Chelmsford City visit the Kuflink Stadium for the first time since our last promotion final as the only remaining barrier in Fleet’s way in what is left of the regular season programme.
Regardless of Saturday’s result, of course, City cannot block Fleet’s path into the play-offs but they can hamper the chase for a final position of third and attempt to exchange a home semi-final next Sunday for a home eliminator on Thursday instead.
It’s an exciting prospect for the final day of 2021/22 – our 75th season – and perhaps fitting that our opponents as we head to the end of our milestone campaign were also one of our first visitors on home soil back in 1946.
Having seen Alfie Egan return last Monday at Billericay, Dennis Kutrieb was hopeful of Greg Cundle playing some part in this one, while the Fleet boss also restored Will Wood and Lee Martin to starting duties, the skipper repaying that with the equaliser at New Lodge.
“My selections now are happy problems,” said the manager. “Because if I have selection problems then we are in a good position and I’m happy to have the problems. On Monday, you could see Lee Martin hasn’t started in a long long time, he put a great shift. Will Wood I haven’t started in a long time and he put a great shift in and Alfie Egan went as long as he could. Finney had a slight knock, Sido and Solly we protected them not to play and Joe Martin went off injured, so you need to manage it in this part of the season, especially with the play-offs coming up.
“We’re back third, we just need to look after ourselves now and that’s what I’ve said all along. We have our goals in the play-offs but first and foremost we have to work hard against Chelmsford.”
The big question is whether it will be a full-bodied Clarets that come out free to express themselves against the Fleet or a team with nothing to play for before heading into the close season. Monday matchwinner Craig Tanner believes this is where Fleet can’t slip up. “They’re probably the hardest teams,” he said, “because you don’t really know what they’re going to do. Are they going to down tools or are they going to think ‘alright, let’s just go for it this one game and have some fun’ and do whatever they want to do. But as long as we do what we do and we keep it tight at the back, we know with the strike force we’ve got there’s always going to be goals for us.”
Goals was the only thing lacking the last time the two sides met way back at the beginning of the season, when Chelmsford saved a penalty to protect a 0-0 draw and a point. City boss Robbie Simpson said of that one, “Ebbsfleet were the best team I’ve seen at this level and the best display of football and I said whoever finishes above them will win the league. But I wasn’t happy with the account we gave at Maidstone last week so I’m hoping for us to show more against Ebbsfleet, have some confidence and go and have some fun. It’s the last time this group of players will play together so I want them to come off the pitch and show real team spirit.”
It’s been a dogged campaign for Chelmsford, usually amongst the play-off places themselves but this season holding some real relegation fears for a time. Former Fleet striker Charlie Sheringham will likely spearhead the Clarets’ attack and although our one-time skipper Dave Winfield is back from injury, he didn’t make the City squad in their 1-1 draw with Concord on Tuesday.
Shoring up the back line for Chelmsford is the highly rated Ade Oluwu and despite their lowly position, the visitors don’t concede many goals – indeed they have a better defensive record than eight sides in the top half of the table. There’s experience in the side, with Chez Isaac in midfield and ex-Gillingham striker and Canadian international Simeon Jackson up front, while alongside him is Southend loanee Matt Rush who has already scored here at the Kuflink Stadium for his parent club in pre-season.
Danny Imray and Dara Dada are another two to keep an eye on in the Chelmsford side but as Dennis Kutrieb says, “We just need to look after ourselves!”
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.
On-the-day ticket sales continue to be 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. The dedicated season-ticket gate will continue to accept your season-ticket cards as usual.
Tickets may also be purchased before the game from local pubs The Edinburgh Castle and The Rose.
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.
We will once again have post-match live music for you from 5-7pm after the game… all supporters are welcome to join us after the final whistle for this free live entertainment and, from 4.45pm, the bar and music is open to everyone, not just match attendees.
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. Our guest lager from Iron Pier Brewery features in another popup bar next to the German food stall and there are Iron Pier cans available in our tea kiosks.
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.