Fleet return to the road this weekend in the first of three away trips hoping their form outside Stonebridge Road this season will kick-start a first win of 2016.
Fleet travel to protect their undefeated away record in the league and strugglers Basingstoke Town are next up – but as luck would have it, they are coming into some form just as Fleet’s previous two opponents, Truro City and Margate, were.
Having looked dead and buried adrift at the bottom of the Vanarama National League South before Christmas, last season’s play-off semi-finalists have taken 10 points from their last six games to leave them fifth in the form table and with a realistic shout at survival. Since we last met, a 1-0 win for the Fleet on the opening day of the season, Basingstoke have promoted assistant manager and former Reading player Michael Gilkes to the top job and drafted in defender Jack Deaman and strike Reece Connolly, who has played for Aldershot, Salisbury City, Forest Green and Eastleigh. Former Eastleigh title-winning skipper Glen Southam, who was at Sutton last season, is another new recruit.
The home side will be without former Gosport skipper Jamie Brown who picked up a knee injury while former Fleet striker Liam Enver-Marum has missed the last couple of games.
Basingstoke have three wins at home this season and are the joint lowest scorers in the division, with 24 goals from 26 games.
Daryl McMahon is expecting Joe Howe to back in contention for a starting place but Kenny Clark is another seven to 10 days from resuming full training. The Fleet boss is also likely to stick with the Bonner-Acheampong pairing after declaring new signing Reiss Greenidge “one for the future” whose progress will be measured in the next few weeks of training.
Basingstoke, of course, won all three meeting between the sides last season but Fleet exorcised that particular ghost back in August with our first league win of the season and McMahon will be hoping a repeat performance gets his side back to winning ways from Saturday.
With questions over midfield selection at last night’s club Q&A, the Fleet boss reiterated that he picks his side for particular matches and against particular opposition so Fleet will no doubt have a gameplan for Basingstoke.