Ebbsfleet United prepare for their third of six pre-season friendlies tonight against Cambridge United in what Daryl McMahon hopes will be a more realistic test ahead of the National League kick-off.
League Two Cambridge, one of McMahon’s former clubs, have fielded strong lineups in all of their pre-season friendlies so far and with a number of new signings this summer, the Fleet boss thinks they’ll be strong opposition. “They have some very good players,” McMahon told FleetOnline. “I expect they’ll be looking up towards the top end of the table and challenging for League One this season and Shaun Derry’s brought in a lot of new faces.”
Cambridge finished ninth in League Two last season and have bolstered their front line, with two players from Partick Thistle plus Jabo Ibehre from Carlisle. Dimitar Mitov, the former Charlton youth goalkeeper, has come in to replace Wolves-bound Will Norris, while Liam O’Neil (Chesterfield), Gary Deegan (Shrewsbury) and Emmanuel Osadebe (Gillingham) could be joined by a trialist or two.
Midfielder Luke Berry, who scored 20 goals from central midfield last season to finish as top scorer at the club for the fourth time, is presently the subject of bids from several clubs but Cambridge have resisted selling their star asset so he could also be on show tonight.
Cambridge manager Derry is absent but assistant head coach Joe Dunne will take charge once again for the club’s fifth friendly, following wins over St Neots, St Albans and Royston Town, plus a draw and defeat in two games versus Norwich City last weekend.
For McMahon, he’s not overly fussed about results in pre-season as long as his players are showing progress, togetherness and come through July in good health – something that disrupted the Fleet’s plans last summer with several injuries in pre-season. “I want to see the form improving, I want to see players understanding each other so that when we get to Guiseley we’ve got a full, fit squad that knows their job with individuals competing for places,” the manager said.
Kick-off is 7.30pm with the evening reverting to a 90-minute duration after representatives from both clubs and FA/match officials agreed on the original format.
Admission is £10 (adults), £8 (concessions), £5 (juniors) and FREE for U12s accompanied by a paying adult.