Dartford return to National South action this weekend against fellow promotion hopefuls Chelmsford City, a side the Darts had to face six times last season. 

Very little separated the two clubs last term with Dartford pipping Chelmsford City into third place on the final day of the campaign back in April. Yet, the Clarets claimed the bragging rights in the head to head contest winning three and losing once.

Chelmsford City became a nemesis for the Darts last season, the Essex club were victors in the National South playoffs, the F.A Trophy and took four points from Dartford in the league. However, in the three away games last season, Tony Burman managed to achieve his best results against the Essex club.

The first away fixture last season came in the opening month of the campaign. Luke Wanadio headed Dartford ahead just before the hour but Shaun Jeffers put the Essex side level eleven minutes later.

Drawn together in the F.A Cup, Dartford returned to the Melbourne Stadium in an intriguing cup tie. On a windy September afternoon, the Darts raced into a three goal lead before half-time. Goalkeeper, Ross Fitzsimons scored an unfortunate own goal early on and Elliot Bradbrook’s penalty and second goal five minutes later, put the Darts in a commanding position at the break. Chelmsford City fought back with two Shamir Mullings headers in two minutes to set up a tense finish, but the Darts held on to a 3-2 victory.

In the playoff semi-final just five months ago, the Darts secured a 0-0 draw at the Melbourne Stadium. At the time the result seemed to lay a solid foundation for a second leg at home, but the Clarets recorded victory at Princes Park winning 2-1 on aggregate. Rod Stringer’s side went on to lose the playoff final to Ebbsfleet United missing out on a place in the National League.

Manager, Tony Burman is aware of the threat Saturday’s opponents will bring as well as the following fixtures against Bath City and St Albans City, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “It’s not the be-all and end-all but it’s a good test to see where we are”, he added: “We’ve got three tough games coming up and we’ve got to enjoy them and be professional in what we do”.

Burman continued: “It’s always tough at Chelmsford. They’ve made a lot of changes to their side but they’re always big and strong. They get plenty of high balls into the box and we’ve got to battle and match them for effort.We’re playing at their place so they’ll come at us and we’ve got to defend well and use the ball when we win it back”.

Meanwhile, striker Duane Ofori-Acheampong who has suffered a minor knee injury and full back Mark Onyemah are hopeful to return to the squad this weekend.

Dartford will need to be focused on league matters once more after the excitement of making it to the F.A Cup first round. The Darts beat Burgess Hill Town of the Isthmian Premier League last weekend thanks to an early Alfie Pavey goal. The striker’s excellent form of ten goals in his last eleven appearances will hopefully continue this weekend. The Darts have now made it to the first round in four of their last six season’s and for the first time since 2010 were rewarded with a home tie against Football League opposition. On Monday night when the draw was made, Dartford were paired up with Swindon Town, a former Premier League side now in League Two.

In their last league outing, the Darts beat Bognor Regis Town 3-1, much needed after the 3-0 reverse against Weston-super-Mare. Goals from Pavey, a Bradbrook penalty and Andy Pugh’s fourth of the season gave the Darts a 3-1 win over the Sussex club to move up to fourth in the National South table.

The Clarets started the campaign strongly and along with Dartford were declared one of the favourites for the title. Winning six of their first seven had the Essex club challenging St Albans City, the only team to have beaten them in that spell. Since then they have drawn four out of the last six, lost to East Thurrock United who had former Claret and Dartford midfielder Max Cornhill to thank for his two goals and a fortnight ago beat Eastbourne Borough 5-2 in their last home league fixture.

On the weekend, Chelmsford City attempted to reach the F.A Cup first round but only managed another draw at Bath City. The replay on Monday was won by former Ebbsfleet United midfielder Michael West’s goal to earn the Clarets a tie with National League side Gateshead.

Rod Stringer strengthened his squad last week with the signing of Chris Assombalonga, brother of Britt who plays for Middlesbrough. The striker impressed with 31 goals in 34 games for Waltham Abbey before joining Dagenham and Redbridge then moving on to Billericay Town. Winger, Aristide Bassele also joined the Clarets having had three loan spells with Welling United in the past. The Chelmsford City boss was amongst the busiest in the summer notably keeping hold of Chris Dickson and capturing the signature of Lee Barnard, the former Southampton and Southend United striker. Former Dart loanee, Jim Stevenson moved to the Mebourne Stadium, the midfielder played 25 times for the Darts scoring once in the 2013/14 season.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 36 / Chelmsford City wins: 53 / Draws: 91

Current League Form

Chelmsford City (WDLDDD) Dartford (WLWWWD)
Eastbourne Borough H 5-2 Bognor Regis Town H 3-1
Poole Town A 0-0 Weston-super-Mare A 0-3
East Thurrock United H 1-2 Eastbourne Borough H 4-2
Weston-super-Mare H 1-1 Chippenham Town H 3-0
Hampton & Richmond A 1-1 Whitehawk A 4-0
Bognor Regis Town H 0-0 Hampton & Richmond A 2-2

Previous Meetings

07.05.2017 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2
03.05.2017 Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0
18.02.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
14.01.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
17.09.2016 Chelmsford City 2 Dartford 3
13.08.2016 Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 1

Stats
Dartford have beaten Chelmsford City once in the last seven fixtures, since the start of the millennium the Darts have only recorded three victories out of 15 meetings (D5, L8).

The Darts have failed to score in three of the last four games against the Essex side.

Despite Chelmsford City coming out on top of the head to head record, Dartford are unbeaten in their last five trips to the Melbourne Stadium (W2, D3).

Only once in the last ten meetings has their been more than three goals in the game (Dartford’s 3-2 F.A Cup win last season). In that spell which has included three 0-0 draws and three games ending 1-0, the average goals per game is just 1.5.

On This Day
Only a week has gone by since the Darts defeated Burgess Hill Town, the same side Dartford beat 14 years ago on this day. The Southern League Division One East encounter ended 2-1 to the Darts. The previous three fixtures on 21 October all ended in defeats, in 2000 Burnham won 3-1 also in the Southern League Division One East, Cray Wanderers won a Kent League Cup game 2-0 in 1995 and Burton Albion, now in the Championship won 1-0 in the Southern Premier League back in 1989. Dartford’s last away win on this day was way back in 1974 when they beat Tonbridge 4-2 in the Southern League Cup second round.

DATE: Saturday 21st October 2017

VENUE: Melbourne Community Stadium, Salerno Way, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 2EH

KICK OFF: 3:00pm

TURNSTILES: Open from 12:00pm

ADMISSION: 
Adults (Age 18 to 64) – £13.00
Concessions (Age 65 & over) & Students – £9.00
Young Adults (Age 12 to 17) – £5.00
Children (11 & under) – Free
Family (Two adults and two children) – £25.00

SEATING: Seating is available on a first come first served basis in certain areas of the stadium.

FACILITIES: Bar and food open from 12:00pm

MATCH UPDATES:  Updates will be  Available on Twitter @dartfordfc and on website www.dartfordfc.com

AWAY TRAVEL:   Supporters Coach leaves at 12:00pmTo make your booking, please speak to Mick Austinr by calling/texting on 07969 181796.