Fleet will have to forget the woes of last weekend’s lengthy Barrow trip and adopt a fresh approach in mind, body and spirit for the visit of National League North leaders King’s Lynn Town.
Kevin Watson’s team are aiming for the Third Round of the Buildbase FA Trophy for the first time in five years and have two new faces on board to do it – goalkeeper David Gregory and midfielder Jermaine McGlashan.
For anyone looking for omens, Fleet also fielded a couple of new signings the last time we made Round 3 in 2015, when the likes of Danny Kedwell, Stuart Lewis and Theo Lewis all made their debuts in a 1-0 win over Forest Green Rovers.
Gregory and McGlashan come into contention in a squad missing captain Jack King through suspension. His absence is added to those of Jordan Holmes on international duty plus injuries to Myles Weston and Alex Lawless, with Aswad Thomas and Cody McDonald still on the long-term absentees’ list and Alex Reid and Tyler Cordner having returned to their parent clubs.
For Watson, it’s a case of friends reunited with Linnets manager Ian Culverhouse a former teammate and hotshot leading scorer Adam Marriott a previous player under Kevin Watson in his time as assistant at Stevenage.
“King’s Lynn are a very decent outfit managed by an ex-Swindon teammate of mine in Ian Culverhouse,” Watson said. “They’re going great guns at the top of their league, they’ve got some great players and I’m not surprised to see them up the top.
“Their centre-forward, Adam Marriott, I know well having had him at Stevenage when I was assistant there under Teddy Sheringham. Add in Michael Gash and they’re decent players. They’d be good in our league and probably the one above as well. It’s not going to be easy but we are at home so it’s a chance to progress. They will see it as a chance to progress too but we’re on our patch and we need to make more of that.
“We’re looking forward, it’s all about winning games and breeding confidence and we take every game on its individual merit.”
The Norfolk visitors are in pole position ahead of York City for promotion to the National League, having only achieved the same from the Southern League via a super play-off last May.
They are the highest scoring side bar Barrow in all three National League divisions this season and have Marriott and Gash to thank for much of that, with the pair having scored 35 goals between them. Marriott has the lion’s share of those, 25 in 23 games, and he is the subject of transfer rumours linking him with a return to League Two strugglers Stevenage.
However, as of the time of writing, he remains a Linnets player and a huge threat to Fleet’s ambitions of progressing.
Gash, of course, is well-known to Fleet fans having arrived in a £20,000 transfer funded by MyFC back in summer 2008 and that season helped Fleet to an FA Trophy semi-final before departing for York City.
King’s Lynn welcome back the experienced Ryan Jarvis from suspension but defender Tom Ward is cup-tied and skipper Michael Clunan out with a broken leg.
There might also be fitness doubts about defenders Ryan Fryatt, Chris Smith and former Dartford and Chelmsford man Rory McAuley.
A familiar face for Fleet fans is assistant manager and goalkeeper Paul Bastock, a sharp wit for anyone who experienced his backchat in games v St Albans and Rushden & Diamonds in the past, but unless No.1 Alex Street picks up a knock, supporters might have to sit near the dugouts to see the veteran ‘keeper in action instead!
This will be the first game between Fleet and King’s Lynn Town since the club reformed in 2010 but the 19th meeting if you include Town’s predecessors. All of those came in the Southern League, making this the first cup tie between the sides – and indeed King’s Lynn were our last ever opponents in the Southern League at a time when current director of football Steve Lovell was player-manager at Stonebridge Road.
The winners of this tie will receive £5,250 in prize money with the defeated club getting £1,750. If the game ends in a draw over 90 minutes, the replay will be at King’s Lynn on Tuesday night (7.45pm kick-off).
The match is not segregated and King’s Lynn fans may use the club bar by the turnstiles or the Main Stand bar via entrance at reception. Car-parking is available at Ebbsfleet International Station Car Park C for £3. This is the best option for parking near the stadium. Please respect local businesses by not blocking private property. Drivers are also warned that parking on the Thames Way clearway near the roundabout runs the risk of being ticketed.