PREVIEW: from Beachboys to Beavers

Fleet take their midweek form against the Beachboys into Saturday’s clash with the Beavers this weekend seeking the three points that would not only take them within one point of their hosts but potentially back inside the top seven as well.

Playing twice a week is something most clubs in the division will need to be geared up for as, further Covid-related postponements notwithstanding, the fixture calendar attempts to catch up with previous disruption.

While Fleet were in action last Tuesday and will be again next week, Hampton have enjoyed a fortnight off. For Dennis Kutrieb, it meant a Wednesday taking stock of any injuries and recovery for the players before training again on Thursday and Friday.

Chris Solly’s introduction and another showing from the bench for Alex Eirich gave the manager more options against Concord, with Solly’s 90-minute display exceeding expectations after the former Charlton player’s return to match fitness.

With Solly and Ben Chapman versatile enough to switch between defence and midfield, there are various permutations on offer for Kutrieb ahead of the visit to Hampton.

The home side, a little like Concord on Tuesday, have improved after a slow start to the season. They found themselves in the bottom four early on but have inched their way up the table over the last eight games.

Their most impressive results have been a 6-2 battering of Billericay Town in Essex, a 3-0 win at Chippenham and a 1-0 victory at Dorking Wanderers over Christmas. A narrow defeat to Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup has been another highlight of their campaign so far.

Since earning promotion from the Isthmian Premier six years ago, Hampton have tended to be there or thereabouts in the top ten – and best remembered by Fleet fans, of course, they provided our play-off semi-final opponents in our promotion of 2016/17.

Previously managed by Alan Dowson who moved on to Woking, former Hendon boss Gary McCann has maintained the solidity at Hampton. Aside from a period of rebuilding in 2018/19 when they finished 15th, they were in the mix last season, finishing 8th on a points per game basis when the campaign was curtailed.

And McCann has strengthened considerably over the summer. Goalscorer Niko Muir reunited with his former boss having spent two years with Hartlepool United while Maidenhead’s pair of title-winners from 2016/17 – Christian Smith and Rene Steer – moved to Surrey as well.

Another ex-Maidenhead player is defender Dean Inman while there’s also a familiar foe in goal, with former Dartford, Bromley and Sutton goalkeeper Alan Julian now the Hampton custodian.

One player to keep an eye on is ex-Colchester winger Ryan Gondoh, who was in goalscoring form for Whyteleafe before signing on dual registration with Hampton when coronavirus restrictions halted the Isthmian League. And he has gone on to score four in nine games for the Beavers since.

The Beavers also added former Barnet utility man Mauro Vilhete today (Friday) on dual registration from Wingate & Finchley.

This will be Fleet’s 10th visit to the Beveree, including games against the old Hampton FC, and thus far it’s all equal with three wins, three draws and three defeats, all three of those losses coming in consecutive years from 1999-2001.

Our last visit there came in the 2016/17 season, Bradley Bubb rescuing a point in the final minute in the league game before a 2-1 win in the play-off semi-final first leg.

Action from our last visit to Hampton in May 2017

• Hampton & Richmond Borough will be livestreaming the game via YouTube, and that’s available here.

This preview is produced in association with league sponsors LV Bet.


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