Both managers on Saturday will be looking for a reaction from their respective squads as old pals Daryl McMahon and Dean Brennan face off when Hemel Hempstead Town come visiting.
The Fleet boss was vocal in his unhappiness about Tuesday night’s final half hour when Fleet, after missing a penalty, appeared to back off the 10 men of Whitehawk, culminating in an equaliser six minutes from time. “What Whitehawk did or didn’t do in that final half hour shouldn’t have mattered,” McMahon told FleetOnline. “What should have mattered was what we did but it was disappointing how we tailed off. That’s not the standards we set and the key for me is we get that right starting on Saturday.”
At least the manager is looking forward to having a few more forward options with Bradley Bubb training Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, making himself available for selection – assuming there is no adverse reaction to his week’s excesses. Mark Phillips’ injury was described as a “tricky one” that the Fleet management have preferred to monitor carefully rather than rush him back in unnecessarily but he’s also in line for selection.
Aaron McLean should be back in training next week, too, while Danny Kedwell came through his half-hour against Whitehawk unscathed.
“We’ve had not time to work with a lot of the injured players and have had to put them straight into the squad in some cases so I’m convinced we’ll get stronger as these players come back in. We’ve been short on the striker front, with Keds and Darren McQueen the only ones available and then Charlie Sheringham. Darren’s still feeling his way at this level; he will be an important asset across a long season but I don’t want to pile on the pressure on him immediately to be the one to go and get goals.”
Hemel arrive at Stonebridge Road on the back of a 5-0 thrashing at Maidenhead, while they’ll also have that 6-0 reverse here last season on their minds – two good enough reasons to want to get a more positive result against the Fleet. They’ll likely field more ex-Whitehawk players from last season’s play-off semi-final than Whitehawk themselves did on Tuesday, having recruited Jordan Rose, Arnaud Mendy, Scott Neilson and Jake Robinson from the South Coast.
The Tudors squad is much changed from last season, when manager Brennan used more than 60 players as his side just missed out on play-off qualification but he has his own injury problems this season with several new signings yet to make an appearance. Hemel have won just the one game so far, a narrow win over Oxford City, while conceding three goals to Eastbourne in addition to their Maidenhead beating. Their only other point came against newly-promoted East Thurrock United.
McMahon expects Hemel to come good with the quality of players at their disposal – and is sure Brennan will have toughened his side up despite their experiences of midweek.
Last season’s corresponding fixture was a fairly tight affair in the first half before Fleet blitzed the visitors with a five-goal rush in the second half. Only four of that Hemel side are likely to feature on Saturday but the new boys will be tasked with improving a record of eight goals shipped in two away games.