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Ebbsfleet United 1 Maidenhead United 1 match report: Dominic Poleon goal cancelled out by Reece Smith

Improved Ebbsfleet remain in the National League relegation zone after being held at home by Maidenhead on Tuesday night.

Dominic Poleon’s ninth goal of the season put the home side ahead in the second half but Maidenhead levelled through a brilliant Reece Smith strike to take a share of the spoils.

Fleet striker Dominic Poleon - scored his ninth goal of the season against Maidenhead. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Fleet striker Dominic Poleon - scored his ninth goal of the season against Maidenhead. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

Ebbsfleet made five changes from the team humiliated at home by Oxford City on Saturday, with Luke O’Neill, Ouss Cisse, Darren McQueen, Franklin Domi and Ben Chapman all recalled.

Boss Dennis Kutrieb served the first of a two-match touchline ban after picking up his sixth yellow card of the season against Oxford, leaving coach Chris Solly to lead the technical area delegation.

Early mistakes have been Ebbsfleet’s downfall in recent home matches and after a subdued opening 10 minutes they nearly pressed the self-destruct button again when Chapman’s ambitious cross-field pass picked out only Sam Barratt.

The Maidenhead man spotted keeper Mark Cousins off his line but the Fleet custodian was back in time to tip Barratt’s 45-yard left-foot effort over the bar.

At the other end, a well-worked set-piece from Ebbsfleet nearly created the opener but no-one was on hand to turn in O’Neill’s header back across goal from Domi’s deep delivery.

Maidenhead defender James Golding, who spent time on loan from Oxford with Dartford earlier in the campaign, was booked after 18 minutes for hauling down Dominic Poleon as the lone Fleet striker got a rare opportunity to run at the visiting defence.

It was an even contest with neither side creating much of note. Ebbsfleet still tried to play the ball out from defence but there were occasions when they went long, although often without success.

It was another defensive mistake that nearly presented Maidenhead with the opener eight minutes before the break.

Cousins’ clearance sold Cisse short and while the Fleet midfielder did well to prevent immediate danger, the ball was quickly worked to Smith who was denied by two excellent blocks inside the penalty area.

Josh Wright fired over in a rare Ebbsfleet attempt at goal before Maidenhead finished the first half with both centre-backs on a caution, as Will De Havilland combative challenge on Chapman in stoppage time earned him a yellow card.

The Fleet were nearly caught napping from a free-kick five minutes after the break as Sam Beckwith’s long ball forward found substitute Shawn McCoulsky but he was unable to direct his lob on target and the hosts were able to clear the danger.

Another misplaced pass gave Maidenhead’s Casey Pettit possession and his audacious chip over Cousins also sailed over the crossbar.

But Ebbsfleet, while creating little, had kept themselves in the game and they made their move on the hour mark.

There seemed little danger for the visitors as Luke O’Neill played in Poleon, but he managed to nip past his marker and poke the ball beyond keeper Craig Ross.

It was nearly 2-0 just three minutes later but Dominic Samuel was inches away from connecting with substitute Toby Edser’s corner.

Instead, the lead lasted only seven minutes as Barratt’s ambitious free-kick deflected wide to Smith, who cut in from the left and curled a stunning right-foot shot beyond Cousins to level the scores. No wonder he’s starting to attract interest from clubs in the Football League.

Nifty footwork by Samuel in the box nearly helped restore the Fleet’s lead within a minute but McQueen was unable to sort his feet out and the ball bounced harmlessly wide.

There were encouraging signs for Ebbsfleet, who arguably looked the more likely to score. It still needed Cousins to tip over a late Barratt drive as the hosts failed to clear their lines deep in their own half.

Ebbsfleet nearly let Maidenhead in for a winner after 90 minutes but Edser did brilliantly to block the cross and then make a last-ditch tackle to almost certainly prevent a winner.

Ebbsfleet: Cousins, O’Neill, Olagunju, Kenlock, McQueen (Cundle 72mins), Cisse, Wright (Odokonyero 89mins), Domi (Edser 59mins), Samuel, Chapman, Poleon. Subs not used: Tanner, Amoo.

Maidenhead: Ross, Asare, Golding, De Havilland, Beckwith, Pettit, Ferdinand, Mitchell-Lawson (McCoulsky 46mins), Smith, Barratt, Sho-Silva (Omilabu 67mins). Subs not used: Zimba, Massey, Kinsella.

Referee: Aaron Farmer.

Attendance: 1,159.

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