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Home Gravesend Sport Article
Ebbsfleet warmed up for the Skrill South play-offs with a very comfortable win over relegated Dorchester on Saturday.
Daryl McMahon scored twice before half-time and goals from loanees Michael Thalassitis and Alex Osborn in the second period completed an easy day's work for the home side.
Against a poor Magpies team, the Fleet might even have reached double-figures if Billy Bricknell had put away the chances which came his way at Stonebridge Road.
With one eye on Wednesday's play-off semi-final first leg against Bromley, and with the Fleet having played Concord less than 48 hours earlier, manager Steve Brown made six changes to his starting XI. The players drafted in were goalkeeper Brandon Hall, defenders Chris Sessegnon, Paul Lorraine and Shane Huke, midfielder Stacy Long and striker Thalassitis, with Brown keeping some of his regulars on the bench.
The Fleet's biggest league crowd of the season - boosted by a free entry promotion - were warmed up by some rousing pre-match musical entertainment and Stonebridge Road was crackling with noise by the time kick-off arrived.
There was always going to be some unfamiliarity in the Fleet side given the number of personnel changes, but it didn't take the hosts long to get going.
McMahon swung over a corner from the right and when Huke nodded the ball down, Long controlled it and turned before volleying wide.
The opening goal arrived on 12 minutes. Bricknell showed great control to bring down a high ball and then a sharp turn to buy himself a yard of space. He played the ball inside for McMahon, who took a touch before thrashing a shot into the Magpies net.
That goal gave the Fleet real licence to relax and express themselves. Long lofted a shot over and Bricknell had an effort blocked, before Anthony Cook left Steve Walker for dead and whipped over a dangerous cross which the visitors only just cleared.
At the other end, Hall passed his only real test of a one-sided first half when he tipped a Steve Lanahan header over the bar.
It was almost too easy at times for Brown's side, who were afforded so much time on the ball that they were guilty on occasion of over-elaboration. Bricknell was culpable when he was picked out by Thalassitis but tried a fancy trick when a simple pass or shot would have sufficed.
But there was nothing complicated about the Fleet's second goal, five minutes before the interval. Bricknell's shot was blocked by a Dorchester player but the visitors then made a rash hash of clearing their lines and the ball sat up invitingly for McMahon just outside the box. The captain needed no second invitation to shoot and his fantastic first-time effort ripped past goalkeeper Alan Walker-Harris, who was left standing as the net billowed behind him.
It should have been 3-0 at the break. Osborn teed up Sessegnon on the overlap and his wicked low delivery picked out Bricknell perfectly. The Fleet's leading scorer had so much time to measure himself but he got his feet in a tangle and didn't connect properly, with Dorchester also surviving the follow-up effort from Thalassitis.
Bricknell missed an even easier chance at the start of the second half, clipping the top of the bar from six yards after Osborn's terrific right-wing cross had found him completely unmarked.
And Bricknell's frustration mounted moments later. Osborn's excellent crossfield ball sent Cook running at the heart of the Magpies defence and when Walker-Harris pushed his shot out, Bricknell was unable to turn it home.
Dorchester were on the ropes and they looked ready for the referee's count. McMahon toe-poked the ball to Osborn in the box and he shot just over.
Osborn embarrassed Dan Way with a cheeky nutmeg and laid on another chance for Bricknell, who was this time denied by a goal line clearance. Bricknell had shot straight at Walker-Harris moments earlier.
But two goals then arrived in as many minutes, even if neither of them went to Bricknell.
McMahon's right-wing cross was swept into the bottom corner by Thalassitis and Bricknell then laid on the fourth goal as Dorchester caved in. Osborn converted Bricknell's pass with a low shot under Shane Murphy, who had just come on for Walker-Harris.
Bricknell went close again in the closing stages and substitute Joe Howe drilled a shot just over but the game had been put to bed long, long ago.
This was easy for Ebbsfleet - but Bromley in the play-offs will be a very different story.
Ebbsfleet: Hall, Sessegnon, Lorraine, Huke, Palmer, Osborn, McMahon, Long, Cook (Howe 62mins), Thalassitis (May 71mins), Bricknell. Subs not used: Acheampong, Edwards, Rance.
Dorchester: Walker-Harris (Murphy 71mins), Hanger, Way (Smith 80mins), Jermyn, N Walker, S Walker, Lanahan, Smeeton, Ease (Munday 66mins), Chamberlain, Losasso. Subs not used: Twyford, Pidgeley.
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