While he felt three points could have come his side’s way at Princes Park, Dennis Kutrieb was more than satisfied with his side’s performance against second-placed Dartford which denied Steve King’s side the chance of returning to the top of the table.
“It was much better,” said Kutrieb. “But we talked the whole week that it’s a massive game for us, for the club, for the fans. I’m very disappointed that they are not here today and I’m disappointed we can’t get the win because we want to give the fans the win when they’re not allowed to be here.
“I’m very happy with the performance from the boys. They fought for 95 minutes, they worked their socks off, tried their best, tried to score goals and they defended together as a team. For the team performance, I’m happy. For the result, I’m not as happy.”
Both sides had chances to win it, with Fleet’s best moments including Josh Payne’s corner hitting the bar, Adam Mekki’s 20-yard effort and a late, late opportunity for substitute Reece Grant.
“We were a little bit unlucky in the first half, a brilliant action from Paxman, he goes through three, four boys and could score,” said the manager. “In the second half, a few chances for Mekki, the shot from 20 yards was a very good one. And then Reese Grant where perhaps if he is a step quicker he can get the goal. I would say if I look at the performance, we deserved the win, but it’s 0-0 – no loss, no win, so we have to take it.”
The Fleet were rocked by an almost immediate injury to skipper Lee Martin and then had to tweak formation again early in the second period when Jake Goodman limped off.
“He [Martin] had a small injury two weeks ago and we thought it was good for today,” said Kutrieb. “But James Dobson had two really good training weeks, so I was happy for him. But of course it’s an impact when you [lose] Lee Martin and then for the second half Goodman as well. But the boys on the pitch did really well.”
It was Fleet’s first game for two weeks, after only just returning from a two-week isolation at the beginning of December and so it was a festive fortnight of training for the squad.
“I was very disappointed about the break because the players wanted to play,” said Kutrieb. “They want to have the matchday feeling but instead had training on Boxing Day. I don’t know how many of the players had training on Boxing Day in their lives, they were not really too happy to have a training session, but that’s normal. When you have a game, that’s fine. But when you have to go to a training session, it’s a little bit weird. But they did it really well, they dug deep. That’s what you expect as a manager and everything else, it will come. You can see it getting closer and closer.
“We were a little bit unlucky in the first 10 games as today, but I’m 100% sure you will get the luck again. I’ve never seen in football that over one season you are always unlucky, that’s not possible. So when you keep going, when you keep working, you’ll get the luck back. That’s what we are working for and I think we deserve it.”
With the loss of Martin and Goodman, and with a number of other players recovering during a period of games coming thick and fast, Kutrieb’s 23-man squad will more than prove its worth.
“In four months I can’t count how many players want to come to us from the information we get from the agents, this player, that player,” he said. “As a manager, you’re always open-minded but I’ve told the boys all the time, we’re happy with them. It’s a little bit different between Germany and England.
“Here, you can see at Dartford there’s been six strikers in three months. So when one doesn’t score, they can take another one. If he doesn’t score, they buy another one. That’s not our work in progress. We want to work with [our players]. We have the confidence that they deserve to play for Ebbsfleet United. We as a club are together in the opinion that we want to work with them, that they have to get better when they work day by day.
But of course if there’s a good option or opportunity we will look at it and we will see.”