Fleet boss Steve Brown was unconcerned at suggestions Monday’s opponents Maidenhead will benefit from the extra rest afforded them by the postponement of their match against Farnborough on Saturday.
Fleet come up against the third team in succession to hold a 100% record, albeit one at this early stage of the season, still looking for that elusive first win. But Brown was not holding much store in his opponents’ day off.
“Maidenhead have the weekend off as the debacle surrounding Farnborough continues and no doubt they will travel down and scout our game before we meet on Monday,” Brown told EUFC.co.uk. “Some might see this as an advantage as they have a longer rest period and should be fresher but that’s not alway the case. I watched Chelmsford-Concord on Monday night and Concord were playing their second game inside three days whereas Chelmsford hadn’t played at all. The away side looked fitter and should have won the game with a fine performance.”
Maidenhead have seen off Whitehawk and Hayes & Yeading United so far this month, a decent start after a 2012-13 campaign that saw them escape relegation by a single point over AFC Hornchurch. Manager Johnson Hippolyte celebrates his seventh year in charge at York Road this year and clearly knows what it takes to survive at this level against the odds.
In midfield he can count on experienced former Swindon man Michael Pook while up front the much-travelled Richard Pacquette – with three goals to his name already – leads the line. He is joined this season by Conference Premier veteran Michael Malcolm, who has chalked up more than 100 appearances for the likes of Kettering, Weymouth and Crawley and was most recently at Bromley and Whitehawk.
It was Maidenhead who ruined the Fleet’s first return to Conference South in 2011-12, winning 2-1 at Stonebridge Road on the opening day of the season despite being reduced to nine men. Indeed the Magpies have won three of their four previous visits, stretching back to an FA Cup triumph in 1973.
But Fleet’s Brown is hoping his charges can continue from there they left off at Priory Lane, when he was pleased the second-half performance against Eastbourne cancelled out the first: “Our response in the second-half was excellent,” he said. “I felt that we were on the front foot for long periods of the second half, we’ve peppered their goal without really having an absolute clear-cut chance.”
With Ben May back in contention for a starting place, after coming through the last 15 minutes as substitute on Saturday, Brown will be glad to have a choice of four strikers – with Alex Osborn also getting a run-out at Eastbourne – to shake up the front places as Fleet look to claw their way back up the Skrill South table.
Past form v Maidenhead Utd
|Venue||Matches||W||D||L||Goals||+ / –|
|Home||4||1||0||3||6 – 8||-2|
|Away||3||2||1||0||7 – 2||+5|
|Neutral||0||0||0||0||0 – 0||+0|
|Total||7||3||1||3||13 – 10||+3|