Following Tuesday night’s draw at Woking, the Fleet are back on the road again as it’s a visit to Altrincham for the first time since 2009. Now called the J Davidson Stadium, Fleet fans who make the 438-mile round trip on Saturday may be more familiar with the ground’s old name of Moss Lane.
Altrincham and the Fleet swapped places in 2020 but meet again having both been founder members of the top non-league division back in 1979.
It’s a battle between ninth and 11th with the two sides only separated by a single point. Saturday’s hosts have won just the two matches this season, having not tasted victory in the past five matches, when they grabbed a last-gasp winner against Chesterfield. Altrincham head into this match with consecutive draws to their form table; the first away to Wealdstone and then Tuesday night’s draw against Hartlepool United. Prior to their two draws, the Robins suffered two defeats leading to them picking up five points out of a possible 15.
Despite two defeats on the bounce for the Fleet, the trip to Woking earned a first draw of the season when Ouss Cissé’s second-half goal cancelled out Jim Kellermann’s 42nd minute penalty.
The meetings between both sides tally up to 16, all in non-league’s top division. The last time the two sides went head-to-head was at Stonebridge Road (Altrincham the victors that time around) but in the opening game of that season, the Fleet travelled to Manchester and the points were shared in a 1-1 close affair, James Lindie on the scoresheet. The two sides first met in 1979, when Gravesend & Northfleet were well beaten 4-1.
Standing at 6ft 5 in, Ethan Ross is the shot stopper for the Robins. Having spent a number of seasons out on loan at numerous clubs, he continues the pattern this season with a season-long move from parent club Stockport County. Having kept just the one clean sheet this season, Ross has played for the likes of York City, Aldershot and Weymouth in recent loan deals.
Following a successful loan spell last season from Stoke City, Eddy Jones made the move to the J Davidson Stadium permanent earlier this year, surpassing the 50-match milestone recently and landing himself on the scoresheet twice this season – though Fleet fans may struggle to remember who’s who as three other Altrincham players share Eddy Jones’ last name: James Jones, Joey Jones and Tom Jones!
A second player who enjoyed a successful loan spell last season is Chris Conn-Clarke, who signed permanently in the summer. The 21-year-old midfielder is a Northern Ireland U21 international who has secured three goals this season making him joint second in the scoring table for Altrincham. Striker Regan Linney is the leading goalscorer with a total of four goals, including a brace away to Woking in the second match of the season.
A couple of other familiar faces include former FC Halifax winger Matty Kosylo, ex-Maidstone striker Justin Amaluzor and on-loan forward Alex Newby who played at the Kuflink Stadium in pre-season for parent club Colchester United. Newby arrived only yesterday alongside another new loan signing, former Gillingham man Gerald Sithole joining temporarily from Bolton.
In the dugout is long-standing boss Phil Parkinson who joined in April 2017, and has signed a several-year deal with the club that sees his contract through until the end of the 2024/25 season. Before his promotion-winning time at Altrincham, Parkinson managed Nantwich Town, where he led them to an FA Trophy semi-final.
There aren’t too many links between the squads but Fleet’s Joe Martin played alongside Alty’s Elliot Osborne at Stevenage.
Online tickets can be purchased from Altrincham’s website here.