Wednesday 23rd November 2005

Burman:  Being underdogs suits us fine

Clear the air talks at tonight's training session have given Dartford's players extra impetus ahead of their biggest game of the season against AFC Wimbledon in the third and final qualifying round of the FA Trophy on Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.

Upbeat Darts manager Tony Burman revealed in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk after the training session that all his players are excited with the prospect of the Dons evasion on Saturday.

"Everyone's up and ready for the game," he said.  "The excitement and the atmosphere around the place is excellent.  Everyone is fine at the moment."

Burman felt it was vital to "clear the air" after his side's poor showing at Wivenhoe Town on Tuesday night.

Dave Martin's late goal from eight yards was enough to salvage a point in a 1-1 draw.

But Burman is now focusing on Saturday's big FA Trophy tussle.  "That was last night," he said.  "We've come to training tonight to clear the air a little bit, which is exactly what's happened.

"I wanted to get everybody's mind on Saturday's game.  It's drawing closer and we're all looking forward to it.

"We didn't really deserve to win the game last night," he admitted, as his side missed out on climbing up to fifth place in the Southern League Division One East table.

"I was disappointed with the performance but we've played two difficult away games and collected four points."

But following crowd disturbances at Bromley and Ramsgate this season when they hosted the Dons, Dartford officials have decided to use the facilities at Gravesend & Northfleet's Stonebridge Road ground to good affect and segregate rival fans.

Supporters for this game will be segregated with Dartford supporters using the turnstiles at the Gravesend end and the AFC Wimbledon supporters using the turnstiles via the main car park at the Swanscombe end.

Dartford have made arrangements through landlords Gravesend & Northfleet to utilise their stewards.  Admission prices have been set for £8 (adults) and £4 (concessions).

And with a crowd of at least 1,500 expected to flock through the turnstiles, Burman sees this occasion as a catalyst for games like this when the club play at their new Princes Park Stadium next season.

"That's absolutely right," he said.  "We have some young players and this is going to be their biggest game of their careers and off the field it's going to bring back memories for older Dartford supporters who are going to witness a big crowd at a home game again. If we can get that great support next year, we'll be delighted."

After knocking out Kent rivals Dover Athletic (at the second attempt) and Margate, Burman is planning to spring another surprise against their Ryman Premier League opponents, that ended Ramsgate's hopes at the second attempt in the last round.

But he warned: "They're a good side.  Their going to be the best side we're going to face this season - their league position tells us that.

"I've watched them and we're going to be up against it.  It's a very tough game for us but cup football is funny football and we've managed to beat two really good sides in the previous rounds and I hope we can do something on Saturday.

"It's a cup game and that's what cup games are about - shocks on the day and the underdog usually does well in the cup.

"We've done well in our previous two rounds.  We were happy being the underdog then and on Saturday.  That suits us fine."

Burman, however, is relishing this high-profile fixture but hopes his players don't get overawed by the occasion.

"I've been fortunate enough to experience games like this but some of the players haven't," he warned.  "I can only tell them to go out and enjoy the atmosphere and do their best.

"They have to go out and enjoy the game and if their best isn't good enough, it doesn't matter."

And the extra revenue the game will bring to the Kent club is vital.

Burman added: "There a very good side and it's a great following their club has got and everybody in the Trophy at this moment want to play AFC Wimbledon.  We are fortunate to be that team.

"Without doubt their going to be the best side we've played against this season."

Midfielders Ryan Briggs and Eddie McClements should recover from their recent injuries to be available for selection.

Dartford v AFC Wimbledon
FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round
Saturday 26th November 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Stonebridge Road, Northfleet