Neal Ardley says the test Ebbsfleet will provide in the Emirates FA Cup this weekend will be very different to the one we faced back in August.
We drew 2-2 when we visited Stonebridge Road in the league, which was the Kent outfit’s first point of the campaign, but it’s been all change at the Kuflink Stadium since.
Kevin Watson has taken over as manager and overseen a significant change in results, with Fleet five matches unbeaten in all competitions.
So Ardley isn’t expecting much in the way of similarity on Saturday.
“Everything has changed,” he said. “They’ve got a new manager with different ideas and they’re one of the in-form teams.
“They were low on confidence back then but are in a much better place, and we’d like to think we are, too.
“Only three or four of the players who started against us have done over the last few weeks so, while we can take bits from the August match, we have to respect the differences.”
When we met Ebbsfleet earlier in the season, their physicality gave us issues and the boss is keen for us to avoid such difficulties this weekend.
“They’re a different team, but we need to learn from what caused us problems in the first game,” Ardley urged.
“If we allow them to get on top of us, like we did in the league match at times, we’ll have to defend for our lives.
“They’re a big, powerful team but they’ve got more to their game than just that.
“They have 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.”
We’ll be without Sean Shields, who is ineligible as part of his loan agreement, but the boss isn’t intending to ring the changes and wants to ensure we stay focused.
“We have momentum and don’t want to mess around with things,” said Ardley.
“These rounds are about getting the mentality right because the glamour ties aren’t in your sights yet.
“When you get to that stage, all the excitement becomes real, but cup runs include lower key games and this is one of them.
“It makes the job harder when you play a good team, and Ebbsfleet are certainly that at the moment.”