Dartford will head into their final home game of the season against playoff hopefuls Bath City with a clear lead at the top of the National South.
The Darts recorded their third 1-0 victory in a week on Tuesday night to give themselves a three point advantage over title rivals Havant and Waterlooville, shifting the pressure onto the Hawks for their final three games of the season.
Leading up to the East Thurrock United game, Tony Burman gave an interview with www.kentonline.co.uk and is feeling a positive vibe, he said: “We’re in a real good place. I’ll tell you now, the group are really together and they’re believing. They’ve worked really hard all season and that work now has got to be carried out in the right manner. Also, the supporters are behind them and there’s a feelgood factor, which is nice, but all we do is take it into the next game”.
Now that vibe is getting stronger thanks to Danny Mills’ 78th minute header on Tuesday night earning Dartford their seventh straight victory. Although the Darts have not been as free scoring as earlier in the campaign, they have now recorded four clean sheets in a row on their travels and five in the last six outings home and away. If the Darts can take their winning streak to eight this weekend then potentially they could lead by six points going into the final week of the season.
Earlier this term Dartford won at Twerton Park and could repeat last season’s double over Bath City with victory at Princes Park. Back in October, the Darts ended up with ten men when Andy Pugh was red carded with the scores at 1-1, but Alfie Pavey pounced to score the decisive goal. The game started with Ryan Hayes trying his luck straight from kick-off and hitting the crossbar and with just over half hour played Pavey opened the scoring. Before the break Bath City’s Tom Smith equalised before Pavey netted the winner with almost ten minutes remaining. The last meeting at Princes Park was just over a year ago when Elliot Bradbrook scored a penalty and Duane Ofori-Acheampong added a second.
Bath City have hopes of their own in trying to reach the National South playoffs. A top seven place will qualify the Romans for a chance to return to the National League after a six-year absence.
Last weekend, the Romans pulled of a comprehensive 5-0 home win over Hungerford Town. Matt Richards scored from the spot early on and Opi Edwards made it 2-0 before the break. Second half goals from Andy Watkins, Jack Batten and Nat Jarvis secured back to back five goal hauls at home.
Manager, Jerry Gill spoke to somersetlive.co.uk after the game, he said: “Once we got into the game and scored the first goal I thought we were massively in the ascendancy”. The Bath City boss still believes a playoff place is possible, he commented: “It keeps us in the hunt, doesn’t it? In the race. A few results have gone with us, people will be getting twitchy at this stage of the season and we might be the ones that come late”, before adding: “”We really believe in this dressing room, as a staff and players, we can make it”.
Sandwiched between the 5-1 win against Gloucester City and the rout over Hungerford Town, the Somerset club lost on the road to Wealdstone. Gill’s side threw away the lead given to them by Richards, his first goal for the club. The Stones left it late to overturn the deficit and take three points from Bath City.
The Somerset club have been on the fringes of the playoffs all season, but have been unable to take the leap above that dotted line. Gill looked back to a number of good performances specifically picking out the narrow defeats to the Darts back in October and the losses to Braintree Town and Havant and Waterlooville in February and March respectively.
One player who caused Dartford some problems in the 6-3 F.A Cup defeat to Sutton United last term was Kevin Amankwaah, the full back joined Bath City in September and returned to action on Saturday, coming off the bench to replace the influential Dan Ball, who was substituted as a precaution due to a minor ankle injury. The Romans have also missed other key players like Frankie Artus and Sean Rigg to injuries.
On Tuesday night, the Romans went out of the Somerset Premier Cup on penalties against Weston-super-Mare. Bath City fielded a first team, but Andy Watkins’ brace only helped Bath City to a 2-2 draw. Their opponents went through to the final with a 4-3 shoot-out win.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 30 / Bath City wins: 40 / Draws: 19
Current League Form
|Dartford (WWWWWW)||Bath City (WLWDLW)|
|East Thurrock United||A||1-0||Hungerford Town||H||5-0|
|Gloucester City||A||1-0||Gloucester City||H||5-1|
|Hampton & Richmond||H||1-0||Havant & Waterlooville||H||1-2|
|Oxford City||A||2-0||Poole Town||A||4-0|
Dartford have won the last four meetings against Bath City and are unbeaten against the Romans since returning to the National South in 2015 (W4, D1).
The Darts have kept five clean sheets in the last eight outings against the Romans conceding just three times.
At home, Dartford have won six, drew one and lost one against teams in the top ten.
The last time Bath City scored more than one goal against the Darts was in 1988, when the Romans won 4-2 in the Southern Premier League.
On This Day
The Darts will be playing their eighth home game in a row on 21 April, the previous seven has seen four Dartford victories, two draws and a defeat. The last outing on this day four years ago sealed the Darts relegation to the National South with a 3-2 loss at home to Tamworth, Elliot Bradbrook scored both Dartford’s goals. Six years ago, the Darts drew 2-2 after conceding a last minute equaliser against Boreham Wood, Tony Garrod and Jacob Erskine found the net that day. Lee Noble, Jay May, Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle all scored in Dartford’s final game of the 2008/09 campaign securing a 4-2 home win over Ashford Town (Middlesex). The Darts recorded the same score six years earlier beating St Leonards in the Southern League Eastern Division, and in 2007 drew 0-0 with Walton Casuals in the Isthmian Division One South.
DATE: Saturday 21st April 2018
VENUE: Princes Park, Grassbanks, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1RT
KICK OFF: 3:00pm
TURNSTILES: Open from 12:30pm
Youth (13-17) : £5
Children ( u12) FREE with accompanying adult. Maximum 2 children per adult.
SEATING: Seating is available on a first come first served basis in certain areas of the stadium.
FACILITIES: Bar and food open from 12:30pm
PARKING: Parking is free of charge in the clubs car park but is a first come first served basis.
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MATCH UPDATES: Full Coverage will on twitter @dartfordfc