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Ebbsfleet United defender Mark Phillips aiming for promotion after joining from Braintree Town of the National League

Different expectations won’t mean a different approach for Mark Phillips after he left Braintree to sign for Ebbsfleet.

The 33-year-old defender helped unfancied Iron, one of the smallest clubs in the National League, reach the play-offs last season against all the odds.

Braintree were eventually beaten by Grimsby in the semi-finals and with manager Danny Cowley now in charge of Lincoln, the team has broken up with Phillips one of several players to move on.

Mark Phillips in action for Braintree against Dover last season Picture: Tony Flashman
Mark Phillips in action for Braintree against Dover last season Picture: Tony Flashman

He relished the underdog tag at Cressing Road but knows it will be a different story with Fleet, who will again be among the National League South title favourites.

But Phillips said: "I’ve been in teams where we’ve been the bigger club in the league and it’s exactly the same.

"It’s all about churning results out, week in, week out, approaching every game with the same attitude, the same professionalism and getting the job done – whether that be 1-0, 2-1, whatever the scoreline may be, as long as you keep racking up an average points score over the season.

"It doesn’t matter whether you’re a big fish or not.

"I’m sure there’s a lot of clubs that play against Ebbsfleet and sit back hoping for a counter-attack, don’t want to be too open and expansive because they’ll get picked off.

"I know a lot of the players already from playing in the League and I know the quality of the players the manager’s brought in.

"If I can add a bit of solidity to the defensive side of the pitch, we’ll let those players go ahead and win games.

"Everyone knows where they stand. The aim is promotion. I wasn’t at the club last year but know they narrowly missed out.

"With the quality of the squad, the players we’ve got, the management and the resources I’ve seen already since I’ve been here, promotion is the one and only aim."

Phillips started his career at Millwall and went on to play for Brentford, Southend and AFC Wimbledon before dropping into non-league at Braintree last summer.

He said: "As soon as I got there, I could tell there was quality in training. A few journalists and punters were putting us down as favourites to get relegated but they hadn’t seen what I could see. I knew straight away we had a realistic chance of the play-offs.

"We had togetherness. There were no big-time charlies, just everyone working for the cause – the management, staff and the players. It was a unique mix that we had.

"We had no world-beaters in terms of players but the different parts all came together. We were a solid outfit, well organised and it was an enjoyable year.

"We kept 25 clean sheets so everything we achieved was on a solid base. Braintree wanted to keep me, they offered me new terms but I wanted a fresh challenge."

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