Paul Rutherford poses a problem for me, writes Mark Griffiths.

After every game I record a podcast, analysing the match and discussing the players’ performances. The issue comes when I get to Rutherford. Frankly, I’ve been repeating myself for three and a half years!

The team’s fortunes can fluctuate, but Rutherford remains a constant, consistently bringing the same tireless qualities to the side. He makes his 500th career appearance today, so I guess he’s made commentators and journalists repeat themselves a lot over the years!

Only Mark Carrington has been at the club longer than Rutherford, and they share many values. Their professionalism, adaptability and commitment to the cause have been recognised by a succession of managers, meaning they’ve survived a series of transfer window culls.

There’s no questioning the work rate and intensity Rutherford brings to the team. It’s no coincidence that Dean Keates has immediately leaned on him.

Inheriting a dysfunctional side, Keates naturally decided to turn to the players whose character he knew he could rely on. Discounting the Scottish Challenge Cup, in which we fielded second string sides, Rutherford has started every game since Keates returned. He’d only started two league matches under Bryan Hughes, in both cases because Bobby Grant was suspended.

Rutherford is more than wholehearted endeavour though. His intelligent movement and ability to link in both directions with overlapping full-backs and midfielders is crucial. You could see, in his first season, that his ability to sniff out space and hit it swiftly and unexpectedly wasn’t being exploited by the players around him. He persisted though – Rutherford always persists – and the following campaign, once Keates had improved the calibre of the squad, these qualities were more fully exploited.

He has an eye for the spectacular too, as Yeovil found last weekend. Admittedly, that doesn’t happen very often, although he already has two goals this season, which matches the total he’s achieved in each of his seasons with Wrexham.

Rutherford’s versatility is valuable too. Comfortable on either flank, and able to fit into a wing-back role if we’re committing ourselves to all-out attack, he can also play as a box-to-box midfielder and I’d like to see more of him in that position.

Those scoring stats are Rutherford’s one Achilles heel: you want more goals from a player deployed in the front three.

In midfield there’s less pressure on him to hit the net, his tireless energy is a real plus and he can spot space around him, adding an extra level of movement to complement the forwards

Still, you can’t help coming back to that remarkable willingness to sacrifice himself for the team. Rutherford exudes a humility which embodies his style on the pitch. He works for others: in each of the last two seasons he had the most assists in the club, and in his first season he was second, one behind John Rooney.

Whatever happens, we can rely on Rutherford. Things change, players and crises come and go, but the dude abides.

It’s not just Rutherford who passes a significant landmark today. Luke Young brings up a double milestone, playing in both his 75th Wrexham game and making the 325th appearance of his career.

After what happened at Ebbsfleet last season, it would take a great deal of bravery to predict this afternoon’s events.

With five minutes to go before kick-off, it appeared that the game would not go ahead.

The home players had circulated a statement through the stands, declaring that unless their lack of payment was resolved, they refused to take the pitch.

They did walk out at 2.55, but having not warmed up, surely we would be able to catch them cold? Remarkably, United were completely dominant despite their lack of preparation, and led 3-0 at half time.

Bryan Hughes made three substitutions at half time, and we approached the entire second half as if we were a goal down in injury time. Incredibly, our reckless approach nearly worked, as Shaun Pearson and Stuart Beavon pulled the game back to 3-2, and Jason Oswell missed a great late chance to equalise.

However, such an attacking strategy would inevitably leave us open at the other end, and we conceded a fourth in the 87th minute.

Stonebridge Road hasn’t generally been a happy hunting ground for us, and we’ve lost on four of our seven visits there.

Our first win at Ebbsfleet was on Hallowe’en in 2009, and even then we received some help from the home side. Lamine Sakho scored the only goal of the game – his sole goal for Wrexham – but United aided us by having two players sent off in the second half.

The next season we recorded our biggest win over Ebbsfleet on their own patch. Mathias Pogba opened the scoring and Andy Morrell seemed to break their spirit with a second just before the break.

He added another in the second half, with Steven Leslie also scoring and Jake Speight rounding off a 5-0 win from the penalty spot.

Morrell isn’t our top scorer in this fixture though: Chris Holroyd and Jefferson Louis share that distinction on three goals.