Preview: ‘Free game’ for Hemel as Tudors prepare to face big-spending Ebbsfleet

Hemel manager Dean Brennan watches on. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard

Hemel manager Dean Brennan watches on. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard

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Saturday’s trip to table-topping Ebbsfleet United is a ‘free game’ for Hemel Hempstead Town, according to manager Dean Brennan.

Ebbsfleet are flying high at the top of the National League South table with a seven-point lead over second placed Maidstone United – albeit having played two games more – while Hemel have somehow managed to push themselves back up to sixth spot despite their ongoing injury saga.

Hemel will be up against former captain Jordan Parkes. Picture (c) Darren Kelly

Hemel will be up against former captain Jordan Parkes. Picture (c) Darren Kelly

And Brennan says that his side will have no fear as they look to topple the big-spending league leaders at Stonebridge Road. “We’ll be going there to try and win the game, like we always do,” said Brennan. “We’ve always got that belief in every game that we take part in.

“It’s a free game for us because we aren’t expected to get anything out of it. Ebbsfleet are huge spenders and massive hitters in this division; they showed their ambition by buying our captain (Jordan Parkes) last year.

“It will be a good opportunity for our players to go there and show that they are decent players, and basically do what Jordan Parkes did last year for us and get themselves a big move to a super-ambitious club like Ebbsfleet.

“It will be a tough game because they are unbeaten in 10 games but all of their games are tight. They are a very good side and we know a lot about them.

Every game has got to be like a cup final for us because we’ve got to treasure each match.

Hemel Town FC manager Dean Brennan

“We have no issue with that because they have shown their ambition and put their money where their mouth is, so fair play to them.

“We wish them all the best, but when they play us we have to make sure that we are difficult to beat first and foremost, and make sure our decision-making is right.”

“Every game has got to be like a cup final for us because we’ve got to treasure each match. The football club isn’t used to playing at this level, but we are more than competitive. I know that the players will show great character and resolve, and they never give up.”

Despite currently boasting a six-game unbeaten run in the league, which has seen them close to within five points of the playoff spots, Hemel have been plagued by an ever-growing injury list which has left them down to the bare bones.

Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Kyle Connolly and Mat Mitchel-King are all long-term absentees, while Ollie Thorne, Matt Spring and Jack Kelly all face late fitness tests. The latter may have his loan extended if his groin injury is found to be less serious than first feared, while recent signing Matt Saunders isn’t match fit.

“We don’t know what the team is going to be and we haven’t got a clue what formation we are going to play yet because I don’t know what ammunition I’ve got available at present,” Brennan continued. “I won’t know who is fully fit until Saturday.

“We are trying to sign players but it is really, really difficult because a lot of players are just out of our price range if I’m being totally honest, which is a tad frustrating.