As an Ebbsfleet United defender, it’s fair to say this season has at times been a battle.
But there are no greater warriors than the Fleet back line in recent games with two successive clean sheets and a real stubborn streak that has seen only Chesterfield score more than a goal against them in the last nine league games.
In Kevin Watson’s favoured back three, Lawrie Wilson has been a key part of that improvement through February and March and though pushed wide of that back three on Saturday evening at The Shay, he had to battle through the pain barrier.
“In the first-half I went to stride forward and felt my hip flexor go a little bit,” Wilson told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “It tightened up and I got it loosened at half-time. I just got told to sit in, don’t go forward and get through as much as I can.
“But as the game went on I was thinking this is getting tighter and tighter. At the end there I felt like I was a sitting duck and I felt somebody else to come on and run around would make a better difference for the team.
“It’s a fantastic feeling and I think back-to-back wins away from home, with the fans that have travelled as well and with everything going on, they’re two fantastic results. It’s been a great morale-booster for everyone.”
Morale was something that could have been questioned with players and managers voicing their concerns about continuing with the football calendar this weekend, but Wilson said that once the Fleet squad knew they had to perform, they were determined to do so.
“On the Friday no-one was sure if it was going to be on or off and the whole way up everyone was under the assumption it was going to be off,” he said. “Once we got here and stayed over, we got up this morning, everybody’s mind was ‘Right, we’re how now, we crack on. We carry on with the game’. And you start seeing all the other matches getting called off and you start thinking now’s our chance to actually make a stand. It’s been the first time we’ve been able to get a win and come out of the bottom three.”
And Wilson knows these sorts of wins at this stage of the season take more spirit and fight than at the best of times.
“You’ve got Tomi who’s probably really disappointed that he’s not starting, he’s not had the chance to show the gaffer what he’s all about. Josh has come in, done very well the last couple of games and gets injured, Tomi has stepped up to the plate and very much did that. He’s probably a little bit tired at the end, probably blew a gasket but everyone was tired. That is the effort it takes to win these sorts of games. And when our livelihoods are at stake, it makes a big, big difference.
“Back-to-back wins this time of the season is vital. It’s something for us that as long as we can keep matching or bettering Fylde, it stands us in good stead. The more we start winning the more it starts dragging in those above us. The momentum’s with us and that’s all we can keep doing, winning our own games and making sure we do our jobs and go on from there.”
When and where those jobs can be carried out is very much up in the air in the week ahead but Wilson says the Fleet squad will be professional one way or the other, even if it means individual player training plans as has been the case following the Premier League and EFL postponements.
“That’s something I’m sure Craig [Lewis] will have to do the whole trip home!” Wilson said, referring to Fleet’s sports scientist. “All we can do is liaise with the gaffer and decide what days we’re coming in.
“At the moment, the game’s still on, nothing’s been called off yet. So we still plan as a normal week how we do things. In the meantime, if anything does get called off we all sit down and decide what’s going to be best going forward to keep ticking over and doing your things. Because that’s all you can do as a professional is keep going.
“The run we’re on gives us a great platform to go again and if there is a break, then so be it. It might be good for us that a few niggles can heal up and then it gives the gaffer a real headache because by that time you’d like to think that everyone’s back and then you’ve got a fully fit squad fighting for these last six or seven games.”