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Preview: Welling United

The final Kent derby of the season gets under way tomorrow with the Fleet looking to equal Newport County’s 103-points record at National/Conference South level.

To do so, however, Dennis Kutrieb’s men will need to prevent Welling becoming only the fourth side this season alongside Dartford, Tonbridge Angels and Hemel Hempstead Town to stop the Fleet winning a game against them in 2022/23.

Kent derbies have produced mixed results with two wins, two draws and three defeats to our various neighbours in league competition but the Fleet will want to go out with a bang on the road as the short hop to Welling marks the champions’ final away game.

The visitors will, of course, be minus the goalscoring talents of their top scorer, with Dominic Poleon’s first suspension in effect, and that offers a chance for either Shaq Coulthirst, Elliott Romain or both to stake their claim for the final two games.

Franklin Domi came off at the end of the Cheshunt game with a concussion that has since been rectified while longer-term injury concerns Rakish Bingham, Kieran Monlouis and Craig Tanner remain sidelined.

There are other records in Fleet sights, too, and a 32nd victory of the season would break the existing record of wins held by the 2001/02 Ryman League title side. Kutrieb’s men have already broken the club’s points record and need seven more goals to shatter the 1957/58 best-ever scoring total.

The last two Fleet games at Park View Road have seen 13 goals scored between the sides

In their way will be a Welling side who surrendered their place in the Kent Senior Cup in midweek to Chatham Town. Having beaten the Fleet in the quarter-finals, the Wings were seeking a berth in the final but Chatham put paid to those ambitions only two weeks after Charlton sent Welling out of the London Senior Cup.

Warren Feeney’s side, having had a point deducted, are not completely safe from relegation as they could still be caught by Concord Rangers and Cheshunt, but to all intents and purposes they should – barring a freak set of results – be plying their trade in this division again next season.

Welling took great heart from their point at the Kuflink Stadium earlier in the season when they had Stefan Payne and James Dunne sent off – and then saved Bingham’s last-minute penalty. But their season never quite took off from there and the Wings have won just seven games in the six months since.

They have won just two of their last 14 games in the league and must be thankful for those two victories which have given the club some much-needed daylight above the relegation zone. But Dennis Kutrieb knows that while the return in terms of points may not have fulfilled Welling’s original ambitions for the season, on their day they will be fully capable of presenting a problem.

The Wings came back from 2-1 down in the Kent Senior Cup recently to beat the Fleet 3-2, with players including new signing Sadik Balarabe catching the eye in that one. He’s doubtful for this one, along with defender Taylor Curran. However, Welling do welcome back Amadou Kassarate following a five-match suspension and Taylor Maloney comes back into contention.

The home side, who have turned over a fair few players this season, lost on-loan Bromley striker George Alexander to Slough Town before the registration deadline but still have plenty of firepower with ex-Dartford man Ade Azeez on 14 goals and former Fleet loanee Payne with seven. The returning Maloney has also chipped in from midfield with 10.

Welling’s best wins this season have come against the higher-placed teams and while it will seem like a long time ago now, those wins have included a thrashing of Oxford City to the tune of 5-0 on home soil in September.

• Online tickets are available for the game by clicking here.

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