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Ebbsfleet United 2 Notts County 2 match report

Ebbsfleet came from behind twice to hold Notts County at Stonebridge Road on Saturday.

They came into the game without a point from five matches but could easily have won against one of the Football League's founding members.

Josh Umerah scored his first Fleet goal on a day where the National League's bottom side showed plenty of fight.

Josh Umerah celebrates his goal with Bondz N'Gala and Myles Weston Picture: John Westhrop
Josh Umerah celebrates his goal with Bondz N'Gala and Myles Weston Picture: John Westhrop

Jordan Holmes started in goal for Ebbsfleet, having signed just hours before the game, with Nathan Ashmore left out of the squad.

Fit-again Alex Lawless replaced Ayo Obileye in midfield, with Lawrie Wilson recalled wide on the right and Myles Weston pushed forward to partner Umerah in attack.

Holmes saved from Kristian Dennis early on after Wes Thomas had played him in down the inside-left channel, although Fleet looked bright going forward.

Quick feet from John Goddard, wide on the left, gave him a crossing opportunity and Wilson got up well for a far-post header which was cleared from inside the six-yard box.

But it was a familiar tale as County took the lead on 13 minutes.

Enzio Boldewijn was allowed time and space to swing over a cross from the right and Ben Turner rose highest in the middle to power a header into the bottom corner.

Ebbsfleet did their best to stay positive and Lawless lashed a long shot over after Weston had done well to keep the ball in and hook over a cross from the left.

James Ball headed a Goddard corner wide at the near post but Fleet's long ball game looked rather aimless at times with the County backline looking comfortable.

Alex Lawless up for a header Picture: John Westhrop
Alex Lawless up for a header Picture: John Westhrop

It was always going be hard chasing the game with temperatures reaching 30C and the home side struggled to inject enough intensity into their play.

Frustrations heightened when Ball was shown a yellow card for dissent following a Fleet corner. The home side felt they could have been awarded a penalty for shirt-pulling but referee Gary Parsons gave the decision the other way and took exception to Ball's protests.

Umerah stung Slocombe's palms with a rasping drive from 20 yards but the board went up for two added minutes with the visitors still in front.

However, with virtually the last touch of the first half, Ebbsfleet equalised courtesy of the scruffiest goal you could ever wish to see.

Jamie Grimes headed Aswad Thomas' long throw straight up in the air and when County failed to clear their lines in a crowded six-yard box, Umerah managed to force the ball home from a yard out.

Fleet almost took the lead within 20 seconds of the restart. Weston charged down the left and his cross reached Wilson, whose half-volley was plucked out of the top corner by Slocombe.

But with their next attack, County retook the lead. Regan Booty converted another Boldewijn cross from the right with the shot squeezing between Holmes and his near post.

Set-pieces looked Ebbsfleet's best route back into the game, especially as they sent every outfield player forward to attack them.

John Goddard celebrates Ebbsfleet's second goal Picture: John Westhrop
John Goddard celebrates Ebbsfleet's second goal Picture: John Westhrop

But after boss Hill had been shown a yellow card for his appraisal of the officiating, County went close to doubling their lead. One pass split the Fleet defence and Holmes decided not to come out but easily blocked an attempted dink from Thomas.

And it was 2-2, just after the hour, when some wretched Notts defending ended with substitute Jim O'Brien putting through his own goal.

Fleet were all over the visitors now and you sensed the game was there for them to win.

Weston had a shot brilliantly blocked by Damien McCrory after Umerah had done superbly to get away down the left, while Ball and Goddard both had shots blocked as Hill's men piled on the pressure.

At the other end, Dennis headed over and Thomas drove a shot just past the angle.

Hill made positive substitutions for the last 15 minutes, switching to a back four, and Ball had a chance in front of goal but the ball just wouldn't sit down for him.

Gozie Ugwu shrugged off a couple of challenges and powered a shot narrowly wide as the home fans cranked up the volume on support of Hill and the players.

Notts County looked dead on their feet in the closing stages but Ebbsfleet just couldn't kill them off.

Sean Shields and Goddard combined to set up Ball at the death but his shot was blocked, while Goddard swirled a wild effort well off target.

Ebbsfleet: Holmes, N'Gala (Shields 74mins), King, Grimes, Wilson, Lawless (Sutherland 71mins), Ball, Goddard, Thomas, Weston, Umerah (Ugwu 71mins). Subs not used: Obileye, Palmer.

Notts County: Slocombe, McCrory, Rose, Turner, Thomas, Doyle, Dennis (Tyson 70mins), Boldewijn, Rawlinson (O'Brien 46mins), Booty, Graham. Subs not used: Fitzsimons, Bakayogo, Osborne.

Attendance: 1,293.

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