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MATCH PREVIEW: Eastbourne Borough vs Dartford

Dartford should be back in action when they visit mid table opposition Eastbourne Borough at Priory Lane.

The Darts had their local derby with Welling United on Saturday postponed due to a frozen pitch. On a weekend with just two matches surviving, Eastbourne Borough were supposed to take on league leaders Maidenhead United.

Last time out, Dartford made life difficult trying to overcome Weston-super-Mare. Manager, Tony Burman watched as his side went behind before taking the lead through Tom Murphy and Danny Harris. After conceding an equaliser, Alex Brown’s fine effort sealed a 3-2 triumph, the midfielder will be unavailable against the Sports through suspension.

Burman, whose side moved up to third in the table told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We made hard work of it to be fair”, he added: “I don’t think we played great but the spirit has come through again and we’ve won the game”. The Darts had to earn victory without two strikers, Andy Pugh was struggling with illness and Duane Ofori-Acheampong missed the match due to a bereavement.

The Darts have lost their last two away games to the top two in the National South. They suffered a 5-0 hammering at Maidenhead United and a New Year’s Day defeat to rivals Ebbsfleet United.

Dartford drew 1-1 last season with the Sports and had to come from behind in windy conditions. Nathaniel Pinney scored from a rebound to have the home side ahead but Andy Pugh equalised with 18 minutes to go. Tom Bradbrook was sent off late on making Dartford needing to hold out Eastbourne Borough to secure a point.

Under Tommy Widdrington, the Sports have been a constant fixture in the middle of the National South table. This season is no different so far with the Sussex club in thirteenth place. Their home record holds up well with six wins, three draws and three defeats.

It’s been a week since Widdrington’s side last played beating Worthing in the Sussex Senior Cup, to move into the semi-finals. In the National South, they are unbeaten in four matches and drew their last two against Poole Town and Hungerford Town.

This month Widdrington has identified his defence needs strengthening in numbers and has signed Australian goalkeeper, Jordan Holmes and defender Shaun Hobson from Premier League side AFC Bournemouth. Another defender, Ryan Case has also joined the Sports from Poole Town, who he signed for in the summer from Basingstoke Town. Also in the squad are Ian Simpemba and Craig Stone, who have played for various Kent clubs in the past. Up front, Nathaniel Pinney and Elliott Romain normally form a strike partnership, with Romain scoring 12 National South goals this term.

The two sides first met 16 years ago when Eastbourne Borough were known as Langley Sports. The Darts won the first two completing a league double in the Southern League Division One East. The next four meetings in the same league, ended with the newly named Eastbourne Borough winning all four. Since then, Dartford are unbeaten in six against the Sports, including three visits to Priory Lane.

Head to Head
Eastbourne Borough wins: 4 / Dartford wins: 6/ Draws: 2

Current League Form
Eastbourne Borough (DDWLLW)
Drew 2-2 v Hungerford Town (H)
Drew 0-0 v Poole Town (H)
Won 4-2 v Whitehawk (H)
Lost 0-1 v Oxford City (A)
Lost 0-1 v St Albans City (A)
Won 2-1 v Margate (H)

Dartford (WWLWLW)
Won 3-2 v Weston-super-Mare (H)
Won 6-1 v East Thurrock United (H)
Lost 0-1 v Ebbsfleet United (A)
Won 2-1 v Ebbsfleet United (H)
Lost 0-5 v Maidenhead United (A)
Won 2-1 v Poole Town (H)

Previous Six Meetings

Eastbourne Borough 1 Dartford 1 (20/02/2016 – National South)
Dartford 1 Eastbourne Borough 0 (11/08/2015 – National South)
Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 1 (03/04/2012 – National South)
Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1 (29/11/2011 – F.A Trophy replay)
Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 0 (26/11/2011 – F.A Trophy)
Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1 (16/08/2011 – National South)

On This Day

Dartford are unbeaten in five on 24 January stretching back to 1998, their only loss in ten matches on this day. Just two years ago, the Darts were involved in a F.A Trophy third round tie with FC Halifax Town. Dartford fought from two goals down to earn a last minute draw with the Shaymen, Rory McAuley netting the equaliser after Lee Burns’ goal five minutes into the second half. The Darts strolled to a 4-1 win at Staines Town in their last league match on 24 January, despite falling from behind. The National South fixture saw goals from Tom Bonner, Conor Essam, Danny Harris and Adam Green as the Darts moved into second that day. The last trip to Sussex on this day came nine years ago when a Ryan Hayes opener and Cody McDonald’s brace earned a 3-0 win over Horsham in the Isthmian Premier League.