When the clocks go back and the vagaries of the fixtures calendar hand you a 440-mile round trip to the north-west on a Tuesday night, you know for sure winter is coming!
After the excesses of an FA Cup replay last Tuesday and 101 draining minutes at Sutton on Saturday, the Fleet visit Victory Park for the first time to take on new opponents in Chorley.
A daunting trip it may be, but Kevin Watson’s squad are doing it with a smile on their faces as their ever improving performances have yielded back-to-back wins for the first time in 2019/20.
“They were in the dressing room after Sutton,” Watson said, “and they’re buoyant and they’re behind each other to a man. And I just said to them, that’s the start, we’re looking above us, end of story.
“The win gives us a platform now we’re that little bit closer and all of a sudden we’re within touching distance. When you’re sitting on 10 and that line is sitting at 16, it looks a million miles away but all of a sudden you’re creeping a little bit closer to it.
“Chorley’s going to be tough, they’ve drawn many games, it’ll be difficult. We’ve got to probably leave at 9.30 Tuesday morning, it’s a long day but we’ll prepare and we’ll go up there and set out to win the game. We’re not going there to hang on.
“We’re not looking to grind out horrible little draws. We’re looking to win football matches and this is a group that shouldn’t be where they are. My ambition while I’m at the club is to turn it all around and get us climbing.”
Having drawn Sutton into the mix with a 3-2 win on Saturday that leaves only three points between the Fleet and the U’s, a win at Chorley would also put three points between ourselves and the newly promoted Magpies, who lie bottom beneath us on goal difference.
Fleet will sweat on the fitness of Jordan Holmes after he left the pitch in the 85th minute on Saturday with a head injury, though he was walking about after the final whistle. Harry Palmer will be on standby for his first appearance for the club as a result of Holmes’s predicament.
Watson should be able to welcome back Josh Umerah to the squad after he sat out the game on the 4G surface at Sutton.
Chorley’s first season at National League level since 1990 has been a fraught one, Jamie Vermiglio’s side having won just the one game (at home to Stockport) all season.
Much like Fleet’s first season back at this level in 2017/18, however, Chorley have drawn 10 games and lost just seven – four fewer than the Fleet – which shows a steely side to the current basement club.
They have also been on the end of a few hidings, with Solihull firing six past the Magpies and Notts County scoring five. But on home soil, Chorley have held Bromley, Hartlepool United and Woking to stalemates and will be as desperate for the points on offer as the Fleet.
Amongst their ranks they include former Wrexham striker Chris Holroyd who has a good record against the Fleet plus recent midfield signing Nortei Nortey, once of Welling United and Dover Athletic.
As Chorley is a new destination for Fleet fans, they have kindly provided the below information:
Admission is £15 adults, £12 over 60s/NHS/first responders/armed services, £7 young adults (18-21s), £5 youth (12-17s) & FREE for accompanied under-12s. We sell tickets online while also operating pay-on-the-gate. https://chorleyfc.ktckts.com/
Turnstiles, usually at both ends of the ground, open approximately two hours before kick-off. Fans can enter at either end for non-segregated games. If the game is segregated away fans should enter through the Pilling Lane turnstiles.
Food & Drink
Everyone is welcome to enjoy a pre-match drink in the social club (provided the match isn’t segregated), situated after the Duke Street turnstiles on the left-hand side. The bar provides a friendly pre and post-match atmosphere where you can enjoy a pint while watching live football on TV (subject to availability).
As for food, The Magpies Nest serves a selection of hot and cold snacks, plus our famous butter pie. Why not try one with peas and gravy? The Pica Pica Shack is also popular with fans for delicacies such as pulled pork barms & jerk chicken sandwiches.
With the limited parking at Victory Park reserved for players and officials, the most convenient place to park is just off Pilling Lane, with spaces costing £3 on a first-come-first-served-basis. Car parks in the town centre are generally FREE after 5pm on weekdays/1pm on Saturdays and street parking is available too, but please respect our neighbours and don’t block or cause obstruction to driveways. For those of you using public transport, Chorley train and bus stations are an easy ten- minute walk away.
Chorley boasts a great selection of micropubs dotted around, all worthy of a visit. Notably ‘The Ale Station’, ‘Shepherds’ Hall Ale House’, ‘The Bob Inn’, ‘Toastie Tavern’, ‘The Shed’ and ‘Bootleggers’. All are within a half-mile stroll of the bus station.
That stroll would also take you past other real ale pubs well worth a visit, notably club sponsor ‘The Crown Hotel’. After its recent transformation you can’t miss the new bright orange exterior!