A look ahead to the Clarets final league game of the season as they travel over the bridge to face Ebbsfleet United.

Chelmsford go into this weekend’s fixture looking to finish their National League South campaign on a high with a visit to playoff-bound Ebbsfleet.

A run of only 1 defeat in their last 7 league games has secured the Clarets safety and has ensured they will take their place in an expanded Vanarama National League South for the 2022/23 season.

The only way is potentially up for the Essex side as we can finish no lower than our current position but we could move up 2 places if City pick up a victory and Bath and Tonbridge both taste defeat.

Ebbsfleet meanwhile will be looking to cement their playoff semi-final berth. They have overtaken Kent rivals Dartford over recent games and finishing 3rd would mean they would not have to play a quarter-final match against the team who finishes in 7th.

The Fleet are 2 points ahead of Dartford going into the final game but it is the Darts who have the better goal difference so Ebbsfleet need to win to take the matter into their own hands.

For City Louis Dunne will be available as the ban for his red card picked up on Tuesday night does not activate until 7 days after the event so he will be suspended for the early games of next season.

City gave 16-year-old Freddie Hockey his 3rd league start of the season on Tuesday in a right-back role and the fact there is little pressure on this game from a Chelmsford perspective may mean that Clarets boss Robbie Simpson will shuffle his pack as he looks to assess his squad ahead of the off-season.

Chelmsford City manager Robbie Simpson told Clarets TV ahead of the game “Ebbsfleet were the best team I’ve seen at this level and the best display of football and I said whoever finishes above them will win the league.”

“I wasn’t happy with the account we gave at Maidstone last week so I’m hoping for us to show more against Ebbsfleet, have some confidence and go and have some fun.”

“It’s the last time this group of players will play together so I want them to come off the pitch and show real team spirit. One last game to go and let’s hope we can leave the fans with something positive!”

Tickets are available to be purchased in advance of the 3pm kick-off and can be bought by clicking here.

Further ticket info can be found here.

A Supporters’ Club coach is running to Ebbsfleet and is priced at £14 for an adult and £8 for those aged 16 and under.

The coach leaves the EMG Inspire Stadium at 12:45pm and the County Hotel at 1:00pm.

You can book your place by contacting David Cresswell on 07582797001.

Last time out…

A stoppage time goal from Matt Rush earned City a deserved draw against Concord Rangers in the National League South.

The striker’s headed goal in stoppage time at EMG Inspire Stadium ensured that the Clarets did not finish their final home game of the season with defeat.

In a first-half of few chances, it was Concord Rangers who lead at the break due to James Blanchfield’s fine finish four minutes before half-time.

The visitors started the brightest with Temi Babalola forcing Kai McKenzie-Lyle into a smart save to deny the attacker with just three minutes played.

City’s best chance of the half arguably fell to Dara Dada just before the half-hour mark as the attacking midfielder’s driving header in the box was well saved Ciaran Gordon-Stearn.

With the half looking likely to end in a stalemate, Blanchfield gave the visitors the lead.

A Concord corner was not fully cleared and the midfielder was on hand to take a touch and fire a fizzing shot past McKenzie-Lyle.

The Clarets started the second-half on the front foot, but despite their efforts, they were unable to fully test Gordon-Stearn in the early stages.

Things then went from bad to worse for Robbie Simpson’s men as Louis Dunne was shown a straight red card for dissent with just over 20 minutes left of play.

Despite having a man less, and very much like the Slough Town game, the red card kicked City into life as they pressed for an equalising goal.

As Chelmsford pressed, Concord came close to doubling their lead late on through former-Claret Lamar Reynolds.

The striker broke on the counter attack for the Beach Boys, cutting onto his left before seeing his fierce shot brilliantly tipped around the post by McKenzie-Lyle.

As the game entered additional time and five minutes added on, a series of corners allowed City to keep up the pressure, with ‘keeper McKenzie-Lyle even coming forward to cause trouble in the box.

The pressure then told as substitute Rush found himself unmarked at the back-post from a Tom Blackwell corner and the Southend United loanee calmly headed the ball over the line.

McKenzie-Lyle was again up for another corner as the Clarets sought after a winner, but neither side were able to find another breakthrough as the game ended in a draw.

The opposition…

Ebbsfleet United sit 3rd in the Vanarama National League South with 73 points from 39 games.

They have been in impressive form of late having won 5 and drawn 1 of their last 6 league fixtures. However their last league defeat was at home when they went down 2-1 in early April thanks to a pair of Ryan Seager strikes for Hungerford.

In terms of their squad, they have an experienced pool of talent to call upon. It seems as though they have had some players return from injury of late with Alfie Egan, Lee Martin and Will Wood starting the match which won 2-1 in their last match and relegated Billericay Town in the process on Bank Holiday Monday. Usual starters Rakish Bingham and former Claret Jack Paxman were on the bench that day.

In goal they have started Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee Louis Moulden between the sticks of late despite having talented former Concord keeper Chris Haigh on the bench.

They have to choose from in defence. Former Millwall left-back Joe Martin, who is the son of former West Ham defender Alvin Martin as well as former Charlton player Chris Solly, and former Wycombe full-back Sido Jombati.

In midfield they have at their disposal such talents like Craig Tanner, Ben Chapman and Lee Martin who started his career at Manchester United and actually played against City boss Robbie Simpson at Old Trafford when Simpson’s Coventry upset Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in the League Cup in 2007.

Up front they can choose from 4 strong strikers in Rakish Bingham, Elliott Romain, Dominic Poleon and Shaquille Coulthirst.

Winger Craig Tanner spoke about Chelmsford City before the game to www.ebbsfleetunited.co.uk “They’re probably the hardest teams,” he said, “because you don’t really know what they’re going to do.”

“Are they going to down tools or are they going to think ‘alright, let’s just go for it this one game and have some fun’ and do whatever they want to do. But as long as we do what we do and we keep it tight at the back, we know with the strike force we’ve got there’s always going to be goals for us.”

Opposition dangerman…

Dominic Poleon is Ebbsfleet’s top scorer in the National League South with 17 this campaign. The 28 year old Londoner started his career at Leeds United and played almost 30 games in the Championship for them.

Since then he has played for clubs mainly at League One and League Two level such as Oldham, Wimbledon, Bradford and Crawley. Poleon is having the best scoring season of his career at Ebbsfleet and has notched 2 league hat-tricks, against Tonbridge and Chippenham respectively, so the Clarets defence will have to be at their best to keep Poleon and the Fleet attack out.

Our last meeting…

Clarets 0-0 Ebbsfleet, Monday 30th August 2021.

The reverse fixture was back in late August when City survived a wave of Ebbsfleet possession to grab a 0-0 draw. Jacob Marsden was the hero on the day for City as he saved Dominic Poleon’s 86th minute spot-kick to preserve the clean sheet. Ebbsfleet manager Dennis Kutrieb was also sent off after he came onto the field of play to remonstrate with the referee. Simeon Jackson had a late chance to win the game for City but headed a free-kick wide.

City will not to remember their previous visit to the Kuflink Stadium as it was it in the 2017 National League South Playoff Final. Bagasan Graham gave the Clarets the lead against 10 man Fleet but current City captain Dave Winfield equalised for the home side and then current Dulwich marksman Darren McQueen scored the winner to see Daryl McMahon’s side promoted.

City have lost their last 3 visits to Stonebridge Road with our last victory there coming in an FA Cup replay in September 2015. After current Coventry striker Matt Godden had given the home side the lead, City equalised through a Kenny Clark own goal and then after a raft of missed chances for the Fleet, young forward Hugo Skepelhorn scored the winner for the Clarets in the 84th minute. That win was actually the last of 3 wins in a row for the Clarets at Ebbsfleet and City have not tasted victory there since until maybe tomorrow?!

Where to follow the game…

The Club will be providing live minute-by-minute coverage of the game on Twitter (@OfficialClarets) using the hashtag #CCFC.

There will also be live audio commentary from Radio Clarets.

Post-match reports, highlights and interviews will be found on the club website, social media and ClaretsTV following the game.

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