Two months ago, Ebbsfleet Utd faced an uncertain time with their long-term future very much in doubt.
Having been backed financially from Kuwait for the past five years, the world almost came crashing down around Stonebridge Road at the back end of 2018.
The purse strings were finally tightened, and the Fleet looked to be heading towards the queue of money laden clubs who failed in their quest to make the breakthrough from non-league’s elite to the Football League.
But having re-set their structure to a more sensible level of investment, Ebbsfleet are thriving once again and sights are set once again on the end of season National League play-offs.
Having been involved in them last season and with more investment over the summer in the squad, hopes were high of a repeat again this season.
Still under the tutor ledge of Daryl McMahon, an ex- Fleet midfielder, the season’s expectations fell away in September where indifferent results throughout the month were to leave the club in mid table but closer to the bottom four than challenging at the top end.
McMahon had previously succeeded where others had failed with the cash to get the club promoted to non-league’s top table, and its wealthy owners looked to be on course to take the club into the Football League.
The problem that occurs when it appears no return is forthcoming or quickly enough is to slash the budget because it becomes no long sustainable.
The same happened here and not did it only affect the playing staff, but also McMahon’s coaching staff and eventually a mutual agreement between club and manager saw McMahon depart and wily old campaigner Gary Hill installed to take the club forward, despite having to deal with the reduced squad size.
In the two months since Hill has been in charge, the team have found some consistency with only one league defeat in ten league games and now sit just three points off the play offs as 2019 begins.
Whilst undoubtedly the club will face further financial challenges over the next few months, Hill is using all of his experience to ensure the team performs on the pitch and with the side having notched 11 goals in the last three games along with two clean sheets, there’s no reason why Fleet fans won’t be celebrating another play-off appearance come the end of April.
With Danny Kedwell and Michael Cheek scoring 20 goals between them so far and backed up by ex Gillingham striker Cody McDonald, Hill has the firepower to out-gun any opponent.
Couple that with six clean sheets in those nine games and anyone coming up against Ebbsfleet over the coming months will certainly be given a tough ninety minutes.
However, with a smaller squad than enjoyed by previous managers Hill may have to rely on his contacts in the game to ensure they don’t fall away from what it is promising to turn into a decent season after the dark days of the autumn.
Written by Trevor Knell
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37
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