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Home Gravesend Sport Article
Steve Brown is set to rest players against Dorchester on Saturday ahead of Ebbsfleet's Skrill South play-off semi-final.
The Fleet manager watched his side guarantee a top-five finish on Thursday night when they won 2-1 at Concord Rangers. That result moved them five points clear of Dover, in sixth, and three ahead of fifth-placed Havant & Waterlooville, who would need an eight-goal swing in their favour to leapfrog Ebbsfleet and finish fourth even if results went their way on the final day of the regular season.
Bearing all that in mind, Brown is likely to leave some of his key players out when Dorchester - rock-bottom and already relegated - visit Stonebridge Road.
Asked if qualification for the play-offs would affect his team selection against the Magpies, Brown said: "I would imagine so, yes. There’s a few walking wounded and I’ll see how they recover.
"A couple of them have come up to me and said 'I don’t want to be left out', which is good to hear, but ultimately it will be me making the decision in terms of what we have available to us. At least it allows me to tinker.
"We have a very good home record. We’ve kept it relatively tight recently, I want to do that again and I’m sure the players will. Whatever XI I pick, I want to get a result."
Indeed, the Fleet have won their last five home games without letting in a single goal. They've conceded only once at Stonebridge Road since January and their last home defeat was back on New Year's Day against Bromley - their likely play-off opponents.
Dorchester are eight points adrift at the foot of the table, having scored fewer goals and conceded more than any other team in Skrill South this season.
Entry is free for all supporters on Saturday and with the home leg of the semi-final coming up on Wednesday, an entertaining display against Dorchester could entice newcomers back.
"I think that would be the ideal goal, wouldn’t it?" Brown said. "The football club has made it clear that they’re trying to get the fanbase a bit bigger, and they're trying to get in some youngsters, which will be the lifeblood of the club moving forward.
"Every club in the country’s trying to get younger support in to make a bigger fanbase because that’s the fanbase that will last the longest. We’re no different. I can’t promise attractive football at this moment in time but let’s hope they enjoy the game and enjoy the day."
Kick-off at Stonebridge Road is at 3pm.
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