Daryl McMahon is looking forward to crossing swords with compatriot and good friend Dean Brennan this weekend as resurgent Hemel Hempstead Town visit Stonebridge Road.
The Fleet boss, who saw his side pegged back by a late goal on Saturday and on Tuesday watched Hemel score their own last-minute equaliser while also hearing about Maidstone’s late winner, told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster “It’s one of them seasons! There seems to be late goals everywhere. We’ve won, drawn and lost games in the last minute.”
“The spirit’s brilliant in the camp, they’re a happy bunch. We’ve been through a difficult period, had a lot of travelling and we’ve come through it unbeaten. Organisation’s always important and mentality in terms of keeping calm. We’re ahead of where Bromley and Boreham Wood were [at this point] last year. We’re in good form, we’ve had a good season and we want to see it off now. There’s no doubts in my mind, they’ve taken the pressure of being favourites and being top and I’ve got no doubt they’ll see the job through now.” You can hear the rest of Daryl’s interview by clicking the link below…
Hemel’s current form sees them unbeaten in six games and with three wins from their past four, a sharp contrast to the period before that where they went seven games without a win. All of it has been achieved against a backdrop of an unsettled squad with boss Brennan having to perform various acts of juggling to move players in and out. In all, he has used more than 50 players this season but has now got to the point where Hemel are in a fine position to make an assault on the final play-off spot.
That said, the visitors come to town with numerous injuries and Brennan named himself on the substitutes’ bench for their midweek draw with Chelmsford. Various youth-team players have played a part of late and with defenders Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Kyle Connolly and Mat Mitchel-King all out injured, the Hemel boss will once again have to be creative in his team selection.
Added to those absences, there is a question mark over the fitness of the vastly experienced Matthew Spring, Nottingham Forest loanee Jack Kelly and Gravesend-born defender Ollie Thorne. The Tudors boosted their squad with former Aldershot midfielder Matt Saunders in midweek but he isn’t match fit – which may well not stop him holding down a place in Saturday’s squad.
That said, the Tudors have plenty of talent amongst their fit players, with the in-form Graeme Montgomery a play-off winner with Boreham Wood last season and goalkeeper Jamie Butler enjoying his new-found fame as a goalscoring No.1! Hemel have scored five goals more than the Fleet this season, though have recently let go two of their strikers, Jamie Slabber to Sutton and Dennis Oli to Farnborough. Nikolay Todorov, another loanee from Nottingham Forest, and former Crystal Palace frontman Ibra Sekajja now share that job. Another new face is Ricky Wellard in midfield, a play-off winner with Salisbury who has most recently been with Sutton and Welling United.
For the Fleet, McMahon admitted his changed shape in the second-half at Bath worked much better than his three-at-the-back that kicked the game off and that may mean recalls for John Paul Kissock and, against his old club, Jordan Parkes in midfield as those two impressed the manager after coming on. Sean Shields remains in the squad, with McMahon confident he can make an impact, either from the bench or in the starting XI.