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Ebbsfleet United goalkeeper Preston Edwards saves a late Concord Rangers penalty to secure a Skrill South play-off place

By Steve Tervet

Preston Edwards added another memorable chapter to his Ebbsfleet United story on Thursday night when his late penalty save at Concord Rangers secured a 2-1 win and sent the Fleet into the Skrill South play-offs.

The goalkeeper was apoplectic when referee Neil Hair awarded Concord a spot-kick after Osei Sankofa and Lewis Taafe tangled in the Ebbsfleet box.

He said: "I thought it was a disgraceful decision. Osei’s tackled the guy and the guy’s come into Osei. The lino’s flagged for a foul on Sankofa but the referee’s given a penalty. He didn’t even want to listen to the linesman. There’s all the team saying: 'hang on a second, the lino’s flagging to say it was a foul' and he’s given a penalty."

Mr Hair was the same referee who famously sent Edwards off after 10 seconds for a professional foul against Farnborough in 2011.

Edwards was just as angry nine days earlier, when the Concord game was abandoned due to floodlight failure at the Aspect Arena with Ebbsfleet 2-0 up in the 52nd minute. He posted the following message on Twitter after the game but later apologised to Beachboys chairman Antony Smith.

Edwards said: "I made an unreasonable comment on Twitter. I said sorry to Concord, it was a heat-of-the-moment thing. We were 2-0 up and I said things I shouldn’t have said. The crowd were giving me stick the whole game (in the replay). I was fuming, with what was going to happen, after the penalty decision."

But Edwards, so often the Fleet's hero in recent years, was about to rescue them again.

He said: "If you go onto the pitch, there’s two big holes, where the left foot is planted by a right-footer on the penalty spot. I just thought 'he can’t wrap his foot here because he’ll hurt his ankle'. I even said it at half-time, so I knew he was going to open his body up and go to my left-hand side. Luckily enough, I saved it."

That Edwards was able to rationalise through the red mist was remarkable.

He said: "To be fair, I produce my best moments when I’m angry. You’ve just got to keep calm, hope for the best and it came for me. I was jumping up and down afterwards, really happy, just delighted."

Video courtesy of sportinessex.com.

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