Dave Winfield received yesterday’s man of the match award after shutting out Hampton & Richmond Borough and praised the confidence in the changing room for seeing Fleet through. The stand-in skipper, who arrived at Stonebridge Road last summer, had no experience of last season’s promotion final defeat and he believes it’s not an issue for the current crop of players.
“Obviously I didn’t experience that not being at the club at that time,” Winfield told BBC Radio Kent’s Matt Cole. “All I can say is that the group of players here this year have been second to none, the work rate and desire to win has really pulled us through this second half of the season. I’m going into this game full of confidence, as should the boys. It’s all about hard work, understanding with the players that are out there and the will to win. It’s that never say die attitude that I want to see from the boys and they produced it again today.”
Fleet had to weather a Hampton fightback in the second half, but the fact the semi-final games were hard-fought came as little surprise to the Fleet defender. “It was another tough game, they’ve all been tough, I can’t remember one game that we’ve absolutely sailed through. It feels great – we’ve worked hard the whole campaign. There were periods in the game they had some good play, some good bits of possession, you’ve got to ride those times out. When we did regain possession, we moved it well and penetrated.”
While Winfield shut out the Beavers, his defensive partner Kenny Clark was again among the goals, illustrating Fleet’s ability to score from every position. “Whoever has stepped in at centre half has come up with a few goals,” Winfield said. “Between us we’ve almost got 20 goals, and that’s credit to the players that play at that particular time.”
Looking ahead to the final, it’s a marked contrast for Winfield who experienced relegation from the Football League with York City last season. But he has plenty of positive experiences in promotion with Aldershot and Wycombe and he’s naturally hoping to add to those honours with the Fleet.
“We’ll have to be on it again and I believe that we will be,” he said. “We play it here and that’s where we play our football so it’s an exciting thing to come to play again and we’ll prepare well throughout the week.
“You work hard to get to the final, your opponents work hard as well, everyone deserves it if they’ve gone through on merit and you play your opponents as they come. Yes, a few fans might have liked to have seen that local derby but it’s a final to look forward to.”
Listen to the full interview below.