Ebbsfleet aiming to build on ‘small momentum’ as they bid to avenge home loss to Hawks

Ebbsfleet will be aiming to build on their ‘small momentum’ when they visit Westleigh Park this weekend.

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 11:49 am
Rakish Bingham, in action for Doncaster last season, is Ebbsfleet's top scorer with 10 goals in 2020/21. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The Kent club, relegated from the National League last summer, were among the pre-season South division title favourites.

After an inconsistent few months, they have finally hit some form and Tuesday’s 2-1 home win over away specialists Hampton & Richmond was their third league win in four matches.

They had previously beaten Concord 2-1 and Slough 2-0, and striker Rakish Bingham has scored in all three victories.

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Bingham played in League 1 for Doncaster Rovers last season prior to ending 2019/20 on loan at Dundee United.

Fleet boss Dennis Kutrieb knows it has been hard for any South club to embark on a winning streak in a pandemic-scarred campaign.

Many games were postponed in December and January due to Covid-19 cases among the clubs, and that was followed by a two-week sixth tier suspension in the wake of the funding crisis.

Some clubs - Bath, Slough, Chippenham and Dulwich - have said they are not playing until the result of the NL’s vote on whether to cancel the season or play on is known.

Ebbsfleet were inactive last weekend as a result as they had been due to play Bath. Tuesday’s game with Slough was also postponed with Hampton happy to rearrange at short notice.

‘We have momentum because we have great lads and they want to win but it’s stop-start, stop-start,’ Kutrieb said. ‘So to say it’s momentum, it’s very hard and [that’s the case] for many other clubs as well.

‘You can have two or three wins but at the moment you have to look from game to game, because you never know if you play on Saturday, or in two weeks or four weeks.’

Ebbsfleet were trounced 3-0 at home by Hawks on December 12 – Tommy Wright netting twice - and Kutrieb added: ‘We had a big loss here against Havant, so I think we have to win there as well.

‘It’s another game, it’s on 3G. It’s completely different now a few weeks later, we have a small momentum.

‘Our boys want to win and they slowly understand what I want to have from them and you can see it on the pitch, it’s better and better and so I’m really excited for Saturday.

It’s a good test for us to see if we can beat a really good side.’

Kutrieb - one of three German managers in the top six tiers of the English game along with Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool) and Daniel Farke (Norwich) - is struggling to understand the South division at present.

With some clubs deciding they don’t want to play, only a handful of fixtures are again going ahead in the South and North divisions this weekend.

‘You can see football is not ‘I want to play or I don’t want to play or I need money, I need grants, I need loans,'’ he said.

‘You see this is a responsibility for many people around the club. We have many fans that want to see football, and they have to stay at home, they are not allowed to go out. So give them a little bit of football, that they can have something to watch. Something that they can have a small party when we win games or suffer when we lose games. But they have something to look at, especially in these hard times.

‘I never heard it before that teams or clubs can decide if they play or not, never before in my life.

‘In Germany if you don’t want to play, the opponents get the three points, the other team gets a fine and loses the three points. And if they do that three times, they’re cancelled from the league.

‘My opinion is a clear one: to play until there is a decision.’

Kutrieb included two new signings against Hampton in midweek and they could both figure again against Hawks.

Huddersfield loanee goalkeeper Giosue Bellagambi, 19, went straight into the team in place of the injured Jordan Holmes, while striker Dominic Poleon was on the subs’ bench.

Poleon, who has played over 200 professional games for Leeds, Bury, Sheffield United, Oldham, AFC Wimbledon, Bradford, Crawley and Newport County, came on as a late sub for ex-Manchester United striker Lee Martin.

Martin, who has made over 400 professional appearances, celebrated his 34th birthday on Tuesday and is expected to captain Fleet at Westleigh Park.