Garry Hill praised a “superb performance” at the EBB Stadium this afternoon and challenged his players to take on the teams above them as Fleet made it seven games unbeaten in the league.
“It was a superb performance throughout,” Hill told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “A game we totally dominated, very professional, we looked very very strong and created chances. We had one or two injuries, we changed things round a little bit in respect of shape but whatever way we go to work, when you look at the playing squad, I’ve told the players there’s a lot of quality in this changing room who have underachieved but want to start believing in what a good set of players they are collectively. They are capable of putting a run together which could surprise a lot of people above us.”
Aldershot have struggled to score this season but they have a decent points haul on home soil and Hill felt his aside dealt very well with the opposition today.
“Whoever you beat in this league away from home is always a good win,” he said. “Aldershot’s home form this season has been very strong so it was going to be a good test for us today. We had enough possession in the first half but I didn’t think we really worked the goalkeeper as much as I would have liked.We got the break early in the second half from the throw-in and it gives you that little bit of a cushion. It asks others teams to come out a little bit more. It’s a good three points and also we kept a clean sheet.
“I didn’t think we worked the goalkeeper enough [in the first half],” he continued. “Jack Payne’s shot that hit the top of the bar was a great effort but apart from that, [little in] the final third again. People might think I’m being hard but in this league it’s an unforgiving, punishing league and when you are on top of teams you have to give yourself that little advantage.”
And like his predecessor, the Fleet boss is very keen on working together at the club, from the top down and including the fans, who earned plenty of praise.
“It’s collectively about everyone working together,” Hill said. “There was great support here again today, I keep mentioning these supporters and they must be respected in a big way by the playing squad and the staff. They go to work Monday to Friday and they do overtime and they pay here and there to go here and there. They play a big part and they’re a big part of my squad… a massive part of my playing squad on and off the pitch. I think you’ve seen already in just over three weeks that it’s got to be the way that I want the playing squad, management and staff, all working together as one but as I say, everyone has to go over and support these supporters. It’s very easy to shake hands, walk in and have a shower and go. You mustn’t forget about your support.
“And all credit to the players since we’ve been here, they all work together. Things change at football clubs. We don’t need a big squad, it’s been too big, the boss wants the structure changed and I respect that totally. It’s been changed in respect of certain members of personnel and players moved on, that’s football. You are seeing on a consistent basis the performances are going with the results.”
Michael Cheek has been a big part of Fleet’s success in recent weeks and he netted his fourth goal in three games. Although Hill is usually reluctant to single out individuals, asked about the No.12 he said: “You look at Michael Cheek’s goal record at Braintree, Dagenham and that’s why he was fetched to Ebbsfleet United for the right reasons. I’ve watched him several times in the past and I know where Michael Cheek can be and I’ve always said Michael Cheek and Danny Kedwell could play in the same team. That’s my view. I can’t really say much more than that, you let the boys do the talking on the pitch and Michael is very fresh, he’s working hard. It’s a big bonus for him going forward because he’s taking his chances and getting goals. But I still think there’s more in him because he’s probably still a little bit short of match fitness.”
Fitness has certainly not been in question with the Fleet having had a busy schedule in the past few weeks, and with Christmas ahead, Hill is pleased with the work rate and commitment.
“The other day was our fourth [match] in 10 days,” he said. “And some of these players haven’t had much football. I know they’ve been doing training and doing this and that but you can’t beat match fitness. It’s the same in each sport. You look at certain players who have played four games in 10 days and they haven’t played, some of them, since the Wrexham game, some of them only had very little catch-up or match practice since. I felt we’ve looked a little bit leggy, we changed things around over the last two or three days and we looked fresh and professional today. A clean sheet at one end and a very good win away from home.”