Published: 21:30, 08 August 2017 |
Updated: 21:41, 08 August 2017
Danny Kedwell finally silenced Maidstone fans by clinching victory for Ebbsfleet in the Kent derby.
Stuart Lewis, meanwhile, was sent off on his return to Stonebridge Road for an injury-time lunge on Andy Drury, the man who took his place at Fleet.
Kedwell, ribbed for 15 months after missing the decisive penalty in the National South play-off final, added to Luke Coulson’s second-half opener as Fleet made it four points from six since promotion.
You could see how much it meant to the big striker as he celebrated in front of a packed Plough End.
Fleet were unchanged from their opening-day draw at Guiseley while Maidstone shored up midfield by including Jai Reason ahead of Jack Paxman, with Tom Wraight in for Harley Willard on the left.
There were only five survivors from the play-off final - Nathan Ashmore, Kenny Clark and Kedwell for Fleet - and Lee Worgan and Lewis, albeit now in different colours, for the Stones.
Chances were at a premium in a goalless first half that saw both defences very much on top.
Sam Magri looked composed in the middle of Fleet’s back three, making a couple of timely interceptions from crosses, while Alex Finney was the stand-out centre-half at the other end.
The on-loan QPR man was as calm as you like and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, including an excellent block to snuff out the dangerous Coulson when in on goal.
United had the first chance of the game, a free-kick from Joe Pigott that Ashmore touched past the post for a corner.
Other than that, Lewis saw a first-time blockbuster brilliantly saved by Ashmore after Reece Prestedge and Pigott combined outside the box.
Fleet had a couple of efforts of distance, including one from Jack Payne.
Their best opening came just before the 20-minute mark and what a nice move it was as Kedwell fed Coulson whose cross was brought down by Darren McQueen with Jack Powell’s deflected strike flashing just over.
Fleet hadn’t been able to utilise the pace of McQueen in the first half but the signs were there just after the break as they looked to get him in behind.
It required concentration from the away defence but there was danger at the other end when Wraight’s header from Seth Twumasi’s cross was blocked by Ashmore, that after Lewis burst forward and fed Reason.
The introduction of Marvin McCoy saw Fleet move to a back four with Coulson switching to the left wing.
It almost paid off immediately when Coulson popped up in his new position and teed up Powell who curled the ball just wide.
Moments later, in the 66th minute, Fleet did get their rewards as Coulson pounced on a mistake by Twumasi out wide and arrowed home a beauty from 25 yards.
The goal lifted Fleet and it might have been two straight after but for another superbly-timed challenge by Finney to rob McQueen.
Maidstone lost to Finney to what looked like a groin injury and in the 77th minute they were two down.
Powell latched on to a through ball and shaped to shoot before squaring to Kedwell, who sidefooted home.
Fleet never looked in danger after doubling the lead and, after Lewis was sent off for going in on Drury, it took a smart save from Worgan to deny substitute Aaron McLean a third.
Ebbsfleet: Ashmore, Magri, Winfield (Shields 90mins), Clark, Coulson, Powell, Payne, Drury, Weston (McCoy 61mins), Kedwell, McQueen (McLean 80mins). Subs not used: Miles, Mills.
Maidstone: Worgan, Hare, Finney (Wynter 76mins), Prestedge, Lewis, Sam-Yorke, Wraight (Willard 74mins), Anderson, Reason (Paxman 71mins), Twumasi, Pigott. Subs not used: Phipps, Richards.
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