Having seen his scoring tally rise to 17 in all competitions after his hat-trick against Bishop’s Stortford, Darren McQueen admits he may be moving the goalposts again on his original target for the season.
The 21-year-old now has as many goals as he scored last season for Maldon & Tiptree and the jump up two divisions doesn’t seem to have fazed him one bit. In an interview for tomorrow’s matchday programme, McQueen explained, “When I first signed on loan my initial target was 25 but as the season went on, I put it back to 20 so I’m definitely on course for that. And if I do get 25 that will be great!”
Having described his hat-trick 11 days ago as “incredible… one of the best moments of my career”, the former Spurs and Ipswich Town youth says the title race isn’t preying on his mind when he’s out on the pitch. “I don’t really think about that,” he said. “When I’m on the pitch I just love scoring goals and winning.”
He’s certainly doing both of those this season and has taken on board advice from his fellow strike partners. “Aaron McLean gives me targets before games, Keds is always encouraging me and I watch Bradley Bubb in the way he holds the ball up and uses his body very well. I know I made the right decision by making the deal here permanent and the way we play is suited to me.”
McQueen – who scored against Welling at Park View Road in November – could be getting more than advice from McLean soon with the injured striker eyeing a return to full training. “Aaron’s looking sharp,” Daryl McMahon told FleetOnline. “He’s been doing non-contact training and is up in Peterborough next week to do more work. After the Truro game, we’re looking to have him back in full training.”
There’s more good news on the injury front for the Fleet with Dave Winfield back in line for a return, the vice captain having sat out three matches after being taken off against East Thurrock United.
It’s Fleet’s first home game since the 8-0 destruction of Bishop’s Stortford created a new club record and although the visit to Hampton produced one point instead of three, McMahon is adamant that the feelgood factor after the Stortford match is something that’s always been there. “We’re 14 games unbeaten and 12 of those are wins,” he said. “Of course Bishop’s Stortford was a great result and performance, but the feeling has been good all around the club before it and after it. That game is behind us and it’s all about Welling now.”
McMahon watched the Wings defeat Charlton Athletic on penalties after a 1-1 draw in midweek to move into the Kent Senior Cup Final. “We know all about them, there’s Matt Fish obviously and [Phil] Walsh was here before. Ben Martin is a big presence and the whole squad really is players we have come up against so we know what we have to do.”
Welling seemed to have eased their relegation fears with five wins in December and January but with only one in their last nine league games, they will be scrapping for the breathing space that extra points will give them. They sit six points clear of Gosport Borough who they meet at home after the visit to Stonebridge Road.
They have bolstered their ranks in recent weeks with the arrival of ex-Fleet pair Phil Walsh and Tyrone Marsh, the latter returning on loan to Park View Road. Ben Martin, who won the Conference South with Welling alongside Anthony Acheampong, has also returned from St Albans City. Martin and Walsh will likely shore up the centre of defence in place of regular duo Sean Francis and Dean Leacock who have been absent in the past few games.
Saturday’s clash will be only the second league game between the clubs at Stonebridge Road since 1986, Fleet having won the 2011 clash by 4-0 en route to promotion. In all, this will be our 13th meeting at home, with Fleet having won six of them, Welling three and three draws.