Ebbsfleet United started the new season last night with 2-0 home victory over Concord Rangers and manager Steve Brown promised fans there was more to come from his side.
After a slow start to the game, the Fleet finally went in front in the 68th minute thanks to a skilful 25-yard strike from captain Daryl McMahon before Charlie Sheringham wrapped up the points with a cool finish late on.
Yet Stonebridge Road chief Brown felt his side’s slow start was impacted by the fact they were unable to play a competitive match on the opening weekend of the season due to Salisbury’s removal from the Conference.
He said: “People think that’s an advantage to us but it’s absolutely not, because Concord are up to speed.
“They’ve had 90 minutes and are confident from beating a very good Bath side 3-0.
“They’ve got a huge amount of belief and we’re pottering along after having a friendly Friday, the weekend off and training yesterday before playing today.
“I’d have lost all six pre-season games if it meant winning tonight, but thankfully we won tonight.
“Tonight is paramount to everything we’re trying to achieve and I think them having the game on Saturday put them in a better position than us because we’ve come out of the blocks slowly.
“We’re normally a very good side that plays at a very high tempo but I didn’t see that tonight.
“I saw them do it to us, which I believe is a consequence of their game on Saturday.”
With the score at 0-0, the Fleet sometimes looked nervous and the visitors almost opened the scoring when Jordan Chiedozie’s acrobatic lob hit the post.
But McMahon’s goal seemed to settle his side down and Brown hopes the first three points of the season will help keep the nerves away for the opening stages of the campaign.
“There’s a huge amount of expectation at Ebbsfleet, coming from the supporters, from me, from the owner - and the players feel that”, Brown admitted.
“We’ve come up against what’s probably the hardest working side in our league. They don’t stop running for 90 minutes and they cause upsets.
“They’ve beaten Bath, who are many people’s dark horses this season, and they’ve torn them to pieces by winning 3-0, so they’re no mugs.
“It’s not like we’re expecting people to come here, roll over and have their tummies tickled and let us win, so we know how difficult it’s going to be.
“I felt we were nervous and they did frustrate us with all those little tricks that the referee doesn’t see, like the goalkeeper taking a drink before the start of the second half and the centre-forward kicking the ball 10 to 20 yards after a foul.”
He added: “I thought we became frustrated but the goal settled the nerves and the three points on the board will go a long way to settle everyone down.
“Morale has become higher and confidence will grow.
“There’s three points on the board and we’ve kept a clean sheet, so it’s all very, very positive.
“What we can’t do is rest on those laurels; we know that there’s improvements to be made and we will make them.”
Ebbsfleet are back in action at Stonebridge Road on Saturday against Havant & Waterlooville (3pm).
Follow us on Twitter @NewsShopperSprt