition. With home advantage surely The Darts could end this traumatic run.

The answer was no, things got worse, this month was not going to plan, it was a complete disaster and fans were expressing their worries. An ex Dartford player won the game for Thurrock on 68 minutes. To rub salt into Dartford’s wound, Thurrock had kept their first clean sheet of the season after 20 attempts.

Relegation concerns were rife among the supporters because they cared so much about the club. The team was being questioned, everyone needed to pull together. Tony Burman reacted by releasing Michael Shinn and Ollie Berquez. He also recalled Lee Noble before the Thurrock match.

Dartford 0 Thurrock 1 – Highlights

Cup Distraction

Four consecutive defeats and out of the relegation zone on goal difference, a  trip to The Robert Parker Stadium to take on Ashford Town (Middlesex) in the F.A Trophy Second Round was welcomed. The fixture allowed the team to temporarily forget about their league form. Supporters hoped that a victory would breed confidence and the league season would be turned around.

The numbers in Tony Burman’s squad were dwindling, Elliot Bradbrook, Joe Bruce and James White were suspended. Burman temporarily brought in Jack Clark from Cray Wanderers who impressed Dartford supporters and Adam Burchell made a rare start.

George Purcell's shot finds the back of the net

Twice Dartford rattled the Ashford Town cross bar, first by Charlie Sheringham on three minutes and then Lee Burns half way through the first half. Ashford claimed a penalty but this was turned down, other than that The Darts defence coped easily. In the second half, Ryan Hayes replaced Burchell and before the hour passed to Billy Burgess, he set up George Purcell who placed his shot passed the goalkeeper. At last victory, Dartford made it into the last 16 of the F.A Trophy and faced a long journey to the North East to face Conference National side Gateshead.

Ashford Town (Middlesex) 0 Dartford 1 – F.A Trophy Second Round Highlights

This is a Low

Tony Burman made a coup before the cup tie against Ashford Town (Middlesex). Former Tonbridge Angels and AFC Wimbledon goal getter Jon Main signed on loan but due to the arrangement he was unavailable for the F.A Trophy match. His record was phenomenal, for The Angels he had scored 52 goals in 57 games. Whilst at AFC Wimbledon he broke the Conference South goal scoring record for a season netting 33 times. Last season he was AFC Wimbledon’s second highest scorer with 15 goals and still missed the last two months through injury. Tony Burman had brought in a reliable striker but there was a catch, could Main get fit again and back to his best?

Carl Rook was sacrificed to hand Jon Main his debut in a Darts shirt. Dartford tested Staines Town goalkeeper Louis Wells early on when Charlie Sheringham’s shot was stopped. Purcell fired wide and the travelling fans were encouraged when Purcell and Lee Noble was denied by Wells. Danny Gordon attempted an audacious 40 yard volley for The Swans which flew off target. Dartford was foiled again when Paul Goodacre’s headers crashed against the woodwork. Going into half time the three pronged attack of George Purcell, Jon Main and Charlie Sheringham looked lively enough.

James White rescues a point

In the second half and against the run of play, The Swans opened the scoring when Danny Gordon pounced on some hesitant Dartford defending. A fifth consecutive defeat looked to be on the cards and so Burman introduced Carl Rook. Jon Main who quietly impressed all afternoon, headed the ball out wide to Tom Bonner. The full back crossed for the waiting substitute Rook who back heeled the ball in towards the path of James White, the ball bobbled over the line, White had equalised with six minutes on the clock.

Dartford 1 Staines Town 1 – Highlights

 

A New Year Begins

Braintree Town’s tough defence kept them top of the table by three points after winning three consecutive matches. This run was to continue throughout January as the Essex side won all six matches in January 2011. Bromley had slipped down to eighth after their tremendous start to the season. Chelmsford City picked up form and moved up to second and Eastleigh increased their winning streak to four. Ebbsfleet lost their 12 match unbeaten run against the league leaders but remained in contention at the top.

At the bottom of the table Lewes and Boreham Wood propped up the rest, Thurrock climbed out of the relegation zone. Despite rescuing a point against Staines Town, The Darts hit a season’s low, winless in seven league matches, taking a measly two points from twenty one. Dartford FC slumped into the dreaded bottom three. Supporters, players and management were unhappy at the way the season was panning out, could everyone turn the season around?

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Braintree Town 19 13 3 3 36 14 +22 42
2 Chelmsford City 19 12 3 4 39 22 +17 39
3 Ebbsfleet United 19 11 5 3 31 19 +12 38
4 Farnborough 21 11 5 5 39 24 +15 38
5 Welling United* 21 13 3 5 45 26 +19 37
6 Eastleigh 19 10 4 5 36 22 +14 34
7 Dover Athletic 20 10 5 5 46 30 +16 35
8 Bromley 23 10 8 5 32 35 -3 38
9 Havant and W 18 6 6 6 25 23 +2 24
10 Woking 21 7 7 7 25 25 0 28
11 Bishop’s Stortford 23 9 3 11 27 40 -13 30
12 Basingstoke Town 19 6 6 7 18 21 -3 24
13 Weston-super-Mare 25 8 7 10 35 40 -5 31
14 Staines Town 21 6 8 7 28 28 0 26
15 Maidenhead United 20 6 6 8 21 30 -9 24
16 Hampton and Richmond 19 4 9 6 21 26 -5 21
17 Dorchester Town 19 5 5 9 23 26 -3 20
18 St Albans City 19 3 8 8 20 32 -12 17
19 Thurrock 21 4 6 11 26 45 -19 18
20 Dartford 20 3 7 10 24 33 -9 16
21 Boreham Wood 20 3 5 12 25 41 -16 14
22 Lewes 22 3 3 16 17 37 -20 12


*Welling United deducted five points

 

Stuart Maidment

Photos courtesy of Dave Adkins and Carol White-Griffiths, videos courtesy of Ray Cherry.

 

Season Review Part Three – A look back on 2010/2011

3- Let The Season Begin – August 2010

Danny Harris celebrates Dartford's first goal in the Conference South

The Opener

The fourteenth of August arrived and The Darts opener against Havant and Waterlooville was the talk of the town. Back in the second tier of non league football, 1302 turned up for the first fixture of 2010/2011 season. Havant and Waterlooville were the bookies favourite to go up having lost just nine games the season before and finishing a point away from the playoffs. Dartford missed Elliot Bradbrook and new signing Tom Champion through suspension. Tom Bonner, Joe Bruce, Paul Goodacre and Ollie Berquez made their competitive debuts. Three o’clock, the referee’s whistle commenced the start of another chapter in Dartford F.C’s history. No one really knew what to expect but Princes Park was buzzing with optimism and on twenty six minutes Danny Harris flicked a Ryan Hayes free kick goalwards, 1-0. The Darts had opened the scoring, the crowd were in full voice, the season was well and truly underway, what a start. The Hawks looked for the equaliser, hit the crossbar and had a goal ruled out for offside. Burman’s side were clinging on and as the half time break approached Hayes handled the ball in his own area, penalty, the home crowd silenced. Bobby Hopkinson converted the spot kick and the teams went back to their dressing rooms all square.

The second half started with a fine drizzle and the Hampshire side took control, the Dartford crossbar was rattled for the second time. With a couple of minutes remaining Dartford were unable to clear a corner, the ball was eventually laid off to Wes Fogden who unleashed a terrific eighteen yard curler into Andrew Young’s far corner, game over. Or was it? In the last minute Young launched a goal kick forward which was flicked on. Lee Burns desperately helped the ball up in the air and into the penalty box, Danny Harris was knocked over and the referee pointed to the spot. Hayes stepped up, the Dartford faithful crossed their fingers, and the Havant goalkeeper was sent the wrong way, 2-2. Dartford had earned their first league point, relief.

Dartford 2 Havant and Waterlooville 2 – Highlights

Paul Goodacre heads for an early bath at The Beveree

Searching For Win Number One

Two away matches followed starting in mid week at The Beveree. Hampton and Richmond were the first team to host The Darts. After two games Dartford unveiled their third kit, green with white sleeves, eyebrows were raised not for the first time that afternoon. Not even ten minutes had passed when Paul Goodacre clipped the last man, the letter of the law was applied and Dartford were reduced to ten men. Despite a numerical disadvantage the boys held their own but it was not enough. A Dean Wells header on 68 minutes inflicted the first defeat for The Darts.

Hampton and Richmond 1 Dartford 0 – Highlights

A second successive reverse was to follow at newly promoted Farnborough. The Hampshire side lost their opening two matches. It took just twelve minutes for Dean McDonald to smash home a superb half volley from 18 yards to give Farnborough the lead. Andrew Young was extremely busy against the lively Boro attack and when he upended Kezie Ibe a penalty was awarded. McDonald doubled his tally and Farnborough’s advantage. Lee Noble nodded in a consolation in the final minute, The Darts were given a wakeup call, welcome to the Conference South.

Farnborough 2 Dartford 1 – Highlights

A First For Everything

At last Charlie Sheringham and Tom Champion made competitive debuts as Bishop’s Stortford travelled to Princes Park. The Bishop’s finished a lowly eighteenth last season but had become an experienced Conference South outfit. The Hertfordshire club were already familiar with Andrew Young, Danny Harris, Paul Goodacre and debutant Charlie Sheringham who all plied their trade at Woodside Park in the past. After a slow start to the season Dartford fans debated over the best line up and the best formation. Importantly of all, they all agreed to get behind the team in search of their first victory. The performance was much improved by the Dartford lads and on twenty minutes Billy Burgess’ long throw was flicked on by Lee Burns, Danny Harris turned and shot, 1-0. Barely a couple of minutes passed and

The Darts run riot and record win number one

Paul Goodacre was in the thick of it again, another penalty conceded. This time, Andrew Young made an excellent stop to keep The Darts ahead and save his first penalty of the season. Two minutes before the interval things got better for Dartford. Sheringham found Ryan Hayes out wide who returned the ball with a delightful cross; Sheringham headed his first goal for his new club, 2-0. Young kept The Bishop’s at bay in the second half with a string of fine saves, the penalty save was looking to be a turning point. With nine minutes remaining a terrible mistake from Bishop’s Stortford goalkeeper Nicky Morgan handed Carl Rook a four yard tap in, game, set and match, the first win of the season was accomplished in style.

Dartford 3 Bishop’s Stortford 0 – Highlights

Derby Day

Dartfordians were on a high after the mid week triumph and for the next 96 hours the emotional journey would continue. It had been eighteen long and hard years without playing our rivals. Back then they were known as Gravesend and Northfleet, now their name had controversially changed to Ebbsfleet United. Only two and half years had passed since The Fleet tasted Wembley triumph in the F.A Trophy final, being the first Kent side to lift the honour. Dartford had lost Watling Street, started all over again in the Kent League and even shared Stonebridge Road with their local rivals, the road had been long. The occasion was full of excitement and nervousness, take the start of the season and multiply it by ten or maybe more. A season’s record attendance turned out, 2781, Dartford’s biggest in the league since the opening of Princess Park. Prior the match supporters of both clubs mingled, some would have to speak to each other after the match at work, down the local. Friends before the game, enemies during and returning to friends again once all is over. In 1992, Dartford destroyed The Fleet 5-0 on New Year’s Day and the reverse fixture ended 1-1. Many fans would remember this as the last time the two sides met in the league; newer fans looked forward to a ‘new rivalry’ for it was Dover Athletic or Maidstone United in recent years. The only similarity between the two sets of supporters was that no one wanted to experience defeat.

Darts fans saviour the atmosphere against Ebbsfleet United

Ebbsfleet started the brighter and struck the left post through Craig Stone. However, Dartford bounced back with half chances of their own via Charlie Sheringham and Lee Burns. Hearts were in mouths shortly afterwards. Callum Willock was sent through who delicately lobbed the ball over John Whitehouse, surely The Fleet had taken the lead? The ball was destined for the goal. Billy Burgess scampered back before sliding in time to clear the ball off the line. The first half went by, scrappy, competitive with both defences resolute, yet the game remained entertaining because of the amount at stake. On the stroke of half time Dartford broke with a counter attack and Danny Harris’ cross was inches away from the toes of Lee Burns, the half time whistle sounded, goalless.

At the half time interval drink was required to nullify the nerves. The only affect this had was to lubricate the vocal chords for the second half. Drums and trumpets continued to stir up vociferous support for the final forty five minutes and the game continued where it had left off, scrappy, competitive and entertaining.

On sixty two minutes Fleet goalkeeper Preston Edwards comfortably dealt with a Dartford cross, he released Willock with an accurate throw who was cynically tripped off the ball by Ryan Hayes, free kick awarded. Although the free kick was forty yards out right on the far side Ebbsfleet United packed the Dartford box. As the ball was hurled in Michael West rose from six yards out to powerfully header The Fleet into the lead. Ebbsfleet supporters were ecstatic, a jubilant roar sounded out over Princes Park. Despite going a goal down the atmosphere of that goal made Dartford realise what they had missed for eighteen years, a big game, a big gate, a higher level of football and support, it was what Princes Park was built for, shame about conceding though.

Seconds later The Darts attacked in search of a quick leveller. Whitehouse’s kick went long, Sheringham flicked it on to Burns who exchanged a one two. Only the keeper to beat from six yards, this was it, 1-1 and we’ve bounced back. Burns set himself, too complacent it was harder to miss and he did. The chance had vanished and over half of Princes Park was in disbelief. The game opened up and straight from Dartford’s opportunity, The Fleet broke away and Willock’s header was brilliantly tipped round the post by Andrew Young.

Nine frantic minutes passed and the setback gave Dartford the impetus to find an equaliser. A hopeful boot into the Ebbsfleet box caused problems for Paul Lorraine as he hauled Harris to the ground, penalty. Sheringham immediately grabbed the ball despite Hayes’ protest that he normally takes the spot kicks. Confusion surrounded the Ebbsfleet players who disagreed with the referees decision, confusion surrounded the Dartford players who couldn’t decide on who should take the penalty. The referee completed formalities; Princes Park held its breath. Sheringham to stepped up, shot to the keepers right into the bottom corner, equaliser. Relief for the Dartford fans, for Sheringham, for Hayes, for Burman’s men. A few more half chances were squandered and when the referee brought an end to the derby, Princes Park was reduced to a credible round of applause, an exhausting yet entertaining fixture had come to an end, the sixteen year wait was worth it.

Dartford 1 Ebbsfleet United 1 – Highlights

Dartford fans celebrate as Charlie Sheringham converts a spot kick

End of August

After the highs of the last two league fixtures The Darts travelled across to Essex to face Chelmsford City. Just under a year ago the two sides met in the F.A Cup with The Clarets progressing to the next round. A disappointing performance by Dartford ended August on a defeat, goals from Billy Bricknell and Anthony Cook gave Chelmsford a 2-0 win leaving Dartford with five points from the first eighteen.

Chelmsford City 2 Dartford 0 – Highlights

During the opening month of the season Bromley set the pace with a perfect record. Mark Goldberg’s team won every fixture in August. Only Braintree Town and Dover Athletic were unbeaten whilst five teams were yet to record a victory. St Albans City opened with five consecutive draws which was to remain the longest drawing streak of 2010/11 season. The promoted newcomers were all struggling to adapt with Farnborough lying in fourteenth, Dartford in sixteenth and Boreham Wood second from bottom.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Bromley 6 6 0 0 12 5 +7 18
2 Braintree Town 6 4 2 0 12 2 +10 14
3 Dover Athletic 6 4 2 0 10 3 +7 14
4 Chelmsford City 6 4 0 2 13 8 +5 12
5 Maidenhead United 6 4 0 2 7 8 -1 12
6 Welling United 6 3 2 1 11 8 +3 11
7 Bishop’s Stortford 6 3 0 3 7 10 -3 9
8 Eastleigh 6 2 2 2 11 8 +3 8
9 Ebbsfleet United 6 2 2 2 7 6 +1 8
10 Basingstoke Town 6 2 2 2 4 4 0 8
11 Weston-super-Mare 6 2 2 2 4 4 0 8
12 Hampton and Richmond 6 1 4 1 7 7 0 7
13 Staines Town 6 1 4 1 5 5 0 7
14 Farnborough 6 2 1 3 5 7 -2 7
15 Woking 6 2 1 3 4 8 -4 7
16 Dartford 6 1 2 3 7 8 -1 5
17 St Albans City 6 0 5 1 6 7 -1 5
18 Havant and W 6 0 4 2 5 8 -3 4
19 Lewes 6 1 1 4 4 9 -5 4
20 Thurrock 6 0 3 3 8 12 -4 3
21 Boreham Wood 6 0 3 3 6 11 -5 3
22 Dorchester Town 6 0 2 4 4 11 -7 2