Jamie Day prepares to go head to head with Braintree Town for a fourth time this season (twice as Welling boss and now twice as Fleet manager) hoping his side continue to improve week on week.
“Braintree are a tough side, they know what the higher level’s about and they’ve got the right blend of quality and hard work,” he told FleetOnline. “If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have been in the league above for as long as they have. But I thought we deserved to win the first game and our overall direction, if not the number of wins, has been decent.”
And the Fleet boss knows that the possibility of eliminating a third successive Conference side at home opens the field wide open in the Trophy. “If we come through, great, we go on to Saturday and to North Ferriby with a cracking chance of making the semis and who knows after that. Of course we want to do well.
“If not, we have a blank Saturday. People have said it’s good that the squad get in as many games together as they can, I’ve said it myself but we’ve now reached a stage where the new boys have played a lot of games in a short space of time which has worked in our favour of getting them playing minutes. But at the same time it’s been four games in two weeks and a lot of them haven’t been used to that this season.
“So while we desperately want to progress in the Trophy, if we don’t I’m not too bothered about not having a league game instead – the blank Saturday might come at a good time if we have a break to work through a bit of team shape over the weekend.”
And Day praised the Fleet fans for their patience as he formed a new side. “So far the fans have been excellent,” he said. “There have been games we’ve lost at home while I’ve been in charge and they’ve not really moaned at all. We’ve got a squad I’m happy with now so there’s no excuses on my part about players not buying into what I want as I’ve got a set of players in to do just that. You would like longer to bed in, of course, we haven’t got eight pre-season games or whatever but now the players are here and they’ve started to get to know each other, it’s not going to be an excuse going forward.”
The Fleet manager has mulled over possible changes tonight for squad members who haven’t had too much playing time of late but he is already restricted in so far as Tyrone Marsh and Tom Bonner are cup-tied while Welling loanee Ben Jefford is ineligible for the Trophy until Saturday. That means Anthony Acheampong is likely to come into the back line if Fleet maintain their 3-5-2 formation at home, while Brendan Kiernan or Sean Shields slot in to cover Joe Howe’s absence.
Braintree boss Alan Devonshire is similarly restricted, with a relatively small squad and a couple of players carrying knocks. What’s more, midfielder Dan Walker who played 20 minutes as a substitute last Tuesday, has since moved to Eastleigh on loan for the rest of the season.
The club anticipates no problem with the Fleet pitch tonight so do please make the effort to turn out and cheer the squad as they bid to move one step closer to Wembley!