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Published: 16:45, 25 August 2014 |
Updated: 11:23, 27 August 2014
Ebbsfleet were held to a goalless draw by newly-promoted Wealdstone on Bank Holiday Monday - but the scoreline only tells half the story.
The home side had captain Daryl McMahon sent off late in the first half - but they were awarded a penalty moments later.
However, Matty Godden had his spot-kick saved and the Fleet couldn't find a way through with 10 men in the second half.
In the only change to Ebbsfleet's starting XI from the 1-0 defeat at Whitehawk on Saturday, Joe Howe replaced Aiden Palmer at left-back. Palmer was left out altogether.
Wealdstone boss Gordon Bartlett handed a debut to Luke O'Nien, having just signed the midfielder on loan from Championship side Watford.
A dreadful first half was played out in driving rain at the PHB Stadium.
Players on both teams were let down by their first touch on a greasy surface, they made poor choices when passing the ball and there was no sort of tempo to the game at all.
Wealdstone were roared on by a vociferous travelling support but they had almost nothing to cheer.
Chances were few and far between, with Ebbsfleet creating them.
When Michael Corcoran's cross was blocked, the ball dropped invitingly for Alex Osborn in the box but Wealdstone managed to nick the ball away from him.
The home side won three corners in succession and the last of these, delivered by McMahon from the right-hand side, was headed wide by Kenny Clark at the far post.
Then, a poor attempted clearance by Stones keeper Jonathan North gave the Fleet a chance out of nothing. Sheringham played in Godden but his tame finish trickled wide when he should have scored.
Sheringham missed the next chance, fatally delaying his shot after Cook had broken at pace and slipped an inviting ball into his path.
Immediately after that missed opportunity came the red card. The ball ran free on the left-hand corner of the area and McMahon, sliding in to challenge O'Nien, got there fractionally late. O'Nien recoiled in pain and referee Robert Hyde went straight to his back pocket.
Ebbsfleet manager Steve Brown immediately switched formation, bringing Cook inside and moving Godden to the right wing.
Then came the penalty incident, which involved both of those players. Cook was clearly tripped by Elliott Godfrey and Godden, who grabbed ball ahead of Sheringham, placed it on the spot. But his penalty was brilliantly saved by North, diving to his right.
Tom Fraser was stripped and ready to come on at the end of the first half but he never got on - and Brown decided against bringing him for the start of the second half.
The home side were now 4-4-1, with Cook and Corcoran flanked by Godden and Osborn on the right and left wings respectively.
Wealdstone's numerical advantage wasn't obvious in the second period but they did break with real menace at times. Joe Turner's low cross from the right reached Scott McGleish but the veteran striker, sliding in, could only find the side netting.
A long-range drive by Turner then brought the first save of the game from Preston Edwards.
Godden prodded Cook's corner wide of the near post at the other end.
The game petered out in the end, with Wealdstone happy to settle for a point and the 10 men of Ebbsfleet unable to create the one chance which might have won the game.
Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Sessegnon, Acheampong, Clark, Howe, Osborn, Corcoran (Fraser 64mins), McMahon, Cook, Sheringham (Bricknell 61mins), Godden (Huke 88mins). Subs not used: Hall, Johnson.
Wealdstone: North, Mills, Martin, Parker, Cronin, Godfrey, Wright (Malcolm 61mins), Pigden (Collins 63mins), McGleish, O'Nien, Turner (Little 81mins). Subs not used: Hickey, Hammond.
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