Dartford will need to find a way through the ‘brick wall’ at Havant and Waterlooville this weekend if they want to push for a playoff spot.
The Darts have fallen off the pace with four defeats in their last five games. The latest loss in midweek against Maidenhead United has knocked the side’s confidence. Manager, Tony Burman admitted his team have “hit a brick wall”, he told www.kentonline.co.uk: “The last few results have not helped the confidence. Players can’t, at this stage of the season and where we are in the league, feel sorry for themselves but unfortunately that’s how it seems to come across a little bit”.
With just one point taken from the last fifteen, Dartford are now five points adrift fifth spot with a game in hand. The 2-1 reverse at Maidenhead United followed defeats to Whitehawk and Weston-Super-Mare. Elliot Bradbrook returned to action with a goal, after missing the Whitehawk match, but the captain is now suspended for the next three games for his red card at Weston-Super-Mare.
Danny Harris will be out with a hamstring injury and George Sykes is still reovering from illness. When Harris and Sykes were substituted last weekend against Whitehawk, Lee Noble and Barry Cogan were forced into action too soon. Burman commented: “I had to leave Lee Noble and Barry Cogan on the bench (on Tuesday) simply because of what happened on Saturday. With Elliot missing, I needed to keep them right for Saturday”, he added: “Although they came on last night (Tuesday’s game), it’s a gradual thing. If I push them too much, they’ll end up being injured as well”.
With the squad down to the ‘bare bones’, Burman does not want to make excuses, he said: “They’re things to test you. We can’t use them as excuses – but they are facts”.
The Darts can be optimistic if past form against Havant and Waterlooville counts. The Hampshire side are four points above safety and lost 4-2 at Princes Park. Dartford’s win against the Hawks was their third consecutive, having completed a double against them four years ago.
Back in December, the Darts were close to throwing a two goal advantage away against Havant and Waterlooville, but recovered well to win 4-2. Elliot Bradbrook scored from the spot and before the break Danny Harris bundled over a second. The Hawks hit back with a quick fire double to level the match with goals from Dan Strugnell and Matt Paterson. Elliot Bradbrook restored the lead, but the moment of the match belonged to Ebou Adams, who netted his first ever senior goal.
Elliot Bradbrook was also influential when Dartford last travelled to West Leigh Park in a 4-1 win. A convincing away triumph started when the captain’s surging run gave Dartford the lead. Before half time that lead had doubled with a cheeky Danny Harris lob. The same two added a further two but not before Scott Jones temporarily put the Hawks back in the game.
The Hawks have not been able to manage the level of performance set last season when they finished in the playoffs. Manager, Lee Bradbury finds his side in a tussle at the bottom of the National South, four points clear of the drop zone.
Since climbing out of the bottom two in early January, Havant and Waterlooville have lost just once in their last ten league games, drawing six of those. Home form has been key to their bid to survive relegation making up for poor results on their travels, where they have won just once.
Most recently, the Hawks completed a double header against Basingstoke Town. Drawing 1-1 in the league at The Camrose, the two sides met days earlier in the Hampshire County Cup semi-final. The Hawks won 2-0 to reach the final and like the Darts hope to secure some silverware in county competition.
Head to Head
Havant & Waterlooville wins: 3 / Dartford wins: 3 / Draws 2
Current League Form
|Havant & Waterlooville (DDDWDD)||Dartford (LLLDLW)|
|Basingstoke Town||A||1-1||Maidenhead United||A||1-2|
|Maidstone United||H||2-1||Hayes & Yeading Utd||A||2-2|
|Bath City||H||1-1||Concord Rangers||H||1-2|
Last Meeting at York Road
7 January 2012 – Havant & Waterlooville 1 Dartford 4 – attendance 802
Goalscorers: Elliot Bradbrook (21, 89); Danny Harris (29, 74)
Darts lineup – Louis Wells, Matt Jones, Adam Green, Tom Bonner, Conor Essam, Tom Champion, Lee Noble, James Rogers, Jacob Erskine, Elliot Bradbrook, Danny Harris (sub used: Tony Garrod)
Previous Meetings (* – F.A Cup)
|05.12.2015||Dartford||4||Havant & Waterlooville||2|
|17.03.2012||Dartford||3||Havant & Waterlooville||1|
|07.01.2012||Havant & Waterlooville||1||Dartford||4|
|18.04.2011||Havant & Waterlooville||1||Dartford||0|
|14.08.2010||Dartford||2||Havant & Waterlooville||2|
|15.10.2000*||Dartford||0||Havant & Waterlooville||4|
|29.04.1999||Havant & Waterlooville||1||Dartford||1|
|06.03.1999||Dartford||0||Havant & Waterlooville||2|
On This Day
It’s been 22 years since Dartford last tasted victory on 19 March. Participating in the Kent League First Division a 1-0 away win at Tunbridge Wells formed part of a seven game winning streak. Since then, the Darts have played three, drawing 1-1 away to Leighton Town eleven years ago and losing 2-0 away to Staines Town in 2011. Three years ago in the National League, Dartford were beaten 1-0 by Barrow.
Match Preview written by Stuart Maidment