dobson

PREVIEW: Friends reunited over the river

James Dobson, Reece Grant, Will Wood, Daryl McMahon, Steve Gritt, David Jupp, Kenny Clark, Sam Deering, Darren McQueen, Dean Rance, Myles Weston.

Just 11 of those potentially involved tomorrow who will have worn both badges gives an added edge to what the outside world might otherwise take as a run-of-the-mill Buildbase FA Trophy clash.

With only a pre-season friendly as a dry run for this one (and two of Dagenham’s goals in that came from Fleet striker Reece Grant just days before his move to the Kuflink Stadium), it’s safe to say that recent form will be more of an indicator as to which way this might swing.

It’s fair to say that both sides needed to see an improvement in midweek – and both did. Fleet progressed to Round 3 with a more attacking display against Chippenham Town while the Daggers put recent woes behind them with a win at league leaders Torquay United despite being down to 10 men.

Dennis Kutrieb hasn’t too many injury concerns to wrestle with. Alex Eirich got another 10 minutes under his belt against Chippenham after appearing against Tonbridge before the club’s recent isolation. The manager also told the club’s Facebook Live before kick-off that Chris Solly understandably needed more time with his fitness and he didn’t just want to risk suddenly throwing the former Charlton man into games cold.

The trio of former Daggers players will be eager to get time against their former club – Wood was man of the match against Havant last week, Dobson saw game time against Chippenham and scored the opening penalty of the shootout while Grant – if selected – will come in fresh and raring to go.

Rakish Bingham’s goal in midweek along with the good understanding Michael West displayed with Lee Martin will, however, mean plenty of competition for those places up front.

For the home side, McMahon was never afraid to rest key players in Trophy games in his time at the Fleet so may keep some of his big guns in reserve initially this Saturday, particularly with plenty of away travel for his squad in recent weeks. The energy expended by the 10 men who earned the win at Torquay in midweek will also surely have a bearing on his team selection.

Of those who played at Torquay, Deering was the only ex-Fleet face who didn’t make the squad. And suspended as a result of his red card will be former Dover midfielder Mitch Brundle.

Coincidentally, Brundle also got a red card the last time these two sides met at Victoria Road, when Fleet travelled there last Boxing Day as we shared two 1-1 draws across the Christmas period.

Since then, McMahon has added plenty of firepower as the Essex club’s pre-season determination to reach the play-offs was clear. Ex-Barnet and Solihull striker Paul McCallum and former Mascclesfield frontman Scott Wilson were recruited to bolster Angelo Balanta’s goalscoring talents. And then, of course, add in former Fleet favourite McQueen plucked from Dartford.

Other new boys include the ex-Barnet trio of Charlee Adams, Elliott Johnson and Callum Reynolds in addition to the likes of Rance, former Bromley and Maidenhead striker Adrian Clifton.

There is a chance for one new face for McMahon – Dagenham have just re-signed Liam Gordon from Bolton Wanderers on loan, the full-back having only moved north to the Reebok Stadium in the summer. Three other loanees include another former Dagger in Abu Ogogo (Bristol Rovers) and Ipswich Town pair Kai Brown and Bailey Clements.

Dagenham currently sit three places above the relegation zone in the National League having won four and lost six games. Despite an abundance of striking talent, they are the second lowest scorers in the division, with McCallum leading the way on three goals.

Their home form in the league has been poor, with just one win, but they have enjoyed two cup wins on home soil, the best of those a 3-1 victory over Grimsby Town. This tie against the Fleet is the first of four in a row against Kent opposition for Dagenham, who also have a live BT Sport match against Dover plus Bromley to follow.

The Daggers did enjoy a brief period of playing in front of home fans but their inclusion in new Tier 3 measures means their games return to behind-closed-doors status.

They will be streaming the game for £9.99 available here.

The winner will progress to the Fourth Round, due to be played on Saturday, January 16th and receive £4,500 prize money. The losers gain £1,250.

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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 ed.miller@eufc.co.uk

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