Today was a first ever visit to the Kuflink Stadium to see the home ground of the National League South’s Ebbsfleet United, as they played Concord Rangers FC.
Ebbsfleet’s home ground is sited on Stonebridge Road in Northfleet, Kent and has a capacity of 4769 with 2179 seated. The ground was enhanced as recently as 2017, with investment from its Kuwaiti backed owners. I was able to book a ticket (£15) and pay for a programme (£3) online before the game and found free parking on an industrial estate at the back of the ground.
The ground has seated and covered stands, along both sides and another behind the goal. An open standing terrace remains behind one goal and in the side corners, squeezed in beside one of the seated stands. There were good facilities for bar, refreshments and toilets.
Manager Dennis Kutrieb was recruited from Germany in 2020 and the club has made a really positive start to the 2021/22 season, sitting in fourth place in the Vanorama National League South prior to kick off but with a game in hand over their rivals.
Concord Rangers are in a transitional season, with this being a first under new manager Chris Search, who was appointed having been successful with the club’s under 18’s side. The Canvey Island side sit themselves just one point outside the play off places in eleventh place, on 22 points but having already played one game more than Ebbsfleet United.
Ebbsfleet United have two prolific scorers this season with Rakish Bingham on 7 league goals from 12 games and Dominic Poleon with 9 goals in 14 games. Concord Rangers have no one key scorer but a player to watch on paper is 20 year old Lewis Simper, who joined for a second loan spell from Canbridge United this month, scoring in his first match.
The day was chilly but not as cold as it had been recently. There was light sleeting rain as the teams took to the pitch. Ebbsfleet were in red shirts and white shorts and Concord Rangers in an all blue kit.
Ebbsfleet started well. Their passing and direct approach was good, with Will Wood linking neatly with Alfie Egan on the right. After just seven minutes Alfie Egan slid home the opening goal to put Ebbsfleet in the lead.
Ebbsfleet United didn’t then push on and capitalise on the goal, making silly errors at the back and giving the ball away up front. In the 29th minute the ball was given away one time too many, and a pass from the right for Concord Rangers, found Luke Simper, who slotted home an equaliser.
Upto half time the game was evenly fought with both sides having chances. After the break Ebbsfleet United had most of the play and the addition of Dominic Poleon, as a substitute, added some fire up front. However as late as 80 minutes in, Ebbsfleet were still unable to secure a second goal and grab the three points.
On 83 minutes when it looked inevitable the game would be a frustrating draw, Ebbsfleet’s Greg Cundle fired the ball into the Concord net, from the edge of the area to make it 2-1.
Ebbsfleet had to keep fighting to the final whistle to secure the victory as Concord Rangers didn’t want to accept the result. However finally, the referee blew for full time. With Maidstone beating the leaders, Dartford, and promotion rivals Dulwich Hamlet, dropping points, this could prove to be a big result for Ebbsfleet United, by the end of the season.