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Ebbsfleet United manager Dennis Kutrieb says they need to make it harder for teams to score against them

Ebbsfleet boss Dennis Kutrieb is putting more emphasis on being hard to beat.

The Fleet shipped another four goals in last weekend’s 4-2 defeat at Havant - the fourth time since the start of December they have conceded at least four away from home.

Sido Jombati competes for Ebbsfleet in last weekend's defeat at Havant. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC (55107630)
Sido Jombati competes for Ebbsfleet in last weekend's defeat at Havant. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC (55107630)

It’s a record that needs improving - and fast - if they are to revive their flagging promotion ambitions after a run of five defeats in seven National League South games.

“We need to stop conceding goals and that’s my aim,” said Kutrieb. “We will score goals all day long but we need to put more focus on our defensive work.

“When you watch back the goals it’s not a clear and obvious thing that you can solve just by training. It’s more about focus, being prepared and not making it easy for the opponent.

“I wish we would score an easy goal but it’s always hard work for us to score, then we give away (soft goals). Of course, it’s a concern.

“We want to win games and we need to make it hard for teams to score against us, it’s far too easy.

“It’s not a stupid mistake, like playing out from the back. There can be 100 different issues like focus or concentration. In the games there appears to be no danger, then we make a mistake and straight away there is a goal.”

Kutrieb stressed that his squad are good enough. He also refused to put all the blame at his back three, which has changed regularly in recent weeks with suspensions for Sefa Kahraman and injuries to the likes of Joe Martin, Sido Jombati and Alex Finney all influencing team selection.

Jombati came in for his first appearance since January 22 at Havant and was involved in a mix-up for the second goal alongside Chris Solly, who was also at fault the previous week against Slough.

“It’s a mindset, not an issue of quality,” claimed the Fleet boss.

“It was Chris Solly and Sido Jombati on Saturday - it’s clear they are good enough players for this league. You can’t say the quality is not good enough because they are.

“We’ve talked about it and we’re putting more focus on defensive work. We’re aware of it, we need to find the right XI that’s not able to concede (easy goals).

“I’ve never been someone who tries to pass the blame or find excuses. If Tobi Adebayo-Rowling needs to play in a back three as he can play there when we have injuries or suspensions, then he will. Sefa was out, Alex Finney was out and Joe Martin too. They are all defenders with high quality but I need to find the solution.

“It’s too easy if I try to pass blame to the back three - it’s all over the pitch. We all need to be on the same page and don’t concede.

“We need to find the right formation and defensive players that can stop conceding goals.

“Chris Solly was outstanding for so many weeks, he made tackles or blocks, good decisions, but in the last two games he has struggled a bit. Maybe he should have had a break but we couldn’t leave him out as he is too important for us.

“Tobi is another, when he is available, he plays. They could both do with a rest but that can’t happen with who has been available.”

Finney and Kahraman featured in Wednesday's Kent Senior Cup tie at Bromley, with a view to being involved at home to Eastbourne this Saturday.

But Martin is another week away from a return, after coming off injured in the defeat at Dartford three weeks ago.

Kutrieb knows the season is being shaped by small margins but needs to get the balance right between his new recruits - Shaquile Coulthirst, Ashley Nathaniel-George and Louie Moulden - having time to settle but also delivering on the pitch.

There’s no definitive timescale being put on Rakish Bingham’s return by Kutrieb so there’s extra pressure on Coulthirst to hit the ground running.

“We need a little bit of time for Shaq to settle in,” said Kutrieb. “He is the one we brought in but he can’t wear the same boots (as Rakish).

“He is a little different but good enough for us. He got his goal at Havant and hopefully that will give him a big boost.

“Ashley is a good player but he needs time to settle in. That’s why I say about loan players, it’s difficult for them sometimes to come in and have an immediate impact in just four weeks. It’s not that easy.

“I can’t judge from just a results perspective as they don’t look like we are heading in the right direction. We need to make sure that we get another win on Saturday and gain more confidence.

“We dominated at Havant for 60 minutes, but that’s not enough to win a game if you then switch off for 15 minutes. It’s not everything negative but we need to sort it out so we stop conceding goals.”

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