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Ebbsfleet United 3 AFC Fylde 3 match report

By Steve Tervet

Ebbsfleet's long unbeaten run goes on after a late Andy Drury goal rescued a point against fellow promoted side AFC Fylde in a Stonebridge Road classic.

Five goals in the opening 34 minutes had Fleet 3-2 down and for all their second-half pressure it looked like the Coasters were on course to be the first visiting team to win here since November 2016.

But Drury scored a last-gasp equaliser to earn Ebbsfleet their fifth point in three games since stepping up to the National League.

Jack Powell battles for possession against AFC Fylde Picture: Andy Payton
Jack Powell battles for possession against AFC Fylde Picture: Andy Payton

Ebbsfleet were rocked pre-match by the news that new club captain Dave Winfield won't play again before Christmas after limping out of the 2-0 win over Maidstone in midweek. Sam Magri and Kenny Clark continued in central defence as manager Daryl McMahon changed formation, bringing in Marvin McCoy and Jack Connors as full-backs.

Darren McQueen dropped to the bench with Danny Kedwell, who wore the armband in Winfield's absence, leading the line on his own.

Fylde, having drawn their first two games at this level, were unchanged.

Jack Payne began the game sitting just in front of the back four, shadowing Henry Jones who lined up just behind Fylde's prolific centre-forward Danny Rowe.

But Jones managed to elude his marker for the opening goal on eight minutes, getting the wrong side of Payne and beating Nathan Ashmore with a left-footed shot from 18 yards.

Rowe dragged a long shot wide and Jack Powell did likewise for Fleet but the visitors doubled their lead on 15 minutes.

One ball down the inside-right channel played in Rowe, who needed no second invitation to slide a low shot across Ashmore.

Andy Drury tries to find a way past Sam Finley Picture: Andy Payton
Andy Drury tries to find a way past Sam Finley Picture: Andy Payton

Without Winfield the home side looked a mess defensively and Fylde threatened to score every time they attacked.

Left-back Zaine Francis-Angol stormed forward untracked and his low cross prompted a scramble which Ebbsfleet only just survived.

Fleet were rocking although they pulled a goal back with 18 minutes on the clock, Kenny Clark looping an excellent header over goalkeeper Rhys Taylor when Myles Weston delivered a deep left-footed cross from the right flank.

Suddenly the hosts were playing with more belief. Powell combined well with Kedwell and Luke Coulson before Drury set up Powell for a shot which was blocked.

The scores were level just before the half-hour, Kedwell lashing home the equaliser in a crowded box when the Coasters failed to deal with a Weston free-kick.

Back came Fylde, Jones hitting the bar as the goal gaped after Ashmore had failed to hold a Rowe shot.

Weston could have put Fleet in front after good work by Kedwell but Clark was almost punished for losing Sam Finley at the other end, lunging in with a good recovery tackle just as Finley looked set to pull the trigger.

Finley did score 11 minutes before half-time, though, driving the loose ball high into the net after more poor Fleet defending saw the ball reach him unmarked just inside the box.

Taylor saved from Powell at the other end but Fylde should have gone into half-time two goals up. Rowe clearly handled the ball on his way down the left wing but the officials didn't spot it and Rowe's cross was headed wide by Jack Muldoon, charging in at the far post.

Luke Coulson on the run against AFC Fylde Picture: Andy Payton
Luke Coulson on the run against AFC Fylde Picture: Andy Payton

Coulson dragged a shot wide in the last act of a crazy first half but the second began in an equally frantic manner.

Ebbsfleet, with McQueen on for Powell, went close through Payne before the same player had to dive in to block a shot from Rowe after he'd turned away from two defenders.

Weston then flew past two Fylde players on a 50-yard dash down the Ebbsfleet right although his floated cross was volleyed over by Coulson.

McQueen then had a sniff of goal but Taylor was out quickly to save at his feet.

Fylde sat back for a while but then sprang forward in search of a fourth goal.

Rowe drove a free-kick into the wall after Clark had taken out Jones, who then fizzed a low ball through the six-yard box as Fleet continued to live dangerously at the back.

Ebbsfleet escaped another scare when Magri committed himself far too early into a sliding challenge on Rowe, who turned him with ease but failed to get a shot away.

At the other end, Taylor grabbed a McQueen snapshot after magic feet from Weston had created half a chance for his team-mate. Magri then headed wide from Drury's corner.

McMahon sent on Sean Shields, whose corner was headed over by a flying Magri before Danny Mills came on for his debut, making it three up front in the closing stages.

And Stonebridge Road erupted when Drury turned his man and threaded a left-footed shot into the bottom corner with just a minute of normal time remaining.

Ebbsfleet: Ashmore, McCoy, Clark, Magri, Connors (Mills 86mins), Coulson, Powell (McQueen 46mins), Payne, Drury, Weston (Shields 81mins), Kedwell. Subs not used: McLean, Miles.

AFC Fylde: Taylor, Bond, Langley, Tunnicliffe, Francis-Angol, Montrose, Muldoon (Grand 86mins), Finley, Jones (Ezewele 72mins), Smith (Blinkhorn 77mins), Rowe. Subs not used: Hardy, Lynch.

Attendance: 1,270.

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