Fleet focus on feelgood factor for Concord visit

Mark Phillips is available to Daryl McMahon this evening as he returns from a suspension held over from his time at Braintree Town but the Fleet boss will have to decide on whether to alter a starting line-up that provided one of Fleet’s best opening-day victories.

Given, however, that the manager changed things defensively at half-time against Poole Town, it may be that Fleet deploy a different formation to counter the threat of a Concord side at home. Bradley Bubb shouldn’t be far off a return, though Stuart Lewis, Aaron McLean and Charlie Sheringham will need a further assessment before they pull on a red shirt again.

For Fleet, though, it will be a case of hoping the team can provide more of the same, with Jack Powell catching the eye, Dean Rance getting on the scoresheet and Danny Kedwell clearly itching to go after a second-half brace of goals.

Ebbsfleet have accrued just a single point in their last two visits to the Aspect Arena with the Beachboys providing traditionally tough opponents on their own patch. The Essex side lost their opening-day fixture 2-0 at St Albans City though the circumstances were far from ideal with Concord equalising at 1-0 late in the game, only for it to be ruled offside at which point the home side immediately went up the other end to make it 2-0.

Manager Adam Flanagan has recruited a number of new faces and five of those started on Saturday, including former Chelmsford defensive pair Rob Girdlestone and Marvin Ekpiteta. In a new-look defence, ex-Dartford man Mark Onyemeh was also in the line-up. Elsewhere, the Beachboys can call on striker Alex Akrofi who is on loan from Maidstone for the season and ex-Tonbridge frontman Alex Teniola.

Leaving the Aspect Arena over the summer were former Fleet man Ben Greenhalgh (back to Maidstone) while Concord also had to fill the midfield hole left by departing Max Cornhill to Chelmsford and striker Lewis Taaffe to Hemel. Arguably, however, filling the void left by Danny Cowley and the players he took with him to Braintree at this stage last season was a bigger hurdle for Concord and Flanagan has been able to stamp his own mark on the side since. Despite a slow start to last season, the Beachboys once again defied the odds to mount another challenge for a play-off place.

This time around, they’ll be looking to get out of the blocks a little quicker and like any side that has suffered opening-day defeat, will be determined to put it right tonight in front of their own fans. Their pre-season campaign was a fairly mixed bag with only victory in the last game at island neighbours Canvey providing much cheer.

But pre-season is a distant memory by now and the real thing is a much better litmus test of a side’s chances for the forthcoming season.

Kick-off is 7.45pm and directions can be found here.


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