Ebbsfleet United manager Steve Brown was full of praise for his side following their 4-0 win over Concord, delighted that his tired and patched-up squad scored four goals despite not performing to their highest level.
“We’ve had a tough week,” Brown told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “Those two Dartford games took a lot out of us. There was a lack of energy throughout the 90 minutes despite the scoreline. The players were running half-empty and they still managed to pull out a 4-0 victory. It wasn’t a vintage game but when you’re not at full throttle and you come out 4-0 winners, that’s a huge bonus.”
And the Fleet boss spoke of the difficulties behind the scenes in keeping his side performing when not at peak physical condition. “Things you don’t see behind the scenes,” he explained. “I’m patching players up at the moment. Preston’s come off at half-time with a knee injury, that was patched up. Cooky’s had a groin injury for some time that we’re doing the best we can with, we’re managing it. Daryl McMahon, when we’ve got three games in a week his ankle affects him, Ben May’s always struggling with that back – so when we have a lot of games in a short space of time, we are patching players up.
“I have nothing but praise for them when they put on a performance that’s maybe not as good as it has been but we still come out 4-0 winners. Media and supporters, you don’t see everything that happens on a Tuesday or Thursday night, what we have to do to get these players out there sometimes.
“We’ve had too many draws, that won’t change. We’ll get to February and I’ll still say we’ve had too many draws. We’ve played much better than we did here today and teams have gone away with a point. Most importantly, for teams I run clean sheets are huge and although Concord had a little bit of territory second half, when they had a couple of long-distance shots, Brandon Hall had to make one good save and he did.
“That’s another pleasing aspect for me – it’s very much a squad game. I brought Michael Thalassitis back in, I’ve given Andy Pugh 90 minutes and I’ve seen Brandon Hall come in and make a terrific save so things are quite buoyant on that front.”
Reflecting on the Fleet’s penalty misses in recent weeks, Brown joked he was almost glad they didn’t get one today – despite Anthony Cook being only inches away from earning another one in the first half.
“I think I’d have gone back to Ben May,” Brown said. “We’ve gone round and round in circles trying to find a penalty taker but thankfully the four goals were more than enough today.
“You take penalties until you miss and then you move on to number two and number three. You never really should get down to number four or five across a season but we got down to number four within two weeks. It’s very unusual to miss four on the spin but I’m confident we’ll score our next four or five. We don’t consciously take 50 penalties in a night, but the players do get the opportunity to go and hit 10, 15 penalties into the back of the net before and after training.”
And of Cook’s contribution in winning many of those spot kicks, Brown explained: “I’ve never been in a team that’s had so many penalties in such a short space of time and that’s because of the players we have here. Anthony Cook will always draw fouls and win you penalties. You have to understand what someone like Cooky gives the team. He’ll win another five penalties this season, he’ll assist another 10-15 goals this season and he’ll score another five. That’s what he brings, so you have to accept the frustrations that come with his game; he’s a wonderful player.”