Fleet have had two weeks to forget about the last-minute disappointment of losing their unbeaten run at Sutton United but Garry Hill insists positivity wins points – and it’s points he’s after. And he’s taking the positives from the reverse at Gander Green Lane.
“It’s cost us a point whatever way you look at it,” he said. “It hasn’t cost us three points because it was deep into injury time. It would have put us a point nearer our total of what we’ve got to get to. Which in my head is around the 75-point mark to have a good chance. That’s the area you need to be in, for any club that wants to be in there, there or thereabouts. And our aim now is to go on another good run straight away. We’re only three points outside the play-offs.
“I can’t knock the attitude and commitment, we’ve been on an amazing run with 24 points out of 36 and we’re still in the hunt. We’ve exceeded ourselves with that kind of run, that consistency and the level of our performances, to get to where we’ve got to. Now we brush ourselves down.
“Of course it was a disappointed changing room, no doubt, after the Sutton game. It’s always harder to take when it’s so late in the game. It was so deep into injury time as well, you don’t get any time to do anything in response. With our willingness and workrate, it felt strange going home. I’d have been happy in one way that we kept a clean sheet, but I still think I’d have gone into the changing room at the end of that game and said, lads, it’s a clean sheet, it’s another point against a team in the play-off position, well done, but I’d still be disappointed because I’d have expected to have won the game. But all of a sudden, you’ve got nothing out of it.
“But look, these things happen. Dwelling on it… that’s not me. I get on with it and I think that’s the best way – I never look at a negative. I try to look at things and always take a positive picture from them and I think that’s what I’ve tried to do in every way here. Be positive, be upbeat, try and get that across to the players and supporters and everyone at the club. And I think it’s paid dividends.”
Following the postponement of the Hartlepool game last week, football has been few and far between for the Fleet – and the manager hasn’t seen his side in action since a number of first-teamers played at Tonbridge in the Kent Senior Cup.
“I got a lot out of that game,” said Hill who watched from the stands with Ian Hendon. “It’s useful to see the players who haven’t had the starts and to get minutes in them. You look at the promising young players from Danny Kedwell’s team from the academy. It’s the Kent Senior Cup… you always want to win every game, but it was nice to see a mixture of players who gave a good account of themselves. And to lend our support to Danny and his assistant, too, and that’s what Ian Hendon and myself were there for. We let Danny take the team for the night and it was nice to take a back seat and watch the game from a different perspective.”
Hill and Hendon will be firmly back in the hotseat for the visit of Solihull Moors and the boss knows this will be a physical encounter against some pacy, powerful and confident players. The Fleet might be the fresher of the two sides, with Solihull having travelled to Hemel Hempstead in midweek, and it’s been another bonus week of recuperation for the squad after the busy Christmas period. There was good news for injured skipper Dave Winfield, too, as his brace has come off following a visit to a specialist during last week.
Solihull visit the Kuflink Stadium for only the second time after ripping into Hemel to the tune of 5-0 in Tuesday night’s FA Trophy tie, which puts Tim Flowers’ men into the last eight for the first time in their history. There were two goals apiece for frontmen Jermaine Hylton and Adi Yussuf, while ex-Cheltenham striker Danny Wright is another prolific and potent threat. Flowers has worked with a fairly small squad this season, with two players out on loan and academy youngsters swelling the numbers. He has utilised largely the same pool of players all season from a squad that was rebuilt by previous manager Mark Yates last season and refined by Flowers since.
The former Blackburn and England goalkeeper, who won the Premier League in 1994/95, has added to his numbers in recent weeks with the capture of 6ft 5in striker Nathan Blissett whose previous visit to the Fleet was an eventful one as he was on the scoresheet and then sent off here in front of the TV cameras for Macclesfield Town last season. At the back, Flowers has seen last season’s FA Trophy winner with Brackley, Alex Gudger, slot into a powerful pairing with Liam Daly while influential skipper Kyle Storer and Jamey Osborne pull the strings in midfield.
With Leyton Orient and Salford City having dipped in form since Christmas, Solihull have quietly kept amassing the points behind them and now sit only three points off the automatic promotion slot. They have totted up the most wins on the road of any club in the division and while many observers await the ‘inevitable’ collapse of an unfancied side, Moors will look at Macclesfield’s example last season and believe they can swap the play-offs for the more painless route of promotion.
If Fleet have their own designs on the play-offs, they will have to stop them…
The match is not segregated. Car-parking is available at Ebbsfleet International Station Car Park C for £3. We emphasise that this is the best option for parking near the stadium. Local businesses reserve the right to clamp cars parked on or blocking private property. Drivers should not block areas around Watling Tyres, In-Car Wash (Grove Road), the Ebbsfleet Business Park and the Lower Road Industrial Estate. Furthermore, drivers are warned that parking on the Thames Way clearway near the roundabout runs the risk of being ticketed.
Printed programmes for the Leyton Orient match are available from the club shop for free to any supporters who missed out on the day.