Without a league or cup game this Saturday due to the Vanarama National League South’s odd number of teams – which means that one club stands down for two weekends each in the season – Dennis Kutrieb’s squad assembled at Punjab United’s Steve Cook Stadium to share a practice session of 90 minutes against their Academy counterparts.
It was an opportunity for the Fleet boss to get some vital minutes into players on the comeback trail and both Kieran Monlouis and Alex Finney played a full part, with Will Wood and Adam Mekki also making appearances. Kreshnic Krasniqi and Chris Haigh also followed up their 90 minutes against Carshalton Athletic with the same earlier today.
And it wasn’t just the first-team to benefit from the session as the Fleet’s Academy side – who fielded Harrison Firth in goal in the second half – enjoyed a rare chance to pit themselves against professional footballers.
The Academy’s Daniel Gill told the EUFC website, “It was another really welcome joint effort between the first-team and the academy as part of our increasingly ‘one club’ outlook here. There’s not many Academy boys who will get a proper runout against a National League-quality first-team as they did out there today. It’s so important for their footballing education – they played yesterday in the league and then today again, so it’s been a really positive effort.
“It’s another side of the game they get to see and it’s something they can aspire to. There’s no better way to say, ‘This is what it takes to be a professional footballer’ than to go up against players of that kind in a match environment. The movement, the formation, the speed, the passing – you learn so much playing in amongst that kind of thing.
“Of course the young lads are going to come off second-best but it’s not about a final score or whatever, it’s about what they take from a game like that. I’m really pleased Dennis was able to send a side today and pleased from our point of view with how the weekend fell so as we could play a competitive 90 minutes against such a strong side.”
Fleet’s weekend off precedes a midweek trip to Chippenham Town – rescheduled after the original game was postponed due to a Covid case in the home camp – and tickets for that game are now on sale here.