clifford-concord

Preview: Havant & Waterlooville

New month, same goals as the first game of February reunites the two sides who played out the first game of November. Back then the points difference was only three points; and potentially, had recent results gone more in Havant’s favour, this Saturday’s match might have been the same.

As it is, the loss of five of the Hawks’ last six available points – plus two defeats around Christmas – has left the visitors a lot further back, to the tune of 10 points but with a game in hand. Coupled with Fleet’s recent form, boasting five wins from five, that’s put Paul Doswell’s side in a position where, as player-coach Jamie Collins said in midweek, they have to win.

And Fleet boss Dennis Kutrieb echoed similar sentiments, saying that given the teams’ current respective positions, “We want to win, they have to win.”

The Fleet will need little motivation in a fixture that has become one of the National League South’s keenest duels since the PPG relegation of 2020/21 and the subsequent tussle for promotion between the clubs.

The big question, of course, is whether Billy Clifford will get the nod for his second start since departing Havant last month but there are plenty of other noteworthy selection possibilities. Darren McQueen has been preferred over Omari Sterling-James across the past two games and, although he sat out last Saturday’s 90 minutes, Josh Wright has demonstrated he is more than ready to resume midfield duties after starring roles against Chelmsford City and Dulwich Hamlet. Similarly, Haydn Hollis and Alex Finney have exchanged defensive duties and Shaq Coulthirst has forced his way into the reckoning up front with two all-action displays.

Rakish Bingham and Dominic Poleon have meanwhile scored 33 goals between them this season and have totalled half that number in assists, with Bingham’s late, well-celebrated goal the difference when last the Fleet and Havant met.

Fleet top scorer Dominic Poleon grapples with Fleet new signing Billy Clifford the last time the teams met

While the form book points heavily in the Fleet’s favour, one only has to recall how the home side began last month to see how swiftly form can change. And the visitors will need little reminding of how they ended a terrible run of form last season – by beating the Fleet 4-2 some 12 months ago.

Add to that the fact that Havant have tended to make a quick start at the Kuflink Stadium in recent times – they won 3-0 here in December 2020 and raced into a two-goal lead in a 2-1 victory last season. Indeed you have to go back more than six years to find the last time Fleet put Havant to the sword on home soil, in a remarkable 7-0 win in the FA Cup.

Havant will need to plug those positives into their mindset this weekend after suffering their first away defeat this season at Taunton in midweek. With two red cards sustained, morale will have been low but the two sendings-off (Joash Nembhard and Danny Wright) won’t come into effect for the Hawks until next week. And they can also welcome full-back Josh Passley into the squad after his suspension finished.

While Clifford’s exit has reduced the numbers available to Doswell, along with the departures of goalkeeper Charlie Searle, full-back Benny Read and, on loan, Tommy Wright and Gianni Crichlow, the Hawks have had success in the transfer market as well. Hampton skipper Tyrell Miller-Rodney is likely to replace Clifford in midfield and winger Sam Matthews has stepped down a level after playing for Wealdstone and Eastleigh. An earlier move for Chelmsford midfielder Charlie Ruff is another exciting incoming piece of recruitment, while there’s plenty of firepower up front in the form of top scorer Mo Faal, ex-Dorking striker Jason Prior and former Oxford City wide player James Roberts.

Havant’s away record might have disappeared at Taunton in midweek, but arguably that could be something of a monkey off their backs going into this away game. And it’s still a formidable record which, had it been coupled with more consistent displays at home, might have helped the Hawks to the summit themselves. As it is, a win will be a necessity if Havant are to have pretensions of climbing back there – a defeat would be almost unthinkable for the travelling fans, leaving them as it would 13 points off the pace.

This will be Havant’s ninth visit to Stonebridge Road since their merger with Waterlooville – Fleet were undefeated for the first five but have failed to win in the last three. And while still Havant Town, back in 1994, the club’s faced each other in a promotion battle that Fleet won 3-1 to move towards the title and eliminate the Hawks from the picture. A similar result wouldn’t quite achieve the same thing this time around, but everyone will know the importance of a win. But then, that goes for both sides…

Havant’s last visit to the Kuflink Stadium in 2021 ended in a 2-1 win for the visitors

MATCHDAY SMALL PRINT ——–>

ONLINE SALES
Our online ticketing sales platform at fleetlive.club has tickets available until 12.00pm on matchday. We would, however, strongly advise pre-purchase for both your and our convenience in gaining admission to the ground.

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.

This game is not segregated.

MAIN STAND BAR
All supporters are welcome in our Main Stand and Social Club bars. 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. Post-match music entertainment is free after the final whistle.

CATERING OUTLETS
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 popup to be found in the marquee between the main turnstiles entrance and the Main Stand.

CAR PARKING
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.

MATCHDAY PROGRAMMES
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.

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