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Ebbsfleet United manager Danny Searle praises Billy Clifford and reacts to 1-1 National League draw at Dagenham & Redbridge

Manager Danny Searle praised Ebbsfleet midfielder Billy Clifford after his last-gasp equaliser at Dagenham on Easter Monday.

The Fleet, who saw Rakish Bingham’s penalty saved early in the second half, looked to be heading for defeat.

Billy Clifford heads Ebbsfleet level in stoppage time at Dagenham on Easter Monday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Billy Clifford heads Ebbsfleet level in stoppage time at Dagenham on Easter Monday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

But Clifford arrived unmarked in stoppage time to head in substitute Craig Tanner’s corner from six yards.

“Billy’s been excellent since he’s been in the team,” said Searle. “He shows real quality and calmness and he’s the one you want to get on the ball at times and hurt the opposition.

“I didn’t really think we’d have him in the team to attack set-pieces but that just shows another bit of his repertoire.

“Billy’s in the team because I want to play to his strengths, that’s how I like to play. He can pick passes for fun and long may that continue.”

Clifford has impressed in recent weeks for the Fleet, starting the last six league games.

It’s a different story from earlier in the season when two red cards and a string of bookings halted any personal momentum.

“He’s a passionate player and you always run a tight line when you’re that sort of player,” added the Fleet boss.

“But his discipline has been outstanding since I’ve been in the building, on the training field, in the dressing room and on the pitch.”

Searle admitted there were mixed emotions after the Dagenham draw. Ebbsfleet were the better side for long periods and created several good chances.

But Daggers keeper Elliot Justham was in inspired form and the Fleet had to dig themselves out of a hole after Bingham failed to convert the spot-kick.

“As a group we’re a bit disappointed we didn’t take three points as we think we created enough chances,” said the Fleet boss.

“We had to show character, we had to show determination and we had to help each other out as sometimes you have to dig your team-mate out and we did that.

“We had more chances than the penalty, there was one in the first half where the ball hit the goalkeeper in the face.

“Obviously, you get a penalty and we expect to score those, but people miss penalties so I’m not worried about that. Raks has been superb for us so he’ll be fine after that.

“Our character came through in the end and we got the goal.

Report: Dagenham 1-1 Ebbsfleet

“It shows that we’re not a pushover and we’ve got great energy and physique in the side to keep going and going.

“We wanted to win the game once we scored the equaliser and we were going for it again.

“Everyone who comes to watch us at the minute knows that we’re playing for the badge and playing for the club because we want to be playing National League football next season.”

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