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Ebbsfleet United boss Steve Brown ponders Dartford's reprieve back to Conference Premier at Salisbury City's expense

By Steve Tervet

Dartford’s reprieve from relegation has left Ebbsfleet manager Steve Brown wondering whether his side should have gone up instead of their local rivals.

Brown, in his first season in management, led Ebbsfleet to the Conference South play-off final where they lost 1-0 to Dover. That meant north Kent derbies were back on the agenda for 2014-15, the Darts having dropped out of Conference Premier after two seasons.

Steve Brown Picture: Andy Payton
Steve Brown Picture: Andy Payton

But just as Brown was looking forward to taking on Dartford boss Tony Burman in league fixtures for the first time, the Darts reclaimed their place at non-league’s top table as a result of Salisbury’s financial strife.

Brown said: "It’s a shame we both weren’t up there. I sat down over the summer and started hearing things about Salisbury. Selfishly, you do think 'can’t there be some kind of play-off (involving the losing play-off finalist)?'

"Could something be done that gives us a shot? We had a good season and yet two teams that got relegated (Dartford and Chester) automatically get put back into that league. It’s a selfish point of view, I know."

The two sides did meet last season, in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup. Almost 3,000 watched a 1-1 draw at Stonebridge Road before Dartford won the replay 1-0 at Princes Park.

Brown said: "On the one hand, I was looking forward to the two games against them because I loved the cup games. The atmosphere was superb.

"But I had a good chat with Tony. I’ve got a lot of time for Tony, he’s a cracking fella. I’m pleased for him because he had a tough year last year and wants to pit his wits again, to prove Dartford are more than capable of staying in there."

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