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Ebbsfleet United 0 Oldham Athletic 0 match report: Fleet begin post-Dennis Kutrieb era with entertaining draw against Latics

Ebbsfleet began life without Dennis Kutrieb by collecting a point against Oldham on Saturday.

It was a vastly-improved display from the Fleet, who deserved to take all three points in their first game since Kutrieb was sacked.

Ebbsfleet striker Dominic Poleon was up against his former club on Saturday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Ebbsfleet striker Dominic Poleon was up against his former club on Saturday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

But they had to settle for an entertaining draw, although this should serve as a major confidence booster for the squad.

Ebbsfleet made two changes from the team that lost 1-0 at Oxford City last weekend, a match which proved to be the last of Kutrieb’s tenure. In came Toby Edser and Declan Skura for Craig Tanner and Mustapha Olagunju.

Oldham arrived on the back of five successive away wins in the National League and, with seven victories on their travels this season, had accumulated more points away than they have at home.

It was evident from the first minute that interim coach Danny Searle wanted his team to play with plenty of energy and it was hard to remember the last time home supporters witnessed their side get through so much running, especially on the back of some lethargic first 45 minutes of late.

There were a few nervy moments. Not least in the first five minutes when Fleet keeper Mark Cousins had to head clear on the edge of his own box before then fouling James Norwood as he took to long to clear.

One criticism of Kutrieb’s era was the lack of long-range shots and Omari Sterling-James showed inside the first 10 minutes that they were encouraged to go for goal, collecting a half-cleared corner before seeing his 30-yard effort comfortably saved.

Oldham immediately responded through Joe Garner, who dragged his shot wide of the upright.

A swift Ebbsfleet counter-attack saw Cousins’ throw send Sterling-James clear down the right and his early cross eventually fell for Rakish Bingham, who lacked power with his shot.

Ebbsfleet keeper Mark Cousins. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Ebbsfleet keeper Mark Cousins. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

Oldham had their best chance on 16 minutes when Myles Kenlock sold defensive partner Declan Skura short but Norwood, having rounded Cousins, then shot wide as Kenlock chased back to narrow the angle.

The chances dried up thereafter in the first half, but not Ebbsfleet’s intent or positive approach - matched by an enthusiastic home crowd who were clearly pleased with their side’s approach.

Just before the break, Luke O’Neill found the defensive wall with a 25-yard free-kick but the Fleet must have gone in at the break content with their efforts.

The home side nearly went ahead just two minutes into the second half. Ben Chapman set up Kenlock, whose cross was met by the onrushing Edser but his first-time left-foot finish was kept out by the legs of keeper Hudson.

Josh Lundstram then saw his long-range shot deflected wide of the target for the visitors, who introduced Andrew Dallas in a bid to add attacking impetus while it needed an excellent Kenlock tackle to deny Garner a clear sight of goal.

Lundstram went into the back for grabbing back Sterling-James, who was much improved down the right wing, initally showing great footwork to flick the ball past the bewildered Kitching.

The chances were flowing at both ends, Edser firing inches wide of the upright before Norwood was denied by Cousins under pressure from O’Neill. The striker picked up an injury in that challenge and was replaced by Mike Fondop.

Edser and Chapman were then both denied as Oldham scrambled the ball clear. It was Ebbsfleet who were dominating and Oldham looking to waste time and run the clock down.

With 10 minutes left, Sterling-James found the defensive wall with his 25-yard free-kick - set-pieces was possibly the only area that let the home side down.

The fresh legs of Dominic Samuel and Darren McQueen came on as the Fleet continued to push for the breakthrough.

There was a league debut for former Bournemouth and Liverpool star Jordon Ibe with four minutes left but the home side were unable to conjure up a late winner.

Ebbsfleet: Cousins, O’Neill, Skura, Kenlock, Sterling-James (McQueen 81mins), Cisse, Wright, Edser (Ibe 86mins), Chapman, Bingham, Poleon (Samuel 82mins). Subs not used: Clifford, Fogarty.

Oldham: Hudson, Sachdev (Green 73mins), Kitching, Hobson, Lundstram, Sheron (Dallas 53mins), Ragian, McGahey, Garner, Norwood (Fondop 61mins), Conlon. Subs not used: Norman, Hammond.

Referee: Ruebyn Ricardo.

Attendance: 1,859 (263 away).

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