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Preview: Oxford City

It’s back-to-back four-hour round trips for the Fleet as the visit to Hungerford is closely followed this midweek by our second Tuesday-night trip to Oxford in as many seasons.

Last season’s fellow play-off contenders – whose interest in them was also ended by Dorking Wanderers – are finding the going a little more mixed thus far in 2022/23 as they sit in mid-table with four wins, a draw and four defeats but they have always provided stiff competition for the Fleet, particularly on their own patch at Marsh Lane (or the RAW Charging Stadium as it is currently known).

Stiff competition was exactly what Fleet had to overcome at Hungerford on Saturday and although the defence wasn’t unduly tested until the latter stages of that one, the three points achieved was as vital and well-earned as any this season.

While Dennis Kutrieb had no fresh injury concerns after that 90 minutes, he will undoubtedly look to freshen things up for the second set of strenuous effort in four days. Craig Tanner and Josh Wright both sat out the Hungerford game while Omari Sterling-James and Shaq Coulthirst saw action from the bench.

“Playing Tuesday we will need to make sure everyone is ready with some fresh bodies perhaps,” said the Fleet boss. “Greg Cundle we took off after 60 minutes, Omari got half an hour so we will want to use them or some of the others who have been rested again.

“This will 100% be a different game to Hungerford, with a different surface on the 3G pitch. Oxford haven’t had the results they wanted to have recently. They could easily have had more points, they’ve been unlucky at the end of games so I’m not getting carried away by looking at how many points they have or haven’t got on the board. We know they’re really strong and deserved to be in the play-offs last season so we know what we have to do.”

Rakish Bingham and Harry Kyprianou (now Weymouth) in last season’s corresponding fixture

Oxford may not be in a rich vein of form at the moment, having gone four league games without a win, but the fact they raced into a three-goal lead at home to Bath City on Saturday should ring some alarm bells, as should the fact they’d been on a run of four consecutive wins and clean sheets through August. Indeed they were denied a win over Bath only by a rather unfortunate handball decision against them which was clearly outside the box.

The Hoops have scored in all four of their home matches thus far and – until Dominic Poleon’s recent scoring streak – possessed the division’s high scorer Klaidi Lolos, a summer signing from Torquay United.

The former Greek U19 international has scored six goals in nine games while another more recent arrival, Antigua & Barbuda international Josh Parker has experience with Gillingham, Charlton and Wycombe and he scored twice at the weekend.

As ever, Fleet will have to keep an eye on our namesake in midfield, Reece Fleet, whose stunning solo effort last season won the game for Oxford despite the visitors laying siege to the home goal thereafter.

It is in defence where the Hoops lost much of their core squad from last season, with Dan Matsuzaka and Harry Kyprianou going to Weymouth, plus the highly-rated Zico Asare to Maidenhead. Former Fleet centre-back Charlie Rowan is still there this season, though he has sit out recent games through suspension.

Tickets for Tuesday night’s match are discounted if bought online which can be done so by clicking HERE.

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