Ebbsfleet United boss Steve Brown believes Eastleigh will beat current leaders Bromley to the Skrill South title
Ebbsfleet boss Steve Brown believes Eastleigh will catch leaders Bromley and win the Skrill South title.
Bromley's 3-1 win over the Fleet on New Year's Day moved them 11 points clear of second-placed Eastleigh, with Brown's side another eight adrift in third.
But the Hampshire side have three games in hand and with the scrap for automatic promotion now looking like a two-horse race, Brown expects the Spitfires to prevail.
Asked if he thought Bromley would go on to win the title, he said: "No, I don’t actually. I think you’ll find Eastleigh will give them a right good go. They've got a very strong squad.
"I admire everything (Bromley manager) Mark Goldberg’s done and obviously Smudge (Neil Smith) as well, the coach, and I think they’ve surprised everybody.
"They were dark horses at the start of the season but they’ve maintained their run. It’s one thing getting to the top of the league but it’s quite another staying there, beating teams week in, week out.
"That’s their 17th win, so you have to give them enormous credit for the results they’re picking up."
Pierre Joseph-Dubois gave the Ravens a 29th-minute lead at Stonebridge Road, with second-half goals from Jake Reid and Bradley Goldberg putting the game beyond Ebbsfleet.
Brown said: "They sniffed blood, didn’t they? They’re top of the league for a reason – they score lots of goals.
"When they got their noses in front, I saw some chests puff out and there were a lot of verbals. They celebrated like they’d won a cup final, as they should. This is a tough place to come and they’ve won the game comfortably."
Every other Skrill South fixture fell foul of the weather on New Year's Day, so the Fleet remain third - but the battle for play-off places has tightened up.
They are just a point ahead of Sutton and two in front of Eastbourne, while Bishop's Stortford, Bath and Dover - the three teams immediately outside the top-five, would all overtake Ebbsfleet if they won their games in hand.
Brown said: "These periods happen – and (games against) Sutton, Bromley, Dover, Bromley is a tough Christmas period.
"I would have hoped to come out of it with slightly more points than four. At the start of it I wanted seven but you have to factor in a loss against those four sides, but what we didn’t factor in was two losses.
"We had a great result against Sutton, a really good performance and a good result away at Bromley and then we’ve had a couple of slip-ups.
"We’ll work on the things that have not gone so well in those two games. I think it’s quite obvious for everybody to see what’s not gone right – we’re not defending as well as we were, so we’ll do some work on the training ground regarding the goals we’ve conceded to try to batten that down and make ourselves tough to beat again."
Ebbsfleet travel to Chelmsford City on Saturday.
Striker Ben May is a doubt for the game after coming off with a groin injury midway through the first half against Bromley, while midfielders Dean Rance (hamstring) and Daryl McMahon (ligaments) are also battling to be fit.
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