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Ebbsfleet United 5 Chatham Town 3: DFDS Kent Senior Cup semi-final at the Kuflink Stadium, Stonebridge Road - Dominic Poleon and Darren McQueen score twice for National League side

Ebbsfleet United claimed a place in the Kent Senior Cup final after winning a thrilling game against Chatham Town.

Fleet led 3-1 at the break with two goals for Dominic Poleon - the second a penalty - and a Matty Fanimo strike. Jordy Robins and Kareem Isiaka netted either side of half-time to keep Chats in the tie but Darren McQueen struck twice before Chats added another late on through Ashley Nzala, the match finishing 5-3.

Darren McQueen scored twice in the second half for Ebbsfleet Picture: Adam Mitten
Darren McQueen scored twice in the second half for Ebbsfleet Picture: Adam Mitten

A first competitive match between the sides since 2011 saw National League Fleet hosting Isthmian Premier Division promotion-chasers Chatham for a place in the county cup final.

Fleet were in pursuit of a first Kent Cup final appearance in a decade and home boss Danny Searle mixed his team up, including several experienced players, while Kevin Hake’s Chatham were looking to claim a second successive county final spot.

Chatham had some big early chances that they failed to convert before Fleet took a 12th-minute lead.

A frantic start to the match saw Chats captain Jack Evans stab a shot narrowly wide, while at the other end, Miguel Scarlett cleared off the line to deny Darren McQueen.

Within the first 10 minutes Chats had seen Evans hit the woodwork from a free-kick and both Jamie Yila and Ashley Nzala denied by Fleet keeper Chris Haigh, saving both efforts with his feet.

Poleon opened the scoring with a low strike beyond Chatham goalie Ben Bridle-Card and Fanimo struck from the edge of the box to make it 2-0 after half an hour.

Chats had missed another golden opportunity inbetween those goals as Yila shot wide from close range. They were to find the net before the half was out.

Fleet lost possession in the middle of the pitch and Chatham capitalised on the break, Nzala playing in Robins, and he halved the deficit with two minutes of stoppage-time played.

There was to be more drama before the end of the half, however, as McQueen went down in the box following a challenge and Poleon converted the subsequent penalty.

The woodwork denied Poleon a hat-trick in the opening moments of the second half, Bridle-Card touching a close-range shot onto the woodwork from Fanimo’s ball in.

Fleet hit the frame of the goal twice more with the second half still in its infancy. Franklin Domi’s shot took a deflection on the way to hitting the upright and Fanimo then clipped the top of the bar with a shot that Bridle-Card got a fingertip on.

Chatham were right back in it with an hour gone as recently introduced substitute Isiaka netted from Khale Da Costa’s ball in.

Evans forced a save from the home keeper from distance but Fleet restored their two-goal advantage when McQueen slotted in with 67 minutes of the match played after being assisted by sub Rashawn Scott.

McQueen made it 5-2 in the 75th minute when he was well-placed to fire home again from a Scott cross.

Bridle-Card saved well from McQueen to deny him a quickfire treble as the entertainment continued until the final whistle. Nzala got a third for Chatham with four minutes left as he met Evans’ deep free-kick at the back stick.

There was a scuffle in the goalmouth at the start of six added-on minutes as the Chats tried to force in another goal, leading to a couple of yellow cards. Haigh also had to pull off another save late on to keep it at 5-3.

Ebbsfleet: Haigh, Cisse, Solly, Bilongo (Shoolbred 85mins), Tanner (Scott 60mins), Cundle, Domi, Fanimo, Ibe (Manktelow 65mins), McQueen, Poleon.

Chatham: Bridle-Card, Scarlett (Isiaka 55mins), Broad, Butler, Cooper, Robins (Sene-Richardson 80mins), Ebozoeme, Evans, Nzala, De Costa (Gody 80mins), Yila. Subs not used: Dunne, Beckwith.

Referee: Joseph Dann-Pye

Attendance: 867 (305 away)

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