A further unintended week’s break following Fleet’s excellent home win over Tonbridge Angels has kept fans waiting with bated breath for some football action already this season – but the anticipation for a Bank Holiday weekend of two matches should help alleviate that frustration.
First up, it’s a visit from the Tudors as Hemel Hempstead Town bridge a four-year interval in search of a first win over the Fleet.
The clubs have played each other six times, with Hemel proving more than capable down those years of being a fly in the ointment, drawing four of those. The two wins the Fleet do have against them – both in the 2015/16 season – were hugely memorable. At Vauxhall Road, Matt Godden and Danny Kedwell scored in the dying minutes to transform a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory, while at Stonebridge Road Hemel were hit for six without reply.
If Dennis Kutrieb was looking to go one better than Tonbridge, that’s a score he’d be only too pleased to emulate but Hemel come to the Kuflink Stadium determined to kick-start their season after defeats to Maidstone and Braintree Town.
At Maidstone, the Tudors led twice in an eventual 4-2 defeat but the two goals scored were proof of their capabilities.
Manager Lee Bircham, who recruited mainly from the lower divisions last summer as Hemel finished 10th before the season was abandoned, has been able to cast his net wider this time around. There’s a rich seam of experience running through the Hemel side with ex-Premier League and EFL players amongst the visitors. Midfielder Samir Carruthers played three games in the top division for Aston Villa and also turned out for Sheffield United and MK Dons.
One of Hemel’s newer signings is Republic of Ireland international Stephen Gleeson who was at Solihull Moors last season but has recently been in the SPL with Aberdeen and played more than 300 games for Birmingham City, MK Dons and Ipswich Town.
James Dobson, at the Fleet last season of course, will be the most familiar face having confirmed a second spell with Hemel after departing Dagenham & Redbridge in the summer.
Defender Cole Kpekawa, signed from Chelmsford City, has Championship and League Two experience while midfielder Sam Mantom is another experienced EFL campaigner.
Mantom, however, is one of several injuries in the visitors’ camp, with on-loan striker Zach Robinson from AFC Wimbledon limping off last weekend. Bircham has been forced into further recruitment as a result and his side announced no fewer than four new arrivals before the Braintree match last Saturday.
James Kaloczi returns to the club from St Albans and will slot into a defence that has conceded seven goals in two games. Bearing in mind he was part of one of the meanest back fours in the division last season, that acquisition is a good one for the visitors.
The Fleet haven’t quite had two weeks without a game, having played a friendly at Bromley last Friday, but will be raring to go nonetheless after the disappointment of postponement at Chippenham.
The squad and manager enjoyed the plaudits following victory over Tonbridge in the immediate aftermath but it was soon down to work again, with Dennis Kutrieb now consigning that result to the past as the season stretches out before the Fleet.
“We will improve further during the season,” said the Fleet boss, “when the boys have more 90 minutes under their belts they can deliver more than they did. You can celebrate a win for one or two days and then you need to prepare for the next one because it’s nothing that you win a great game when you don’t get the next win.”
Dominic Poleon’s swift hat-trick showed Fleet at their most ruthless and the understanding the current top scorer is gaining with Rakish Bingham and Elliott Romain promises much for the games ahead. It’s certainly something to whet the appetites of football-starved home fans so make sure you join the throng and order your tickets for the match online now (see below).
MATCHDAY SMALL PRINT —————————->
SEASON TICKETS AND ONLINE SALES
If you have ordered season tickets, they may be picked up before the match or, to alleviate any waiting time, we would advise you to get to the ground on weekdays if you can to pick up your tickets ahead of the game.
Likewise, our online ticketing sales platform at fleetlive.club currently has tickets available for both the Hemel Hempstead and Havant matches. Again, we would advise pre-purchase for both your and our convenience in gaining admission to the ground. Online ticket sales cease at noon on Saturday matchdays.
On-the-day ticket sales will, however, continue to be available from the windows by main reception from 1pm, accepting card and cash payments. Turnstiles open at 1pm but please remember they will only be accepting online tickets (printed out or on your device) and tickets bought at the windows on matchday. The dedicated season-ticket gate will continue to accept your season-ticket cards as usual.
Car-parking as per usual on matchdays is available at Ebbsfleet International Car Park C for £3. Please have the correct change if possible to aid our parking staff. Please note that the areas near to Northfleet Station, namely Railway Street and Hamerton Road, have recently become resident/permit-only parking and non-valid vehicles will be ticketed. The area on Thamesway before the roundabout as you approach the Kuflink Stadium is a designated clearway –though that is not particularly apparent as you approach – so you are advised not to park here because of the risk of being ticketed.
You can purchase a full season subscription to all remaining league and cup programmes for £57 by clicking here. If you wish to purchase multiple copies or for individual games, you can do so either via our online shop or when booking your matchday tickets online.
Programme sales online will cease at 10am on Saturday morning and thereafter the remainder will be sold at the ground.
Advance programmes will be available to pick up from reception before the game.