Twerton Park stages its second home match of the week on Saturday with the visit of league leaders Ebbsfleet United.
While this promises to be one of the season’s biggest tests for Jerry Gill’s team, the way in which high flying Chelmsford were overcome seven days earlier will offer great encouragement.
The Kent club have been in pole position all season except for a blip either side of Christmas when the advantage seemed to have been handed to Dartford, their local rivals and main challengers for the title.
Two heavy defeats by the Darts came at the end of a four match losing run which must have reminded supporters of a similar drop in form just under twelve months ago which badly affected their promotion hopes.
However six consecutive wins for The Fleet, including last Saturday’s over third placed Havant, suggest that they are back on track and an eight point lead over their nearest challengers with a match in hand means it will be a surprise if they are overtaken.
Their successful campaign is very much down to a record of 21 wins in 29 outings with nine achieved on opponents’ grounds, the most eye catching being the 6-0 thrashing of fourth placed Worthing.
Apart from the derby defeat at Princes Park, their only other defeat on the road surprisingly came at struggling Cheshunt.
Having beaten City’s conquerors Sevenoaks in the final qualifying round of the FA Cup, Ebbsfleet went on to knock out National League Halifax before losing to Fleetwood of League One.
Their Trophy run only lasted one game as Eastbourne gained the first of their two surprise wins at Stonebridge Road this season.
Manager Dennis Kutrieb, formerly a striker with several German clubs, has assembled a large squad which includes former City favourite Sido Jombati who made 94 appearances before his departure in 2011.
Dominic Poleon’s twenty goals puts him in equal first place alongside Shaun Jeffers of St Albans in the League’s chart and he is ably supported by Rakishi Bingham and Gregory Cundle who have another twenty goals between them.
It was Poleon’s two goals which set up a 3-1 victory for his side, their fifth in a row against City, when we travelled to Kent back in early September with our consolation being netted by Dan Hayfield.
This was a match chiefly remembered by those of a black and white persuasion for two disallowed City goals and controversy concerning the home side’s third when Cody Cooke was injured.
While this was our first away defeat of the season, their win enabled Ebbsfleet’s points total to reach 21 from their seven matches, a record for the start to a campaign in this division.
This will be Ebbsfleet’s sixth visit to Twerton since their first in 2012 and City have only been victorious on one occasion with last season’s encounter being won 2-0 by the visitors.
Of course our friends from Kent were previously known as Gravesend & Northfleet and they were regular opponents between 1947 and 1989.
City won two thirds of those meetings with perhaps the most eye catching coming in 1959.
On their way to becoming Southern League champions, City triumphed 6-0, including two goals from Charlie Fleming, in front of an attendance of 5018.
While there may not be quite that number on Saturday, remember that it always pays to buy your tickets in advance from the Club’s website!