Six changes on the Fleet teamsheet yesterday raised a couple of eyebrows pre-kickoff but Kevin Watson had a few of those forced upon him late in the week.
Jordan Holmes’ absence to international duty was, of course, known well in advance but both Andre Blackman and Alex Reid were casualties at the 11th hour.
“Andre Blackman went down yesterday but we thought he was going to be absolutely fine. He wasn’t,” Watson told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “So that unsettled us a little bit, Lawrie came in and played right-wing back and Westy moved over to the left.
“Reidy took a little bit of a knock in training so he didn’t train properly on Thursday. Again, he wasn’t completely 100% fit so that’s why he didn’t play. Andre will be fit next week and he just started to get going so he’ll be back in. Cody McDonald and John Goddard are still quite a way off. We’ve got five loans till January and this is the issue; it means if you go and get another one, one’s going to be sitting in the stand and what’s the point of that? You’ve got them on loan for a reason because they’re going to play.”
There were changes also in defence and midfield and as open as the manager has been about his changes, others remain between himself and the players concerned.
“I left Tyler out today for Jamie Grimes, I’ll speak to Tyler about that,” said Watson. “I left Alfie Egan out completely and I’ll speak to him about that. So it gives you food for thought. Ayo [Obileye] came on and played centre-half and used the ball very well, defended very well, Tomi [Adeloye] too, they’ve waited for their chance.
“I’ve said to people if you play well, you stay in. Jordan is away next week still, he’s away for two games in total. Again, we’ve not got beat, you have to be fair to players with the shirt and that’s how I always want to work.”
Weston and the Fleet came alive in the second-half with a switch of flanks for the double-goalscorer, who had to start the game on the left but proved devastating from the right.
“It was needs-must at the start of the game and that’s why Westy played on the left-hand side,” the Fleet boss explained. “Gozie had run himself into the ground, Tomi has waited for a chance. I thought he was brilliant when he came on and worked his socks off, caused problems. So I moved Westy over to the right and gave Gozie a rest because he’d run himself into the ground and brought Reidy on to the left. I know he doesn’t like it on the left – I just said to him, he’ll be wanting to go back to Stevenage again because I played him on the left!
“I’m still learning as I go, about players, about formations. We had to change today, it’s not something I want to do on a regular basis but we needed to (a) because we were down to 10 men and (b) because they were playing 3-5-2 much better than we were so something had to change.
“Josh got sent off which forced me to change the formation but I am so pleased with what I saw in that second-half and this is what it means to these boys. We’re down there in a scrap but they are fighting and I think it’s one defeat in seven in the league possibly. Every point you gain down the bottom is a point towards getting out of trouble.”