Jack King will need little reminding of how his season began against Halifax last August (pictured above) but if he can keep his lively namesakes quiet this weekend (top scorer Cameron King plus Jeff King will likely line up for the home team) then that will go a long way to helping the Fleet to points in front of the TV cameras.
Indeed Fleet’s defence is proving to be a much tighter unit in the latter part of this season and, aside from the Chesterfield reverse, no other team has put more than a single goal past it in league competition for two months.
Way back on the opening day of the season, FC Halifax Town’s then unexpected 4-1 win at the Kuflink Stadium somewhat set the tone for the campaign to come.
But for many observers, following King’s early sending-off, the result perhaps wasn’t a fair reflection of the passage of play.
Fleet now have the opportunity to give a better account of themselves in front of the BT Sport viewers as the late kick-off at The Shay provides Kevin Watson’s side with the next step in the great survival bid.
With a hard-fought away win at Hartlepool under their belts, Fleet now have Maidenhead United in their sights, while Chesterfield, Wrexham and Dagenham & Redbridge aren’t much further away.
But AFC Fylde are also coming up fast behind following their late win at Dagenham in midweek so it’s imperative that Watson’s side maintain their recent good form that has seen four wins in seven games.
Ayo Obileye begins a three-match suspension for his post-full-time sending-off at Hartlepool but otherwise the Fleet boss could be tempted to start the same side in similar circumstances to last week.
Then, it was a long trip to a tough venue against a play-off-chasing side and that’s very much the case again this weekend.
Halifax have confounded their critics by remaining well and truly in the hunt at the top of the table all season. Their title credentials may well have waned with a winless run of seven games before Christmas but they recovered over January to embed themselves in the top seven.
Recent form has been a little checkered, however, with two defeats in their last three matches and they’ll be looking to get back on the front foot after Saturday’s defeat at home to Woking.
Halifax still operate with a fairly small squad, as they did at the beginning of the season, and will field much the side that appeared in Kent on the opening day of the season.
Added to that is loan striker Devante Rodney who has eight goals this season and previously appeared against the Fleet for Stockport. But attacking midfield prospect Cameron King, who scored at the Kuflink Stadium in a man-of-the-match performance, is a danger with seven goals to his name, while the Shaymen also have former Dover pair Tobi Sho-Silva and Jamie Allen up front.
Halifax are a side who like to play the ball into the feet of their forwards from wide areas but they’ll need to do better than in recent weeks when a penalty has been the only source of a goal in four games. That run also included an upset in the FA Trophy to Halesowen Town on home soil so the Shay faithful will be demanding much more of their team.
Having lost five of our first six games at The Shay from 2002–08, Fleet have enjoyed better fortune on the last two trips, winning 2-1 and drawing 0-0 over the past two seasons.
What’s more, the visitors are due a performance on BT Sport having lost 2-0 once more in Yorkshire, at Harrogate, earlier this season and fallen at home to Gateshead last season.
Indeed, Fleet haven’t won a match in 90 minutes on live TV in five games, the last being a 2-1 win over Leyton Orient in November 2017. Now would certainly be as good a time as any to break that duck.