It may be the first of three home games with all that promises for consolidating the Fleet’s position at the summit but Daryl McMahon is looking no further than Hayes & Yeading United this weekend.
“To be honest, we never look beyond the next game,” he told FleetOnline. “It makes no real odds whether we have three home games now, or we go away, we just know that we have to win them.”
Nonetheless, the Fleet boss was happy to put the long trip to Cornwall behind him after gaining what he called “a fantastic point in awful conditions, probably our best point of the season given the circumstances.”
Having spent that 90 minutes without Danny Kedwell for the first time this season, McMahon’s charges will have to do it all over again this Saturday, with Fleet’s No.9 suspended for one game following his second yellow card at Oxford City. But when you’ve got players of the calibre of Matt Godden and Aaron McLean to lead the line, Fleet will hope not to feel Kedwell’s absence too keenly.
The only other enforced absentee is Kenny Clark, though the defender has made progress having come through two training sessions this week and is expected to be knocking on the door of the first-team squad once more by the time Matt Fish begins his suspension next week.
Visitors Hayes & Yeading last weekend recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this season – but their relegation battle makes them no less dangerous according to McMahon. “They’ve beaten three of the top sides this season, so they’ll be capable of doing the same to us. They have a good group of players – Darren Purse has fantastic experience at the top level, Elliot Benyon has played in the League and their captain Adam Everitt’s an old teammate of mine from Eastleigh so I know what he can do. They’ve got a lot of pace down the side areas and we need, as ever, to be wary of the counterattack.”
Benyon, who played against Fleet at Wembley for Torquay in 2008, is Hayes’ top scorer with nine goals this season and has played for Swindon, Wycombe and Southend in addition to Torquay. The visitors also have former Fleet loanee Josh Scott in their lineup, but he has been absent for several weeks and is not expected to feature.
They have had a major turnover of players this summer and have recently brought in several loanees from MK Dons and Barnet, along with new signing Olumide Durojaiye, a former Spurs and Norwich youngster who has played for Falkirk and most recently Enfield Town. And it’s not just players through the revolving door, with former manager Garry Haylock having returned to the club in mid-season to replace Tristan Lewis. His knowhow seems to have steadied the ship and Hayes, with one eye on the future and finally moving into their new ground, will be looking to increase the gap they have built over the teams in trouble to ensure National League survival.
The visitors won the corresponding fixture last season but it was their first win over the Fleet in seven attempts. We have never drawn with Hayes, having won six to their three in head-to-head terms.