Preview: on the Romans road

The last time Fleet played Bath City – December’s 3-0 at the Kuflink Stadium – the win achieved the back-to-back victory that Dennis Kutrieb’s side will seek to repeat at Twerton Park in their longest trip of the season this Saturday.

With a 2-0 win over Eastbourne Borough putting wind beneath Fleet’s wings this weekend, the talk after that three-pointer in the camp was about establishing a consistent run as March dawns and the season ticks down to its conclusion.

“If there’s 13 games left and you’re far away from the top of the table then you need to start a run,” said Kutrieb after the Eastbourne game. “That’s what we have to do and we need to make sure we don’t concede.”

Nursing a couple of casualties after recent injuries to Alfie Egan and Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, plus the ongoing absence of Rakish Bingham, the visitors travel to take on the Romans in otherwise healthy numbers. Sido Jombati, meanwhile, could face his former club on his old home ground for the first time since departing Twerton Park in 2011.

Fleet kept a clean sheet when Elliott Romain and Dominic Poleon broke Bath hearts either side of half-time in the December fixture – the latter replaced the former at half-time on Saturday due to Romain’s yellow card and Poleon’s bubbly performance and late goal will put him back in the frame for a starting place.

Whoever starts up front, Kutrieb has few worries about where the goals will come from, with his side second in the goalscoring charts and the manager having professed his confidence in his team’s ability to create and score.

Dominic Poleon scored one and Elliot Romain two last time out v Bath City

Although the Fleet would have to make up some goal difference, three points on Saturday could see them rise above Dartford or even Oxford City if the Hoops trip up at home to Tonbridge. But for now, the points themselves would suffice, allowing the Fleet to edge further ahead of the chasing pack outside the top seven.

The Fleet boss admitted away form was where his team needed to improve and if they can recapture the sort of on-the-road results that elicited six wins in seven away trips back in the autumn, then that consistent run into the end of the season will be firmly on the cards.

“Bath is a tough place to go, everyone says it,” the manager said ahead of his first visit to Twerton Park – certainly it’s a regular conversation point amongst Fleet fans who have always seen their side battling for the points in Somerset down the years.

Fleet have won eight times in 37 attempts in Bath – but recent history is much more in our favour, with just one defeat in the past six visits. Not that any of those stats will matter to this Fleet side, being as this is the first visit in five years.

With just one draw for Bath so far this campaign, it’s very much a case of win or lose and very little middle ground. Fleet might say the same with just two draws ourselves, but there’s a higher percentage of games in the win column as far as the visitors are concerned, whereas Bath have lost twice as many games as they’ve won in 2021/22 and have now slipped below Braintree Town to sit third from bottom in the table.

Nine points clear of Billericay, Bath should have few real fears of relegation but dropping into the bottom three for the first time this season will be a severe shock to the system – and the healthy home crowd will be demanding a performance from their team after just one win from the last nine games.

The Romans have recalled veteran defender Dan Ball from his loan period – a survivor of previous encounters against the Fleet – but there’s not been a lot of squad movement since their visit to the Kuflink Stadium other than striker Ben Seymour and teenage midfielder Ryan Jones in on loan from Exeter City and Bristol Rovers respectively. Seymour has yet to find the net in four games, but Bath’s existing front two of Cody Cooke and Alex Fletcher still carry a goal threat with 21 goals between them. Given that Bath have scored 31 all season, it’s clear that if Fleet can keep those two under wraps, that’s half the battle.

Tickets for the Bath match are available in advance online here – the home club recommend online purchase but supporters can also buy at the turnstiles on the day.


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