Whatever happens in the Kent Senior Cup this season, the name on the trophy won’t have been engraved on it for at least nine years.
Of the remaining clubs contesting the cup, the Fleet are the most recent winners – in 2013/14. Welling – who stand in Fleet’s way of a semi-final appearance – enjoyed their last triumph in 2009 while the other contestants (Ramsgate, Tonbridge, Margate and Chatham Town) go back even further. Ramsgate last won it in 1964, Tonbridge in 1975, Margate in 2005 and Chatham all the way back in 1919!
As the two most recent winners of those clubs remaining, the Fleet and Welling meet in the county cup this Tuesday night for the first time since 2012. The winners of the tie will travel to Chatham Town in the semi-final.
This will be the 10th meeting of the clubs in the competition, with three wins for the Fleet plus four draws to date.
In the last round, both the Fleet and Dartford put out surprisingly strong sides with Academy representation included. Dennis Kutrieb handed starts to Hayden Bullas and Max Shoolbred, while Maxx Manktelow and Luke Reid also saw action. Bullas was recently named in Kent Online’s team of the week after he scored for Erith Town while on dual-registration loan with them.
And with plenty of fully fit first-teamers in need of minutes, the Fleet boss may opt for a similar policy as the Kuflink Stadium hosts its final Tuesday night fixture of the season.
As ever in the Kent Senior Cup, supporters will weigh up the priorities of the league season against progress in a local cup. With Dulwich Hamlet coming up on Saturday as the next barrier in Fleet’s ambitions for the title, there might not be too many risks of first-team regulars.
Welling, of course, might say the same thing. They have been plunged into an unlikely battle in the bottom half of the table after losing at home to Concord Rangers on Saturday – they are still some six points clear but any further deterioration in form could see them slip into the danger zone – and they are now out of the play-off picture altogether.
Unlike the Fleet, Welling have two county-cup fronts they are fighting on with a London Senior Cup second-round game against Charlton Athletic to come in early April and they also have two more league games than the Fleet to fit in, so much will depend on their priorities as to what kind of side they field at the Kuflink Stadium.
Welling’s last appearance here in the league was a 1-1 draw in October that saw the Wings reduced to nine men and Fleet miss a last-minute penalty. Warren Feeney’s squad has been a changeable one since then and the Wings have a number of new signings in place of several departures – they include Christie Pattison from Maidstone United, Kodi Lyons-Foster on loan from Aldershot Town and George Alexander in on a temporary stay from Bromley.
Welling saw off Sittingbourne on penalties in the last round of the competition way back in November fielding a number of Academy youngsters, but if they view Kent Senior Cup progress as a way of salvaging something from this season, the lineup could well be stronger this Tuesday night.
“There’ll be a chance for some of the boys to get minutes under their belt,” Feeney said after the defeat to Concord, which came off the back of two goalless draws. “Because the position we’re in we need to have a look and move on from [the league results] and Tuesday will give them a chance.”
Goals have been Welling’s problem of late with just one scored in their last six fixtures and although Alexander’s recruitment initially seemed to alleviate the lack of goals from Ade Azeez and Stefan Payne, his too have dried up somewhat.
• Tickets for the match cost £8 adults, £5 concessions and youths and £1 for U12s accompanied by a paying adult. They are online until 5pm here and can also be bought at the ticket windows up to kick-off. The Old Stand will be closed but Ebbsfleet International Car Park C will be open for parking at £3.