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Maidenhead United 1 Ebbsfleet United 1 match report

By Steve Tervet

Ebbsfleet maintained their unbeaten record in the National League with a hard-fought draw at Maidenhead.

Daryl McMahon's side again had to come from behind after Harry Pritchard's cross went all the way in midway through the first half.

Nathan Ashmore kept the visitors in it with a wonder save and Luke Coulson scored the equaliser after the break to ensure Fleet have still not lost a league game in 2017.

Marvin McCoy and Jack Powell try to stop Harry Pritchard Picture Nick Parford (Baylis Media)

Marvin McCoy and Jack Powell try to stop Harry Pritchard Picture: Nick Parford (Baylis Media)

 

Ebbsfleet, who won here at the end of last season to delay Maidenhead's title celebrations, made two changes from the 3-3 draw at Dagenham in midweek. Aaron McLean started for the first time this season, partnering Danny Kedwell in attack, while Jack Powell replaced Andy Drury in the visitors' midfield.

Maidenhead came into the game on the back of hugely impressive victories against Hartlepool and AFC Fylde, where Dave Tarpey scored all four in a 4-1 win to take his goal tally to seven in four games.

Fleet, kicking into a strong breeze, had plenty of defending to do in the first half.

Tarpey curled a free-kick over after he was fouled on the edge of the penalty area, then he almost latched onto a flick from strike partner Marks.

At the other end, Coulson had a shot blocked and Myles Weston forced a save from Carl Pentney but Maidenhead were beginning to take a stranglehold on proceedings.

Tarpey failed to connect with a shot inside the box and that allowed Ashmore to gather.

James Comley then volleyed a fine cross to the back post and Pritchard turned the ball across goal but wide.

Jack Powell keeps an eye on Dave Tarpey Picture Nick Parford (Baylis Media)

Jack Powell keeps an eye on Dave Tarpey Picture: Nick Parford (Baylis Media)

A rare Fleet attack saw Coulson link well with McLean although he dragged a low shot wide of the near post with team-mates getting into the middle.

It was no surprise when Maidenhead took a 26th-minute lead - but the goal was utterly avoidable.

Left-back Jack Connors should have cleared his lines but tried to be too clever and, having failed to turn away from his man, conceded a corner. Fleet failed to clear their lines from the set-piece and when Pritchard put a second cross into the area from wide on the right, his left-footed delivery swirled over Ashmore and dropped into the far corner.

Maidenhead looked to press home their advantage and it should have been 2-0 moments later.

Ashmore saved well from Marks and somehow recovered to deny Jake Goodman from just a couple of yards out to the astonishment of the defender, who shook Ashmore's hand in sheer disbelief.

Fleet were floundering and Pritchard surged through midfield before setting up Marks for a shot which flew straight at Ashmore. Tarpey hit the roof of the stand with his next free-kick effort.

The visitors finally broke their shackles in the closing stages of the first half. Weston dropped a header into Pentney's gloves from a deep Coulson cross and it needed a timely intervention by Alan Massey to stop a neat through-ball sending Powell clear.

Marvin McCoy tracks Maidenhead goalscorer Harry Pritchard Picture Nick Parford (Baylis Media)

Marvin McCoy tracks Maidenhead goalscorer Harry Pritchard Picture: Nick Parford (Baylis Media)

Five minutes into the second half, Fleet were level. Powell played Coulson in behind and he beat Pentney with a calm low finish.

Pritchard fired a shot wide as Maidenhead looked to respond before Marks saw an effort deflect behind. But from that corner, Fleet broke and Weston delivered a cross from the right which McLean fired at Pentney.

Marks hooked a half-volley over from distance but Fleet, with Darren McQueen and Drury now on the pitch, were pressing for a winner.

McQueen and Coulson both had shots blocked although Ashmore had to be alert when Harold Odametey's drilled cross turned into a shot and almost crept under the crossbar.

Jake Hyde worked a yard of space and tested Ashmore with a powerful shot just after Danny Mills had been sent on as a third striker by McMahon.

Fleet finished with 10 men after Connors went off injured but they stood firm to claim a point. 

Maidenhead: Pentney, Odametey, Massey, Tarpey (Hyde 74mins), Comley, Marks (Clifton 88mins), Pritchard, Upward, Kilman, Peters, Goodman (Inman 77mins). Subs not used: Barratt, Mulley.

Ebbsfleet: Ashmore, McCoy, Mambo, Magri, Connors, Weston (Mills 85mins), Payne (Drury 74mins), Powell, Coulson, Kedwell, McLean (McQueen 70mins). Subs not used: Miles, Shields.

Attendance: 1,628 (223 away).

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