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Ebbsfleet United defender Joe Howe delighted with a goal and clean sheet against Bromley in Skrill South play-offs

By Steve Tervet

Full-back Joe Howe scored for Ebbsfleet against Bromley on Wednesday - but keeping a clean sheet gave him more satisfaction.

Howe's first goal of the season came in a fantastic 4-0 win for the Fleet in the first leg of their Skrill South play-off semi-final at Stonebridge Road.

But what pleased the defender most was keeping the league's best attack at bay and recording a remarkable eighth straight home clean sheet - Ebbsfleet having won all those games.

Joe Howe gets down the right wing for Ebbsfleet Picture: Andy Payton
Joe Howe gets down the right wing for Ebbsfleet Picture: Andy Payton

Howe said: "The gaffer (Steve Brown) was a defender himself so it's something he takes real pride in - and that's our job as defenders.

"It's nice to chip in with a goal but the ultimate job is for me to stop them scoring and we've done that."

Howe's goal, a calm left-footed finish, made it 3-0 on a memorable night for the Fleet.

He said: "The option there was to get involved in the forward play. When I'm encouraged to get forward, I'll get forward at every opportunity, when I can. It was a good piece of play and I was glad to finish it off.

"It was a great ball from Macca (Daryl McMahon) into Os (Alex Osborn) and a great touch. I had a few boys screaming for the ball - but I wasn't going to pass."

This was Ebbsfleet's most complete performance since Brown was appointed last summer.

Howe said: "It felt good. We started the game on fire. To go 2-0 up in six or seven minutes, it set the tone for the game and from that, we took control. They had a few shots on goal, maybe too many for our liking but we got the job done.

"We go to their place on Saturday, to get a professional job done and see it through to the final."

Howe found himself out of the team earlier in the season but he never grumbled and he's been in fine form ever since Brown handed him the No.2 shirt back.

He said: "On nights like this, it's absolutely worth it. It was a frustrating time, there's no getting away from it, but it was worth it in the end.

"I kept my head down, I worked hard, got myself back in the side and I'm reaping the rewards now."

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