Top of the table Dartford visit bottom of the league Braintree Town in their first National South away game in over a month.
A combination of postponements and the short lived F.A Trophy campaign means the Darts have been staying at home for their league fixtures during December and January. On Saturday they are back on the road where they have taken a decent 13 points out of the six away days so far. In contrast, Braintree Town are struggling at the wrong end of the standings earning just seven points all season, four from their six home games.
It’s been over a year since the two sides last met and the Darts won 2-1 to record their first victory of the 2019/2020 season. On a hot August afternoon and despite conceding early and missing a penalty, Dartford showed character to come from behind to win. Returning Dart, Femi Akinwande scored the opener at Princes Park before Luke Wanadio missed from the spot. Akinwande has come back to Princes Park where he came through the academy. However, it was a former Braintree Town midfielder who levelled the game when Luke Allen got on the end of Alex Flisher’s long throw. Allen was part of the Braintree Town side that beat the Darts in the playoffs and ended up winning promotion in 2018. The Iron had Adam Mills sent off in the second half and when substitute Norman Wabo came off the bench, he netted the winner with three minutes to go.
Dartford have bounced back from their cup upset and defeat in their last National South away game with solid defensive displays. The Darts drew 0-0 in the North Kent derby with Ebbsfleet United and followed that up with a 1-0 win over Tonbridge Angels. Nassim L’Ghoul in only his third start for the club netted the winner. With the games coming thick and fast, Steve King made three changes selecting Jazzi Barnum-Bobb for the first time since the end of November, Jack Jebb and Ky Marsh-Brown, his first start for a month. Jordan Wynter, David Ijaha and Jack Barham dropped out of the starting eleven.
It’s clear where Dartford need to improve even though they are leading the table. The Darts have kept a clean sheet in half of their league games, but in attack they sit mid-table on goals per game. The situation has been compounded recently by the departure of strikers Moussa Bakayoko to Havant and Waterlooville and Alfie Pavey returning to his parent club Barnet.
One striker moving up the scoring charts is currently out on loan with Chelmsford City and he was on target against Braintree Town in the Irons last game. Charlie Sheringham netted as the Clarets beat their Essex rivals 4-2, Ryan Maxwell’s second league defeat in a row. Maxwell took over as boss from former Dartford player George Borg back in November after a 4-0 reverse at Eastbourne Borough.
Maxwell was part of the Braintree Town team that won the National South in 2011 under Rod Stringer. The 37-year-old fielded eight new players for his first game in charge in which the Iron beat F.A Trophy finalists Concord Rangers 2-0. A second straight victory, this time over Tonbridge Angels lifted the Essex club off the foot of the table, but a draw and a pair of defeats since has seen the Iron return to last place.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 3 / Braintree Town wins: 6 / Draws: 4
Current League Form
|Tonbridge Angels||H||1-0||Chelmsford City||A||2-4|
|Ebbsfleet United||H||0-0||Billericay Town||A||1-3|
|Eastbourne Borough||A||1-3||Welling United||H||1-1|
|Hungerford Town||A||2-1||Tonbridge Angels||A||2-0|
|Slough Town||H||2-0||Concord Rangers||H||1-0|
|St Albans City||H||0-1||Eastbourne Borough||A||0-4|
Last Six League Meetings
Last season’s win against Braintree Town was Dartford’s first against the Iron in nine games.
The Iron were unbeaten in eight against the Darts winning five and drawing three. The Essex club also kept six clean sheets in those games including five in a row.
Dartford’s only win in their five visits to Cressing Road was a 2-0 victory in 2012 (D2, L2)
The Darts have kept consecutive clean sheets in the league for the first time since the start of the campaign.
On This Day
It’s not often Dartford get to play on this day, the last time the Darts ventured out on 9 January was back in 1999 when they lost 1-0 at Yates Town in the Southern League Southern Division. In the Southern Premier Dartford won away 1-0 at Leicester United in 1988. The last home game on this day was a 0-0 draw with Nuneaton Borough back in another Southern Premier League fixture in 1971.