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Home Gravesend Sport Article
Goals from Daryl McMahon and Charlie Sheringham got Ebbsfleet's season off to a winning start on Tuesday night.
The Fleet, who didn't play on the opening day of the Vanarama Conference South season, had to wait until the 67th minute to break the resistance of a determined Concord Rangers side.
But after McMahon had swept them in front, Sheringham scored a late goal on his Ebbsfleet debut to put the result beyond doubt.
Ebbsfleet were missing several players due to injury but the depth of their squad was highlighted by the strength of their starting XI.
Joe Howe (calf) was a late withdrawal, which made Chris Sessegnon an automatic pick at right-back. Dean Rance, a regular in central midfield last season, is nursing a troublesome knee injury - and he was suspended for this game anyway - so new signing Tommy Fraser played alongside captain McMahon.
Up front, the returning Matt Godden partnered Sheringham, who was watched from the directors box by his father Teddy. Injuries ruled out Steve Brown's other two strikers, Billy Bricknell and Ben May.
There were two former Dartford players - Paul Goodacre and Alex Woodyard - in the Concord team. Kenny Clark, who played with Woodyard for the Darts last season, made his Ebbsfleet debut alongside Anthony Acheampong at centre-back.
Things couldn't have gone much worse for the visitors from kick-off.
Concord lost captain Steve King to injury inside 11 minutes and Jack Lampe then had to be stretchered off before the game was even 20 minutes old.
It was the home side doing most of the attacking, before and after the injuries.
Anthony Cook sprinted down the Fleet left and drilled a low ball across the six-yard box which Sheringham, on the stretch, couldn't quite reach.
Godden then delivered an excellent deep cross from the right. It fell at the feet of Cook, who took a touch inside before drilling his shot just over.
The next cross, from right-winger Alex Osborn, was taken off Godden's head at the crucial moment.
But the game lost its rhythm as half-time approached, another stoppage for a head injury to Clark further disrupting things.
Concord twice came close to taking the lead late in the first half.
First, a powerful strike from Steve Cawley was beaten out by Edwards - although the keeper was powerless to keep out the Beachboys' next attempt. Jordan Chiedozie got to a through-ball ahead of Edwards, sent a lob spiralling towards goal and there were hearts in mouths as his effort bounced in the six-yard and against the far post, with Clark hacking the rebound to safety.
At the other end, Sheringham couldn't quite organise his feet in time to convert Godden's cut-back, and Concord goalkeeper Jamie Butler then clawed a deflected Daryl McMahon shot out of the top corner at the end of five added minutes.
Both sides had chances at the start of the second half.
Gary Ogilvie's free-kick skimmed the top of the net after Acheampong had come straight through the back of Cawley. And at the other end, Concord did well to charge down a goalbound Sheringham strike from inside the box.
The visitors started to grow in confidence. Sam Collins unloaded with a free-kick from all of 35 yards and Edwards did well to beat the ball out.
Ebbsfleet were off the pace and they were almost punished for switching off at a throw-in. Cawley collected the ball wide on the Concord left and hit an instinctive lob over the stranded Edwards. Luckily for the home side, his outrageous effort was just wide of the far post.
The home players were becoming increasingly frustrated, none more so than Clark. The centre-half looked to have been clipped by Chiedozie, as the pair ran towards the halfway line, but Clark was lucky not to be sent off after kicking out at the Concord forward in retaliation.
But then, out of nowhere, came the Ebbsfleet goal which had started to look so unlikely.
McMahon picked up the ball 25 yards out and thumped a precise low shot past Butler's left hand.
Concord threw bodies forward and pumped balls into the Fleet box in desperate pursuit of an equaliser.
But they were finally sunk, nine minutes from the end, when Godden showed great awareness to square Aiden Palmer's pass for Sheringham, who couldn't miss from six yards.
Substitute Matt Johnson dragged a shot wide in stoppage-time and the home faithful roared their approval when referee Lee Venamore blew the final whistle.
Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Sessegnon, Acheampong, Clark, Palmer, Osborn (Johnson 89mins), Fraser (Corcoran 53mins), McMahon, Cook (Huke 83mins), Sheringham, Godden. Subs not used: Hall, Harrington.
Concord: Butler, Goodacre, Glozier, Woodyard, King (White 11mins), Lampe (Cowley 20mins), Gardner, Ogilvie, Chiedozie (Taaffe 66mins), Collins, Cawley. Subs not used: Cleaver, Stokes.
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