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Dover Athletic 0 Ebbsfleet United 4 match report

By Steve Tervet
Ebbsfleet United lift the Kent Senior Cup at Priestfield Picture: Steve Crispe

Ebbsfleet lifted the Kent Senior Cup on Bank Holiday Monday after beating Dover at Priestfield.

Osei Sankofa headed the Fleet in front after 18 minutes and another header, from Alex Osborn, doubled their lead three minutes into the second half.

A wonderful Daryl McMahon strike put the result beyond any doubt and Stacy Long scored in the second minute of stoppage-time to round off an emphatic win for Steve Brown's side. This was Brown's first trophy since taking charge at Stonebridge Road.

The game served as a dress rehearsal for Saturday's huge Skrill South play-off final between the fierce rivals at Stonebridge Road. But the atmosphere will be very different at that winner-takes-all game, as will the two line-ups.

Both teams made sweeping changes for the cup final from their respective play-off games at the weekend. Dover changed their entire starting XI and there were six alterations to the Fleet side which started at Bromley.

For the Whites, three academy players - Ollie Beard, Brendan Owusu-Ansah and Joe Fisher - started, while Lloyd Harrington's name featured on the team sheet for the first time since he ruptured his knee ligaments in Dover's 2-1 win over Ebbsfleet back in August.

There were two unfamiliar names on the Ebbsfleet bench. Academy scholars Jack Barnes - the captain of the Fleet's under-16 side - and midfielder Leo Mazzone were given a taste of senior football, having impressed at the recent first-team trials.

Ebbsfleet keeper Brandon Hall Picture: Steve Crispe

Ebbsfleet bossed the first half, which was perhaps unsurprising given the line-ups.

Connor Hefferan's soft shot from well outside the box - easily gathered in by Brandon Hall - was Dover's only real effort on goal in the opening 45 minutes.

At the other end, Paul Lorraine headed a right-wing McMahon corner straight at Dover keeper Lee Hook.

Hall's biggest scare of the first half was self-inflicted. He took an extra touch to control Aiden Palmer's backpass and that allowed Elliott Charles to close him down, although the reserve goalkeeper eventually cleared the danger.

And then came the opening goal on 18 minutes. McMahon swung over another corner from the right, Michael Thalassitis climbed well to head the ball back across goal and Sankofa nodded it past Hook from close-range at the Rainham End.

Michael Kamara holds off Alex Osborn Picture: Steve Crispe

Heffernan put a cross on the head of Ricky Gabriel at the other end but the left-back planted his effort down into the turf and the chance was gone.

A left-wing delivery from Ebbsfleet's Anthony Cook carried more menace and it needed a smart header from Gabriel to steal it away from the onrushing Thalassitis.

Charles and Hall renewed acquaintances just before half-time, Charles shown a yellow card after catching Hall late as he cleared the ball downfield.

Dover were presented with a better chance inside the first minute of the second half than they'd had in the entire first period. Chris Sessegnon misjudged a long ball forward and Joe Fisher was suddenly through on goal, but he suffered a rush of blood and lofted the ball well wide.

And that miss looked even more costly two minutes later when Ebbsfleet made it 2-0.

Chris Sessegnon cross from the Ebbsfleet right Picture: Steve Crispe

Thalassitis laid the ball into the path of left-back Palmer and his inviting cross was powered into the net by the head of Osborn. The exposed Hook stood no chance.

Now it really was one-way traffic as the inexperienced Dover side struggled to contain the men in red shirts.

Cook cut inside and fired a shot wide, before Cook and Long got in each other's way in their attempts to convert an Osborn pass on the edge of the box. A terrific passing move from right to left then finished with McMahon drilling a low shot just wide of the far post.

Tom Murphy shot wildly over at the other end but the Dover players looked spent.

And they were very much beaten when McMahon scored a brilliant third goal midway through the second half. Long rolled the ball into McMahon's feet on the right-hand corner of the box and his swerving shot flashed past Hook's right hand before nestling in the far corner.

Lee Hook is beaten but Daryl McMahon's shot flies wide Picture: Steve Crispe

Dover were all over the place defensively and Fleet manager Steve Brown took the opportunity to take off three of his senior players, with the game safely won.

The personnel changes didn't stop their flow, however. Palmer missed two great chances to make it 4-0, either side of an Charles shot which struck Hall's near post and bounced behind.

Hall saved brilliantly from Michael Kamara late on to preserve his clean sheet.

And there was still time for Long to swivel in the box and fire home Ebbsfleet's fourth goal.

Dover: Hook, Beard, Gabriel, Owusu-Ansah, Kamara, Forbes, Heffernan, Rogers (Priddle 81mins), Charles, Murphy (Donnelly 72mins), Fisher (Isichei 60mins). Subs not used: Smith, Harrington.

Ebbsfleet: Hall, Sessegnon, Lorraine, Sankofa, Palmer, Osborn, McMahon (Mazzone 69mins), Huke (Barnes 75mins), Long, Cook (Howe 66mins), Thalassitis. Subs not used: Edwards, Bricknell.

Attendance: 1,524.

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