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The Conference Years: Gravesend & Northfleet

24 May 2014

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Remembering where we once were.

Doncaster Rovers had never faced Gravesend & Northfleet until the 2002/03 season and they maintain an unbeaten record against the Kent club.

Having said that, the sides have only met twice!

The first instance occurred at Stonebridge Road on a Tuesday night in September 2002. Jamie Paterson opened the scoring within the first half hour’s play before the hosts’ Jimmy Strouts equalised 6 minutes later.

The crowd of just over 1300 may have been somewhat surprised that ‘Fleet took the lead two minutes prior to the break through the exotically named Tostao Kwashi.

Dave Penney’s side, who had only lost two of their previous ten games, weren’t about to make it 3 from 11, however and Paul Barnes’ 89th minute leveller ensured Rovers took a point back to South Yorkshire with them.

Rovers weren’t so forgiving in the return fixture at Belle Vue in March ’03 and they ran out comfortable 4-1 winners.

Jason Blunt, a new recruit from Scarborough, bagged a brace for his new club, while Dave Morley and Barnes got in on the act as well.

Che Stadhart pulled a consolation back for the visitors late on in front of the 3,000+ in attendance, and Gravesend would go on to stave off relegation by just a couple of points.

Relegation was forthcoming for a side which once boasted current England boss, Roy Hodgson, in it’s ranks.

Then came the very novel reformation as Ebbsfleet United where they were owned by up to 35,000 people who had bought shares in the club online.

Initially it worked and the Club picked up silverware including the FA trophy and a return to the Conference at the first attempt, however memberships dwindled, as did the success. 

Relegation back to the sixth tier was confirmed in 2013, before Kuwait-based owners invested in the club. ‘Fleet lost to rivals Dover in the Conference South play-off finals after finishing the regular season in fourth.

*Jason Blunt wheels away in delight after scoring one of his two goals at Belle Vue in the 4-1 win over Gravesend & Northfleet at Belle Vue on 8th March 2003*

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