PREVIEW: Dartford v Luton Town

Dartford continue to be one of the most hit and miss teams in the Blue Square Bet Premier this season, writes Mike Simmonds.

Capable of producing some fine results, like defeating Macclesfield 2-0 recently, while also winning at Grimsby and Kenilworth Road earlier in the campaign, they are also prone to the odd hammering too, losing 5-1 to Kidderminster, while also going down 4-2 at home to Lincoln recently.

An impressive return to the Conference has seen The Darts on the cusp of a Wembley appearance too, reaching the semi-finals of the FA Trophy where they meet Grimsby in a two-legged affair.

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The Trophy form has rather masked a disappointing sequence of league results though, as since December, they have only won twice, drawn twice and lost six of their 10 fixtures.

Dartford’s home form remains the main strong point with eight wins, two draws and four defeats so far, scoring 29 and conceding 19.

The club suffered a major blow to their forward ranks last month, losing leading scorer Harry Crawford on a free transfer to League Two Barnet.

The 21-year-old, who had trialled with Luton in the summer, had netted 12 goals in 24 appearances before earning a three year deal with the Bees.

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Meanwhile, Darts failed in an audacious bid to lure former Wigan and Fulham midfielder Jimmy Bullard out of retirement.

The 34-year-old quit the game in October because of knee problems, and boss Tony Burman told local media: “We have spoken but he has got interests which he wants to take up.

“If an opportunity comes along to have someone like Jimmy around we would obviously listen and talk.

“In all honesty it won’t happen as he has got other interests and offers outside football that he is looking at.”

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The club did strengthen during January though, signing Dagenham & Redbridge winger Dominic Green on one-month loan, while also borrowing Gillingham youngster Jack Evans.

Team news: Lathaniel Rowe-Turner and Alex Lawless are suspended, while on Monday, Luton were still awaiting international clearance for Wayne Thomas.

Simon Ainge may well be fit, leaving just Danny Spiller and Garry Richards on the injured list.

Man in the middle: Wayne Barratt - official has taken 17 league games this season, showing 41 yellows along with two reds.

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Hatters have a perfect record this year under his charge, beating Cambridge 3-2 and 3-0, while it is the first time he has taken Dartford.

In fact, Luton have never lost when Barratt has had the whistle as they drew 1-1 with Telford last season at Kenilworth Road.

Top BSBP scorer: Darts – Harry Crawford (12). Hatters - Stuart Fleetwood (10).

In charge: Tony Burman. A true Dartford legend, having played over 300 games for the club.

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The 54-year-old was appointed coach in 1992/93 and then manager in 93/94, before resigning in 1996 due to business commitments.

Returned as caretaker boss in 2001 and quickly appointed the club’s new manager.

Since then has led Darts to promotion from Ryman One North, Ryman Premier and the Blue Square Bet Premier last season.

View from the opposition: Boss Tony Burman after the 2-1 defeat to Lincoln on Saturday: “We lacked quality and now we have some decisions to make.

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“I’ve got scope to bring players in and I may have to because that performance was not good enough.”

One to watch: Midfielder Elliot Bradbrook - has had an excellent season for Dartford this year, notching seven league goals in 25 Blue Square Bet Premier games, including five in his last 13 matches.

Friendly faces: Recent Town signing David Martin began his career at Dartford, scoring 14 goals in 68 appearances before attracting the attention of Championship club Crystal Palace, who he joined for £25,000 in January 2007.

We’ve got form: Hatters have never visited Dartford before. The only time the sides have met was at Kenilworth Road earlier in this campaign where the Darts ended up 2-0 winners.

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