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Ebbsfleet United 1 Barnet 1 match report: Ebbsfleet hit back to earn National League draw

Spirited Ebbsfleet showed plenty of character to take a point off promotion-chasing Barnet on Saturday.

The Fleet remain in the National League relegation zone but it was a display that will no doubt please boss Dennis Kutrieb.

Ebbsfleet United manager Dennis Kutrieb. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Ebbsfleet United manager Dennis Kutrieb. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

Ebbsfleet made five changes from the FA Trophy exit to Bishop’s Stortford last weekend. Ben Chapman, Josh Wright, Joe Martin, Dominic Poleon and Greg Cundle all came into the side with Luke O’Neill, David Amoo, Darren McQueen, Jordon Ibe and Nathan Odokonyero dropping out.

The kick-off was put back by 15 minutes just over an hour before the scheduled 3pm start as the away side were stuck in traffic but many fans were left bemused when Barnet arrived around 2.15pm.

Myles Kenlock fired an early effort over the bar for Ebbsfleet who more than held their own in the opening half.

Dale Gorman’s 13th-minute shot was deflected onto the bar by a Fleet defender before the home side broke and Cundle set up Dominic Samuel, who fired inches past the upright.

Gorman then took an age to a take a free-kick on the edge of the box, the referee twice blowing his whistle for it to be taken. But it wasn’t worth the wait as he shot wide of the far post.

Ebbsfleet hit the woodwork themselves on 32 minutes. More good work by Cundle down the left saw his cross met by Poleon, but his shot hit the post before he was unable to force in the rebound.

Hayden White and Toby Edser were both booked for fouls, the latter coming just moments after a Barnet player escaped punishment for a similiar offence.

Ebbsfleet fans were further irate when Poleon saw yellow on 36 minutes for a foul on Danny Collinge, despite the striker clearly winning the ball.

Barnet increased the pressure just before the break, Harry Pritchard forcing an excellent save low down from keeper Mark Cousins before heading the resulting corner over from close range.

It was a half that saw the Fleet play much more percentage football than you normally see from a Dennis Kutrieb side. But they largely stopped a normally free-flowing Barnet side from getting into stride so it was a case of job done at the break.

But that feel-good factor went just two minutes into the second half when Pritchard set uo Nicke Kabamba and he turned and fired home inside the area to put Barnet ahead.

Samuel had a long-range header saved by Barnet keeper Laurie Walker before ironic cheers from home fans greeted Barnet’s belated first yellow card, after Anthony Hartigan pulled back Samuel just past the hour mark.

Rakish Bingham replaced Edser with 20 minutes left and Darren McQueen came on shortly after in two positive moves from the Fleet.

Kabamba thought he’d made the points safe for Barnet but his close-range header from a Gorman cross was ruled out for offside.

They were made to pay with 10 minutes left when Samuel’s persistence down the right saw him cross into the area and, with Bingham in close attendance, the ball was turned into his own net by a Barnet defender.

Ebbsfleet nearly won it with three minutes left but Martin headed wide from a Wright corner.

Amazingly there were only three added minutes, ironically much to the disgust of the Barnet manager, whose team had wasted at least that alone once they had gone ahead in the second half.

Ebbsfleet: Cousins, Chapman (McQueen 76mins), White, Kenlock, Martin, Cisse, Wright (Tanner 89mins), Edser (Bingham 70mins), Cundle, Samuel, Poleon. Subs not used: Sterling-James, Fanimo, McQueen.

Barnet: Walker, Coker (Hooper 85mins), Collinge, Okimo, Gorman, Kabamba, Kanu, Pritchard, Hartigan, Oluwo, Brunt (Cropper 85mins). Subs not used: Stead, Stevens, Potter.

Referee: James Oldham.

Attendance: 1,488.

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