PREVIEW: Boreham Wood

With the suspension deadline for 10 yellow cards having passed – and a disciplined Ebou Adams having escaped it having played on the knife-edge of nine cautions for several weeks – Garry Hill can welcome back Dean Rance and Chris Bush as the Kuflink Stadium hosts Boreham Wood. It’s some rare breathing space for the Fleet boss who has had to operate with a reduced squad in recent weeks due to a perfect storm of sendings-off and suspensions.

The benefits of a return for Bush and Rance, however, will only be realised if some of those who had ice-packs around leg wounds in midweek are passed fit for Saturday. The Fleet camp were remaining tight-lipped about who was available for selection against a Wood side that is also operating with a fairly small squad.

Hill was boosted by the way his side took their chances in Tuesday’s second-half and will hope that the confidence flowing through his strikers combined with his increasingly mean defence will provide a platform for the Fleet to attack their last nine games of the 2018/19 season.

Michael Cheek scored his 11th and 12th goals on Tuesday night to draw level with Danny Kedwell, who reaches his own milestone of 200 games for the club should he appear on Saturday. In what position that will be should he play is anyone’s guess. Hill is unlikely to split up the burgeoning partnership between Cheek and Gozie Ugwu, who lines up against his former loan club and will be keen to add a goal to the assists against Maidenhead.

Hill somewhat cryptically alluded to playing Kedwell in defence if there was a requirement for it, the ex-Gills striker having slotted in alongside Jack King for the final 10 minutes on Tuesday night.

Boreham Wood boosted their ranks in midweek with the loan signing of Forest Green central midfielder Charlie Cooper who impressed in their 1-1 draw at Dover.

It’s been a season of contrasts for last season’s Wembley runners-up who at one point sat seventh in the National League but find themselves just six points from relegation after winning only one of their last 11 games.

While the battle against relegation appears to now be a straight fight to avoid 21st place, the other three positions looking filled already, Luke Garrard’s side cannot rest on their six-point cushion.

They have lost the goals of Bruno Andrade, Morgan Ferrier and Angelo Balanta this season, with Danish striker Justin Shaibu – on loan from Brentford – carrying much of the responsibility in a side that has found the net only 38 times this season.

There’s a rich spine of experience running through the Wood side, however, with former Fleet pair Mark Ricketts and Ricky Shakes involved while ex-Dartford and Cambridge midfielder Tom Champion is still performing. His fellow midfielder, Keiran Murtagh – who like Ricketts played under Garry Hill at Woking – is another capable of running the midfield.

Wood have won only three games on their travels this season but they do have an undefeated record in Kent, having beaten both Maidstone and Bromley and come away from Crabble on Tuesday with a point.

Fleet and Boreham Wood fought out a 0-0 draw at Meadow Park in Garry Hill’s first league game in charge. Garrard’s side, of course, gave a masterclass here at the Kuflink Stadium last season with a 3-0 win. That was only Wood’s second victory here in nine attempts.

The match is not segregated. Car-parking is available at Ebbsfleet International Station Car Park C for £3. This is the best option for parking near the stadium. Local businesses are continuing to contact us to warn they will clamp cars parked on or blocking private property. Drivers should not block areas around Watling Tyres, In-Car Wash (Grove Road), the Ebbsfleet Business Park and the Lower Road Industrial Estate. Furthermore, drivers are warned that parking on the Thames Way clearway near the roundabout runs the risk of being ticketed.


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