Thursday 02nd September 2004
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High-flying Gravesend expecting bumper gate

UNBEATEN Gravesend & Northfleet will be looking to win new friends and influence plenty more when they entertain Stevenage Borough on Saturday, writes Tony Hudd

With Premier League neighbours Charlton Athletic plus Gillingham without fixtures, the Fleet are hoping for an attendance well in excess of 2,000 to help celebrate their rise to an historical third place in the Nationwide Conference.

In the absence of competition from Charlton Athletic and Gillingham, the club are looking to cash in on the nine goals scored over the Bank Holiday weekend by attracting a bumper crowd.

Chief executive Glenn Aitken said: "They'll be Charlton and Gillingham fans looking for a game and in the light of our excellent start to the season we're confident they'll come and take a look at how we're doing.

"A crowd of 2,000 is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility. We also want to attract those local fans who have not been to the ground before."

He added: "If we're to take the next step forward and go full-time, then we'll be looking for home crowds of 2,500. With Stevenage lying in eighth place, two points behind us, we have a marvelous chance to market the club which we intend to do."

The two weekend successes against former Football League club York City and Forest Green Rovers takes the club's unbeaten record to an impressive 16 matches.

Fleet fans will have another opportunity to assess 6ft 2in striker Jefferson Louis who has scored twice in as many games since his arrival on loan from Coca Cola, League Two club Oxford who have loaned him for a month.

The 25-year-old scored on his debut in Saturday's 4-0 rout of York and followed up with another in Monday's 5-1 triumph at Forest Green.

Louis scored the winner in Oxford's televised FA Cup, second round tie against arch-rivals Swindon in December, 2002, having joined the club from local Ryman League club Thame United a few months earlier.

He then made national headlines by celebrating wildly in front of the cameras, with just a towel covering his front, when United were drawn to play Arsenal at Highbury in the next round.

Big, strong and deceptively quick, he enjoyed a purple patch in the middle of the 2002-03 season when he struck five goals in under two months.

He is no stranger to Conference football having spent a period on loan with Woking during the 2003-04 season, scoring five goals in four games.

Graham Porter is the Fleet's only doubt to face Stevenage owing to a calf strain.

Gravesend & Northfleet vs Stevenage Borough
Nationwide Conference
Saturday 4 September 2004
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Stonebridge Road, Northfleet

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