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Ebbsfleet United manager Danny Searle reacts to 2-1 win against AFC Fylde in National League

Ebbsfleet boss Danny Searle admitted he had mixed emotions despite taking another huge step towards safety on Saturday.

The Fleet beat AFC Fylde 2-1 to move to within four points of safety in the National League.

Ebbsfleet manager Danny Searle. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Ebbsfleet manager Danny Searle. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

But Searle felt his team performed better in their two previous games – draws against Dagenham and Southend – than they did against Fylde.

“Mixed emotions to be fair, obviously it was massively important that we got three points which we did so that’s that box ticked,” said Searle.

“I think from a performance perspective we could have made it a lot more comfortable for ourselves than we did. Then you give them a sniff and they get a goal and suddenly it's panic stations for three or four minutes before we settled down again.

“I can't criticise the lads for that because they did their job.

“If you said to me we're going to play poorly to the end of the season and win every game I'd probably take that but I think from our perspective we've said in the dressing room that that's not our standard.

“If you look at the Dagenham and Southend performances, they were much better performances than that. But at the end of the day, we said at all costs we must win the game and we did that.”

Ben Chapman scored twice, the first a cracking left-foot strike after cutting in from the right.

Searle knows the midfielder has that quality in his locker.

“I think Chappo's got quality from both sides and we know he's competent with both feet as he does it a lot in training,” said Searle.

“He's a threat from crossing situations and obviously he's got a decent strike on him as well. He nearly had a second one in the first half from a similar angle as well.

“Am I delighted it happened? Yes. Am I surprised? Not really because I know what his quality is about.”

The game had few chances on target although Ebbsfleet were in charge for long periods and created the better chances.

But they conceded a late goal and despite Fylde being reduced to 10 men in the 90th minute the hosts couldn’t relax until the final whistle.

“I think for the most part we did impose ourselves on the game,” said Searle.

“It was a bit flat at times. I felt you could hear the quietness in the stadium and I've said from when I first came in it's our job to get them up.

“Actually a few rash tackles and a sending-off and suddenly the crowd are alive, and we capitalised on that by making sure that we put our foot in when we needed to.

“I think they were delighted to go in one-nil at half-time as we could have been three or four-up, then even second half we've created some great goalscoring opportunities and on another day we could be sitting here talking about four, five, six, whatever it might be.

“It's when those situations are not going your way that you need to dig in and make sure that wherever the goals come from we get the goals and we did that again.”

The pressure remains on Ebbsfleet but they can make themselves safe with a positive result at Solihull Moors on Tuesday if other scorelines go their way.

“It's been pressure since we came in,” said Searle. “We came in second from bottom and we had played more games than everyone else.

“We were starting to rely on other teams to drop points because obviously if they win all their games and we win our games, we can't catch them. Now the boot’s on the other foot and we've got games in hand.

“We're five points outside the relegation zone. If we're going to be pessimistic all we've got to do is make sure we don't do worse than the teams below us and we'll be fine.

“But we're better than that and we're more optimistic than that. We think now we've put a good enough marker down that we can go and impose ourselves on these last four fixtures.”

Report: Ebbsfleet 2-1 AFC Fylde

Solihull booked their place in the FA Trophy Final at Wembley next month by winning at Bromley on Saturday but with a play-off spot also on the agenda, Searle doesn’t believe that will be a distraction for the hosts.

“They're playing for a chance to get in the play-offs so I don't think that'll affect them,” added the Fleet boss.

“They've got a good enough squad that if they do need to change players I'm sure they can but the bottom line from our perspective is we know that we're going to a team that's chasing promotion. If we're going to get anything out of the game, we've got to be very good and I'm confident that we can do that.

“If we can get three points on the board on Tuesday it would be massive, the most important thing is to get something out of the game.

“My partner always talks about an old saying ‘how do you eat an elephant?’ and the answer is one bite at a time. That’s what we need to do, keep chipping away at the points total and we’ll be fine.”

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