Dartford are determined to record their first win of the season this weekend when they host Braintree Town in the National South.
The Darts have got off to a disappointing start picking up two points in their opening five games and are currently second from bottom, their worst start to a league campaign in 41 years. After three matches Braintree Town were in a worse position with three straight defeats, however they visit Princes Park on the back of consecutive victories.
Last weekend, Dartford fell to a third consecutive away loss, their seventh in a row including the tail end of last term. Travelling to the Dorset coast to take on Southern Premier League South champions Weymouth, the Darts found themselves three goals down when Abdulai Baggie and Brett Williams’ brace put the hosts in command. Norman Wabo scored a consolation for the Darts and his first for the club since joining in the summer.
Lee Noble made his first appearance returning from injury and replaced the young Cameron Brodie. Luke Wanadio and Wabo were replaced in the starting line up with Ryan Hayes and Andy Pugh. After suffering a dislocated shoulder in pre-season, Alex Flisher made his first appearance by coming off the bench, Luke Allen, Wanadio and Darren McQueen were out through injury. With Jordan Wynter suspended for the next three games, Ronnie Vint could make his first start this season against Braintree Town.
The central defender has had to show patience with Josh Hill partnering Tom Bonner the preferred pairing in the middle of defence. Joint manager, Adam Flanagan has praised the Vint and told www.kentonline.co.uk: “His attitude’s been great and he deserves an opportunity in the team now. He’ll be back in the team and hopefully his time on the sideline has made him hungry and motivated to want to come in and do really well”.
Flanagan also hinted that the Darts are likely to stick to formations they are familiar with, he added: “Playing a three at the back might be difficult because you’re looking at wing-backs and we’ve not got Jordan Wynter for three games so that might impact on that”, but he’s not ruled out a back three in the future, he continued: “It is something we might consider looking at but going into the games we’ve got coming up, you wouldn’t want to make huge formation changes. We’d rather stick to the formations we’ve played this year, which would be 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. We want Ron to come in and do well so to come into the team having waited patiently and then try to move formation, it might not play to his strengths”.
At least at home Dartford are unbeaten, however they are also searching for a first win repeating the home start of three years ago when they drew with Wealdstone then Gosport Borough. This time, the Darts drew 1-1 with St Albans City followed by the same score against Havant and Waterlooville.
Previous meetings give the Iron the upper-hand with Dartford last beating the Essex side seven years ago, the last victory at Princes Park came a year earlier. Just over a year ago, after the Darts narrowly missed out on the National South title on the final day of the season, the two sides met in a playoff semi-final. Billy Crook, who signed for the Darts in January scored the winner to consign Dartford to another campaign in the National South, Braintree Town went on to win promotion. Crook was invited back to pre-season this summer and is currently playing for East Thurrock United.
In Tony Burman’s last season in charge both fixtures ended in a stalemate with the clash at Princes Park finishing 1-1. Andy Pugh opened the scoring after Tom Murphy’s good work on the wing, but Marcel Barrington equalised for the Iron in a game that saw Nathan Collier make his second debut for the Darts. The meeting at Cressing Road finished 2-2 after Dartford found themselves two down with goals from Karl Oliyide and Crook, but Murphy and Elliot Bradbrook struck in the second half.
During Dartford’s spell in the National League, the Iron became their nemesis as the Essex side recorded back to back doubles over the Darts. However, in Dartford’s first back in the top flight of non-league football they did pick up four points against their opponents including their last win against Braintree Town in 2012, goals scored by Tom Bonner and Jacob Erskine.
Braintree Town appointed Glen Driver as boss in the summer following relegation to the National South. The new manager has recruited young players including former Dart, Femi Akinwande. The striker had the opportunity in professional football with Colchester United making three appearances for the U’s. Akinwande has scored in his last two games, first in the 3-0 win at St Albans City and then in the 5-0 thrashing of Eastbourne Borough.
The Iron have scored eight times without reply in their previous two outings putting their three game losing streak well and truly behind them. In a slow start to their campaign, Driver’s side lost to Bath City, Billericay Town and Wealdstone before notching their maiden win at St Albans City and securing a comprehensive victory over Eastbourne Borough. Midfielder Adam Mills has netted three times so far and so has Tom Richardson, who signed in the summer from Isthmian Division One North side Aveley having scored 23 times last season.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 2 / Braintree Town wins: 6 / Draws: 2
Current League Form
|Dartford (LLDDL)||Braintree Town (WWLLL)|
|Chelmsford City||A||1-4||St Albans City||A||3-0|
|Havant and Waterlooville||H||1-1||Wealdstone||H||0-4|
|St Albans City||H||1-1||Billericay Town||H||2-3|
Last Six Meetings
Dartford have failed to score in six of their last eight meetings against Braintree Town.
Braintree Town are unbeaten in their last eight games versus the Darts.
The last time Dartford picked up two points from the opening five games was in 1978. They drew with Worcester City, lost to Weymouth, drew with Bath City then were beaten by AP Leamington and Yeovil Town in the Southern Premier League.
On This Day
Dartford’s last game on 24 August was against Braintree Town six years ago. The Iron won 2-0 with goals from Alan Massey and Liam Enver-Marum in the National League. Charlie Sheringham was on the scoresheet nine years ago against his former side Bishops Stortford, the striker netted in a 3-0 victory, Danny Harris and Carl Rook also scored that day.