Tony Burman’s much awaited return to the dugout starts with the Darts first home game of the year against Weymouth this weekend.
Freezing temperatures has delayed the beginning of Burman’s fourth spell in charge. Both fixtures against Truro City and Bath City were postponed leaving Dartford without a game for two and a half weeks.
Previously, just over four years ago Burman stood in for a month and before that he spent 13 years at the helm and another three during the nineties. Since his last temporary spell, the Darts have gone through three sets of managers. Co-chairman, Steve Irving is hoping to appoint a new boss by the end of the month, but only if the right candidate is found
Burman inherits an inconsistent side down in eighteenth and the first challenge is to take on the Terras two places and a point ahead of the Darts. The two sides faced each other back in August for Dartford’s first away trip of the season. A mistake from on loan goalkeeper, Jack McIntyre handed the Terras victory down in Dorset after he misjudged Joel Rollinson’s cross.
Dartford will be hoping to make it three wins in a row against Weymouth at Princes Park. Last season the Terras were rock bottom when they travelled to Kent in October 2022. The Darts claimed a 3-0 victory with a debut goal by loanee Joshua Johnson, whose strike from long range opened the scoring. Alex Wall came off the bench and scored a brace in the final 15 minutes.
The Darts also hosted the Dorset club nine months earlier in the F.A Trophy fourth round. Dartford headed into the tie as underdogs with Weymouth struggling in the National League. The first half was dominated by the hosts and the decisive moment came when Jack Jebb drilled in a shot that turned out to be the winner. The visitors applied plenty of pressure in the second-half, but the Darts stayed firm.
Since Alan Dowson’s final game in charge, Harvey Bradbury has made the move to fellow National South side Farnborough. The striker made 33 appearances for the Darts scoring 11 goals. Defender, Moussa Diarra’s loan spell ended, and he has started a new loan at Eastbourne Borough. Goalkeeper, Ryan Sandford took the opportunity to move into the Football League by joining Crawley Town.
With the departure of Sandford, the Darts gave a debut to Billy Terrell in their last league outing against Maidstone United. The goalkeeper was on loan at Weymouth last season. Coulson gave Dartford the lead from the penalty spot at the Gallgaher Stadium. However, the Kent derby turned in the space of five second-half minutes. Harry Kyprianou and Matt Rush scored for the Stones to condemn the Darts to defeat. Burman will need to get his side to work on keeping hold of leads, Dartford have now lost 21 points from winning positions this season.
The squad has been bolstered by the return of Brandon Barzey from his loan spell at Hemel Hempstead Town. The winger has played 15 games and scored four times for the Darts since joining in the summer. Taylor Maloney is a new addition to the squad and will be targeting a debut. The striker joins from Farnborough and linked up with George Alexander at Welling United last season.
Dartford know what to expect from Burman who has been successful as a manager of the club previously. In the nineties he got the Darts promoted from the Kent League and won the Kent Senior Trophy. He was back nine years later and was there for Dartford’s homecoming. That became the catalyst for a rise up the pyramid.
Burman led the Darts to the Isthmian Division One North and Isthmian Premier titles before winning the National South playoffs. The return to the National League ended in a F.A Trophy semi-final appearance and becoming the highest part-time team in the country. He also claimed the club’s first Kent Senior Cup in 23 years in 2011 and won it again four years later. His third spell came after the departures of Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle.
If the bottom four weren’t cut adrift, then Tuesday night at Taunton Town would have been a six pointer. The Terras started the evening eight points clear of the drop zone and two ahead of their opponents. An almost full set of National South fixtures mid-week saw Bobby Wilkinson’s side win to move them 11 points clear of the relegation zone and ten points away from the playoffs. Brandon Goodship’s brace was enough to beat the hosts 2-0.
Former Dartford forward Dan Roberts was named on the bench and came on in the second-half. The 25-year-old made 37 appearances for the Darts, just 11 of those were starts and scored six times for the club. Since joining Weymouth in the summer he has netted four league goals in 22 appearances. However, Olumide Durojaiye featured from the start. The defender made 11 appearances for Dartford during the 2021/22 campaign.
It’s been a struggle for the Terras since beating the Darts in the 2020 playoff final. After consecutive promotions, the Dorset club finished eighteenth in the National League before getting relegated back to the National South. Last season the Terras survived on the final day on goal difference. This term, too many draws have prevented them from reaching a higher position. However, against teams currently in the bottom half of the table, Weymouth are unbeaten in 14 games, winning six and drawing eight.
Current League Form
|St Albans City
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 19 / Weymouth wins: 37 / Draws: 16
Last Six Meetings
Weymouth 1 – 0 Dartford (12/08/2023 – Southern League South)
Weymouth 3 – 1 Dartford (04/03/2023 – National South)
Dartford 3 – 0 Weymouth (29/10/2022 – National South)
Dartford 1 – 0 Weymouth (15/01/2022 – F.A Trophy)
Weymouth 0 – 0 Dartford (01/08/2020 – National South Playoff Final)*
Weymouth 3 – 1 Dartford (17/08/2019 – National South)
*Weymouth won 3-0 on penalties
- Dartford have won just one of the last eight league games against Weymouth (D0, L7)
- In the last five home league matches against the Terras there has been 32 goals (6.4 goals a game)
On This Day
Dartford have won their last four home matches on this day. Six years ago, Ronnie Vint and two goals from Andy Pugh handed the Darts a 3-1 victory over Whitehawk in the National South. That was Dartford’s first match on 27 January at Princes Park. The previous fixture was at Watling Street in 1990 when the Darts beat Bromsgrove Rovers 1-0 in the Southern Premier League. Three years earlier Dartford brushed aside Newcastle Blue Star 5-1 in the F,A Trophy second round replay. In 1973, the Darts defeated Romford 2-1. On their own patch the Darts have won seven, drawn one and lost one on this day, the last loss was versus Barry Town in 1951.