We’re back in Emirates FA Cup action tomorrow as we make the trip to Stonebridge Road for the second time this season.
We played out a 2-2 draw with Ebbsfleet back in August and both sides have improved since then, so it promises to be an intriguing affair.
We’ve lost just three of our following 15 matches and come into this one on the back of a two-goal comeback to earn a point against Hartlepool United.
Ebbsfleet, meanwhile, are five games unbeaten in all competitions, with new manager Kevin Watson making a big impact since replacing Garry Hill as boss.
They progressed from the final round of qualifying courtesy of a win in a replay against Woking, while we overcame a stubborn Belper Town, who had their eyes set on a giant-killing.
And, with both sides in far better form than when we last met, it’ll be a keenly-contested clash for a place in the next stage.
The boss says…
“They’ve got a new manager with different ideas and they’re one of the in-form teams.
“They’re a big, powerful side that has threats, and that’s why they’ve scored the goals they have done lately and earned the wins they’ve picked up in the last four or five matches.
“These rounds are about getting the mentality right because the glamour ties aren’t in your sights yet.
“It makes the job harder when you play a good team, and Ebbsfleet are certainly that at the moment.”
Neal Ardley told the media on Thursday he has no fresh injury concerns ahead of this one, but loanee Sean Shields in ineligible against his parent club.
Alex Lacey signed this week and it remains to be seen whether he will go straight into the squad for the trip to Kent.
Ebbsfleet midfielder Albie Morgan extended his loan from Charlton on Thursday but is unavailable, however captain Jack King is back in the fold after completing his suspension.
Goalkeeper Jordan Holmes made his debut when we visited Stonebridge Road in August and he is also back in contention.
Head to head
Aside from our league meeting earlier this season, we’ve encountered the Fleet twice before – and both matches were in this competition.
They were playing under their old name, Gravesend and Northfleet FC, for each game and our first clash was on 8 December 2000 when, after several postponements due to the state of the pitch, the game eventually went ahead at Gillingham’s ground.
Mark Stallard and Andy Hughes were on target in a 2-1 victory, and we won by the same scoreline three years later, too.
We came from a goal down at half-time in December 2003 and progressed thanks to Nick Fenton and Clive Platt’s efforts.
Referee: Carl Brook
Assistants: Paul Evans and Martyn Holmes
Fourth official: Nick Dunn