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Ebbsfleet United 1 Bishop’s Stortford 1 FA Trophy match report (Bishop’s Stortford win 5-3 on penalties)

Ebbsfleet’s Dominic Samuel missed the decisive spot-kick as they were knocked out of the FA Trophy on Saturday.

The Fleet appeared to be heading through after substitute Greg Cundle put them ahead but Stortford claimed a stoppage-time equaliser and then converted all five spot-kicks in the penalty shoot-out.

Greg Cundle - scored for Ebbsfleet against Bishop’s Stortford. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Greg Cundle - scored for Ebbsfleet against Bishop’s Stortford. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

The Fleet made five changes from the team beaten at Kidderminster in the league last weekend with a rare start for Jordon Ibe while Hayden White and David Amoo were also handed starting spots.

Rakish Bingham was named among the substitutes, his first squad appearance since injuring his Achilles in March.

There was a low-key atmosphere at Stonebridge Road, a reflection no doubt of the interest in the FA Trophy at this stage of the competition for sides in the National League.

But the teams did their best to raise the noise with plenty of chances at either end in the first 15 minutes.

Within the first 100 seconds, the impressive Dominic Samuel was sent clean through but keeper Jack Giddens saved with an outstretched leg and the rebound then bounced back off Samuel before bouncing just wide of a vacant goal.

Stortford responded in swift fashion, helped by the Fleet conceding possession cheaply in their own half on more than one occasion.

Keeper Mark Cousins did well to deny Ryan Charles before brilliantly touching Mbunya Alemanji’s effort onto the crossbar before getting up to deny the same player from the rebound.

Darren Foxley tried his luck from distance but was thwarted by Cousins before Fleet’s Samuel sent a 20-yard effort just over at the other end. Toby Edser exchanged passes on the edge of the area but Giddens did brilliantly to turn his low drive around the post for a corner.

The chances dried up thereafter, although Ebbsfleet dominated possession.

Stortford’s Jack Thomas and Alemanji were booked by referee Farai Hallam in the space of four minutes while the last chance of the half saw Darren McQueen again force a good save from Giddens.

Ebbsfleet nearly went ahead on 56 minutes when Edser’s corner was met by the head of O’Neill but Foxley was perfectly placed to clear on the line with Giddens beaten.

The biggest cheer of the afternoon came just past the hour mark when Bingham was introduced as part of a triple change with top scorer Dominic Poleon also coming on.

But it was the third change - Greg Cundle - who took just three minutes to find the breakthrough when a lovely Fleet move saw the ball worked around the penalty area and Cundle fired into the far corner to put his side ahead.

It was nearly 2-0 when a quickly-taken free-kick by Edser sent McQueen away and he squared for Samuel, who tried to round GIddens and walk the ball into an empty net but couldn’t get past the keeper.

A great save by Giddens then denied Samuel, who strode forward and aimed for the bottom corner from 20 yards. Then McQueen fed Bingham, whose low drive was diverted behind by the legs of the over-worked Stortford keeper.

Giovanni McGregor blazed over the bar late on for Stortford while Poleon somehow failed to convert another dangerous McQueen cross at the death.

Then, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, a long free-kick was returned back across goal and substitute Kane Critchlow turned the ball in unmarked at the far post.

That sent the tie straight to penalties. Luke O’Neill and Edser scored for the Fleet before Samuel stepped up in a bid to make it 3-3 but sent his spot-kick high over the stand. Bingham scored Fleet’s fourth penalty to keep them alive but Stortford converted all five, substitute Zain Walker tucking away the all-important fifth penalty to send his team through.

Ebbsfleet: Cousins, O’Neill, White, Kenlock, Amoo (Cundle 61mins), Samuel, Cisse, Edser, McQueen, Odokonyero (Bingham 61mins), Ibe (Poleon 61mins). Subs not used: Sterling-James, Tanner, Chapman, Martin.

Bishop’s Stortford: Giddens, Haines (Adebowale 70mins), Thomas, Robbins, Beadle, McGregor, Alemanji, Foxley, Olufemi (Walker 81mins), Sow (Critchlow 64mins), Charles. Subs not used: Marlow, Greene, Alexander.

Referee: Farai Hallam.

Attendance: 586.

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