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Ebbsfleet United 3 Dover Athletic 0 match report: Dominic Poleon scores twice in National League South

Clinical Ebbsfleet maintained their perfect start to the season with a derby win over Dover on Bank Holiday Monday.

Dominic Poleon scored twice with strike partner Rakish Bingham also on target, although the final scoreline was harsh on the visitors who were in the game for long periods.

Ebbsfleet celebrate Dominic Poleon's first-half goal against Dover. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Ebbsfleet celebrate Dominic Poleon's first-half goal against Dover. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

The riches between the two squads was apparent in the team sheets, Dover changing only their goalkeeper from Saturday’s home win over Hemel Hempstead while Ebbsfleet switched seven players from the side that won at Concord.

Dover started the game at a terrific pace, not giving Ebbsfleet any time to settle and their physical approach was clearly designed to unsettle and disrupt the Fleet’s passing game.

Visiting skipper Lee Martin was fired up against his former club, but he just kept his challenges under control and avoided referee Daniel Lamport’s notepad despite a number of first-half indiscretions.

It took Ebbsfleet 15 minutes to settle, Darren McQueen firing over before getting to the byline to set up Josh Wright, whose right-foot shot was beaten away by keeper Stuart Nelson.

Ebbsfleet took the lead on 18 minutes, the first time they created space in the middle of the park it enabled Rakish Bingham to run unopposed at the Dover defence and he slid in Poleon, whose low right-foot drive went through Nelson.

It was a tough opening period for Dover left-back Alfie Paxman, who had to contend with the pace of McQueen. He was caught out again shortly after Dover went behind but as the Fleet worked the ball from right to left, Greg Cundle fired wide of the near post.

Dover responded and Alfie Pavey headed at goal from Myles Judd’s cross rather than trying to pick out a colleague in the six-yard box before Ebbsfleet keeper Mark Cousins did well to tip away a dangerous Luke Wanadio cross from the unmarked Pavey.

Ebbsfleet nearly doubled their lead on 28 minutes when Nelson, making his first appearance between the sticks for Dover after injury, was nearly caught out. His clearance was intercepted by Poleon and as Nelson saved at Poleon’s feet his blushes were spared when the referee blew up for a foul by the Fleet striker.

Dover switched to a back three at the break with Tyrone Sterling introduced and they were forced into a further change with Jordan Higgs coming off injured early in the second half.

Paxman and Pavey both went into the referee’s notepad for fouls while Dover’s best chance fell to Chike Kandi but his right-foot shot was never going to trouble Cousins.

Matched up against their opponents, Dover were on the frontfoot although clear-cut chances were hard to come by for Andy Hessenthaler’s men, who also lost player/assistant manager Mitch Brundle for the final 20 minutes through injury.

But just as the home fans may have been getting nervy about Dover’s dominance with the ball, Ebbsfleet scored a second with 16 minutes left. Haydn Hollis’ long ball was intended for Cundle but it was not cut out by Jake Goodman and ran perfectly for Bingham, whose low left-foot finish beat Nelson.

Pavey had a penalty appeal turned down by the well-placed referee almost immediately, Hollis headed clear as substitute Noah Carney lurked at the far post and then Pavey beat the offside trap but was denied by Cousins after taking too long to get his shot away. Even a Dover goal at that stage could have unsettled the Fleet.

Instead, Ebbsfleet added a third goal with four minutes left when Poleon drilled home his second of the afternoon, and fifth goal of the season and there was nearly a fourth through substitute Omari Sterling-James but Nelson was out smartly to make a fine save.

Ebbsfleet: Cousins, O’Neill, Solly, Hollis, McQueen (Sterling-James 77mins), Wright (Paxman 83mins), N’Guessan, Edser (Tanner 69mins), Cundle, Bingham, Poleon. Subs not used: Chapman, Coulthirst.

Dover: Nelson, Judd, Brundle (Carney 70mins), Goodman, Paxman, Higgs (Krasniqi 51mins), Martin, Baptiste (Sterling 46mins), Wanadio, Pavey, Kandi. Subs not used: Sandford, Grant.

Referee: Daniel Lamport.

Attendance: 1,765.

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