Ebbsfleet United 1 Newport County 1
Preston Edwards dives left to save Sandell's
penalty. Picture: Andy
by Steve Tervet
Preston Edwards saved a stoppage-time penalty
to earn Ebbsfleet a precious point against high-flying Newport
County on Saturday.
The game seemed destined for a draw and the
three added minutes had elapsed when Phil Walsh clumsily chopped
down Robbie Wilmott in the box. Referee Charles Breakspear
instantly pointed to the spot but Edwards (pictured) flung
himself low to his left to keep out Andy Sandell’s spot-kick. It
was the last kick of the game and the home fans celebrated all
around Stonebridge Road.
Newport started the game knowing their Welsh
rivals Wrexham had already been beaten at Dartford but the Fleet
scrapped for every ball and were good value for their point.
Ebbsfleet’s line-up bore two changes from
their 4-1 defeat at Wrexham in midweek. Matt Godden, back at the
club on loan from Scunthorpe, started alongside Nathan Elder in
attack and there was also a starting role for Liam Bellamy. Injury
ruled out Craig Stone, Jack Saville and Stefan Payne while Joe Howe
was also absent after failing to shake off an illness.
County arrived in red-hot form, having won
their last five games in Blue Square Bet Premier as well as their
last five on the road. Christian Jolley went close early on when he
cut in from the right and sent a left-footed shot past the base of
But the home side held their own on a sticky
Stonebridge Road pitch. Godden looked especially lively, seeing one
header blocked before unloading with a shot from 25 yards which
whizzed past the angle of post and bar.
When Tony James fouled Bellamy, the County man
went into the book and Ashley Carew’s subsequent free-kick was
glanced over by the head of Liam Enver-Marum.
Jolley continued to be Newport’s best
attacking outlet and he went agonisingly close to the opener. His
curling shot from the right-hand side beat Edwards but dropped just
wide of the far post.
Ebbsfleet looked to be coasting to half-time
on level terms but they were punished for losing possession cheaply
inside their own half. Scott Donnelly burst to the byline on 44
minutes and teased over a cross which Lee Minshull headed into the
net from point-blank range.
The second half started quietly but it burst
into life on 55 minutes. Michael Flynn was booked for fouling Carew
wide on the Fleet left and although Newport cleared the initial
free-kick, the ball was returned into the box and Enver-Marum
stabbed home the equaliser from inside the six-yard box.
It was the home side doing most of the
pressing now but County carried a real threat on the
counter-attack, particularly through the pace of Jolley. From one
such break, Andy Sandell crossed from the left and substitute Aaron
O’Connor flashed a header narrowly wide.
O’Connor went close again moments later,
cutting in from the left and powering a shot into the side
The visitors pushed Ebbsfleet back as time
started to tick away and it looked as though Sandell was about to
leave them empty-handed – but Edwards had other ideas.
Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Phipp,
Lorraine, Walsh, Gwillim, Enver-Marum (Azeez 88mins), Bellamy,
Barrett, Carew, Elder, Godden. Subs not used: Blake, Menz, Shitta,
Alabi. Attendance: 808.
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