Preview: Farnborough

It’s a venue with good memories for Fleet fans who were there the day their side clinched promotion in 2011 with a 4-2 win. Now Cherrywood Road – or the Easy As HGV Stadium to give it its current title – is the next port of call in the quest for another promotion.

With 11 wins from 12 under their belt, the Fleet go into Tuesday night’s game atop a form table that their opponents were also recently riding high in – not that Farnborough have slipped too far down it despite a couple of recent defeats.

Fleet have two more Tuesday-night league games to come including tonight’s trip to Hampshire, but Dennis Kutrieb isn’t feeling the miles given how his side have performed in what was viewed as a crucial end-of-February period for the club.

Wins at St Albans and Chelmsford have extended the Fleet’s lead at the top of the table but there’ll be no easing off at Farnborough, with Kutrieb’s squad poised to go 16 points clear if they can secure a third away win.

The pair of one-goal victories have shown the resilience in Fleet’s side this season, especially at this critical phase, against teams who themselves are pushing for promotion and the interchangeability in defence and midfield – with players alternating in recent matches – has been a smooth process.

With another Saturday-Tuesday schedule ahead next week, the squad will be likely to show changes once more. Joe Martin returned to action as a late substitute at Chelmsford while Craig Tanner gets nearer to contention and Jack Paxman is back from his loan period, giving the Fleet manager more options as the games start to reduce quickly following this final game of a busy February.

Farnborough had been on a run of 13 games unbeaten until a surprise reverse at home to Hemel at the end of last month and they’ve suffered two more since then, at Eastbourne and on Saturday at home to Braintree. Those results have checked Farnborough’s seemingly unstoppable run to gatecrash the playoffs somewhat but the newly promoted Boro still have four games in hand on seventh-placed Chelmsford and seven points to make up – so tonight will be as important to them as it is to the Fleet.

Farnborough started life a little slowly following their ascension from the Southern League last season, but their run of form has breathed life into a shot at the play-offs now that any threat of relegation seems long distant.

Boro boss Spencer Day said ahead of the game, “Ebbsfleet are a fantastic footballing side. This division, though, every game is tough and we’re in fantastic form. It’s an exciting challenge, what a place to be. We were bang in the game at their place.”

His side may have gone down 4-2 at the Kuflink Stadium earlier in the season but they gave a good account of themselves in that one in an entertaining game in which they lost Omar Rowe to a sending-off. They have beaten Oxford City and Dartford at home and stuck four past Dulwich at Champion Hill last month.

Squad-wise, they have lost influential midfielder Ollie Pendlebury to Aldershot Town and Hisham Kasimu to Sutton United. Ex-Fleet favourite Sam Deering also departed for Bishop’s Stortford. But like his opposite number tonight, manager Day has largely kept faith in the squad he began the season with – though he has made some recent additions to replace those departing.

The main man in that regard is ex-Dagenham, Hartlepool and Bromley forward Mason Bloomfield, who has scored six goals since his arrival. To aid Bloomfield, Farnborough have also brought in Chike Kandi from Dover and Swindon loanee Harry Parsons. In midfield, Conor Lawless has come in on loan from Luton Town plus Ronan Silva from Crawley Town.

Similar to Chelmsford on Saturday, Farnborough haven’t scored many but equally don’t let too many goals in either with just 29 goals getting past a back line well marshalled by former Maidstone man Kevin Lokko.

Fleet won 3-0 on this last visit to Farnborough in 2014

Fleet have won eight of the past nine meetings with Farnborough and recorded a 3-0 win on the last visit to Cherrywood Road in 2014, the last of six straight wins at that ground dating back to 2003 when Farnborough Town was the club in residence.

Parking is available in the Stadium Car Park charged at £2 per vehicle – please bring the correct amount.

Admission is:
Adult £12
Concession £10
16-21 year old £6
Under 16 FREE but must be accompanied by a paying Adult.


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