Dartford closed the gap at the top on the weekend and up next is an Eastbourne Borough side unbeaten in eight league games.
The Darts are gaining momentum and after beating Chippenham Town on Saturday found themselves two points off top spot in third place. In the space of a week, Dartford have hit seven goals without reply and now boast the best attack and second best defence.
Tony Burman stuck Keaton Wood in the first eleven to replace the injured Danny Harris, in the only change from the 4-0 win at Whitehawk. Warren Mfula and Duane Ofori-Acheampong were both unavailable but recovering from injuries, whilst Tom Murphy made a return from off the bench.
Ryan Hayes inspired Dartford to a 3-0 win at home to Chippenham by creating the first two goals then scoring the third. In a man of the match performance the winger provided an excellent cross for Alfie Pavey to head home his fourth in six games. The second assist came from another cross to Andy Pugh who slid in at the far post to extend the lead. With the points secure, Hayes made sure with a calm finish curling the ball into the far corner of the Chippenham Town net, Hayes’ second goal in as many games.
Similar to the Darts, Eastbourne Borough prefer stability with only five managers appointed in the last 34 years. So this summer when the Sports changed who’s in charge they were also making a statement. After ten years as a player at Bognor Regis Town and seven years as a manager, Jamie Howell shocked the Rocks with his switch to their Sussex rivals replacing Tommy Widdrington at Priory Lane.
Howell made a slow start losing his first two games at the helm with a pair of 3-2 defeats at home to Braintree Town and away to Havant and Waterlooville. Despite the losses, the Sports picked up where they left of last season amongst the top scorers in the league, last term they were the fifth highest scorers. The Sussex club have not tasted defeat since the second game of the season, getting off the mark with a 1-1 draw at Hampton and Richmond Borough, doubling their tally with a 0-0 draw at home to Welling United then winning four of their next five, including the 1-0 away victory over Howell’s former club Bognor Regis Town.
On Saturday, the Sports maintained their unbeaten run taking it to eight but had to work hard for a result. Two goals in first half stoppage time put St Albans City in command, former Dart Tom Gardiner scoring the first and Zane Banton the other. Eastbourne Borough came back when former Maidstone United player Emmanuel Odubade pulled a goal back from the spot with the penalty conceded by ex Dartford defender Tom Bender, and in the last minute Sergio Torres turned the defeat into a draw.
The man currently in form is striker Jamie Taylor who has netted five times in his last five appearances. Added to the midfield experience of Torres, who signed from rivals Whitehawk in the summer it’s no surprise the Sports can be potent in attack. The Darts will be familiar with goalkeeper Bailey Vose, who had a spell with Dartford last season covering for Deren Ibrahim whilst on international duty. Vose played three times keeping one clean sheet in his loan spell from Brighton and Hove Albion.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 8 / Eastbourne Borough: 4 / Draws: 2
Current League Form
|Dartford (WWDLWW)||Eastbourne Borough(DWWWDW)|
|H||3-0||St Albans City||A||2-2|
|Hampton & Richmond||A||2-2||Chippenham Town||H||4-2|
|East Thurrock United||H||0-1||Bognor Regis Town||A||1-0|
|Hemel Hempstead Town||A||3-0||Wealdstone||H||1-1|
|Oxford City||H||7-1||Truro City||A||1-0|
Since going 2-0 down at Hampton and Richmond Borough, the Darts have gone nine goal without reply.
Dartford have kept four clean sheets out of six home league games this season, last achieved in 1988 when they conceded just three times in that spell, This time the Darts have let in just two.
It’s still a long way off the record set in 1896 when Dartford scored 36 and conceded once in their opening seven Southern League Division Two home games, which included six clean sheets.
On This Day
Dartford start their F.A Cup campaign next weekend and eight years on 12 September they began their journey at Chipstead. The Darts led the Isthmian Premier League dropping just two points in their opening seven games and were in no mood to suffer an upset to a side a division below. Tony Burman faced former Dartford striker and team mate Micky Collins in the dugout and watched on as the Darts won 6-1. Ryan Hayes scored a free kick in the first minute and Lee Burns added a second goal five minutes later. Billy Burgess headed his first goal for the Darts before half-time to give the Darts a 3-0 lead at the break. In the second half, Dartford added another three when James White scored before Chipstead netted a penalty, Rob Haworth made it 5-1 and Adam Gross finished the rout with a rasping 30 yard volley.
DATE: Tuesday 12th September 2017
VENUE: Princes Park, Grassbanks, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1RT
KICK OFF: 7:45pm
TURNSTILES: Open from 6:00pm
Adults: £14, Concessions £7, Youth ( 13-17) £5, Children:£2, Under 5’s FREE
SEATING: Seating is available on a first come first served basis in certain areas of the stadium.
FACILITIES: Bar and food open from 6:00pm
PARKING: Parking is free of charge in the clubs car park but is a first come first served basis.
MATCH UPDATES: Available on Twitter @dartfordfc and on website www.dartfordfc.com
MATCH SPONSOR: Hidsons Rainham & Northfleet, for more information please click HERE
MATCH BALL SPONSOR: Fairfield Leisure Centre Dartford, for more information please click HERE