Dartford take on Isthmian Premier League champions Havant and Waterlooville this weekend in a top of the table clash at Princes Park.
The top two go head to head with only goal difference separating the teams. Dartford boast the best home record and are the league’s top scorers this term. Havant and Waterlooville are the most productive away from home with nine wins, three draws and a defeat, accruing the most away points in the National South. The Darts are two goals better off but the Hawks have a game in hand.
Both squads have plenty of attacking options amongst their squads, so when the two battled out a 0-0 draw in the third game of the season back in August it came as a surprise. At the time, it felt like Dartford had dropped two points against a newly promoted side, but knowing how well the Hawks have performed this term in a tight division the away point could turn out useful come the end of April.
The lack of goals five months ago, contrasted with the last time Havant and Waterlooville visited Princes Park in December 2015. Dartford ran out 4-2 winners in a game which saw the Darts let slip a two-goal lead. Elliot Bradbrook’s penalty and Danny Harris’ strike on half-time put Dartford two up at the interval. Within eight minutes of the restart the scores were level when Havant and Waterlooville’s Dan Strugnell halved the deficit then Matt Paterson equalised. Bradbrook scored another before Ebou Adams netted his only goal for the club to secure victory.
It’s debatable at this stage of the season if Dartford dropped points last weekend at Concord Rangers. The Darts drew 1-1 against the Essex side who are now 13 unbeaten in the National South, however Elliot Bradbrook missed a penalty and Deren Ibrahim’s mistake for Steve Cawley’s goal almost proved costly. Ryan Hayes levelled the match with a well taken strike past former Dartford goalkeeper Louis Wells to earn an away point.
Tony Burman spoke to www.dartfordfc.com after the game and was pleased with his player’s application, he said: “Concord is always a difficult place to go and get a result and with our opponents undefeated in the last 12 league games, it did not make things any easier. I warned the players that you had to go there with the right attitude and I have to say I thought that they were spot on with this”.
Burman added: “Overall we played some excellent football throughout the whole game and created enough chances to win the match. Ryan got us back on level terms and if I am honest I felt we would go on to get three points”, he continued: “For where we want to be at the end of the season I suppose its two points dropped, but fair play to Concord who were a tough nut to crack. We have come away with a point which at the end of the season might be a valuable one”.
Since the start of December there has been much talk on whether top goalscorer Alfie Pavey should be starting. The striker has netted 18 times this term but his last start was at Poole Town on 2 December. Pavey, who had a spell out with a chest infection before the subsequent substitute appearances is being managed closely by Burman.
Another striker returning to fitness is Duane Ofori-Acheampong who has managed some game time from off the bench in the last few games, another appearance will make it number 50 for the striker. Lee Noble and Alex Brown have been out recently with Noble’s last start coming before Christmas and Brown’s last appearance was in the F.A Trophy replay at Boreham Wood.
Havant and Waterlooville’s options include two former Dartford players, Jason Prior and Bradley Tarbuck. Prior is the Hawks top scorer with 13 league goals an accolade he won last term. For the Darts, Prior played 24 times scoring just twice. Tarbuck has netted just one in 18 appearances for the Hawks this season. There is also experience that can be drawn from Matt Tubbs and James Hayter, with the pair often making substitute appearances. The duo both scored in the New Year’s Day victory at Bognor Regis Town.
Tubbs continued his good form with two more goals on Tuesday night as the Hawks defeated Oxford City 3-2 to move second in the table. The former Crawley Town, AFC Bournemouth and Portsmouth striker has now netted eight in his last eight games. Victory extended Havant and Waterlooville’s unbeaten run in the National South to twelve, they last tasted defeat in the league on 23 September against Welling United.
Lee Bradbury has orchestrated the Hawks return to the National South, although he unexpectedly took the club down he helped the club bounce back at the first time of asking. Much of this season’s success has come on their travels with the Hawks undefeated in their last six away league fixtures.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 4 / Havant and Waterlooville wins: 3 / Draws: 3
Current League Form
|Dartford (DWWDLW)||Havant & Waterlooville (WWDWWD)|
|Concord Rangers||H||1-1||Oxford City||H||3-2|
|Welling United||H||4-1||Bognor Regis Town||A||3-0|
|Welling United||A||3-2||Bognor Regis Town||H||0-0|
|Braintree Town||H||1-1||Eastbourne Borough||A||4-1|
|Hungerford Town||A||0-1||Chippenham Town||H||4-0|
|Poole Town||A||1-0||Chelmsford City||H||1-1|
|12.08.2017||Dartford||0||Havant and Waterlooville||0|
|19.03.2016||Havant and Waterlooville||2||Dartford||0|
|05.12.2015||Dartford||4||Havant and Waterlooville||2|
|17.03.2012||Dartford||3||Havant and Waterlooville||1|
|07.01.2012||Havant and Waterlooville||1||Dartford||4|
|18.04.2011||Havant and Waterlooville||1||Dartford||0|
Danny Harris failed to score for the first time against Havant and Waterlooville in August, the full back had previously netted five goals versus the Hawks in four appearances.
Dartford are unbeaten in their last five games against Havant and Waterlooville (W4, D1) which included league doubles in 2011-2012 and 2015-2016.
The Darts have never lost to the Hawks at Princes Park in three attempts (W2, D1). However, Havant and Waterlooville did win the first two matches at Dartford in 1999 (2-0 in the Southern League Southern Division) and 2000 (4-0 in the F.A Trophy third qualifying round).
On This Day
Dave Martin scored a wonder goal and Brendon Cass a hat-trick eleven years ago when the Darts thrashed Burgess Hill Town 7-2. Martin’s long range drive into the top corner was the pick of the bunch on a memorable afternoon at Princes Park. The winger did add a second goal to his name with John Guest and Ryan Hayes scoring the other two. That is Dartford’s only win on 13 January in the last five attempts, losing the remaining four, most recently a 2-1 home loss against FC Halifax Town in 2015.
DATE: Saturday 13th January 2018
VENUE: Princes Park, Grassbanks, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1RT
KICK OFF: 3:00pm
TURNSTILES: Open from 12:30pm
Youth (13-17) : £5
Children ( u12) :£2
Under 5 : FREE
SEATING: Seating is available on a first come first served basis in certain areas of the stadium.
FACILITIES: Bar and food open from 12:30am
PARKING: Parking is free of charge in the clubs car park but is a first come first served basis.
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