ball-barnet

Ball hopes Fleet are off their chain

Ebbsfleet midfielder James Ball is hopeful that first home win and clean sheet can lead to bigger things as his side shrugged off the low of Barrow to deliver the high of Barnet.

“It felt great,” Ball told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “It’s been a long time coming. Obviously you want to pay the fans back because they keep coming every week and I think Saturday’s performance needed a reaction. It wasn’t good and we all knew that. It feels great getting the first home win and hopefully we can kick on from here and keep winning at home.”

Fleet took plenty of stick after Saturday’s defeat and Ball said he would probably have been the same had he been watching from the sidelines.

“That’s fair enough, the fans pay their money and they have every right to be frustrated,” he agreed. “I think if I was coming to watch, I’d be frustrated because ultimately you come to watch your team win and they’ve only had that once this year and it was away from home. A lot of the fans here wouldn’t have been able to see us win yet so I’m pleased for them we managed to do it here at home and 3-0, a clean sheet and three goals, I don’t think anybody can complain at that.”

The platform for the Barnet win was the 2-0 lead at half-time but Ball underlined the importance of getting a third goal and keeping the Fleet’s own end intact.

“When the second one went in, then the confidence was really there,” he said. “Everyone wants to get as many as they can, everyone wants a goal then. But we knew going in at half-time, 2-0’s a dangerous scoreline. You see it all the time, you go in 2-0 and you come back out, they get the first goal and all of a sudden everyone’s thinking, oh here we go again.

“But tonight we were able to get the third before they did and it made the difference. We looked comfortable and they never really looked like scoring. Did Jordan have a shot, maybe one in the second-half? But apart from that I thought we were dominant throughout the game.”

Fleet go to Wrexham now for the proverbial ‘six-pointer’ – though it’s too early in the season to use that phrase with much meaning. And Ball thinks they travel in a much better frame of mind.

“Going to Wrexham, lovely place to go, a great stadium but on the back of that performance, I don’t think there’s any better game to go into than when your team’s just won 3-0,” he said.

“I never had any doubt this team would be able to get out of the trouble that it was in. You get to the 13th game, you start worrying but the quality in that dressing room is as good as anyone’s. It’s just a matter of when it clicks. It’s a new team but hopefully now we can put another result in on Saturday away at Wrexham and start to climb the table. 

“I think a lot of people will be surprised this year with the way the table is. There’s a lot of teams who were at the top last year who are down in the bottom half, Ebbsfleet being one, last year being eighth. No-one expected us to be down here with the quality.”

And Ball’s aiming high if the side can string the results together to lift them further up the National League.

“If we can put a few results together and climb out of this relegation zone, you never know – if you put two, three or four games together, all of a sudden you’re mid-table,” he said. “And then with the back half of the season coming, you can make a real push for the play-off spots. I think that’s got to be the plan for everybody. You’ve got to have confidence, you’ve got to believe. If not, then there’s no point us turning up every week.

“I know last year [at Stevenage], we were mid-table come Christmas and went on a great run and missed out on the play-offs by a point so it is do-able with the players we’ve got. We’ll have to see on Saturday if we can put another result in.”

Having moved to Kent, the Bolton native has had to settle into a new team and a new home. And he’s hoping to add to the goal tally begun with his excellent strike at Boreham Wood – and thinks he would have if only former Stevenage teammate Alex Reid would pass him the ball!

“I feel like I’ve had a few chances and I’ve maybe snatched at them. I got one but I’m desperate to get more and once the next one goes in, hopefully the floodgates will open.

“There was a chance Reidy had to put me in and I had a go at him for not doing it but he’s a striker and they’re always greedy so I didn’t expect it from him! I’ll always look to put people in and I’m quite unselfish so if someone’s in a better position than me, I’ll pass it to them. He’s not like that, I’ve known him a year!

“It’s not been easy. It’s always difficult moving to a new place, especially when the team’s not been doing so well, it makes it even harder. Hopefully it starts to get easier now.

“We’ve been unlucky in some of the games at home. You look at maybe the Yeovil game, I feel like we could have won it. It ended up 3-1 but you look at the game and I think we were on top for a lot of it. There’s been a few games like that, I can’t remember which teams they were against but you’re dying for something to click.

“You know that eventually it will but we’re 12 games into the season, 13 now, and you start thinking, when’s it’s going to click. Tonight everything came together and I think it was down to the hard work of the team that made that happen.”

Listen below.


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