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Ebbsfleet United 1 Basingstoke Town 0 match report

Danny Kedwell plays the ball past Jay Gasson, watched by JP Kissock Picture: Andy Payton
Danny Kedwell plays the ball past Jay Gasson, watched by JP Kissock Picture: Andy Payton

A superb goal from Danny Kedwell got Ebbsfleet's season off to a winning start on Saturday.

Fleet had to work hard against a well-drilled Basingstoke side and they were thwarted several times by visiting goalkeeper Aaron Howe - but the former Woking and Sutton man could do nothing about Kedwell's classy strike in the 51st minute.

Ex-Gills striker Kedwell was rightly named man-of-the-match on a day when he led the Fleet from the front in pursuit of three precious points.

Of the Fleet's six summer signings, three - John Paul Kissock, Jordan Parkes and Robbie Willmott - made their debuts, with goalkeeper Jonathan Miles and forward Danny Haynes among the substitutes.

Kedwell got the nod up front, meaning Adam Cunnington had to settle for a place on a very strong-looking bench alongside Anthony Acheampong, Matt Johnson and the new boys.

However, winger Sean Shields joined Ebbsfleet's injured list as the ankle knock he picked up in the final week of pre-season ruled him out.

Left-back Joe Howe started his first competitive game since suffering a shoulder injury in January and Dean Rance also played having missed the end of last season with an ankle problem.

Matt Godden made his 50th start for Ebbsfleet, playing wide on the left with Willmott on the opposite flank.

Jordan Parkes battles with Basingstoke's Louie Soares on his Ebbsfleet debut Picture: Andy Payton
Jordan Parkes battles with Basingstoke's Louie Soares on his Ebbsfleet debut Picture: Andy Payton

Basingstoke, having retained most of the squad which helped them to a third-placed finish last season, named ex-Fleet striker Liam Enver-Marum in a starting line-up which featured six players who started on their last visit to Stonebridge Road - a 5-1 routing of Jamie Day's Fleet in December.

The hosts might have been ahead inside 90 seconds. A slip in the Basingstoke defence allowed Parkes to set up Joe Howe for a low drive which was well saved by Town keeper Aaron Howe.

Parkes had the Fleet's next effort, his powerful drive from Willmott's pass blocked.

Basingstoke grew into the game and former Fleet loanee Louie Soares got away from several challenges before Kenny Clark finally stopped him in his tracks inside the box.

Back came the home side, Kedwell craning his neck to meet a deep Matt Fish cross but failing to direct his header on target.

Jamie Brown lashed a shot well wide for Basingstoke, who went much closer moments later. Manny Williams crossed from the left and Chris Flood, arriving late, planted his header over the bar when he should really have hit the target.

Ebbsfleet ended the first half on top and created several more chances.

Joe Howe forced another save from Aaron Howe and a dangerous right-wing delivery by Willmott was almost bundled in by Parkes on the six-yard line, with the visitors doing well to clear their lines.

New Fleet skipper Tom Bonner almost broke the deadlock when he connected sweetly with a Parkes corner from the right but again Aaron Howe was there to save.

Kenny Clark gets up well to win this header Picture: Andy Payton
Kenny Clark gets up well to win this header Picture: Andy Payton

Parkes drifted a left-wing free-kick all the way through the Basingstoke box on the stroke of half-time but the ball dropped narrowly wide of the far post to the relief of those in blue.

Just 10 seconds into the second half, Parkes almost caught out Aaron Howe with a fine chipped effort from the edge of the box but the goalkeeper recovered to tip the ball behind.

The resulting corner was driven to Parkes on the edge of the box but his goalbound shot was charged down.

Ebbsfleet hit the front on 51 minutes. Having not seen much of the ball centrally, Kedwell drifted wide to get hold of it and after swapping passes with Willmott, he curled a fantastic left-footed effort across Howe into the far top corner.

Buoyed by the goal, Ebbsfleet went in search of a second. Parkes snapped into a tackle on the edge of the Basingstoke box and Willmott played a clever instinctive pass into Kissock's path, the diminutive midfielder denied at the last second as Howe dived at his feet.

The visitors were rocking defensively but then came a reminder of how narrow the Fleet's lead remained. Enver-Marum's cross from the right beat goalkeeper Brandon Hall and Clark saved his team with a superb headed clearance on the goalline.

As play became increasingly tetchy in the closing stages, the home fans got right behind their side. They started cheering every pass and Ebbsfleet must have strung 15 or 20 together before Parkes' shot flew wide to warm applause.

On came Haynes and Cunnington in the latter stages as the Fleet looked to protect their advantage and Haynes drilled a thumping shot just wide from the edge of the box.

Basingstoke had a great late chance to snatch a point but heroic defending from Bonner denied them. Bonner flung his body in front of substitute Lloyd Macklin's close-range strike and Nathan Smart lashed the rebound wastefully over.

Ebbsfleet: Hall, Fish, Clark, Bonner, J Howe, Rance, Kissock, Godden (Haynes 73mins), Parkes, Willmott, Kedwell (Cunnington 80mins). Subs not used: Acheampong, Miles, Johnson.

Basingstoke: A Howe, Smart, Bird, Harper, Gasson, Ray, Soares (Dunn 80mins), Brown, Enver-Marum, Flood, Williams (Macklin 62mins). Subs not used: Gilkes, Salmon, McAuley.

Attendance: 888.

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