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Ebbsfleet United 0 Gateshead 0 match report

By Steve Tervet

Ebbsfleet were frustrated by Gateshead at Stonebridge Road on Saturday.

Daryl McMahon's side had the lion's share of possession but couldn't turn it into a goal against a solid Heed outfit.

Fleet remain unbeaten in the National League, and have yet to lose a league game in 2017, although they may feel this was a case of two points dropped.

Andy Drury on the ball for Ebbsfleet against Gateshead Picture: Andy Payton
Andy Drury on the ball for Ebbsfleet against Gateshead Picture: Andy Payton

New signing Chris Bush went straight into the Ebbsfleet team having joined from Chelmsford the day before the game. Bush's inclusion saw Fleet switch to a back three, with his former Clarets team-mate Bagasan Graham handed his league debut in the left wing-back role.

The change of system saw Marvin McCoy drop to the bench while a tight hamstring ruled out Jack Connors, who joined fellow defenders Dave Winfield and Kenny Clark on the injured list.

Myles Weston was dropped for the first time this season, with Andy Drury recalled, while Darren McQueen took Aaron McLean's place up front.

Gateshead arrived in Kent having taken maximum points at home but none on the road. They made just one change, bringing in Callum Williams for Fraser Kerr.

Ebbsfleet, attacking the Plough End in the first half, were on the front foot early with Jack Payne's shot charged down and Graham winning a corner after beating two men with an excellent driving run into the box.

Jordan Preston fired Gateshead's first effort well wide as Fleet enjoyed the majority of possession.

Danny Kedwell extended goalkeeper James Montgomery with a header from Drury's cross and the home fans wanted a penalty when Drury went down under Russell Penn's challenge in the box although the appeals were confined to the terraces and referee Chris Pollard quickly waved them away.

Darren McQueen gets no change out of Theo Vassell Picture: Andy Payton
Darren McQueen gets no change out of Theo Vassell Picture: Andy Payton

At the other end, Richard Peniket and Jordan Burrow found plenty of space but failed to register a shot on target.

Montgomery pushed a McQueen shot round the post but could only watch as Jack Powell's free-kick from 25 yards dropped narrowly wide after McQueen had been barged over by Neill Byrne.

Powell's next strike appeared to be blocked by a Gateshead hand and all the Fleet players went up this time but again Mr Pollard was unmoved.

Preston dragged two shots wide for Heed and Peniket was well challenged by Yado Mambo after Preston had played him in.

Fleet went close just before the break, Bush heading Powell's corner onto the roof of the net and Drury arrowing a low shot inches wide after McQueen had got in behind and picked him out.

Sam Magri whipped over a good cross at the start of the second half and the ball reached Kedwell at the far post but he shot wide - and was flagged offside anyway.

But the pace of the game dropped as the sun continued to beat down with Fleet guilty of over-playing at times.

Chris Bush made his Ebbsfleet debut against Gateshead Picture: Andy Payton
Chris Bush made his Ebbsfleet debut against Gateshead Picture: Andy Payton

Powell fired a free-kick into the wall and Ebbsfleet then survived a scare when goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore dropped a corner in the six-yard box.

The home side then went close three times in as many minutes.

First Kedwell's cross was taken off McQueen's toe in the middle by an outstanding Theo Vassell challenge, then Payne shot just wide from 20 yards after Heed failed to clear their lines from a right-wing cross.

Montgomery raced out to save at the feet of McQueen and the ball ran free for Drury, who chipped the ball onto the roof of an unguarded net.

It was all Ebbsfleet now and McQueen took aim from inside the box but another excellent intervention from Vassell denied him.

The home side were awarded a free-kick wide on the left and with all their big man forward, most expected a cross but Powell whipped a shot to the near post and Montgomery did well to push it round the post.

Gateshead, with everyone behind the ball in the closing stages, were clearly happy to settle for a point and they frustrated Fleet as time ticked away.

Coulson had a clear sight of goal five minutes from time but prodded his shot well wide and substitute Weston also failed to hit the target as the visitors held on for their first away point of the season.

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

Gateshead: Montgomery, Williams, Vassell, Byrne, Fyfield, Mellish (Johnson 77mins), Penn, McLaughlin, Preston (York 46mins), Burrow (Tinkler 65mins), Peniket. Subs not used: Hanford, Kerr.

Attendance: 1,446.

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