Another away game is perhaps not what the doctor ordered after Fleet’s latest and longest road trip ended in a 95th minute defeat – and their third successive reverse on their travels this season.
But having got their first goals in an away fixture last Tuesday at Weston-super-Mare, Fleet are aiming to go one better than that and secure their first away points at Hayes & Yeading United’s new home – Maidenhead’s York Road. Charlie Sheringham’s fourth goal in two games must also fire a warning to the league that the hotshot striker (picture) has sharpened his focus.
Steve Brown’s desire for a stronger squad in depth this season – with 23 players signed up for 2014/15 – has raised eyebrows in some quarters but he was down to 15 players on Tuesday night, requiring a call-up for academy player Casey Johnson. Long-term injuries to Ben May and Michael West; shorter-term lay-offs for Michael Corcoran, Chris Sessegnon, Lloyd Harrington and Alex Osborn; suspension for Daryl McMahon; and Jordan Sanderson’s final week on loan at Lewes meant the Fleet boss, even at this early stage of the season, was short on options.
But the manager is clear that his side need to turn their away form around quickly, if only to ramp up the confidence levels again. Despite the three away defeats, indifferent form for many of the other sides in Vanarama Conference South means the Fleet are still within easy reach of the top places – but they need to put together a run of form to get back amongst it.
Brown hopes to have some of his less serious casualties battling for a place tomorrow, though with Shane Huke added to the treatment table on Tuesday night, Leo Mazzone and Casey Johnson are still on standby to fill spaces if required.
Relegated Hayes & Yeading were preparing for life in the Ryman League when Hereford’s demise and Dartford’s subsequent stay of execution allowed them to retake their place in Vanarama Conference South. And, like last season, they have got off to a reasonable start with three wins, a draw and two defeats to leave them level on points with the Fleet. Their two defeats have come to early pacesetters Basingstoke and Whitehawk, so there’s not a lot between their record and the Fleet’s and – but for Weston’s late goal on Tuesday – we would even have shared the 2-2 draw that Hayes achieved there last week.
The club’s move to Maidenhead hasn’t dramatically improved their attendances which hover around the 160 mark currently but manager Phil Babb has nevertheless been busy in the recruitment market since he learned of his club’s league fate. One of his summer acquisitions includes ex-Fleet Trophy winner Gary MacDonald.
Hayes gave the Fleet plenty of problems last year, taking a 1-0 lead at home until Stacy Long fired two late goals to turn the game on its head. And they provided stubborn resistance later in the season, when Anthony Acheampong’s goal separated the sides.
Frankie Merrifield, Dean Inman, Adam Everitt and Matty Harriott are likely to be the only survivors from those Hayes lineups in action this Saturday in a much-changed side.
Centre forward Pat Cox, with two goals to his name, is a big, powerful target man who will be looking to get under the skin of the Fleet defenders while strike partner Danny Wishart has undoubted ability having originally been signed from Hayes by Alfreton to bolster their Conference Premier strikeforce last season. Other summer arrivals include David Ijaha from Tonbridge, Saul Williams from Forest Green, the useful attack-minded Joe Anyinsah from Wrexham and former Welling and Concord defender De’Reece Vanderhyde.
|Venue||Matches||W||D||L||Goals||+ / –|
|Home||4||3||0||1||8 – 4||+4|
|Away||3||2||0||1||6 – 6||0|
|Total||7||5||0||2||14 – 10||+4|