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Dartford FC boss Tony Burman expects Ebbsfleet United and Margate to fight for National League South title

Dartford manager Tony Burman Picture: Steve Crispe
Dartford manager Tony Burman Picture: Steve Crispe

Tony Burman believes the pressure is on Dartford’s big-spending rivals to deliver when the new season starts this weekend.

Dartford kick off their Vanarama National League South campaign away to Hemel Hempstead on Saturday with few people talking about them as promotion candidates.

That doesn’t bother Burman, who hopes his side can sneak under the radar while the spotlight falls elsewhere.

He said: "There are teams that have signed some good players, experienced players.

"You’ve got to look at Ebbsfleet with their three mornings a week. Margate are doing the same thing and Havant & Waterlooville, a little bit further away from us, have made some good signings and they’ve had experience of being up there.

"There’s a lot of teams who are capable of winning it. If you look at Maidenhead as well, Alan Devonshire’s gone across there and I suspect they’ll become a force.

"There are a lot of good sides who have signed League-standard players, playing in National South, which is making that better. It’s going to be tough but it’s going to be exciting and the pressure, hopefully, is on them."

Dartford find themselves back in this division for the first time since 2011/12, when they went up through the play-offs.

Burman said: "We always want to do well. There is an amount of pressure and you have to live with that but if the expectation doesn’t go too high, we could have a good season.

"We’ve got to be realistic with our aims. I’d love to be saying that we’re going to win the league but you have to look at things realistically.

"People have strengthened with players who should be playing League football, let alone the National League, and they’re playing in National South.

"I’d like to think that come the end of the season, we’re there or thereabouts trying to get into that play-off place."

Full story and seven pages of football season preview coverage in the Dartford Messenger.

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