Ebbsfleet United vs Notts County preview
Ebbsfleet United vs Notts County preview

Ebbsfleet United host Notts County tomorrow with both sides hoping they can break bad runs of FA Cup form over recent years.

It’s a tie that, once upon a time, could’ve enticed the broadcasters to rock up to the Kuflink Stadium with a bunch of cameras in anticipation of a non-league upset over a Football League club. However, with County’s relegation in May, the third meeting between the teams in the FA Cup is an all-National League affair.

Indeed, it’s only eleven weeks since the two teams met in the league at Stonebridge Road, a game that saw Garry Hill’s side pick up their first point of the season in a 2-2 draw. Much has happened to the home side since then, with Hill replaced by Kevin Watson, for whom this tie is the first game as permanent manager.

Watson has certainly earned the right to that contract, having changed both the Fleet’s style of play and their fortunes, as under the new gaffer they are unbeaten in all five games, including three consecutive away victories and a positive 2-2 draw last week at home to Chesterfield.

There are selection dilemmas aplenty for the Fleet boss, with Jordan Holmes fighting to regain the gloves from Harry Palmer, skipper Jack King available after suspension and a midfield spot up for grabs as loanee Albie Morgan is unable to play as Charlton don’t want him cup-tied. Watson could also mix things up formation-wise by adding Josh Umerah to last week’s frontline of Alex Reid and two-goal Gozie Ugwu.

Notts County, who sit eighth and 14 points ahead of Fleet, come into the game on the back of a loss, win and draw since they squeaked past Belper Town 2-1 in the last round, but overall their form has been good since their August visit to north Kent. Two recent signings, defenders Richard Brindley and Alex Lacey, could both feature and Fleet will need to watch a strikeforce that consistently score two goals per game.

Cup history does not offer much encouragement to either side, with County failing to reach the second round in four of the last six seasons while Ebbsfleet have failed to win a first round tie for sixteen years. Something has to give for one of these sides to be in Mark Chapman’s velvet bag come Monday night, unless a replay at Meadow Lane is required on Tuesday.