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Match preview – Fleet v Bath City

With limited options up front this weekend, Steve Brown is confident that his available strike pairing are primed and ready to go against Bath City. Two-goal Michael Thalassitis, who played 90 minutes against Serbia on Thursday in Cyprus’ 2-1 U21 defeat, is away while Ben May’s injury is still ruling him out of contention. But Billy Bricknell’s brace at Dorchester and the impressive form of Alex Osborn mean the Fleet manager has no concerns in the forward department.

“I have limited options up front,” the Fleet boss told EUFC.co.uk. “But I’ve been delighted with Alex Osborn and Billy Bricknell and have been impressed with the way they have combined and worked together. Alex has shown a great work ethic and his performances have deserved at least two goals and Billy has shown in pre-season that he is a natural goalscorer and took his chances very well at Dorchester.”

And Brown admitted he had something of a selection dilemma after the Tonbridge game, with performances from some players – particularly in the first half (Tom Phipp and Stacy Long, pictured above) – impressing. “After the performance Tuesday night,” Brown said, “I feel I have a squad that is very strong in depth. I have the nice dilemma of having 18 players to choose from off the back of two very good wins and two very good performances.

“The most pleasing aspect so far has been the work rate and commitment of the whole squad, training is lively and very competitive and that has been carried into our performances. What we need to do is start to prolong the periods of domination that we do seem to have in every game. We are creating a lot of opportunities at the moment and looking at the highlights from our games, other teams are having to work hard to score against us.”

With that first win out of the way finally, Fleet will now be hoping to erase another unwanted statistic and get their first home victory under their belts. Standing in the way of that are Bath City, one place above the Fleet in 10th, whose recent two-year stay in the Skrill Premier has only given them appetite for more.

The Somerset club have one of the division’s more impressive strike forces, with David Pratt a known competitor at this level with Basingstoke and Maidenhead. He has two goals to his name, and fellow newcomer, winger Ross Stearn, has also impressed the Bath fans with his performances – he bagged two goals in Bath’s recent home win over Concord Rangers. Stearn signed from Weston-super-Mare in the close season and was a major part of their best-ever league finish last year. Andy Watkins is another to look out for, having moved from Truro where he was player of the year last season. He scored more than 143 goals in 295 games in a seven-year spell with the Cornwall club.

Bath have six survivors from our last meeting, a 3-2 win for the Fleet – defenders Mark Preece, Andy Gallinagh, Jim Rollo and Sekani Simpson, plus experienced midfielders Joe Burnell and Adam Connolly. And another familiar face will be close-season capture Will Salmon, who has suffered relegation from the Premier with both the Fleet and AFC Telford.

City have won two games this season (away at Bishop’s Stortford and home to Concord), their only defeat being a 1-0 home reverse against hotly-tipped Eastleigh.

Past form v Bath City

Venue Matches W D L Goals + / –
Home 31 14 7 10 45 – 32 +13
Away 34 7 6 21 31 – 72 -41
Neutral 0 0 0 0 0 – 0 +0
Total 65 19 13 31 76 – 104 -29

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