Kent rivals lock horns to seal Conference return
The two Kent sides lock horns in a winner-takes-all clash at Stonebridge Road in the Skrill (Conference) South play-off final on Saturday afternoon.
The Fleet finished in fourth-place in the table with 74 points from 42 games and progressed to the showdown after beating third-placed Bromley 4-1 on aggregate.
Dover Athletic look to create history as they bid to become the first side that’s finished in fifth-place in Conference South to seal promotion via the play-off lottery.
Chris Kinnear’s side completed their campaign with 69 points, finishing 12 points adrift of runners-up Sutton United, but also progressed through the semi-finals with a 4-1 aggregate win.
“I must admit I have never been more excited about playing a football match in my whole life,” Fleet winger Anthony Cook told www.ebbsfleetunited.co.uk.
“It’s not often as a player that you get to play in a final, so you have to enjoy the moment, give it everything you have and don’t let the moment pass you by.”
Cook, 24, who has scored thirteen goals from the wing this season, hopes it’s third time lucky for him personally.
He said: “This will be my third time playing in the play-offs – after missing out with injury, coincidentally against Ebbsfleet three years ago – so hopefully it will be third time lucky.
“Dover are a good, physical side that play very direct high-tempo football and have talented players that can make a difference so we know what to expect.
“However, after spending a season with this group of players I know if we turn up and empty the tank on the pitch, give it everything we’ve got, I am confident that the quality, work ethic and togetherness we have can lead us to victory.
“As a player you live to play in big derby games like this in front of a sell-out crowd. The atmosphere will be electric and with the Stonebridge Road faithful behind us, I’m excited and I just cannot wait to get my teeth into this game.”
Dover Athletic lost out to Salisbury City in last season’s Conference South play-off final.
Winger Ricky Modeste, who scored two goals in their 3-0 second leg win over Sutton United at Gander Green Lane last Saturday, told www.doverathletic.com: “Everyone here is desperate to win and scraping in at the last minute has really helped us appreciate the play-offs more. There is a lot of spirit and belief in the dressing room right now.”
The Whites beat Sutton United with ten-men and former Chelmsford City winger Modeste said: “It has been mad. By rights we should not have won on Saturday, but Sutton were not as sharp and there is so much talent around here and I always think we can win.”
Dover Athletic have the fourth best away form in the country, having won thirteen of their 21 away games in the Conference South this season, but Ebbsfleet United have also won 13 at Stonebridge Road, losing three games on their pristine playing surface.
“Every run has to come to an end and in games like this, form does not matter,” said ten-goal Modeste.
“We won both league games this season and there is no reason why we cannot win again.”
Modeste says friendship with Ebbsfleet’s player’s ends for at least 90 minutes tomorrow.
“We all get on and I am close to some of their players, but for ninety minutes there will be no friends – I just want to win promotion.
“The fans have been great and they were brilliant at Sutton – Saturday will be packed!”
Ebbsfleet United go into the game holding the physiological edge after beating a under strength Dover Athletic side 4-0 in the Kent Senior Cup Final Sponsored by Portablefloodlights.com on 5 May.
The Fleet clinch the silverware for the eighth time in their history courtesy of goals from Osei Sankofa, Alex Osborn, Daryl McMahon and Stacy Long at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium.
Let battle commence – may the best team win!
Quotes courtesy of www.ebbsfleetunited.co.uk and www.doverathletic.com
Ebbsfleet United v Dover Athletic
Skrill South Play-Off Final
Saturday 10th May 2014
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Stonebridge Road, Northfleet, Kent DA11 9GN