Steve Brown was upbeat after his side bounced back from midweek defeat and rallied to extend their FA Cup run to at least next Tuesday following the Fleet manager’s first taste of a competitive north Kent derby.
“It was a great cup tie and I thoroughly enjoyed it from the sidelines,” he told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “We were very unlucky to come in 1-0 down and very unlucky to finish the 90 minutes with a draw. I’ve got to give great credit to the players coming back from 1-0. Dartford are a good side and when they get their noses in front, difficult to break down, so to get it to a replay, I’ll take that. But over the 90 minutes, we deserved to win the game.”
And Brown was not unduly upset with Ben May’s penalty miss, feeling his side coped well with the early setback. “That’s three penalties I think we’ve missed,” he said. “With different penalty takers. I’ll keep changing it until I find someone that can consistently hit the back of the net. But our miss was early on, so you don’t think your chance has gone at that stage. If we’d missed it in the 80th minute at 0-0, you might start thinking today’s not your day but I knew we were on it today, you could just see the players were working for each other.
“We asked for a reaction after Tuesday and we certainly got that. I was really proud of the players today and really pleased with the way they attacked that cup tie.”
His opposite number, Dartford boss Tony Burman, was satisfied with the way his depleted squad handled the tricky away fixture. “We grew into the game after the penalty miss,” he explained. “First half we had a gameplan and stuck to it and we controlled the first half as it went on, second half not as well. It’s a difficult place to come and there was a lot of pressure on the players being favourites in respect of their being in the higher league. And you take five players out of your squad, it’s a big ask. But we got round the back a few times in the first half. You’ve got to expect pressure as the away side and Ebbsfleet have got good players, big-game players, but I was delighted with the application and the way we’ve performed today.”
And Burman was adamant referee Nick Kinseley had made the correct decision not to send goalkeeper Alan Julian off in the 11th minute when he upended Anthony Cook as the Fleet player was set to take the ball past him and shoot on goal. “Sometimes those are red cards, sometimes they’re yellow,” Burman commented. “But give the ref respect, he’s done well. It seemed their player was going away from goal, with players coming behind Alan.”
With regards to Tuesday’s replay, Burman was fully aware the job is only half done as he now enjoys home advantage over Steve Brown. And he confirmed striker Jason Prior and defender Tyrone Sterling would still be on the sidelines, but that Kenny Clark could possibly return. “It’ll be a tough game again. Im not sure whether either of us needed a replay but the accountants will be pleased. But I’m looking forward to it. The FA Cup is for players and supporters and the players take the limelight in it. They have to look forward to that experience. It’s brilliant for Kent football and it would be great if we had more Kent sides in the higher league. We want crowds like this. I get fed up of going up the M1, I’d prefer to keep it local. We’re in the draw now on Sunday but we have got to finish the job.”