For the first time this season, Fleet come up against an entirely new opponent, having never faced Concord Rangers at any level or in any competition before. The Canvey Islanders (no, not those Canvey Islanders) have enjoyed something of a meteoric rise since leaving the Essex Senior League in 2008 and negotiating the Ryman League and its play-offs to work their way up to their current – and highest ever – level of football.
Fleet must put behind them the disappointment of their FA Cup exit, not to mention the reverse at Bishop’s Stortford, and get their promotion campaign back on track. Having just fallen short of a place in the top five by losing at Stortford, Steve Brown’s side could benefit from the psychological boost of entering the play-off positions – though it would need a fortunate set of results for that to occur this coming weekend.
Minus Shane Huke for the best part of three months at least – the defender’s metatarsal injury a cruel blow to a player who was at the top of his game thus far into his short Fleet career – Brown will look to Osei Sankofa to plug the gap once again, unless he feels Grant Basey is ready to be thrown into a full 90 minutes of action. The Fleet boss is inclined to take a dip into the loan market to seek a replacement: for all Sankofa’s versatility, the Fleet would be only one more injury or suspension away from losing another body in the centre of defence. To that end, Yado Mambo’s name has re-entered the frame after Brown admitted earlier in the season that the former Charlton player and Fleet loanee was on his hit list.
Elsewhere in defence, Joe Howe’s groin injury is improved, but whether it is sufficiently repaired to throw him straight back into action will mean Chris Sessegnon is once again on standby.
Fit-again Andy Pugh and Michael Thalassitis – who performed well on the right flank as a substitute at Dartford on Tuesday night – both have good claims for a start should the Fleet boss feel his forward line needs some freshening after drawing a blank at Princes Park.
Concord come into the game off the back of their own FA Cup exit, 3-0 at Barnet, and have proved to be no whipping boys in Skrill South this season – despite manager Danny Cowley joking at the start of the campaign that he had been unable to find a single “easy game” in the fixture list. The Essex new boys have racked up a decent set of results this term, beating Dover at Crabble, drawing at Eastleigh and thrashing Maidenhead 4-1. By the same token, they lost 5-0 at Weston-super-Mare in their last league game so their form is somewhat erratic.
A familiar face in the visitors’ side will be defender Danny Glozier who played nine times for the Fleet back in 2005-06. The son of former Fleet assistant and caretaker manager Bob Glozier, Danny joined Hornchurch after leaving Stonebridge Road and has also played in New Zealand. Also in defence is ex-Dartford player Paul Goodacre who played in both north Kent derbies in the 2010-11 season, while midfielder James White is another former Dart who saw action against the Fleet in the same season.
The danger man for Concord is ex-West Ham youth Tony Stokes, who continued his return from a knee injury that has ruled him out for the entire season so far by playing half an hour against Barnet. Scorer of more than 70 goals in 130 games, the skipper was a key figure in Concord’s promotion season and will be chomping at the bit to get amongst the goals now he’s back to match fitness.