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A short hop to close the gap

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It’s not far for Fleet’s first away day this season as Bromley’s Westminster Waste Stadium (Hayes’ Lane’s new moniker as of last summer) plays host to the opening Kent derby of 2019/20.

And Fleet will want to quickly rid themselves of the memory of their last two games: Saturday’s 4-1 reverse at home to FC Halifax Town and the 5-1 beating by tonight’s opponents Bromley at the end of last season.

That previous defeat at Bromley will have little bearing on this game as far as Garry Hill is concerned with two of his players from that day now wearing the white of Bromley and only Myles Weston and Mathew Achuba having played any part in it of his current squad.

Nevertheless, in terms of pride and getting points on the board, Fleet fans will be desperate to go home with what would be only their second win at Bromley since 1998.

Hayes Lane has never been a particularly happy hunting ground for the Fleet, with seven victories from 23 visits but then Halifax hadn’t had much luck at Stonebridge Road until Saturday.

With skipper Jack King sitting out the evening courtesy of a one-match suspension following his sending-off, the new-look Fleet will have to make necessary adjustments already. James Ball slotted into the back four on Saturday, but Hill could of course switch Ayo Obileye (pictured) to that position and allow Ball to stretch his legs in the middle of the park.

The Fleet manager had his players back into training on Monday morning and after a weekend of “hurt”, he’ll have wanted them to put the Halifax game aside and concentrate on the next two tough away trips.

There wasn’t much to shout about on Saturday but John Goddard’s first goal for the club and Fleet’s plucky rally in the second half before Halifax ran away with the game will be the plus points to build on.

Bromley opened their campaign with a goalless draw at newly promoted Chorley in what was an apparently humdrum affair and one in which manager Neil Smith said they didn’t deserve a win.

He fielded all his ex-Fleet acquisitions in Chris Bush, Michael Cheek and Luke Coulson and those three will no doubt be determined to get off the mark in front of a home crowd and against their old club. Elsewhere, Bromley have a new goalkeeper in the form of ex-Barnet and Dagenham man Mark Cousins and former Gillingham midfielder Billy Bingham was a real summer transfer coup.

Other new signings include Reeco Hackett-Fairchild (Charlton), Joe Kizzi (Billericay), midfielder Michael Klass (loan, Southend United) and another goalscoring threat in Adrian Clifton (Maidenhead United).

Fleet were largely overrun in midfield on the last visit to Hayes Lane with Coulson pulling most of the strings and with Bingham and Frankie Raymond capable of the same, that will be an area of concern for the visitors.

Bromley’s pre-season campaign was a mixed bag, with wins over Welling, Maidstone and Crystal Palace, draws with a Fulham XI and Dulwich Hamlet and defeat to Dartford and much the same Charlton U23s side that Fleet overcame 2-1.

Bromley, with their newly opened stand ready to roar, have high expectations this season and might feel their opening three points of the season is there for the taking but Fleet have a point to prove and now is as good a time as any for this squad to show its mettle.

The match is segregated and Fleet fans can purchase advance tickets here at a discounted rate.

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