Daryl McMahon insists his Fleet side aren’t going into hiding in one of the most high-profile matches of the season. Despite back-to-back defeats in 2018, the Fleet boss has been looking forward to the Kent derby clash at Maidstone United for some time and believes the big-match atmosphere is the ideal place to get stuck in again.
“Maidstone is one of the best games of the season,” the Fleet boss said. “Going there on a Tuesday night I’m sure it will be a full house. We are looking forward to it massively. They’re always great games and it’s a brilliant game to get back into it. We’re really looking forward to it, Jay’s done a great job down there.
“Now it’s about going out over the next 18 games, picking up as many points as we can and really kick on. There’s players playing for their futures as well. With 18 games to go, people are out of contract and I think they have to perform to make sure they stay in the team and get new contracts here.”
One player who will be eager to be amongst it is Jack Payne who got through almost half an hour against Chester after being out of action since the end of September. Bradley Bubb, meanwhile, sits out the first of a three-match suspension following his sending-off v Chester.
While Fleet may be three games without a win, Maidstone’s form is also in need of improvement with Jay Saunders’ side having not won in nine games and without a victory at the Gallagher Stadium since taking three points against Chester on 28th October.
The Stones have lost on-loan central defender Alex Finney to a broken jaw while the exits of Zavon Hines (to Chesterfield) and Aaron Collins (to Newport County) also leaves them a little light on bodies. While wins have been hard to come by, however, goals haven’t – and former Fleet favourite Stuart Lewis scored twice on Saturday in a 4-4 draw at Woking. Maidstone also grabbed four in an impressive win at Torquay United in the FA Trophy.
Their chief threat is Joe Pigott whose 11 league goals this season helped fire the Stones as high as fifth place and he’s likely to be supported by Delano Sam-Yorke and fit-again Jamar Loza who missed the reverse fixture back in August. Otherwise, the Maidstone lineup is unlikely to change significantly from the squad that lost 2-0 earlier in the season.
Despite few personnel changes in their squads, neither manager is likely to pay too much attention to that game, when goals from Luke Coulson and Danny Kedwell wrapped up the points in the final 25 minutes. Both form and league position suggest there is little to choose between the sides and as ever in such local derbies, the finer margins are key to which band of supporters will claim the bragging rights for the next few months.
The match is segregated but is not all-ticket. Ebbsfleet United supporters can pay on the gate and more information about the Gallagher Stadium is here.