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Ebbsfleet United 0 Tranmere Rovers 0 match report

By Steve Tervet

Ebbsfleet were held to a draw by 10-man Tranmere on Saturday.

The visitors had Jay McEveley sent off five minutes into the second half but despite all their pressure, Fleet couldn't find a way through against Micky Mellon's side.

It's now nine games without a win for Daryl McMahon's side in the National League. 

Jack Connors on his 50th appearance for Ebbsfleet Picture Andy Payton

Jack Connors on his 50th appearance for Ebbsfleet Picture: Andy Payton

Ebbsfleet fans walking away from Tuesday night's home defeat to Aldershot might have expected changes but surely not to the extent that appeared on the team sheet.

Centre-forwards Danny Kedwell and Darren McQueen were both dropped as were midfielder Dean Rance and winger Anthony Cook. Summer signing Danny Mills made his full league debut in attack, having been a substitute in the first 10 games of the season, while Myles Weston was recalled to support him going forward.

Left-back Jack Connors made his 50th appearance for the club as McMahon reverted to a back four while midfielder Andy Drury was not only given his place back in midfield but also the captain's armband.

Fleet came into the game having not won since the first week of the season but Tranmere, just a point better off, arrived in Kent with problems of their own, most recently a 1-0 defeat at Maidenhead in midweek.

Rovers lined up in an unusual 5-2-3 formation with Connor Jennings and Ollie Norburn playing off central striker James Norwood.

Ebbsfleet, as an attacking force, were almost non-existent in the first half.

Tranmere were by no means anything special but what chances there were went their way.

Tranmere goalkeeper Scott Davies claims a cross Picture Andy Payton

Tranmere goalkeeper Scott Davies claims a cross Picture: Andy Payton

Norwood had an early shot well blocked by Kenny Clark and Sam Magri was then almost punished for giving the ball away when Jay Harris' cross was volleyed just wide by Norwood.

Jeff Hughes saw his long shot deflect behind for a corner and when the home side did get bodies forward, Jack Powell passed the ball straight out of play, which rather summed up the Fleet's performance to that point.

A quiet afternoon came to the boil suddenly when Chris Bush, attempting to bring the ball out of defence, was dragged back by Jay McEveley. Referee Alan Young blew for a foul straight away but a furious Bush lashed out at McEveley with his arm and was lucky to only be shown a yellow card - his fifth of the season. McEveley was also cautioned.

Drury forced Steve McNulty to concede a corner when he nodded Powell's deep free-kick back across goal and Mills had a shot blocked when Magri's cross from the right fell at his feet.

Between those half-chances, Buxton tested Nathan Ashmore twice, first with a low drive from distance and then with a well-struck volley when a clearance looped into his path 30 yards out.

Just four minutes into the second half, Tranmere had McEveley sent off for a second yellow card when he tugged back Weston near the halfway line.

Immediately the mood inside the ground changed. Fleet were now on the front foot and the home fans found their voices on the terraces.

Danny Kedwell knocked off the ball by Tranmere's Jay Harris Picture Andy Payton

Danny Kedwell knocked off the ball by Tranmere's Jay Harris Picture: Andy Payton

Weston fired a shot into the side netting and Mills nodded one wide before seeing a shot blocked as the men in red pinned their opponents back in their defensive third.

Tranmere wanted a penalty when Bush laid hands on Norwood inside the box but Mr Young wasn't interested, nor was he when Weston ran into Buxton at the other end.

Fleet poured forward in numbers and Weston shot straight at Scott Davies after turning away from two defenders, before Rovers survived an own goal scare when the ball struck one of their defenders inside the six-yard box.

The pressure kept mounting. Payne drilled a shot wide after some neat build-up play, although Ashmore had to make a good save at the other end when Norwood ran at Bush and drove a shot towards the bottom corner.

Mills saw his header from Drury's cross deflect behind and that was his last contribution as Kedwell and McQueen were sent on for the last 12 minutes.

It was like the Alamo in the closing stages as Tranmere defended for their lives. Clark's header from a Powell free-kick was straight at Davies, who then got down well to hold a deflected Weston shot.

But the visitors held on and there were some boos from the home supporters at full-time. 

Ebbsfleet: Ashmore, Magri (McQueen 78mins), Clark, Bush, Connors, Coulson, Powell, Payne, Drury, Weston, Mills (Kedwell 78mins). Subs not used: Rance, Miles, Mambo.

Tranmere: Davies, Buxton, McNulty, McEveley, Sutton, Ridehalgh, Harris, Hughes, Jennings, Norburn, Norwood (Waring 84mins). Subs not used: Pilling, Cook, Alabi, Dunn.

Attendance: 1,525.

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