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Preview: Hemel Hempstead Town

We reach H-Block in the fixture calendar as Fleet face Hemel, Havant, Halifax and Hampton across the next four matches as a busy November period approaches.

But first, it’s up to Dennis Kutrieb and his squad to finish the job for October as the month’s final game rolls around at Vauxhall Road against our hosts, the mid-table Tudors of Hemel Hempstead.

It’s the first away visit since Hanwell on the first of the month, and to a ground which has previously produced a pair of wins and a pair of draws for the Fleet.

Kutrieb made three changes to his side for the midweek victory over St Albans and will be looking to utilise his squad with a succession of big games approaching. It would be all too easy to look beyond Hemel to the crunch league game at Havant and beyond that again to the Emirates FA Cup tie, but Fleet’s players will know the focus must first be on an improving Tudors side.

Kieran Monlouis came through his first hour of football since the FA Cup win against Dover on Tuesday night and with Alex Finney returning to the bench, there are bodies returning – although Josh Wright and Joe Martin continued to watch from the sidelines.

And whisper it quietly, but with Dominic Poleon having now netted his own shirt number in goals – 14 in 15 appearances this season – he’s even outscoring a certain Steve Portway at the same stage of the season that the Fleet’s greatest ever marksman scored 61!

Fleet won 3-1 at Hemel in January

Hemel have won three of their last five games as they look to get some form going and establish an interest in the play-offs. For a club that looked doomed at the beginning of last season, former Oxford City manager Mark Jones came on board to help steady the ship and their summer recruitment promised better days ahead.

Former Dartford trio Craig King, Jernade Meade and Kory Roberts were solid signings and have been joined in the middle by former Havant and Wealdstone man Godfrey Poku and Chelmsford City’s Dara Dada.

A poor start, however, has meant Hemel have had to play catch-up and after a first-day win, the Tudors went the next six games without victory, a run that included four successive defeats. A 4-0 defeat at Crabble to Dover was the lowest point but since then, Jones’s men have beaten Dulwich, Tonbridge, Slough and Chippenham.

Home fans will be eager for more, though, having only seen their side at Vauxhall Road once in October, and that was a shaky defeat to Cheshunt. Goals haven’t been too easy to come by, with 14 in total scored in league competition and more than half of those come from the front pairing of another ex-Dartford face, Jordan Greenidge, alongside Ogo Obi.

Roberts at the back will be the man to get past as far as the Fleet are concerned. The former Bromley central defender put in a man-of-the-match performance for Dartford at Princes Park last February when Steve King’s side shut out the Fleet in the North Kent derby.

Last season’s corresponding fixture at Hemel in January saw Fleet race into a 3-0 lead and hold off a minor late rally from the Tudors to take home a 3-1 result and top the table.

Tickets for the match can be bought in advance from Hemel’s website, otherwise supporters may pay on the day.

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