Fleet’s Mr Versatile Ben Chapman believes his side will go from strength to strength as the season progresses and that confidence amongst his teammates will grow in tandem.
Speaking after the Fleet’s defeat by Havant & Waterlooville, the former Gillingham and Dulwich midfielder pointed to the chances created and domination of games by his team as the signs to note for the season ahead rather than fixating on a first defeat.
“The gaffer’s got 100 per cent confidence in everyone, to say, right, this is what I want to do – you boys go and express yourselves,” said Chapman. “He believes in all of us and he’s got every right to. Everyone here is a top-quality player and you see it on the pitch with some of the stuff we do, the passes, the one-twos, the movements – no-one’s got that and the gaffer allows us to do that.
“Everyone wants to come and play this style of football and it’s the gaffer that allows you to do that. He wants you to play and not many managers allow you to play the kind of football we play and I’m happy for that.
“To play the football we do, the intricate passes, the overlaps and all that sort of stuff, it looks good and it feels good. You feel good on the pitch, your energy, the quality, the confidence you get. And obviously it gives the fans a bit more to watch. It’s more enjoyable rather than going out and getting neck-ache looking left to right. So it’s enjoyable for them and they can see the progress is coming. It’s the third or fourth game this season and we will build and build and we’ll get better and better.”
Chapman has been deployed in different positions in defence and midfield such is his immense versatility within the camp and he’s happy to do a job anywhere the Fleet need him to be.
“I’ve never been just in the midfield,” he said. “I’ve always been quite diverse, I’ve played everywhere, so the gaffer knows that you can put me wherever and I’ll put a shift in. I think we showed great character to come back from two down in 10 minutes, to score one goal just before half-time and we could have scored two just before half-time. And then to come out and look like scoring the whole time, it’s just one of them days, we were just unfortunate.”
Chapman was one of those players who had a number of chances on goal as Fleet sent 23 shots at Ross Worner’s goal and enjoyed a 70-30 possession stat. That the stat that mattered went Havant’s way was, however, just one of those things that on a different day would have gone the Fleet’s way, says Chapman.
“The first 10 minutes, we didn’t come out of the gates and unfortunately they scored two goals,” he said. “After that they didn’t really have a sniff. I think it was just one of those days. Raks had an opportunity, Dom too, 10 more minutes or longer and it’s a completely different game.
“If you’re not creating chances you don’t come away with a win, but with this we were creating chance after chance and they’re just missing a post or the keeper’s made a good save or the defender’s blocking. So it’s disheartening a bit that we could have come away with three points, or at least the point, but it was just unfortunate.
“From the back to the front, we were quality, passing and moving it and creating chances and we just couldn’t put them away. The boys know the wins will come and they’ll flood in month to month. That won’t knock our confidence at all and next one we go to get the win.”
The Fleet’s next home game, barring any appearance at the Kuflink Stadium in the Emirates FA Cup, is against county and divisional rivals Maidstone United who, with the Fleet and Dartford, are occupying some of the top spots in the table. Chapman believes that can only be good for the watching public.
“It’s not just special for us,” he said, “but especially with fans. The fans love that kind of football and it just builds up that atmosphere, that energy, the adrenaline gets going and it makes the game more enjoyable and the league better. These big derbies, the fans come out – they get a few fans, we get a lot of fans, so it would be a good game.”