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Ebbsfleet United manager Dennis Kutrieb reacts to 2-1 defeat to Hungerford in National League South

Ebbsfleet boss Dennis Kutrieb admitted his side had only themselves to blame after losing to Hungerford on Saturday.

The Fleet missed a host of first-half chances and then saw defender Joe Martin red-carded before losing to a Ryan Seager penalty in National League South.

Fleet captain Lee Martin on the ball against Hungerford. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC (55842963)
Fleet captain Lee Martin on the ball against Hungerford. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC (55842963)

It saw Kutrieb’s men drop out of the top four – and the Fleet boss was not happy with his players.

“It’s a tough one to take,” he admitted. “The first half was an outstanding display with many clear-cut chances. We needed to have a comfortable lead, three, four, five (goals) - some great saves from the goalkeeper and some finishes were not good enough.

“Then we conceded a stupid goal, they had two shots on target the whole game, and get three points. Maybe we don’t know in three months how we didn’t win this game but well done to them, from us, simply not good enough, especially in the second half.

“I think maybe a few lads thought we can get this win, we just need to wait for our chances and they can come. But if you’re not working hard enough to make things happen and create chances then you can’t win football games.

“Maybe you think as a player the chances will come, we just need to do the same things. But obviously it’s not happening if you’re not working hard enough.

“I can’t blame the boys for not putting effort in to run, to win tackles, to chase back, whatever it is. But when you are in the box (you need to) make the right decision, when you have a shot on target, when you play a pass or cross, nowhere near good enough and it wasn’t the same quality as the first half. We need to question ourselves because it’s just not good enough, as simple as that.”

Hungerford won few friends at Stonebridge Road as their streetwise approach worked against the Fleet.

Referee Joel Mannix was unpopular with the home fans but Kutrieb, while frustrated by the officials, didn’t seek to blame anyone else.

“We prepared the boys that need to be up for this (game),” said Kutrieb. “It was completely different to Dorking who try to play on the floor and Hungerford go more direct, they try to break up the play, they take a little bit of time from the clock when it is possible.

“I said to the boys during the week that I just hope we have a good referee, the referee was way off it as well but at the end of the day it’s not the reason that we lost the game because of the referee. But if you have a referee who not one minute is able to control the game and lead the game, there is something definitely wrong.

“But it’s not about the referee, not about Hungerford, not about the pitch, not about the weather, it’s just on us. We need to be better. If we want to succeed, if we want to win games, we need to be better.”

Despite only winning one of their last four games, Ebbsfleet should still reach the play-offs.

But that prospect was far from the manager’s mind as he looks to get the likes of Shaquile Coulthirst and Alex Finney back from injury at bottom side Welling next weekend.

“At the moment I don’t think about play-offs, I just think about the game,” he said. “Against Dorking we played a good game in the first half, again (on Saturday) we played a good game first half (but) second half Dorking was not good enough. They put pressure on us and we could have nicked it at the end. Here it was a completely different second half, they just defended very deep and it was not enough. We need to do more.

“As you can see, we have a tight squad at the moment and are suffering with injuries so I can’t make the changes that I would love to make. We need to find the right solutions. You can see different players on the wings at the moment, we’re trying to find the right bonds and who’s in a good relationship and can cause the biggest damage for the opponents.

“We will work on that and keep doing it, we definitely will work harder in the next weeks because if I have the feeling as the manager that you could have done more in the second half, then the boys have a problem.

“Shaq is not good bad, he should be fine next week, Alex Finney is back now. Joe Martin will miss out. I couldn’t see if it was a red card or not, it was tough to see from where I was. We need to come through and the boys that are available need to work hard.

“If you go home and think you’ve done everything you could have done, that’s fine, I will take a defeat, a point, whatever it is. But if I have the feeling that I go home and I have something left in my tank, then I did something wrong.

“We fight for every inch but with our quality it’s not about the effort. We need to do a little bit more and be a little bit better, and that’s where we will work this week and then we will be ready for Welling. They have their own problems and need to fight for points like we do so it’s definitely another tough game for us but we will be up for it.”

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