Ebbsfleet United vs Maidenhead United: Vanarama National League, Saturday 12th October 2019, 3.00pm kick-off.
A massive week of football continues at Stonebridge Road tomorrow afternoon as the Magpies look to get themselves back on a winning path.
Ebbsfleet are managerless and sit at the foot of the Vanarama National League, so both sides have plenty to play for in this fixture.
An improved performance wasn’t enough to claim any points at Eastleigh in midweek, but could inspire Maidenhead to finally end a winless run of eight games.
Alan Devonshire’s side have recorded a considerable dip in results recently, despite performing brilliantly in the opening month of 2019-20.
They did show signs of ending that disappointing run with a strong display at the Silverlake Stadium, but ultimately fell short. A Danny Hollands header gave the Spitfires the lead in the 26th minute.
However, the Magpies showed real character to equalise only two minutes later. An attempted clearance deflected invitingly into the path of Danny Whitehall, and the striker marked his birthday with a bundled finish.
He netted his sixth goal of the league season in what’s been a promising start to life as a Maidenhead player.
Later in the second-half, and the Spitfires restored their lead with a nodded finish from Tyrone Barnett. Ebbsfleet weren’t to be thwarted as a great Max Stryjek save denied Maidenhead another leveller from James Akintunde's effort.
There were signs though despite the result that the visitors had started to get their groove back after a poor set of results. Although better performances would mean little if the club continues to drop points, it does gives them room for encouragement in a difficult stage of the season.
A win at bottom side Ebbsfleet would spark the side back into life, but defeat could send the club back in the opposite direction.
It hasn’t been the start to the season that the Fleet would’ve expected after they finished eighth last year.
They are rooted to the bottom of the table after 16 games, and have picked up only 10 points and two wins.
Despite claiming a comprehensive 3-0 win at home to Barnet recently, they were unable to successfully follow that up as they have fallen to three consecutive defeats.
This week the club also parted company with manager Garry Hill, with first team coach Kevin Watson taking temporary charge of the team for now.
The club ended a four-year association with the National League South with promotion to the fifth tier in 2017. In a year that also saw Maidenhead get promotion, Ebbsfleet were able to clinch a 2-1 victory over Chelmsford in the play-off final.
In their first season back in the National League, they almost earned back to back promotions, but had their chances of playing in the Football League squashed as Tranmere beat them in the play-off semi-final.
Last season’s eighth placed finish should also inspire the side to get back on track in this season’s league campaign.
Although the hosts have made a poor start, the Magpies may have their work cut out should the Fleet perform as they did in that impressive win over Barnet.
Last time out
Ebbsfleet were the stronger side in the fixtures between the two last season, as they picked up four points.
In the first game at York Road in November 2018, the visitors took the lead inside the opening quarter of an hour. Some clever link-up play between Michael Cheek and Corey Whitely coincided with the opening goal being scored, with Cheek finding himself on the scoresheet. The Magpies claimed a point though as a fine free-kick from Reece Cole put them back on level terms.
Cheek was on target again as he took his tally against Maidenhead for the season up to three with a brace in the reverse fixture. Whitely took advantage of some hesitant defending to give the hosts the lead, before Cheek stepped up to score twice and make sure of the result in the process.
In spite of their poor start to 2019-20, the Fleet know that they have recent form to call upon in this fixture, so the Magpies need to be cautious.
In a vital game of football two struggling sides will battle it out in Kent. Although Ebbsfleet are six points from safety, a win could begin to close the gap on Chorley in 23rd. They will hope that a change in management could instigate a shift in their fortunes. Should Maidenhead come away with all three points though they could rise from 17th up to 14th if other results go their way.