Good evening and welcome to tonight’s match against Aldershot Town. We’ve had one win here and another very exciting game at Dagenham under floodlights and with a big travelling crowd expected from Hampshire, I hope the atmosphere can help us to equal our last evening result at Stonebridge Road.
At the moment we can’t get away without the word ‘draw’ cropping up in interviews, analysis, social media, whatever. In isolation, many of the draws have been good ones, many away from home and they have made us the only unbeaten side remaining in the division. But, of course, we can’t carry on drawing without adding a few wins to the board and the frustrating thing for me and I’m sure all Ebbsfleet United supporters is that we have been close enough on several occasions to turn several of those single points into three.
Our last few games have been just such examples. Against Gateshead, Dover, Eastleigh and Chester, we might have taken the points had we been more clinical in two of them and less careless about mistakes in the other two. I said on the radio after Saturday that I was disappointed with our overall performance at Chester — we didn’t deserve the three points on the way we played, but having got ourselves in the position to take those three points through a terrific solo effort from Jack Powell, we should have had enough about us to hold on to them.
It’s not something we need to panic about or start changing things left, right and centre because for much of the season so far we have been at least the equal of a few teams and better than many. The players know what’s expected in each match we go into and they’ve shown the ability; now we just need to apply ourselves in the correct way and up our game to recognise the fact we are in a higher division where you need to take chances and minimise errors.
Tonight we come up against an Aldershot Town side who reached the play-offs last season and showed at the beginning of this season that they were well-equipped to do so again. Like ourselves, they have had a lengthy injury list that has probably affected their last few results but they will be as acutely aware as we are how much a win tonight can get their season back on track. Gary Waddock has taken them up from this division before and he’s put together another very useful Aldershot side with a mix of experience, youth, pace and power.
We’ve been able to bring Kenny Clark and Dean Rance back into the squad after their recent lengthy absences so that’s a real boost and a real bonus in terms of competition for places. We have, as a result of Kenny’s return and Sam Magri coming back from international duty, allowed Jean-Yves Niate to depart the club as we are fairly well covered in that department again now.
On the subject of Mags, it was great to see him mixing it with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. They are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for players at this level and the experience will stand him, and us, in great stead as a result.
I’d like to thank all those who made the long trip to Chester last Saturday. This new division means new challenges for us all and the travelling is one that fans certainly have to bear — so thank you for the great support… the players do notice it home and away, and particularly to a far-flung corner of the country.
That support will be crucial tonight against Aldershot and again on Saturday v Tranmere Rovers. These are big clubs and these games are part of the reason we strive to achieve success at Ebbsfleet United. Enjoy the game.