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Ebbsfleet United boss Daryl McMahon looks ahead to the visit of Tranmere Rovers

By Steve Tervet

Daryl McMahon has called for Ebbsfleet to embrace the big occasion when Tranmere come to town on Saturday.

Fleet have won just one of their first 10 games in the National League – drawing eight – but they go into the match just a point behind the former Football League club.

The last time Ebbsfleet played at this level, Tranmere were in League 1 and although the pre-season title favourites have started slowly, they’re still the biggest draw in non-league football.

Ebbsfleet manager Daryl McMahon Picture Andy Payton

Ebbsfleet manager Daryl McMahon Picture: Andy Payton

McMahon said: "It’s almost like a free hit because I’m sure everyone will say Tranmere should beat us.

"Across this season there’s probably going to be 10 teams who have been at the level longer, who have got good players as well and we’ll be the underdogs.

"We have to embrace those games and generate a bit more quality and get the crowd on their feet with some better play."

Fleet tasted defeat in the league for the first time this calendar year when Aldershot won 2-0 at Stonebridge Road on Tuesday night.

The home side missed good chances and looked desperate towards the end as they chased the game.

McMahon said: "I’ve said to the boys, it’s not about confidence draining, it’s 10 games into a new season and we’ve gone up a level.

"We shouldn’t have a lack of confidence, we should be embracing it and enjoying it.

"I think, because we have been so used to winning, we’re putting ourselves under pressure to win all the time instead of relaxing and playing.

Dean Rance makes a challenge during Ebbsfleet's 1-1 draw at Chester Picture Terry Marland

Dean Rance makes a challenge during Ebbsfleet's 1-1 draw at Chester Picture: Terry Marland

"Aldershot will be one of the favourites to go up again this year, so will Tranmere, so you have to embrace those games and show how good you are.

"We’re in a situation now where we need to dig in, work hard, stick together and improve the performances.

"I’ve got no doubt that come Saturday, the fans who were brilliant on Tuesday will be brilliant again for us."

Ebbsfleet hadn’t lost a league game since Boxing Day but the unbeaten run was never something McMahon talked up.

"It’s a monkey off the back," he said after the Aldershot defeat. "We have an opportunity now to start another run.

"That’s important, especially at home, to go on that front foot again and take the game to Tranmere."

Rovers went down 1-0 at Maidenhead in midweek and they’ve failed to score in four of their five away games so far.

Ebbsfleet will be without Sean Shields after he picked up a stomach injury in the 1-1 draw at Chester on Saturday, while defender Jean-Yves Koue Niate has been released.

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