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National League giants set the biggest task

League newcomers face the favourites at Bulpit Lane

Malcolm Howe



National League giants set the biggest task

Plotting an upset? Manager Bobby Wilkinson and his staff

HUNGERFORD TOWN’S opening games in National League South could seem like a comparative doddle compared to the potential task that awaits them at Bulpit Lane on Saturday.

Title favourites and last season’s beaten play-off finalists Ebbsfleet United provide the hottest of welcomes to the level as the team described by Hungerford boss Bobby Wilkinson as “the Manchester City of this league” bring their vastly experienced ranks t the quiet corner of west Berkshire.

Young manager Daryl McMahon has assembled a costly, but highly capable squad with a £1 million-plus full-time budget, to take on Hungerford players competing for a few quid in win bonuses.

“We may be 1,000/1 underdogs, but we will compete against them and try to give them a good game,” said Wilkinson.

Ebbsfleet replaced Hungerford at the top of the embryo table this week after following last Saturday’s 4-0 beating of Poole with a 1-0 win at Concord Rangers in midweek, a game watched by Hungerford coach Mike Percival.

“He said they are far and away above everything we’ve seen so far,” said Wilkinson. “They are absolutely outstanding with a lot of ex-pro’s, organised, solid and it’s 100 per cent that they will win the league, and there are a lot of outstanding sides in it.

“They are full time as well and you could tell that from their fitness, set plays and see they are working on things every day, which is a massive, massivde advantage.

“We wanted to know what we are up against, and it’s the best team in the league by a mile.

“But we’re not here to make up the numbers and we will be trying to win. I’m a realist, and understand what we are up against and as long as my boys give 110 per cent, that’s all I can ask.”

Defenders Diak John and James Rusby are 50-50 chances but are unlikely to be risked with a tirp to Bishop’s Stortford looming on Tuesday night, while Alan O’Brien has commenced light training.

What are the odds?

EBBSFLEET are rated evens to win at Hungerford, with the home side crrently 5/1 and 3/1 the draw.

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