Fleet make their first ever trip to AFC Fylde’s Mill Farm stadium looking for a first win on the road since the defeat of Solihull in October. The National League North champions have the same number of wins at home as the Fleet have away – three apiece – which was coincidentally the same number of goals the sides exchanged in the corresponding fixture at the Kuflink Stadium.
This close to Christmas Day, the squad will be travelling up by train on matchday in what will be something of a new experience for the players.
“We’re travelling on the day. It’s something different,” Daryl McMahon told FleetOnline. “We’ve stayed overnight all the other times so we thought we’d do it this way for this one. A lot of other teams do the train so we wanted to give that a go and see how it suits us. Particularly before February because the current schedule then is Tranmere, Halifax and Hartlepool, with Gateshead not too long after that and it’s three or four Saturdays up north so there’s various ways of travelling and we might find one that suits us better.”
While the train might be taking the strain initially, McMahon’s men (like all their National League rivals) face a punishing festive schedule of four games in eight days and the manager hopes to use Fylde as a springboard into the more local games against Bromley and Dagenham & Redbridge. “Hopefully we can get a decent result at Fylde to come home to and that will serve to back us up against Bromley and Dagenham at home, where we have been excellent recently,” he said. “Fylde rested eight players for their Trophy tie and their manager said the Ebbsfleet game was more important to him, so they’ll be fresh and eager to get at us.”
McMahon has made no secret of his admiration for Fylde’s style of football despite their league position and the Coasters certainly turned on the style in Kent in August only for defensive frailties to blot their copybook. Their form has picked up of late, aided in part by an excellent FA Cup run where they took Wigan Athletic to a replay and pushed the former Cup winners all the way.
McMahon has no fresh injury concerns and expects to have the same squad to choose from as last week, with Jack Payne eyeing a possible squad place from next week and Bradley Bubb’s return imminent. “We’ll ease Jack back in, maybe a few minutes here and there if the opportunity presents itself next week, and Febian Brandy the same,” McMahon said. “Bradley trained all week and he’s in and around the matchday squad now. Darren McQueen has had his leg brace off and we’ll get him in to a little bit of light gym work, too.”
Fylde skipper Josh Langley is still out with an ACL injury though central defender Simon Grand returned against Wigan in the FA Cup and is ready to face the Fleet. The big danger is, of course, hotshot striker Danny Rowe who scored 41 league goals last season and leads the division’s scoring charts this term with 11. In support of Rowe, Lewis Montrose and Jack Muldoon impressed in our home game and they will be the players to watch once again.
Since last we met, defenders George Edmundson and Luke Burke have been brought in on loan from Oldham Athletic and Wigan Athletic respectively and that has done much to plug the gaps in a previously leaky back line. Midfielder Jason Taylor from Eastleigh is another new arrival.
INFORMATION FOR EBBSFLEET UNITED SUPPORTERS VISITING MILL FARM
With the opening of AFC Fylde’s new stadium last year, the club introduced a simple system for travelling supporters to purchase tickets in advance. Courtesy of the new state-of-the-art ticketing system, away supporters can now buy tickets online, print off at home and go straight to the turnstile on the day!
To purchase tickets for AFC Fylde vs Ebbsfleet United, visit www.afcfylde.co.uk, click on the tickets tab and follow the simple process.
Tickets can also be purchased on the day from the ticket office, although it is advised to buy in advance to prevent any potential delays/queuing. Please note that free onsite parking at the stadium is available but limited. Once the free parking is full, the overflow carpark is available at £5 per car.
For those travelling by train, the ground is just a 10 minute walk from Kirkham station. If you arrive early don’t miss the opportunity to have a drink in Bradleys Sports Bar located at the ground, recently voted the best sports bar in the UK, where both food and drinks are very competitively priced. See www.bradleyssportsbar.com for more information. For any enquiries please call AFC Fylde on 01772 598855 and ask for Gary or Sean.