It’s early days, of course, but the psychological impact of getting points on the board can’t be underestimated as Fleet fans pray their squad delivers the first (or more) of those at the Kuflink Stadium on Tuesday night.
Some 16 years on from Yeovil’s last visit – the Glovers winning the Conference that season to ascend into the Football League – Fleet are looking to kick-start this campaign. Garry Hill compared Saturday’s narrow defeat at AFC Fylde to “effectively the first game of the season” given it was his first opportunity to start and finish a 90 minutes with the setup and players of his choosing.
Southern League foes from Fleet’s first season in existence in 1946/47, the two clubs have met some 56 times and this fixture represents the highest-scoring pairing in our history. Fleet-Yeovil games have generated some 227 goals – an average of more than four goals per match, helped considerably by a couple of 8-4 and 5-5 results back in the Fifties (see matchday programme for a closer look at that goals phenomenon).
Even our last season together in 2002/03 saw 10 goals exchanged, although such a return might be asking a little much this year. Both Fleet and Yeovil have scored just two goals apiece, while the Glovers have conceded the same, with manager Darren Sarll making the bold claim of his goalkeeper, former Gillingham stopper Stuart Nelson that he is “the best goalkeeper in this league by an absolute mile”.
Yeovil have won one, drawn one and lost one so far this season, the defeat coming on the opening day at Barnet, followed by a narrow win over Eastleigh. Saturday saw Huish Park witness a 1-1 draw with National North champions Stockport County.
Manager Sarll – the man who signed Matt Godden for Stevenage in 2016 – has rebuilt Yeovil over the summer, making a number of key signings including Chelmsford top scorer Rhys Murphy and defender Luke Wilkinson from his old club Stevenage.
Wilkinson sits this one out through injury but the Glovers will be well-marshalled at the back by their skipper, ex-Forest Green veteran Lee Collins.
Former Everton U23 and Irish U21 striker Courtney Duffus is on form, having scored both the club’s goals this season, while defender Craig Alcock is no stranger to the Fleet having played for both Doncaster Rovers and Cheltenham Town against us in our previous two FA Cup campaigns.
Like the Fleet, this Yeovil side is a relatively new unit with only goalkeeper Nelson of the likely starters resident at Huish for any length of time. Two loanees have also arrived recently from Birmingham City, defender Remeao Hutton and winger Olly McCoy already seeing first-team action with the Glovers this season.
The match is segregated so Yeovil fans should use the away turnstiles situated 150 yards to the left of the stadium entrance. Car-parking is available at Ebbsfleet International Car Park C for £3 and we would respectfully ask supporters not to block residences or businesses around the ground. There is also a risk of cars being ticketed on Thames Way (on the approach to the ground before the roundabout) so please avoid parking along that stretch of road.