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Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Ebbsfleet United 1 match report: Rakish Bingham’s penalty is saved but Billy Clifford scores late equaliser

Billy Clifford headed in an equaliser five minutes into stoppage time for Ebbsfleet at Dagenham in the National League on Easter Monday.

The Fleet looked to be heading for defeat after Rakish Bingham had a penalty saved early in the second half.

Darren McQueen on the ball for Ebbsfleet at Dagenham on Easter Monday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Darren McQueen on the ball for Ebbsfleet at Dagenham on Easter Monday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

But Clifford arrived late on to head in substitute Craig Tanner’s corner and send the 314 away fans into raptures.

Ebbsfleet made one change from the side that drew with Southend on Good Friday with Darren McQueen replacing Tommy Fogarty.

That meant a move into the back three for Ben Chapman, who was as consistent as ever.

The Fleet enjoyed all the early openings, Dominic Samuel firing off target on four minutes after Bryant Bilongo’s header down. Rakish Bingham nearly turned in Samuel’s cross and Toby Edser’s 20-yard shot was deflected wide for a corner.

Dagenham’s best chance came on the half-hour when the Fleet were temporarily down to 10 men with Samuel having come off injured. Sam Ling advanced down the right for the first time but his early cross was somehow turned wide by Inih Effiong at the far post.

Ebbsfleet then introduced Dominic Samuel from the bench and his first contribution was to work some room in the penalty area for Bilongo, whose shot hit keeper Elliot Justham in the face from point-blank range.

A misplaced clearance by Justham was nearly punished when Bingham then fed Poleon, whose shot was blocked in the box.

Dagenham threatened again in stoppage time when Ling’s header was cleared off the line but it was the visitors who went in happy having looked more than comfortable during a goalless opening period.

Billy Clifford, who impressed against Southend, was excellent in midfield up against former Gills man Jake Hessethaler.

Ebbsfleet started the second half brightly, Edser playing in Poleon who was initially forced wide but then had his low shot saved by the legs of Justham.

Ryan Hill, who could have easily been booked for diving in the first half, went into the book for a robust challenge on Edser.

Then Ebbsfleet had a great chance to go ahead on 53 minutes. Clifford’s cross was handled in the box and referee Farai Hallam pointed to the spot.

But Bingham stepped up and Justham dived to his left to push the ball behind for a corner.

Dagenham replaced the ineffective Keenan Appiah-Forson on the hour mark with Harvey Kedwell, the on-loan Charlton midfielder is the son of ex-Gills and Fleet striker Danny.

Ebbsfleet introduced Craig Tanner and he was part of a flowing move that ended with Chapman cleverly picking out Bingham, whose first-time shot was hooked over the bar.

Then Tanner played in Poleon with 17 minutes left but Justham brilliantly spread himself to block his shot and McQueen’s follow-up was blocked by a defender.

Ebbsfleet lost Bilongo to injury and his replacement Greg Cundle immediately sent two balls into the penalty area as there looked like being only one winner.

But Dagenham had a goal threat in former Gillingham and Bromley midfielder Josh Rees and he managed to carve himself a chance out of nothing to put the hosts ahead on 78 minutes, firing into the far corner from an acute angle. Bingham immediately fell to his knees, knowing how big his penalty miss was looking.

Bingham then just failed to get onto Chapman’s cross as the game entered seven minutes of stoppages, but Ebbsfleet had the last say when Clifford claimed his second goal of the season.

Dagenham: Justham, Eastman, Hessenthaler, Rees, Effiong, Hill (Lawless 84mins), Pereira (Tavares 84mins), Page, Ling, Appiah-Forson (Kedwell 61mins), Longe-King. Subs not used: Hare, Remy.

Ebbsfleet: Cousins, Chapman, Skura, Kenlock, McQueen, Edser (Tanner 69mins), Clifford, Wright, Bilongo (Cundle 75mins), Bingham, Samuel (Poleon 30mins). Subs not used: Cisse, Fanimo.

Referee: Farai Hallam.

Attendance: 1,846 (314 away).

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