Ebbsfleet manager Dennis Kutrieb was delighted with striker Shaq Coulthirst’s opening-day display - but admitted there’s even more to come.
The 28-year-old led the line for Kutrieb’s men in their 1-0 National League win at Rochdale last Saturday in the absence of the injured Rakish Bingham and suspended Dominic Poleon.
He thrived on the responsibility with an excellent display in attack, and the Fleet boss was keen to stress the striker’s upbringing through Tottenham’s youth system and subsequent spells at Peterborough and Barnet underline his ability.
“We have to give Shaq credit,” admitted Kutrieb. “He’s one of not many players who get a bit of negative noise where people think he should do better and should be better.
“As I’ve always said, his work-rate is outstanding. Yes, he hasn’t scored a lot of goals but he works hard, he’s an honest guy and has a great character.
“He has a very good pedigree by the way, he hasn’t come from nowhere and is making an impact, his pedigree is outstanding. I think that’s something you shouldn’t forget and on top of that I’ve known him a long time now.
“I know his character, I know how he works, I know how desperate he is to play well for me, for himself and the team. I would be stupid if I didn’t see that and for fans or media, it’s sometimes easy to judge on a performance on a daily basis but for me there’s much more to it.
“I think Saturday was a reward for him, that people could see he is able to deliver something obvious for the team, let’s put it that way.
“From that point of view I’m happy, but I still think there’s more to come as he’s a striker and he should score goals. He could have scored two goals on Saturday, if he scores one then we go away and say ‘well done’ but at least one of the chances he should score.
“I’m happy with his pre-season, his performance on Saturday and I’m pretty sure he will score goals for us and he’ll get more and more confidence.”
Poleon is available for the Fleet when they host Solihull Moors at Stonebridge Road this Saturday.
The striker netted 38 times as Ebbsfleet blazed their way to the National League South title last season and Kutrieb noted: “Of course, if you have your top goalscorer back available it’s always an advantage and I’m looking forward to that – every single manager in the world would do.”
Reflecting on the win at Rochdale, Kutrieb was pleased that they were able to carry on the winning feeling from the previous campaign.
“It was important for us to get three points and get off to a good start,” added the Fleet boss. “It keeps the momentum going in general, everyone is positive and confident.
“It was, by far, not our best performance from a technical point of view but I think tactically we were spot-on.
“We knew what they wanted to do, they always try to get in behind our back line centrally and that’s why we sat a little bit deeper at times so it wasn’t possible.
“It sometimes looks dangerous as it’s almost a chance every time but it needs to be a 100 per cent pass, a 100 per cent run, a 100 per cent touch and you might have a big chance. But that didn’t happen for them and they couldn’t open us up with their pattern of play. That’s what we had prepared for in pre-season and that’s what we did brilliantly.”