Daryl McMahon is fully aware that his side’s perfect four of league results in January will count for nothing if the Fleet don’t press on into February in the same frame of mind.
After four potentially tricky league fixtures, observers might be forgiven for taking one look at the table ahead of Concord Rangers’ visit and thinking the Fleet are in for a slightly easier time of it, a notion the manager isn’t taking on board.
“We need to focus on what’s ahead of us coming into February and continue to do what we’ve been doing. Concord are probably in a bit of a false position,” McMahon told FleetOnline. “I don’t think 18th place reflects the players they have there or the way they’ve played. They had a good result last weekend, beating St Albans in the last minute, and they’ve got [Jordan] Chiedozie and [Steve] Cawley up front. Chiedozie has come back having played under Danny Cowley at Concord before he went to Cambridge and he’s a handful. Cawley is up there with him and has always scored goals and they’ve got two good wide players. We’ll approach it like we always do and we expect them to be stubborn and well-drilled.”
Fleet may have to call on their wider pool of defenders on Saturday with Mark Phillips and Dave Winfield (pictured above) both doubtful. “Mark was back in training Tuesday,” McMahon said. “We’ll see how he is but at this moment in time, there’s a question mark over both of them.” Yado Mambo stands ready to fill any gaps, while Marvin McCoy has also been deployed in the central role this season.
Concord arrive at Stonebridge Road having only won one game in seven but the Essex side are nonetheless in a much better position than they were in the early autumn, having lifted themselves out of the drop zone. Manager Adam Flanagan has tinkered with his squad and a decent spell before Christmas, which included thrashings of Margate and Gosport plus wins over Hampton and Poole Town, has eased the pressure on him.
Key to that has been the re-signing of striker Jordan Chiedozie who has scored 10 goals in 15 games, while strike partner Cawley has 12. They’re supplied from the flanks by Dion Sembie-Ferris on loan from Colchester and ex-Welling winger Lyle Della Verde who produced a good showing when Fleet played the Wings in November. Former West Ham youth Amos Nasha has also been recruited in midfield.
At the other end of the pitch, Concord have the lowest percentage of clean sheets in the division and they have fielded a number of different goalkeepers this season, including our own Jon Miles. But Brighton loanee Bailey Vose is now between the sticks, and he kept several clean sheets on loan at Dartford earlier this season, as the Beachboys look to shore up their defence. They have, however, lost central defender Marvin Ekpiteta to county rivals East Thurrock recently.
Having shut Fleet out at Thames Road for two years until Dave Winfield’s winner in August, Concord are still awaiting their first point at Stonebridge Road where their three trips have yielded 4-0, 2-0 and 4-2 defeats – though that last result on Boxing Day 2015 was a much closer affair than the scoreline suggests.