DEFENDERS EARN THEIR STRIPES IN STALE­MATE

The Non-League Football Paper - - VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE - By MATT BAD­COCK

VERDICT: Hardly a clas­sic but there was very lit­tle be­tween the two sides and a point apiece re­ward for strong de­fen­sive dis­plays – al­though Ebb­s­fleet will prob­a­bly be the hap­pier

SOME­TIMES you’ve got to show a lit­tle bit of love to the defenders in the Na­tional League.

Foot­ball can’t al­ways be a thrill-a-minute and, un­for­tu­nately, this one won’t be tak­ing up too much time on the end of sea­son DVDs.

A clas­sic it wasn’t, but that was be­cause the defenders on both sides did the busi­ness.

Ebb­s­fleet United boss Daryl McMa­hon called for his side to show some co­jones at high­fly­ing Sut­ton United af­ter a limp dis­play at home to Torquay United in mid­week.

They cer­tainly did that and it had McMa­hon hail­ing the way his side got back to ba­sics.

“It was a very good, com­mit­ted per­for­mance,” McMa­hon said. “It’s what we asked for re­ally. We played Sut­ton two years ago in my first sea­son in charge in a pre­sea­son friendly, and last pre-sea­son, and we got bul­lied both times to be hon­est – we didn’t to­day.

“They were prob­a­bly a lit­tle bit sur­prised at the way we set up and went about our busi­ness but I thought we were big, we were strong. You have to be in this di­vi­sion.

“Tues­day night (against Torquay) the tech­ni­cal side of our per­for­mance wasn’t good enough. It got bitty and frus­trat­ing. To­day we’ve seen a com­mit­ted per­for­mance and more what we’re about.

“Sut­ton are a good side. They’ve been a good side for many years now, es­pe­cially the last two or three. They’re dif­fi­cult to play against but we han­dled it well.”

Had Fleet’s Luke Coul­son got more power on his poke at keeper Jamie But­ler inside a minute, then the en­ter­tain­ment may have been very dif­fer­ent. Eng­land C de­fender Louis John had good chances in the sec­ond-half for Sut­ton, too, but it just wouldn’t fall any­one’s way.

Aside from feel­ing his side should have been awarded a late penalty when Kieron Cado­gan went over in the box, Sut­ton man­ager Paul Doswell had few com­plaints.

Fleet coun­tered the U’s by mak­ing sure they were as solid as pos­si­ble and McMa­hon made two changes to his back­line from Tues­day.

Malta in­ter­na­tional Sam Ma­gri came in at right-back, Chris Bush shifted to left-back and Yado Mambo slot­ted into the heart of the de­fence along­side Kenny Clark.

Mambo lit­er­ally put his body on the line to hack Kenny Davis’ shot clear on 68 min­utes when the ball fell to the mid­fielder on the edge of the box with keeper Nathan Ash­more out of po­si­tion.

Clark made some cru­cial blocks, in­clud­ing from Adam Coombes when the sub­sti­tute tried to turn in at the near post near the end.

When Tommy Wright got in be­hind be­fore that, Clark man­cen­tre-halves, aged to stay the right side of the law to nip at the fleet­footed at­tacker’s heels and get back to make a slid­ing tackle.

Doswell thought the ref­eree could have in­ter­vened, but he couldn’t be hap­pier with the sea­son the U’s are hav­ing.

Sitting fourth in the league af­ter 18 games, he be­lieves they are show­ing they be­long in Non-League’s top-flight.

“Teams are reg­u­larly talk­ing about us now as be­ing a threat or hav­ing a phys­i­cal threat,” Doswell said.

“But we’re not just a phys­i­cal side, we can mix our game up very well.

“So credit to Daryl be­cause they’ve gone with four big two hold­ing mid­field play­ers, and I thought they de­fended man­fully – as we did. Our back four was good.

“And some­times, we might not like it, you’ve got to praise de­fen­sive games as well. Both teams de­fen­sively did well.

“I felt we were on top, but without cre­at­ing that un­be­liev­able chance where we go, ‘Should have scored’. There were a cou­ple of con­tro­ver­sial bits for me, but I can’t look at it and think one team de­served it more than the other.”

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