The first v second billing of the reverse fixture back in January perhaps lent a weight of expectation to a game that, as an even contest, lost its way when Fleet were reduced to 10 men so early on.
Back then the Fleet were four points behind Dorking Wanderers but with two games in hand – the situation now is an eight-point gap and one game in hand but given how much has changed in the title race since then, there’s every chance of further twists and turns with nine games to play.
No longer a first v second contest, Saturday’s game is nonetheless a tasty Non-League Day prospect pitting fourth v second for Dorking’s first ever competitive visit to the Kuflink Stadium. Fleet will eye the opportunity for three points added to their game in hand as a chance to reel in the previously machine-like progress of Dorking.
Dennis Kutrieb welcomed Greg Cundle back to action last week and has drafted in QPR defender Franklin Domi having observed the 21-year-old’s qualities in a number of friendlies this season and he’s looking forward to welcoming Dorking.
“We really suffered when we played there,” he said. “The red card, two yellows, it was never ever for me so we needed to play with 10 men for 75 minutes against such a strong side. So I’m really looking forward to it. I like Marc [White], I like his team, I like what they do there. I’m pretty sure it will be a great game of football and a big battle and hopefully three points at home. We have confidence, we’re up for it and are definitely prepared for it.”
Rakish Bingham, who missed nine games after injury at Dorking in January, could play his first full 90 against them this weekend having featured for 45 minutes and 83 against Braintree and St Albans respectively.
And certainly one selection headache will be whether to maintain 15-goal Dominic Poleon’s recent prolific run from off the bench or name him in the starting eleven. Both options look equally appetising!
Dorking come to the Kuflink Stadium on the back of a run of tricky results that has seen just one win from the last four, quite a shock to the system after the remorseless 10 successive wins either side of Christmas that took them to the summit. After beating Maidstone 1-0 at home last month, it seemed there was little to prevent Marc White’s side from steamrolling their way into the National League.
However, the injury problems that plagued White before Christmas have come back to bite recently with influential Matt Briggs (who scored a hat trick against the Fleet) out for eight months to add to the long-term injury sustained by goalscorer Jason Prior. Furthermore, White lost goalkeeper Dan Lincoln to suspension last week, Nicky Wheeler was another on the injury list and they had a number of players including skipper Barry Fuller hit by a virus that saw recalls for ex-Fleet pair Luke Moore and Kane Wills.
White has channelled an ‘underdog spirit’ to overcome the adversity but it hasn’t been enough to see Dorking surrender top spot to Maidstone United last weekend. Wanderers needed a Wes Fogden goal to rescue a point at home to Hampton, having lost a two-goal lead days earlier as Eastbourne won 3-2 in Sussex.
There is some good news for the visitors with Prior fit enough to take his place in the squad for the trip to the Fleet, though even without him Dorking have been able to count on goals from former Havant striker Alfie Rutherford who is enjoying his most prolific season with 21 goals so far. James McShane has 10, while former Sutton attacker Josh Taylor and new loan signing from Crawley, Davide Rodari, are further attacking options.
Dorking are the only side to have outscored the Fleet in the league this season but they have also conceded more goals – certainly if value for money on Non-League Day is important, neutrals in the North Kent area and farther afield should be flocking to the Kuflink Stadium for their entertainment this weekend!
MATCHDAY SMALL PRINT ——–>
Our online ticketing sales platform at fleetlive.club has tickets available at reduced price until 12.00pm on matchday. We would advise pre-purchase for both your and our convenience in gaining admission to the ground.
On-the-day ticket sales continue to be available from the windows by main reception (and you can buy at a reduced rate until midday), 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.
Tickets may also be purchased before the game from local pubs The Edinburgh Castle and The Rose.
MAIN STAND BAR
There is no segregation for this game – so all supporters are welcome in our Main Stand Bar and Social Club bar. To access the Main Stand bar, enter through the turnstiles and walk the length of the gangway in the Main Stand to the door at the Swanscombe (uncovered) End. There is signage pointing you in the direction. Dennis Kutrieb does a pre-match teamsheet run-through and he and other players attend the bar post-match as well for the man of the match presentation.
Check out the new food stalls (to the left of the main turnstiles entrance, there is our Würtsel Haus German sausage experience and straight ahead as you enter the ground is the Manhattan Grill for all your burger, hot dog and more needs!). Pop-up bars are also situated near to the turnstiles and by ‘Geeks Corner’ between the Plough End and old stand. Our new guest lager from Iron Pier Brewery features in another popup bar next to the German food stall. Plus we have new locally sourced sausage products in stock in our kiosks!
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 and again, we would recommend an early arrival. 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.
Please be aware there are traffic control/temporary lights operating at the top of the hill outside The Edinburgh Castle.
If you wish to purchase your programme in advance for collection from our club shop before you enter the ground, you can do so either via our online shop or when booking your matchday tickets online.
Programmes are also on sale at the ground from the club shop, the popup bar as you enter the turnstiles, the Main Stand tea kiosk or in the Social Club behind the Plough End, costing £3. Advance-order programmes will be available to pick up from the club shop before the game and before you enter the turnstiles.