A familiar battle lies ahead as the two teams promoted from last season’s Vanarama National League South come face-to-face in the top division for the first time.
The Fleet will seek to push on from the long trip to Hartlepool United where they clinched a point in the final moments of the match to pick up their third draw of the season… though ‘clinch’ doesn’t quite cover the excellent display across the 90+ minutes by Dennis Kutrieb’s side who clearly enjoyed the spring in their step against last season’s relegated former League Two side.
Opponents Oxford City sit 22nd in the National League, one place below the Fleet, having picked up four wins and five draws this season. A mixed run of form recently has seen the Hoops pick up two wins and three defeats in their previous five matches, though they will come to Kent with a win over Woking behind them, a result that cost Woking boss Darren Sarll his job.
Last season’s fixture at the Kuflink will surely be a memorable one for Fleet fans with the 3-0 victory securing the National League South title and automatic promotion following a hat-trick from Dominic Poleon. In the reverse fixture in the early stages of last season, the points were shared following goals from Rakish Bingham and Oli Sanderson.
The Fleet have hosted Oxford City on six occasions, with five wins and a draw against the Hoops in Kent.
Though he won’t feature on Saturday, the Fleet’s Chris Haigh has been Oxford’s on-loan keeper since the beginning of the season. The recent arrival of Southampton and former Taunton loanee Jack Bycroft has seen him take his place in goal for the past two matches and he will be expected to line up between the posts this weekend.
City defender Andre Burley, meanwhile, is out in the Caribbean with Fleet’s Omari Sterling-James on international duty for Saints Kitts & Nevis while skipper Reece Fleet hasn’t featured since October 7th. He has entered his ninth season with the club following two separate spells with Oxford. Coming through the Birmingham City youth ranks, Fleet has surpassed the 200-match milestone and has scored 22 goals in his time at the club – including a winner against his namesake club in 2021/22.
Summer signing Pierre Fonkeu arrived at Marsh Lane following a season at Dartford where he scored 10 goals in 43 appearances. The 26-year-old has scored three times this season in six appearances and has also played for the likes of Weymouth and Hemel Hempstead. But it is Josh Parker who poses the greatest threat with nine league goals already – the former Red Star Belgrade, Gillingham and Charlton striker signed for the Hoops in 2022, his first season outside the EFL. That said, City could be without his services should he be on international duty for Antigua & Barbuda.
Ross Jenkins will be the man in the dugout this Saturday as he entered his second season with the club following his appointment in 2022. The former Watford midfielder was forced to retire at the age of 28 due to injuries but has since taken the reins at Oxford City and has enjoyed his time so far, taking the side to the pinnacle of non-league for the first time in their history.
Tickets can be bought online here up until kick-off (the match is segregated so please select HOME or AWAY options as necessary) and also on the day at our ticket windows. Car-parking is available for the special matchday price of £3 at Ebbsfleet International Car Park C. Programmes can be pre-ordered online with your ticket, or from our shop here. In the ground, you can purchase in the club shop, just past the main home turnstiles, at the Plough End social club and for away fans in the Old Sponsors Lounge/portakabin bar.
Supporters are reminded that alcohol will not be permitted to be consumed within view of the pitch and that matches will be segregated as required at the Swanscombe End (or the far end of it). Please cooperate with the instructions of our security team and stewards.
Turnstiles open at 1pm.