Preview: Fleet get their Ducks in a row for cup clash

After a week of long-overdue League action, excitement and reflection, Fleet turn their attentions back to the Emirates FA Cup and the prize of a Fourth Qualifying Round place.

The draw threw up a first-ever FA Cup meeting with Aylesbury United, once a semi-regular foe before the turn of the century but now a club existing a step or two below their former glories.

It’s more than 21 years since Fleet played Aylesbury and a similar amount of time since our last visit to The Meadow (pictured above), home of Chesham United, where Saturday’s opponents now groundshare.

Fresh from Tuesday’s long journey which brought home three points, another Dominic Poleon hat-trick and a 5-2 win, confidence in the Fleet camp will be sky high – but Dennis Kutrieb will have studied Aylesbury’s strengths and weaknesses and impressed upon his side that confidence shouldn’t lead to over-confidence against a Step Four club that has enjoyed a free-scoring run in the competition thus far.

With Poleon bang in form, it will be an interesting selection dilemma for the Fleet boss who chose to rest his top scorer in the previous round’s win over Carshalton Athletic.

That tie was a perfect example of the underdog raising their game on home soil and Aylesbury’s approach will be no different this coming Saturday. They have scored 19 goals in four ties to reach this stage, conceding just twice, as they look to make the Fourth Qualifying Round for the first time since 2008/09.

Although currently in mid-table at Step Four, in the Southern League Central division, the Ducks have enjoyed much higher status in their past. From the mid-Eighties, when they won promotion into the Southern League Premier Division, they went on to win the title in 1988 to spend their one and only season in the Conference in 1988/89.

They spent the entire Nineties as one of the more ambitious clubs in the Ryman Premier, missing out on a return to the top level in 1998/99 when they finished as runners-up. From 2005, however, when they lost the lease on their ground and were forced to move out of Aylesbury to share at Chesham, Leighton Town and Thame United, it’s been a decline in fortunes.

Aylesbury were relegated into the Southern League Midland division in 2006 and experienced a further slide into the Spartan South Midlands League in 2011, where they spent three seasons. It’s been mid-table at their current level ever since then.

The club’s FA Cup record boasts a Third Round appearance in 1994/95, a Second Round berth in 1988/89 and they reached the First Round in every season bar one from 1985–94. More recently, there was a semi-final appearance in the FA Trophy in 2002/03.

As for the men who’ll line up against the Fleet on Saturday, by far the most experienced is skipper Jack Wood who has recently passed 500 appearances for the club and has won no fewer than 16 end-of-season awards with the Ducks.

Much of the squad has arrived at Aylesbury via local football, with only striker Ezra Forde having faced the Fleet before – he appeared at Stonebridge Road for Oxford City in the final league game of our promotion season in 2016/17.

Former Stevenage youngster Jamie Jellis in midfield is the highest scorer in the cup so far with six goals, while Forde has four to his name. Others to pose a threat include striker Ty Deacon (nine goals in all competitions) and midfielders Sonny French and Max Hercules with four each.

Aylesbury’s average attendance so far this season is hovering around the 140 mark and they are describing this meeting with the Fleet as one of their biggest games for a decade.

Turnstiles and the club bar open at 1pm, with entry to the bar only available once in the ground. Admission details and ground directions are here and the club have published an online programme, available here.

Should the match be drawn, a replay will take place on Tuesday night at the Kuflink Stadium, kick-off 7.45pm.


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Ed Miller

Ed Miller

Ed Miller has been Ebbsfleet United's communications manager and programme editor since 2014 and responsible for the club website since 2007. Contact him on

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First-Team Squad