If familiarity breeds contempt, then the big clash between Dover Athletic and Ebbsfleet United at Crabble on Tuesday night is set to be a real humdinger.
Fleet’s squad contains six of last season’s Dover squad – plus Preston Edwards and Michael Corcoran who have also played for the south coast side, not to mention manager Steve Brown. And in return, Dover have four of Fleet’s 2012-13 squad, plus Elliott Charles, Chris Kinnear Jr (former youth player) and Michael Kamara (ex-Fleet trialist). Mix in a Chelmsford connection with Ricky Modeste, Michael Bakare, Anthony Cook and Aiden Palmer and the ingredients are all there for an explosive 90 minutes.
At least that’s the script that fans and media are trotting out. Many of the players, on the other hand, are ex-teammates and acquaintances off the pitch – and the pre-match banter is friendly.
Fleet boss Steve Brown told EUFC.co.uk, “I think the lads will be approaching this game in the same manner as any other but as there has been an exchange of players between the two clubs recently, I guess there are some bragging rights to be had over certain social networking sites. I know there has been friendly banter flying about behind the scenes but in all honesty it is just another game that we want to try and attain three points – as will be the case at Eastbourne this weekend.”
Fleet fans will be hoping at least one of their injured ex-Dover contingent passes a fitness test in time for kick-off. Brown revealed he is expecting Billy Bricknell to be closer to playing than Ben May: “It really just depends on how he responds to the intensified treatment he is receiving at the moment,” said the manager. “Billy is desperate to be involved and I know he will do everything humanly possible to try and be fit for Tuesday night. Ben is still in some discomfort and although showing encouraging signs of improvement over the weekend we feel he is not quite ready to be considered at Dover.”
Daryl McMahon is also in contention after serving his one-match suspension on Saturday. All the other players reported a clean bill of health after the Havant game so Fleet head south with no new injury concerns, Brown adding, “We were pleased with the clean sheet Saturday and felt that the players looked physically fit and competed well against a well-organised, strong and disciplined Havant team.”
Dover go into their first home clash of the season with three points courtesy of newly-promoted Gosport – and captain Craig Stone, whose long-distance shot from his new midfield slot was the difference. Ashley Carew also started that game but Nathan Elder, as he did for a portion of his Fleet career, was on the subs’ bench. Liam Bellamy, meanwhile, is likely to sit this one out – as he did Gosport – with a knee injury while Sean Raggett is also doubtful.
The Whites have also recruited former Fleet loanee Elliott Charles for his second spell at Crabble. While his first term at Dover was not a success, Charles has since been at Eastbourne where he was top scorer last season so could be a handful for the still-unseasoned Huke-Lorraine partnership.
Fleet’s last visit to Crabble, two years ago, ended in a 3-1 win, a vital victory on the road to the 2010-11 play-offs, Tom Phipp, Carew and Calum Willock with the goals.
|Venue||Matches||W||D||L||Goals||+ / –|
|Home (Sbr. Road)||14||4||5||5||13 – 13||+0|
|Away (Crabble)||15||2||3||10||17 – 30||-13|
|Neutral||1||0||0||1||0 – 1||-1|
|Total||30||6||8||16||30 – 44||-14|