Fast-finishing Ebbsfleet can earn semi-final spot
Aldershot may suffer further playoff heartache
National League playoff eliminator
BT Sport 1, 7pm Wednesday
Aldershot failed to win away at Sutton on the final day of the National League season, a loss which forced them to contest a one-off eliminator against Ebbsfleet with a place in a playoff semi-final against Tranmere up for grabs.
Shots host the tie by virtue of finishing a point above Fleet in the standings but they topped the table in February before finishing the season poorly to slide to fifth.
There’s no guarantee that they will justify favouritism in 90 minutes and Ebbsfleet, who unlike their opponents finished the season in excellent form, have every chance of causing a minor upset at the Recreation Ground.
Gary Waddock’s Shots made it to the playoffs last season, before the format changed, and they found themselves 3-0 down at home against Tranmere after 48 minutes. The bulk of the squad remains the same and there may still be some scars that the hosts have to overcome.
That’s not the case for Fleet. Daryl McMahon’s team won the National League South playoffs last season when they beat Chelmsford in the final despite being reduced to ten men in the first half.
They can draw on those memories and a strong finish which saw them lose just one of their final 14 matches – a run which propelled them from mid-table into sixth place.
Fleet took some time to get to grips with life in the National League but they ended the season looking like genuine promotion candidates while their opponents could win only three of their last ten matches as their automatic promotion hopes slipped away.
Ebbsfleet can be backed to qualify for the semi-finals at a shade of odds-against but a better bet could be to back them to win the match in 90 minutes.
1pt 9-4 bet365
Nick Arnold is a long-term absentee for the Shots but everyone else is available.
Fleet are sweating on the fitness of midfielder Sean Shields.
Ebbsfleet have lost just one of their last 14 matches.
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