Daryl McMahon praised Yado Mambo after the defender completed his first 90 minutes since December 2016 and then warned Ebbsfleet United fans that getting in replacements for an injury-hit defence might not be something that will happen imminently.
With Kenny Clark’s hamstring injury added to Dave Winfield’s long-term lay-off and Sam Magri’s impending departure to Malta on international duty, the Fleet are fielding something of a crisis at the back. Clark’s complaint isn’t a big issue but McMahon isn’t sure he can risk him until it completely clears up, while Winfield’s prognosis got worse this week with his return now anything from four to six months away.
But as McMahon told BBC Radio Kent’s Ollie Turner, he won’t just bring anybody in. “I’m not sure we’ll get anyone in before Maidenhead,” he said. “We’ve been close with a couple but clubs are keeping some players back because of the transfer window. I want to make sure I get the right one. I don’t want to bring in someone just for the sake of it being a body replaced, it’s got to be someone that can come in and impact the team, not just the squad. And it’s got to be the right character.
“What is pleasing is that Yado, who hasn’t played a lot, got through 90 minutes and was excellent in that second half, playing against some good players as well.”
McMahon admits his defence have been sorely tested since losing Winfield, and now Clark, but he believes his makeshift back line stood up well to the challenge. “Going into Saturday and tonight, to lose two big players, big characters, and they’ve been excellent for the team over last season and start of this, with Ashmore as well, they’ve got that little triangle, they trust each other and back each other up. Putting a new pair in front of that is difficult. It takes time.”
The Fleet boss will be hard pressed to ever make a substitution that has as instant an impact as Jack Powell, who was on the field for no more than 10 seconds when he scored with his first kick of the ball. “We wanted to get him on because of the free-kick,” McMahon said. “We know he is a set-piece specialist. He gave us a little bit more quality to our play, he serves people the right pass nine times out of 10 and he came on and had a big impact straight away.”
Overall, although it was another performance where Fleet’s second-half performance overshadowed the first, McMahon was happy with both periods of play.
“We did alright first half but we lacked a little cutting edge and intensity, a little bit like the first half on Saturday,” he said. “Second-half we were more on the front foot and took the game to Dagenham a little bit but what we’ve definitely done is entertained people and we’ve shown we can compete at this level against a team who will be fancied to win the title.
“We had to be more positive, we’ve got people like Coulson and Weston who are excellent one v one players. We’ve got in my opinion players just as good [as Dagenham’s] and I thought we’ve seen that in the second half a lot more.
“Last season we’ve [come back] quite a few times, we’ve got character, that’s there for everyone to see. There’s great togetherness, the subs on the bench, players in the stand, we have got huge spirit. Everything about the football club is competitive and I think we are a competitive team.”