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Ebbsfleet United 1 Bath City 1

Anthony Cook is denied by Bath keeper Jason Mellor (Pic: Andy Payton)
Anthony Cook is denied by Bath keeper Jason Mellor (Pic: Andy Payton)

Ebbsfleet's wait for a first home win in The Skrill South goes on after Bath held them to a frustrating draw on Saturday.

Among the spectators at Stonebridge Road was David Gold, the West Ham United co-chairman, who was there as a guest of Fleet vice-chairman Peter Varney.

He watched Steve Brown's side take the lead through Shane Huke midway through the first half, but the hosts were lifeless after the break. And it was a former Fleet player, Will Salmon, who struck to earn Bath a deserved share of the spoils with just over 20 minutes remaining.

Ebbsfleet's starting line-up bore two changes from their previous league outing, a 3-1 win at Dorchester. With striker Michael Thalassitis on international duty with Cyprus under-21s and Dean Rance dropped to the bench, in came Stacy Long and Michael Corcoran.

The game took a while to get going. Daryl McMahon had a shot saved at the near post and Andy Watkins wafted a left-footed effort over the bar at the other end, but these were half-chances at best.

Billy Bricknell cleverly toed the ball beyond Dan Ball and raced towards the byline, but his cutback was lashed well wide by Anthony Cook, who fell over as he struck his half-volley.

However, a goal came out of nowhere on 25 minutes. McMahon floated over a deep free-kick from near the right-hand touchline and Huke rose highest to power a header beyond Bath keeper Jason Mellor.

That seemed to be a catalyst for greater attacking intent from the home side.

Bricknell's fierce shot was saved - unconvincingly - by Mellor, and when the resulting corner was cleared to Corcoran on the edge of the box, he was inches away from doubling the Fleet's lead with a shot which crept past the far post.

The best move of the half saw Bricknell play a smart reverse pass into the feet of Cook, who raced into the box and dragged a low shot narrowly wide of the far post with Mellor well beaten.

Much like the first half, the second was slow to spark into life. Not until the hour mark did Bath register an effort on goal, Mark Preece heading wide from Ross Stearn's right-wing free-kick.

Ebbsfleet had lost their earlier energy and they duly lost their lead on 69 minutes. A free-kick from the left dropped at the feet of Salmon, who was afforded the time and space to plant a low shot into the net.

Cook got a sight of goal in the closing stages but Mellor raced out to narrow the angle and he saved at the winger's feet. And substitute Rance had his effort blocked in stoppage-time after Joe Howe had made a determined forward run and laid the ball into his path.

Next up for the Fleet is a trip to Basingstoke Town on Saturday.

Ebbsfleet: Edwards; Howe, Lorraine, Huke, Palmer; Cook, McMahon, Corcoran, Long (Rance 67mins); Osborn (Green 76mins), Bricknell. Subs not used: Sankofa, Hall, Phipp.

Bath: Mellor; Gallinagh, Preece, Ball, Salmon; Stearn, Adelsbury, Connolly, Brown (Low 58mins); Pratt (Allen 62mins), Watkins (Keates 81mins). Subs not used: Burnell, Simpson.

Attendance: 850.

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