Dartford may be unbeaten at home so far this season but they are yet to win, this weekend they host newly promoted Hungerford Town.
Two draws at Princes Park against Wealdstone and Gosport Borough leave the Darts searching for their maiden home win of the campaign. Last weekend, Tony Burman finally witnessed his side clinch a first league victory, away to table toppers Weston-Super-Mare.
Injuries and suspensions have affected the squad, so the return of striker Duane Ofori-Acheampong on Saturday was much needed. Andy Pugh was still side lined but fellow striker Ben Francis made the bench.
Keaton Wood will return after serving his one match ban but it will be Tom Bonner’s turn to sit out, after his red card in Dartford’s last home match against Gosport Borough. Danny Harris could start at right back again, continuing to show his versatility and Elliot Bradbrook remains out.
Luke Wanadio is fast becoming the one to watch for the Darts. The tricky winger scored his second of the season at Weston-Super-Mare in the 2-1 triumph. His excellent strike from long range was added to by Ryan Hayes, who scored the winner after some good work by Ofori-Acheampong.
Burman was delighted with his players, he told www.dartfordfc.com: “Once again I think the players have performed very well, at half time we felt we needed to up the tempo of the game which I think we did and on the counter attack Luke has hit a great shot into the top corner to give us a deserved lead. I thought the penalty decision was very harsh and for the players to come back and get all 3 points it was a credit to them”.
It will be the first time Dartford and Hungerford Town meet and last season’s Southern Premier playoff winners have not been daunted by the National South.
The Crusaders won 1-0 in their first match against East Thurrock United, fellow playoff winners of the Isthmian Premier. A second victory in a few days moved the Berkshire club top of the table when Oxford City were beaten 2-0.
Confidence and clean sheets helped Hungerford Town as they prepared themselves for league favourites Ebbsfleet United. Although a third clean sheet didn’t materialise they held last season’s National South runners up to a 1-1 draw. The good form continued when Bishop’s Stortford were defeated 2-1 with the Crusaders coming from behind to win.
Last weekend, the Berkshire club tasted defeat for the first time in a 2-0 reverse against Eastbourne Borough. A commendable start from Bobby Wilkinson’s side leaves them in fourth spot and including last term they have won ten and drawn two of their last dozen games.
Current League Form (last five games)
Dartford (DLDDW) Hungerford Town (WWDWL)
Wealdstone H 2-2 East Thurrock United A 1-0
Whitehawk A 0-1 Oxford City H 2-0
Chelmsford City A 1-1 Ebbsfleet United H 1-1
Gosport Borough H 0-0 Bishop’s Stortford A 2-1
Weston-Super-Mare A 2-1 Eastbourne Borough H 0-2
All five of Dartford’s goals this season have come from midfielders. Luke Wanadio and Ryan Hayes have scored twice to add to Elliot Bradbrook’s strike on the opening day. Each goal has given the Darts the lead and on four occasions the opposition have equalised.
After the second league game of the campaign, Hungerford Town reached their highest ever league position when they topped the table.
The Crusaders are unbeaten away in the league since February. Including the playoffs they have won six and drawn one on their travels since their last defeat.
On This Day
Evenly poised at 1-1 Nathan Collier took a chance and scored the winner over Cambridge United. The Darts recorded a famous 2-1 victory away to Cambridge United against the odds. Danny Harris scored the opener that day which was cancelled out by James Jennings. Unbeaten in their last four matches on 27 August, Dartford have won three of those and drawn once. The Darts have recorded a pair of 4-0 victories beating local rivals Erith and Belvedere at home in 2001 and six years later Aveley at Princes Park. Jay May scored a hat-trick and Brendon Cass netted the other on their way to beating Aveley. A third clean sheet in a row on this day was achieved at Chelmsford City five years ago. The last defeat came in 1994 when Deal Town won 2-0 in the Kent League.