Vanarama National League (Ebbsfleet United Preview)
This weekend will see the start of the new 2017-18 Vanarama National League season and after surviving on the final day of the season for the last two season, Guiseley AFC will be looking to get off to a winning start against Ebbsfleet United at Nethermoor Park.
Adam Lockwood has made a number of changes to the squad over the summer, signing Frank Mulhern, Lee Molyneux, Kevan Hurst, Connor Brown, Kayode Odejayi, Callum McFadzean and Alex Purver, whilst also taking Raul Correiato on loan from Blackpool.
It terms of results it has been a mixed pre-season with four defeats, two draws and two wins, however stats don’t always give you the full picture. Apart from the Leeds United game the rest of the matches have been very close games and the manager will of course have learnt a lot about his squad, in terms formations, performance and players.
Ebbsfleet United will arrive at Nethermoor Park on a high having won promotion last season via the Vanarama National League (South) Play-Off’s beating Chelmsford City in the final. Pre-season has seen some mixed results for the Kent club with four defeats, one draw and two victories including a 3-1 win over a Tottenham Hotspur XI.
Making a welcome return to West Yorkshire as part of the Ebbsfleet United squad will be the former Bradford City striker Aaron McLean. Having spent a large part of last season out injured, the striker is now back to full fitness and looking forward to the new season.
McLean was nicknamed the “The Goal Machine” whilst playing for Bradford City and the former Premier League and Football League Two Golden Boot Winner will definitely be one to watch this weekend.
I spoke with the former Bantams striker earlier this week to get his thoughts on his fitness and the coming season from an Ebbsfleet United viewpoint :-
(1) After missing most of the season last year through injury could you give us an update on the injury and your current fitness and what is like to be back in training and on the field taking part in the pre-season games?
Obviously last season was one of the most frustrating seasons ive had in my career. Picking up an injury in pre season and then coming back and doing my acl was tough to take but im glad to say im near full recovery. I still have some work to do till im at 100% in terms of strengthening but its work i enjoy doing and i have good people around me guiding me in the right direction.
(2) There are some big names in the National Conference this season including Leyton Orient, Hartlepool United and Tranmere Rovers, what do you think the challenges will be for Ebbsfleet United completing against those sides and how well do you think Ebbsfleet will do this season?
This season will be a tough season as there are alot of big teams and alot of players with league experience but were looking forward to it. We have a good blend of experience & youth and some very good players who will definitely go on to have good careers in the game. As a club we are looking to continue to improve and grow and we will be doing our best to be in the shake up come the end of the season.
(3) After leaving Bradford City you had a time back at Peterborough United including a spell on the coaching / management team. What was it like to be part of the management team as oppose to playing and is that something you will look to do in the future?
I really enjoyed the period i had as a coach at Peterborough and id say its definitely something id look to do in the future. You get an immense amount of satisfaction when you see the boys put into practice what you’ve worked on with them during the week.
(4) This weekend you will be returning to Yorkshire to take on Guiseley AFC in the National League, will it bring back any memories of your time at Valley Parade and what do you think was your best moment for Bradford City?
I lived up in Yorkshire for 6 years and loved it. I try & go back when i can. I really enjoyed Bradford tho it didn’t end the way i would have liked. My fondest memory was beating Leeds at Valley Parade. It meant so much to the players & fans.