Dartford look a strong bet to secure a playoff spot and hope to increase their chances and winning streak this weekend against St Albans City.
On current form Dartford have a great opportunity to make it three victories in a row and record a seventh away game without defeat. The Darts should approach the fixture with confidence after scoring nine in their last two outings. On Tuesday night, a 4-0 victory over basement boys Margate was secured when Elliot Bradbrook scored twice taking his tally to 20 for the campaign, Luke Wanadio and loanee Alfie Pavey added to the scoreline. Bradbrook, who scored a stunning volley in the 5-3 triumph versus Truro City scored the goal of the night with another long range effort.
Before Tuesday’s win Tony Burman managed to sign Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Billy Collings on loan. The debutante kept a clean sheet in the absence of Gibraltar international Deren Ibrahim. Andy Pugh picked up an injury against the Gate and was replaced with Dartford’s other loan signing Pavey.
The Darts will be keen to erase the memory of last season’s disappointing 4-0 final day defeat at Clarence Park. Chasing an unlikely playoff place, Dartford capitulated to finish the campaign in eighth place. Earlier this term, Dartford failed to score again against the Saints in a 2-0 loss at Princes Park.
St Albans City began December in second place but have since claimed one win in their last 15 outings, losing their last six in the National South. The Hertfordshire club are now eleventh and desperate to halt their slide down the standings. Manager, Ian Allinson who guided the Saints to safety last term now faces a different challenge in renewing the early season promise.
Two particular defeats will come as a concern to the Saints, on the weekend they went down 4-0 to struggling Gosport Borough and before the 3-0 reverse to Ebbsfleet United, they lost 1-0 to relegation candidates Bishop’s Stortford.
With no goals scored this month, the problem worsened when top striker Louie Theophanous moved to Dartford’s playoff rivals Chelmsford City, the forward scored 41 goals in his Saints career in 94 appearances. That leaves Merson, the current top scorer this term partnering veteran Jamie Cureton or Charlie Walker. From midfield, Shaun Lucien has scored seven times since his summer move from Weladstone, but the success rate in front of goal has dried up.
When Allinson signed Tom Gardiner from Dartford to boost the defence back in January, it looked like the Saints had made a statement of intent. However, form has turned and Gardiner who had played 76 matches for the Darts in his career has lost in a St Albans City shirt in nine of his 14 appearances so far. Tom Bender, another ex Dartford defender has been out of action this month after injuring shoulder at the end of February, the 24 year old scored at Princes Park earlier in the campaign in the Saints 2-0 win back in November, Merson scored the other.
To aid stopping the rot, St Albans City have made some on field changes by signing Solomon Sambou, Kieran Monlouis and Christopher Haigh from lower league clubs. It looks like mid-table this term for the Saints, a vast improvement on last campaign’s relegation battle but falling short of their early season promise.
Head to Head
St Albans City wins: 2 / Dartford wins: 6 / Draws: 4
Current League Form
St Albans City (LLLLLL)
Lost 0-4 v Gosport Borough (A)
Lost 0-3 v Ebbsfleet United (H)
Lost 0-1 v Bishop’s Stortford (A)
Lost 0-3 v Wealdstone (H)
Lost 2-3 v Truro City (A)
Lost 1-4 v Bath City (H)
Won 4-0 v Margate (H)
Won 5-3 v Truro City (H)
Drew 1-1 v Concord Rangers (A)
Won 2-0 v Bath City (H)
Drew 0-0 v Welling United (A)
Drew 1-1 v Oxford City (A)
Dartford 0 St Albans City 2 (08/11/2016 – National South)
St Albans City 4 Dartford 0 (30/04/2016 – National South)
Dartford 2 St Albans City 0 (06/02/2016 – National South)
St Albans City 1 Dartford 2 (02/04/2011 – National South)
Dartford 2 St Albans City 2 (22/03/2011 – National South)
Dartford 1 St Albans City 1 (25/11/2008 – F.A Trophy – Lost 2-4 on penalties)
3 – the last three league victories have completed league doubles over Bath City, Truro City and Margate.
15 – the number of times Dartford have scored three or more goals in a game in all competitions. Ten of which have been in the National League and eight of those in 2017.
31 – Number of goals scored by Elliot Bradbrook and Luke Wanadio in all competitions this term, more than the combined number of goals scored by recognised strikers Andy Pugh, Duane Ofori-Acheampong, Ben Francis, Tom Murphy and Alfie Pavey (27 between them).
360 – St Albans City have gone over 360 minutes without scoring in the National South. The Saints worst run since August 2015.
On This Day
he Darts are unbeaten in their last five matches on 25 March with the most recent victory a year ago. Danny Harris scored early on, Keaton Wood put Dartford ahead again and Tom Bradbrook secured a 3-1 win at Princes Park. The previous two games on this day were home and away versus Corby Town. In 2006, the Darts drew 1-1 in the Southern Division One East and six years earlier won 1-0 in the southern section. Fareham Town were beaten 3-1 in 1998 and in 1995, Dartford were held at home to a goalless draw with Herne Bay in the Kent League.