It has undoubtedly been a two-horse race for the title this season in the Conference South and with just one side going up automatically, the race has been very interesting throughout. Now, both of the sides meet in the penultimate match of the season with the title race still alive.
Nine games ago, the gap between the sides was just one point in Maidenhead’s favour. However, a fantastic run of form from Maidenhead means they are five points clear, winning all of the last nine games. Ebbsfleet have also had a very good run in their last nine, winning seven and drawing two. However, Maidenhead’s perfect record has meant that even Ebbsfleet’s good run of form has seen them lose ground.
It is simple, Ebbsfleet must win or else the title is Maidenhead’s. Even if Ebbsfleet do win, Maidenhead will still have a two-point advantage going into the last game. Should Ebbsfleet beat Maidenhead, Maidenhead would need to win their last game against already relegated Margate to confirm the title. Which may seem trickier than it sounds with Margate only losing two of their last five, but still likely Maidenhead would win. A draw for Maidenhead against Margate would allow Ebbsfleet to win the league if they beat 14th placed Oxford City at home as Ebbsfleet have the superior goal difference.
Nonetheless, Maidenhead would undoubtedly want to win the league on Saturday in front of their title rivals and would not like it to go to the final day. As said above, Maidenhead’s form has been tremendous. They have won their last nine successive games, scoring 27 goals. Ebbsfleet also on top form, however, winning seven and drawing two, scoring 31 goals.
Maidenhead will be sure to start their main striker, Dave Tarpey. The striker has scored 41 times this season for Maidenhead, breaking the National League South record in the process. An average of over a goal per game, Maidenhead will be sure to have plenty of bids for him in the summer and will find life much tougher without him, no matter what division they are in. Neither side are likely to make many changes from what they have started recently, with the great performances both sides have put in. Ebbsfleet will have to play quite attacking from the start due to the fact they need a win.
I just can’t see anybody beating Maidenhead at the moment. They are unbeaten at home and both Tarpey and the team are on unstoppable form so I can only see one winner. 2-1 to Maidenhead is my prediction and therefore Maidenhead being officially promoted to the Conference Premier.