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Ebbsfleet United 3 Oxford City 1 match report: Elliott Romain scores twice

Elliott Romain scored twice as Ebbsfleet defeated fellow promotion contenders Oxford City on Saturday.

Fleet remain on the fringes of the National League South title race but on a day when many others around them slipped up, they at least took care of their own business.

kieran Monlouis puts Ebbsfleet ahead against Oxford City. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC (55415366)
kieran Monlouis puts Ebbsfleet ahead against Oxford City. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC (55415366)

Fleet made one change from the side that won at Bath last weekend, Alex Finney replacing Craig Tanner which perhaps was a sign of how boss Dennis Kutrieb wanted a third successive clean sheet.

The hosts had an early scare when on-loan Wolves keeper Louie Moulden flapped at a right-wing Jacob Bancroft cross but he was able to recover the loose ball before Oxford could react.

Moulden then saved Josh Ashby’s long-range effort and Lewis Coyle fired over the bar from 20 yards as the visitors settled quickest.

Fleet took the lead on 18 minutes and while the finish was full of quality, it owed much to the closing down of Jack Paxman. The left wing-back nicked the ball off Cole Dasilva and when Shaquile Coulthirst set up Kieran Monlouis, the gap was too inviting as he stroked home from 20 yards beyond keeper Ben Dudzinski.

Without creating much, the Fleet wrestled control once in front although they had to be alert with Sefa Kahraman blocking Coyle’s shot after Finney missed a left-wing cross.

Ebbsfleet replaced Finney at the break, which meant a reshuffle with both Chris Solly and Elliott Romain dropping deeper.

That indirectly led to Romain scoring the second goal just 15 seconds into the second half. A defensive mix-up saw Oxford keeper Ben Dudzinski rush out his goal to thwart substitute Dominic Poleon but Romain, from that deeper role, reacted to the loose ball and fired first time into an empty net from 30 yards.

The game was put beyond doubt after 57 minutes when Romain added his second. Kahraman’s dangerous free-kick was headed behind and he then delivered the resulting corner which Romain nodded home at the near post.

Oxford pulled one back with 19 minutes left when a clinical break by the visitors saw George Harmon cross from the left and substitute Joe Iaciofano got ahead of his man at the near post to score.

Fleet welcomed back Rakish Bingham from injury with just under 20 minutes left and he was denied by Dudzinski after letting fly from 20 yards.

Oxford should have pulled another goal back with eight minutes left. Another glaring error by Moulden gifted the visitors possession and Iaciofano skipped past Kahraman but then blazed wide with just the keeper to beat.

Ebbsfleet: Moulden, Kahraman, Jombati, N’Guessan, Romain, Solly, Paxman, Chapman, Monlouis (J Martin 82mins), Finney (Poleon 46mins), Coulthirst (Bingham 72mins). Subs not used: Haigh, L Martin.

Oxford: Dudzinski, Asare, Harmon (O’Donkor 80mins), Ashby, Rowan, Coyle (Clark 63mins), Fleet, McEachran, Owusu, Bancroft (Iaciofano 63mins), Dasilva. Subs not used: Matsuzaka, Kyprianou.

Referee: Jack Packman.

Attendance: 1,151.

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