It’s been 19 years since the Fleet last graced the Second Round of the Emirates FA Cup but few people would bet against Dennis Kutrieb’s side continuing to swat aside old records, wanted and unwanted, given their accomplishments on the pitch to date this season.
But it will be a severe test against FC Halifax Town, only the third time a Kutrieb side has faced higher-level opposition in a competitive game after playing Dagenham & Redbridge in 2020 and Leyton Orient in 2021.
Any thoughts of fatigue in the camp after a tough encounter at Hemel and an even more gruelling affair at promotion rivals Havant are out the window – and indeed the boss might actually be worried his side are too enthusiastic to test their mettle against National League opposition.
“A win can help over tired legs,” the Fleet manager said after his side beat Havant. “They want to test themselves against better players… are they able to beat their man, are they better at passing, defending, scoring? I’m really looking forward to it, I’m relaxed. The players probably not so much! They really want to show everyone they’re good, that’s normal for a football player. I’m not used to the FA Cup in two years here but all our players since they were kids have known the FA Cup, they’ve played in the FA Youth Cup, or already have previous experiences in the FA Cup, and they want the attention.”
Who gets the nod to do just that will be something the Fleet boss mulls over through Friday as he assesses fitness levels. Not that he has to sweat too much over substitutes given the large number available to him in FA Cup competition. Ben Chapman returns from suspension while the likes of Jack Paxman, Toby Edser, Shaq Coulthirst, Elliott Romain and Franklin Domi could come fresh to the fight.
Yet with such a sterling defensive performance in midweek and the confidence boost that Rakish Bingham’s goal will have done him, Kutrieb could opt for continuity and enthusiasm over freshness and pragmatism.
The Fleet boss had train tickets to West Yorkshire in his possession earlier this week, intending to view Halifax play Dorking Wanderers on Tuesday, but he may now have to use them for a weekend break in the summer instead as the Shaymen saw their game called off due to waterlogged pitch.
The luxury of more rest time would, you might think, please visiting manager Chris Millington but he was actually disappointed he couldn’t play the Dorking match.
“It’s very disruptive,” he told the Halifax Courier. “It means that certain players who would have expected to play Tuesday night may not get the opportunity to start the game on Saturday. We’ve prepared our training week around a two-game week, which is now a one-game week, so there’s disruption there. It’s frustrating we can’t have the best preparation possible for a really important game because of a game being cancelled at this stage.”
Influential midfielder Matt Warburton is bidding for a return from injury though the game may come too soon for forward and new signing Osayamen Osawe. Millington expected most of his other players carrying knocks to have recovered by this Saturday.
Goalkeeper Sam Johnson is the only player surviving from both sides the last time we met. Following that Covid-ended season, Halifax went from strength to strength under then manager Pete Wild, culminating in an impressive fourth-place finish last season and play-off qualification.
It’s not quite been the follow-up season Halifax fans might have planned on, with their side in the bottom four for many of the opening months, but with only one defeat in six in all competitions and recent wins over Dagenham and Oldham Athletic, things are on the up.
Top scorer Mani Dieseruvwe is hitting some form and the Shaymen come with a blend of experience and youthful talent in all positions. They will be aiming to reach the Second Round for the third time since their formation following the demise of the old Halifax Town and were denied at that same stage last year by Kidderminster Harriers, who included Fleet wide man Omari Sterling-James in their lineup.
He’s not the only Fleet player with some success against Halifax in the FA Cup as Chris Solly helped Charlton see off the Shaymen previously, while Sido Jombati scored an excellent goal for Wycombe in 2015/16.
Halifax won their last visit to North Kent with a convincing 4-1 demolition of the Fleet on the opening day of the ill-fated 2019/20 season but it’s the Fleet who hold the record in head-to-heads with nine wins to seven including matches against the old Halifax Town. Making that into a nice round double figure of 10 would guarantee the club £40,000 prize money and new territory in the Emirates FA Cup for a generation of supporters.
- ALL SUPPORTERS ARE REMINDED THAT AT THIS STAGE OF THE EMIRATES FA CUP, ALCOHOL MUST NOT BE CARRIED OR CONSUMED WITHIN VIEW OF THE PLAYING AREA. STEWARDS WILL BE ON HAND TO REMIND YOU AND WE ASK YOU TO CO-OPERATE IF THEY ASK YOU TO RETURN GLASSES TO AREAS PERMITTED FOR ALOCHOL
MATCHDAY SMALL PRINT ——–>
Our online ticketing sales platform at fleetlive.club has tickets available until 12.00pm on matchday. We would advise pre-purchase for both your and our convenience in gaining admission to the ground, especially for this Emirates FA Cup which will likely see extra demand at our ticket windows.
On-the-day ticket sales are available from the windows by main reception, accepting card and cash payments. Turnstiles open at 1pm but they will only accept online tickets (printed out or on your device) and tickets bought at the windows on matchday.
MAIN STAND BAR
There is no segregation for this game – so all supporters are welcome in our Main Stand Bar and Social Club bar. To access the Main Stand bar, enter through the turnstiles and walk the length of the gangway in the Main Stand to the door at the Swanscombe (uncovered) End. There is signage pointing you in the direction. Dennis Kutrieb does a pre-match teamsheet run-through and he and other players attend the bar post-match as well for the man of the match presentation. Post-match music entertainment from Josh Hassell is free after the final whistle.
Check out our food stalls (to the left of the main turnstiles entrance, there is our Würtsel Haus German sausage experience and straight ahead as you enter the ground is the Manhattan Grill for all your burger, hot dog and more needs!). Pop-up bars are also situated near to the turnstiles and by ‘Geeks Corner’ between the Plough End and old stand. We have a Hofmeister popup to be found in the marquee between the main turnstiles entrance and the Main Stand.
Car-parking as per usual on matchdays is available at Ebbsfleet International Car Park C for £3. Please have the correct change if possible to aid our parking staff and again, we would recommend an early arrival. Please note that the areas near to Northfleet Station, namely Railway Street and Hamerton Road, are resident/permit-only parking and non-valid vehicles will be ticketed. The area on Thamesway before the roundabout as you approach the Kuflink Stadium is a designated clearway – though that is not particularly apparent as you approach – so you are advised not to park here because of the risk of being ticketed.
If you wish to purchase your programme in advance for collection from our club shop before you enter the ground, you can do so either via our online shop or when booking your matchday tickets online.
Programmes are also on sale at the ground from the club shop, the popup bar as you enter the turnstiles, the Main Stand tea kiosk or in the Social Club behind the Plough End, costing £3. Advance-order programmes will be available to pick up from the club shop before the game and before you enter the turnstiles.