Daryl McMahon got the performance he demanded from his players after Tuesday night and was delighted they had overcome a Hartlepool side who the Fleet boss thinks will be in the mix at the end of the season. McMahon praised his side’s clinical nature in front of goal and the build-up play that led to, in particular, the second-half goals.
“I really like Hartlepool,” McMahon told BBC Radio Kent’s Matt Cole. “I think they’re a very good side, they’re strong, [Michael] Woods in the middle is one of the best I’ve seen at this level in terms of a midfield player. They’re a good side and they’ll be up there come the end of the season. A lot of the Hartlepool players have probably never heard of Ebbsfleet. Sometimes players, subconsciously, that’s on your mind so they might take you for granted a little bit. But we were very good, we were excellent today across the board.
“I was pretty angry Tuesday night and pretty angry Thursday morning at training. And that’s why I was because I know we can do that today; it shows you that we can compete at this level and we’re not a bad side when we’re focused and everyone does their jobs properly.”
Of the first goal, where Myles Weston’s cross-cum-shot evaded Danny Kedwell at the far post but still crept in, McMahon commended the winger for simply getting the ball into the danger zone. “I thought we worked the set piece really well,” he said. “We moved them about in the box and it doesn’t have to be the perfect goal, sometimes you put the ball in the right place and you score and we did today.”
Fleet’s second and third goals were well worked finishes crafted from clever play in midfield and the manager joked it was about time his skipper managed one at the far post. “Half a yard out, they’re the best goals for strikers. It’s about time, it’s taken two and a half years for him to get a goal at the back post. It was a fantastic ball from Shieldsy and the third goal was a great bit of play from us, good football and a great finish from Coulson.”
Coulson is revelling in his No.10 role and McMahon says he’s improving as he gets more familiar with his new position. “Luke’s easy on the eye, he’s a smooth mover. And he’s getting better, he bounced back today and was back to his best. He’s a big asset for us. I don’t think he’s really played where he’s playing now before, that No.10 position, he’s moved up the pitch somewhat now but he’s excelling in that position for us.”
Having seen his side compete with some of the best teams in the division, McMahon now wants his players to establish a more consistent pattern in the second half of the season.
“I just want us to be as consistent as we can,” he said, “and that’s down to working hard, doing your job properly and performing. The performances are the key thing for me. If you perform and you lose, you can accept it. I can accept the lads working hard and putting a performance in if we don’t get the rub of the green or we play against a better team than us, I can take that. It’s when you don’t perform that for me it’s an issue. As long as we can perform, we’ll win a lot more games than we lose.”
Fleet now have a free weekend to recuperate, which will be welcome for the likes of Dean Rance who hobbled off this afternoon. McMahon expects Dave Winfield to be in contention for a place when play resumes on December 9th, with Jack Payne not far off the pace either. And the boss revealed that he may cast his net wide for another striker as he thinks that’s the only position Fleet need to strengthen going into 2018.
“I’d like to bring one player in as we go along, we might need another striker,” he explained. “That’s probably really the only position we could add to to give Keds a hand getting goals. I’ve always said we’ll get stronger as we go along because we’ve got fantastic players coming back into the squad.”
Listen to the full interview below.