Preview: Chatham Town

From SCEFL opposition to a SCEFL success story, Fleet move on from Punjab United to newly promoted Chatham Town as pre-season shifts up another gear.

Dennis Kutrieb’s team return to the Bauvill Stadium where they won 7-2 last season, having raced into a 5-1 half-time lead… but the new Isthmian South East side might not be quite so generous this year having earned promotion and lost just two games in 2021/22.

With 19 of Fleet’s 23-strong squad on show at some stage at Punjab, plus two trialists, Kutrieb indicated in his post-match interview that he expected to field his other two new signings – Josh Wright and Haydn Hollis – within the next week or so of games.

Fleet fielded two largely different sides in the summer opener at Punjab and the early friendlies are likely to follow a similar format to give game time to as many of the squad as possible. The second-half side scored twice courtesy of Rakish Bingham and Dominic Poleon (pictured above), with the two strikers combining for the third goal of the evening – which bodes well already for the season ahead.

Chatham’s Bauvill Stadium and its 4G surface will be a more suitable affair than what was a difficult pitch at Punjab – and the ground was one that Fleet fans enjoyed on their trip there last July with its pitchside bar and seating areas.

Jack Paxman takes on Chatham at last season’s friendly

From a visiting supporter’s point of view, the chief interest in the opposition will be former Fleet skipper Danny Kedwell who now combines playing duties with his role as assistant manager. Former Eastleigh and Sutton United National South title-winner Dean Beckwith is another with plenty of experience while the Fleet defence may like to keep an eye on Dan Bradshaw who scored 46 goals last season to lift the SCEFL Golden Boot. Matt Bodkin, Jack Evans and former Fleet loanee Andy Pugh are others who have experienced a higher level.

The Chats’ summer campaign so far has seen a 6-0 win at Rochester United and before that a 2-1 defeat at Punjab United, a 1-1 draw at Stanway Rovers and a 3-2 defeat at home to Lordswood. Regardless of friendly results, the club will still be on high after securing 100 points and scoring 122 goals last season… though even that wasn’t enough to hand them the title as they finished runners-up to Sheppey United.

Admission at the Bauvill Stadium is £8 adults, £5 concessions and £2 for U16s.


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