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Match Preview: Maidstone United Away

Dartford will need to put a dent into Maidstone United’s title hopes if they are to have playoff aspirations of their own.

The local rivals have everything to play for with just four games remaining. Tony Burman’s side are sixth whilst the Stones are five points behind top spot in third.

Assistant manager, Paul Sawyer spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk and said: “It’s a massive game and there will be a big crowd down there. Maidstone have still got a lot to play for. It’s a big derby, we enjoyed the game at Ebbsfleet last week and we’re looking forward to Saturday’s game as well”.

He continued: “We’ll go there and play our normal game. We need to make sure we don’t get carried away with the crowd, concentrate, be organised and make it hard for Maidstone. They’ve got their own pressures at the moment and we’ll enjoy it there.We’ll give it all we can and hopefully come away with three points”.

Dartford visit the Gallagher Stadium for the first time on the back of a 3-0 defeat at Truro City. The Darts slipped out the playoff places once again with a three point deficit. Tuesday’s trip to Cornwall didn’t bode well when only three substitutes were named. Truro City led by two at half time with goals from Ollie Knowles and Dan Green whilst Matty Jay scored late on.

Sawyer spoke to www.kentonline.co.uk after the game and commented: “We had a bad fifteen minutes and we’ve got to learn to deal with that a bit better”, he added: “We were encouraged by the way the boys came back second half and right up to the third goal, we were still in the game. There were a lot of positives to take from the game”.

Striker Andy Pugh didn’t travel to Truro because of illness and Jack Simmons (ankle), Tom Bradbrook (hamstring) and Callum McNaughton (fractured metatarsal) were all injured. Lee Burns and Paul Lorraine are training and trying to get fit for competitive action.

Despite dropping out the playoff places on Tuesday, the Darts will take heart from their last Kent derby against league leaders Ebbsfleet United. The 1-1 draw was sandwiched between wins against Bishop’s Stortford and Maidenhead United, the only top five side the Darts have beaten.

Maidstone United now have an outside chance of winning the National South. A loss to fellow title chasers Sutton United on Tuesday night in front of a record crowd has had a big impact on the Stones challenge.

The U’s went two up through Dan Wishart and Craig Eastmond before being reduced to ten men, Vas Karagiannis pulled a goal back for Maidstone United. Two defeats in three means Jay Saunders’ side are now outsiders. St Albans City were beaten 2-1 last weekend but the Stones suffered a damaging 3-0 loss away to Chelmsford City.

In November, the reverse fixture at Princes Park ended all square ending Dartford’s run of four successive wins against Maidstone United. Elliot Bradbrook scored a late goal against his former club after it had initially been ruled out. The Stones took the lead through Alex Flisher but it wasn’t enough to deny the Darts, who hit the woodwork three times.

If Ryan Hayes’ testimonial is a showcase for former Dartford players, then Saturday’s fixture is a mini reunion in preparation. Callum Driver, Jamie Coyle, Matt Bodkin (on loan at Leatherhead), James Rogers, Jay May and Adam Birchall have all been involved this term for the Stones having played for the Darts in the past.

Maidstone United are having a fantastic first season in the National South, as they continue to try and get the club back to where the old club was 24 years ago. Manager, Jay Saunders led the Stones to the Isthmian Premier League title last term and has continued his good work, looking like his side will at least finish in the top three.

The Stones have been consistent for all but two months of their campaign. An average August and disappointing December can be overlooked with unbeaten runs in between. A seven match winning streak also coincided with keeping six consecutive clean sheets.

Saunders has built his team around the tightness of the team’s defence, only league leaders Ebbsfleet United (and Sutton United??) have conceded fewer in the National South. In attack, the Stones have struggled with just 50 goals; around two thirds of the teams in league have scored more. So it’s no surprise on eight occasions Maidstone United have won 1-0, the most by this score line by any team in the league this term.

Current League Form

Maidstone United (LWLWWW) Dartford (LWDWLL)
Sutton United H 1-2 Truro City A 0-3
St Albans City A 2-1 Maidenhead United H 2-0
Chelmsford City A 0-3 Ebbsfleet United A 1-1
Hemel Hempstead Town H 2-1 Bishop’s Stortford H 3-1
Weston-Super-Mare H 3-1 Havant & Waterlooville A 0-2
Weston-Super-Mare H 2-1 Maidenhead United A 1-2

Last Away Meeting (at Homelands Stadium, Ashford)

7 March 2010 – Maidstone United 0 Dartford 1 – view highlights

It took ten minutes for Dartford to get their noses in front when Ryan Hayes crossed for Lee Burns to score. In difficult conditions where the pitch was sandy and the ball bobbling about, the Darts held on to the slender lead to take all three points.

Previous Meetings

14.11.2015 Dartford 1 Maidstone United 1
20.03.2010 Dartford 3 Maidstone United 0
09.03.2010 Maidstone United 0 Dartford 1
31.01.2009 Dartford 1 Maidstone United 0
23.09.2008 Maidstone United 1 Dartford 2
03.03.2007 Maidstone United 4 Dartford 1
25.09.2006 Dartford 2 Maidstone United 1

Stats 3 – points Dartford have taken from sides above them in the National South, three draws and three defeats. Truro City and Maidstone United are the last of the two the Darts face until the end of the season.

8 – the number of promotions achieved by Dartford and Truro City over the last ten years. The Darts have been promoted three times whilst Truro City five times, both sides have suffered relegation once.

46 – the Darts have conceded 46 times this season and on a per game basis only the top three Ebbsfleet United, Maidstone United and Sutton United have a tighter defence. Truro City have let in 42 but have played four less games.

Only Maidstone United (2.06) and Maidenhead United (2.00) have a better points per game ratio at home than Truro City (1.88).

In Kent derbies this season Dartford have taken six points and a win over Maidstone United will give them the second best record.

P W D L F A GD Pts
Ebbsfleet United 6 3 1 2 7 4 +3 10
Maidstone United 5 2 1 2 4 5 -1 7
Dartford 5 1 3 1 5 4 +1 6
Margate 6 2 1 3 5 8 -3 7

On This Day The last two National South fixtures 9 April have resulted in Dartford wins. Bromley were beaten at Hayes Lane 2-1 four years ago with goals from Danny Harris and Luke Wilkinson just four minutes apart. In 2011, the Darts defeated Woking 3-2 at Princes Park in an entertaining tussle. Elliot Bradbrook, Charlie Sheringham and Jack Pallen scored three goals inside four minutes. The last Dartford match on this day was a 2-1 loss at home to Grimsby Town in the National League, Jack Evans scored for the Darts.

Match Preview written by Stuart  Maidment.