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Ebbsfleet United 0 Altrincham 2 match report: National League relegation battle goes to final two games

Ebbsfleet’s National League survival bid will be going to the wire after a luckless display on Saturday.

It was one-way traffic for long periods against play-off chasing Altrincham but somehow couldn’t find a way past keeper Ethan Ross.

Ebbsfleet manager Danny Searle. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Ebbsfleet manager Danny Searle. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

The visitors had only four efforts at goal compared to Ebbsfleet’s 22 but fortune was no on their side.

The Fleet made one change from the side beaten at Solihull Moors in midweek with Bryant Bilongo replacing Greg Cundle.

It was a quiet start on and off the pitch, albeit Toby Edser and Billy Clifford had lone-range attempts off target for the home side.

Ebbsfleet nearly went ahead on 22 minutes when Bilongo's backheel set up Myles Kenlock, who picked out Dominic Poleon in the box. Poleon's sidefoot finish beat keeper Ethan Ross but skipper Lewis Baines had the presence of mind to get back on the goalline to clear the danger.

Altrincham lost Justin Donawa, who was stretchered off after a five-minute delay, but it didn't seem to deter them as they scored twice in four minutes.

The first came on 35 minutes when Regan Linney did well down the left before his cross was kept alive by ex-Maidstone man Justin Amaluzor and substitute Alex Newby turned the ball in from close range.

Ebbsfleet nearly equalised when Clifford sent Bingham on his way down the right, racing forward to collect the return box only for the ball to get caught under his feet at just the wrong time.

Altrincham promptly went down the other end and scored a second goal. Amaluzor clearly pulled Kenlock back in front of the assistant referee but no flag was forthcoming and Kenlock's revenge was unwise as he went to ground in the box and Amaluzor won his team a spot-kick. Linney stepped up to fire home the penalty.

The Fleet were still creating chances, though. Bingham's header down found Poleon but his shot on the turn was brilliantly kept out by keeper Ross.

Clifford's deflected shot was brilliantly kept out by Ross and then, in the sixth minute of stoppage time, Poleon did well to get his cross in from the left but Toby Edser's connection lacked power and the keeper was again able to thwart a frustrated home side.

Ebbsfleet were creating chances, though. While Altrincham will be in the play-offs, they do afford opportunities to their opponents.

That theme carried on after the break. Ben Chapman’s 20-yard drive was turned over, Kenlock shot over and Bingham headed wide from a dangerous Chapman cross.

A Fleet goal was going to change the mood. It nearly arrived on 62 minutes when Chapman’s cross was met by the head of Bingham at the far post. Ross got back to claw the ball out, Chapman was adamant it crossed the line, but the assistant said no.

Altrincham’s first meaningful attack of the second half came after 68 minutes when Newby charged forward and played in Linney, but his right-foot effort was pushed away to safety by keeper Mark Cousins.

Lady Luck was not on the Fleet’s side. Bingham had his shirt pulled as he climbed for a header in the box and then Chapman’s cross seemed to take about four deflections across the six-yard box but wasn’t turned in.

With a minute to go, the willing Chapman again crossed from the right and both Bingham and Poleon were again unable to apply the telling touch.

Then substitute Craig Tanner was set up by Poleon but his dipping left-foot shot came crashing back off the bar and Bingham was then denied by Ross.

It means the Fleet head to FC Halifax on Tuesday and Boreham Wood next Saturday with work still to do to retain their step one status.

Ebbsfleet: Cousins, Fogarty (Sterling-James 75mins), Skura, Kenlock, Chapman, Wright, Edser, Clifford (Tanner 60mins), Bilongo (Cundle 46mins), Bingham, Poleon. Subs not used: McQueen, Domi.

Altrincham: Ross, Banks, Jones, Baines, Osborne, Linney, Conn-Clarke (Kosylo 75mins), Amaluzor (Roscoe 46mins), Cooper, Donawa (Newby 27mins), Hancox. Subs not used: Angus, Mooney.

Referee: Gary Parsons.

Attendance: 1,915 (131 away).

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