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Home Gravesend Sport Article
Ebbsfleet kept their promotion push on track with a nervy home win over struggling Hayes & Yeading on Saturday.
Anthony Acheampong scored the only goal of the game on 21 minutes to extend the Fleet's unbeaten run to seven matches.
It was an unconvincing performance by the north Kent side but they're a step closer to securing their place in the Skrill South play-offs.
Ben May missed out with a hamstring injury, so Fleet boss Steve Brown brought in Michael West to play off centre-forward Billy Bricknell, with Alex Osborn occupying his regular right-wing role.
The broken wrist Michael Thalassitis suffered last month had been expected to keep him out again, but the on-loan Stevenage striker was fit enough for the bench.
Ebbsfleet looked very good for the first 20 minutes.
Daryl McMahon drilled a volley wide when Joe Howe's cross had been cleared to him on the edge of the box, and McMahon then saw another shot deflect narrowly wide after he'd been allowed to run unchallenged towards the Hayes box.
The home side, specifically McMahon, were dictating things from midfield.
And when Bricknell produced an eye-catching 360-degree turn in the centre circle, his slide-rule pass sent Osborn running in on goal. The winger snatched at his shot, which flew wide, but it was a warning to the visitors.
Hayes did threaten sporadically, with Luke Williams collecting a pass from Brandon Goodship and firing a shot straight at Preston Edwards.
But it was no surprise when the hosts took a 21st-minute lead. The goal was borne out of Bricknell's persistence, the striker picking Ben Gerring's pocket and seeing his shot deflect behind for a corner.
The ball in wasn't dealt with and when McMahon curled it back into the box from wide on the right, Acheampong scored with a towering header at the back post.
Ebbsfleet could have motored away at that point but instead they moved to autopilot.
Aiden Palmer gave the ball away sloppily and Hayes almost punished his mistake, Williams setting up Goodship for a shot which forced a good save from Edwards.
Ebbsfleet were playing within themselves and the visitors had another effort before the break when Williams smashed a volley wide.
Looking to get themselves back in the game after the restart, Hayes began to push men forward. From one cross, Williams sent a spectacular bicycle kick past the post.
The home side couldn't get going at all. Substitute Geoff Mitchell sent a header just wide for Hayes before latching onto an errant backpass and bearing down on goal. Edwards stood up to make a crucial save, but still the Fleet didn't wake from their slumbers.
Hayes were allowed too much time and space in midfield, with Williams testing Edwards again.
Finally the home crowd had something to cheer when Cook twisted his way into space on the right-hand side of the box and forced goalkeeper Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz to grab his cross-shot.
Acheampong got his head to another McMahon cross, with Jaimez-Ruiz tipping the ball over. The introduction of Thalassitis for West brought some much-needed energy to the Fleet attack although there were plenty of nerves around Stonebridge Road as the clock ran down.
Hayes threw everyone forward in the dying moments as the home supporters held their breath. Chris Sessegnon, on from the bench, prodded the ball just wide of his own post, but finally referee David Rock blew for time, to cheers of relief.
Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Howe (Sessegnon 83mins), Acheampong, Sankofa, Palmer, Osborn, McMahon, Rance, Cook, West (Thalassitis 71mins), Bricknell (Corcoran 89mins). Subs not used: Hall, Mambo.
Hayes & Yeading: Ruiz, Mills, Everitt, Harriott, Gerring, Inman, Yussuff, Merrifield (Brown 80mins), Effiong (Mitchell 62mins), Williams, Goodship (English 70mins). Subs not used: Bhoutimine, Crowley.
Another 3 points at home. Got to keep grinding out those wins. Not the best game but another 3 points. Defended well again. ?? a 1.0!— Daryl McMahon (@DarylMcMahon1) March 8, 2014
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