Fleet boss Daryl McMahon is in no mood to reopen old wounds when Fleet meet Dover Athletic for the first time since the 2014 promotion final. Dover, of course, triumphed in that one after a season of acrimony, much of it played out in the media, but McMahon only has positive things to say about the club he departed to move to Stonebridge Road in 2013 (pictured playing against Dover in 2014, above).
“I’m not here to fan any flames in this match,” McMahon told FleetOnline. “Yes, there’s a rivalry between the two clubs but I only see it as one in the sense of it being a Kent derby. That really is it for me and as far as it goes. I played for Dover, so did Dean Rance and Sam Magri, but it’s not like it was in 2013/14. Dover are a good club run by good people with a good manager in Chris Kinnear, and I reached a play-off final with them. But there’s no getting one over anyone or any of that sort of thing. To me it’s just the next game in the fixture calendar. There’s nothing personal there for us with what happened a few years ago. They’ve have had a pretty good start and as a derby I’m sure it will be full of blood and thunder again. You can’t take anything for granted, every game is tough but we’ve proven to be a tough team to beat as well.”
Dover are likely to be without summer signing, striker Jamie Allen, who has a hamstring injury but he’s the only concern for Kinnear. Fleet are unlikely to have any of their casualty list back in action in time for this afternoon so McMahon will likely only mull over tactical changes to the side that performed well at home to Gateshead. One enforced change, of course, is the absence of Magri on international duty so that will require a rethink by the Fleet boss and a potential formation reshuffle.
Fleet’s last win at Crabble came in our promotion season of 2010/11 when a 3-1 victory took the three points. Since then, another August fixture saw Dover triumph by 2-1 back in 2013/14. On the whole, the Fleet could certainly do with improving their record at Dover as that 2011 victory was our only ever league win there – unless you count beating Margate in the days of them groundsharing.
Fleet will need to be on their guard against former Newport County striker Ryan Bird who has two goals this season and he is partnered by former Bromley player Tobi Sho-Silva, who has previous experience against the Fleet turning out for Charlton Athletic in the Kent Senior Cup. The only survivor of Dover’s promotion final success is goalkeeper Mitch Walker.
Admission prices and further information about this afternoon’s game can be found here.