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Match-winner Ben Chapman after scoring for Ebbsfleet United against Dartford in National League South


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Ebbsfleet’s Ben Chapman broke his duck for the season to sink Dartford – and admitted it was worth the wait!

The 23-year-old has spent large chunks of the season at centre-back but he strode forward after coming on at half-time to fire low beyond Darts keeper Dan Wilks and hand his side three vital points on Sunday.

Ben Chapman on the ball for Ebbsfleet against Dartford on Sunday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC (54048158)
Ben Chapman on the ball for Ebbsfleet against Dartford on Sunday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC (54048158)

“I’ve been waiting for a goal so I’ll take that,” beamed Chapman, after netting his first goal of the campaign. “I might get one or two a season so I was wondering when it was going to come.

“In such an important game like this I’m glad to have got the goal, it’s more important than netting a 40-yard screamer.

“In such a competitive derby I’m happy to have scored and that goal is for the fans. I’m not known for scoring but I’ll take that.”

Chapman was played in by wing-back Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, but he did wonder if the ball was ever going to get to him at one stage.

It was a goal that typified Fleet’s fluid formation under boss Dennis Kutrieb, with the centre-back allowed to charge forward so late in the game.

Chapman added: “I didn’t think Tobi was going to pass me the ball so I was screaming at him to pass it to me, when it came I thought ‘I’ve got finish this’ and I’ve put it in the back of the net so I can’t ask for much more.

“It’s definitely the most important goal I’ve scored. In such a big derby, such a big game for the fans and two title contenders it was good to get one up on them and good to get the goal.

“I’m not meant to be in their penalty area that much but he allows me to drive on and get up the pitch so him allowing that has got us the goal – any other team if your centre-back is that high then you’re getting screamed at.

“But we all know where we are, if someone steps out then we know whoever is in midfield is going to step in for us. It allows any player anywhere on the pitch to score because of the way we move.”

Chapman was disappointed to be left out of the starting line-up but accepted that Kutrieb has difficult decisions to make.

And he was keen to saviour the atmosphere once he god the nod to come on at the break.

“I’m never happy not to play but it was the gaffer’s decision and we leave it down to him, he’s the main man,” added Chapman. “He said to me at half-time come on and do what you’ve got to do so I came on and scored!

“We’ve got such a strong squad, 1 to 24 are all very good players. They’re hard decisions for the gaffer, if he could play all 24 then he would.

“All the boys have to do when they come on is make the most of it and do the best you can. It’s a long season, so you’re going to get your chances and there will be injuries, so you have to make the best of a bad situation at times.

“The first half when I heard the whistle I thought ‘surely that’s not half-time’ as it flew by. All you could hear was the fans, from the warm-up to the end of the game, that’s all I could hear. They were behind us and that’s partially why we won such a big home crowd and they cheered us on from minute one. It helps the team, I don’t know if they realise but it does push you that little extra five or 10 yards.

“Going from no fans last year to hearing the noise this season is a big pick-me-up for the boys. It’s good to have them back and the more there are the better it is, and the better we will perform. It’s like your 12th man, it was a proper atmosphere.

“Winning at the start of the year is a good building block for us to push on from and hopefully we can keep winning and winning.

“We’ve got to take each game as it comes, this is a difficult and competitive league. We know there’s a lot of quality in this league and hopefully results come together for us.”

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