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Woking 1 Ebbsfleet United 1 match report: Ouss Cisse’s second-half equaliser earns National League point

Ouss Cisse’s second-half equaliser earned Ebbsfleet a National League point at Woking on Tuesday night.

It was a first draw in 19 games for Ebbsfleet, a run going back to March when they played out the same scoreline at Tonbridge in the division below.

Fleet striker Dominic Poleon twists Woking’s Dan Moss. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Fleet striker Dominic Poleon twists Woking’s Dan Moss. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

Fleet boss Dennis Kutrieb, who made seven changes at the weekend, this time had six new faces from the team beaten at home by Chesterfield on Saturday.

Luke O’Neill, who came off injured three days earlier, missed out, as did Joe Martin and David Amoo. Omari Sterling-James, Haydn Hollis and Craig Tanner all dropped to the bench.

Ouss Cisse dropped into the back three, Franklin Domi and Chris Solly returned from suspension while there were also starts for Billy Clifford, Darren McQueen and Nathan Odokonyero.

Woking made two changes from the team that won 2-0 at Hartlepool on Saturday, including a full debut for on-loan defender Timi Odusina, although they only named four substitutes, with ex-Dover keeper Alexis Andre Jr amongst them.

Odusina appeared to be tasked with a man-marking job on Fleet top scorer Dominic Poleon and kept him quiet for long periods of the first half.

For the third straight game, the Fleet’s opponents were quickest to settle. Woking enjoyed all the early possession and yet again asked questions that had rarely been raised during Kutrieb’s first three seasons in English football.

It was route one that opened the Fleet up twice in quick succession. First, keeper Will Jaaskelainen’s long free-kick went all the way through to the unmarked Padraig Amond, who volleyed over inside the box.

Then Fleet centre-back Hayden White was alert on the cover to clear from Ricky Karboa after Solly had been caught out by the lively striker.

White was the standout defender for Ebbsfleet but he got caught bringing the ball out of defence too many times, guilty of taking too many touches rather than finding a team-mate early.

Josh Casey’s corner eventually fell to Woking’s Jermaine Anderson but he somehow screwed his shot wide. Then Amond blazed over from close range after Greg Taylor’s cross was nodded back into the danger area.

Ebbsfleet’s best chance in the first half saw McQueen instinctively head goalwards after White’s centre was half-cleared and Jaaskelainen had to tip it over the bar.

The Fleet appeared to have weathered the home side’s storm but Woking pressed again before the break and finally got themselves in front.

Cousins had to produce two excellent saves inside a minute to deny Amond’s header and Jim Kellermann’s fierce drive before the hosts were awarded a penalty for a foul by McQueen. Kellermann stepped up and blasted into the bottom corner to give Woking a 43rd-minute lead.

Poleon had been largely anonymous but he got a sight of goal in stoppage-time, firing low at keeper Jaaskelainen who was able to gather comfortably. That was to be his last involvement, though, as he was replaced at the break by Shaq Coulthirst.

Franklin Domi tries to deliver a cross at Woking on Tuesday night. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Franklin Domi tries to deliver a cross at Woking on Tuesday night. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

The second half started in a familiar pattern. Amond fed Kornoa who fired over before the Fleet conceded possession cheaply and Cousins had to make yet another smart save to turn over Amond’s 20-yard shot.

There was a rare Fleet burst forward when a slip by Taylor let in Domi after 55 minutes, he tried to square the ball in the box but Woking got numbers back quickly to snuff out the danger.

Woking immediately went down the other end and Clifford’s excellent tracking back denied Anderson an almost certain goal as he slid in to make the challenge. It was Clifford’s last contribution but it was a crucial one as his replacement had a big role at the other end moments later.

Substitute Craig Tanner had an immediate impact, delivering the cross for the Fleet’s equaliser on 59 minutes with his first touch. Tanner’s corner saw bodies pack the six-yard box and the ball was helped on for Cisse to nod in at the far post. From potentially being 2-0 down, Ebbsfleet were back on level terms.

Woking should have regained the lead on 65 minutes as they broke down the right but Zak Bradshaw volleyed over first time in the penalty area when he had time and space to take a touch.

The game was opening up and Domi’s persistence at the other end ended with the Fleet midfielder firing narrowly over.

Cousins was booked by referee Aji Ajibola on 70 minutes for handling outside his box. There was never any suggestion that it could have been a red card as he slid out near the byline, although the official took his time before getting his book out. After the sub-standard officiating in recent games, it was pleasing to see a referee in complete control of proceedings.

Korboa blazed over with 14 minutes left for Woking, but the game had become quite even by this stage and home boss Darren Sarll made a double change to try and wrestle back the advantage.

At the other end, Ben Chapman and Odokonyero worked their way impressively down the left wing but were unable to get the ball across for the unmarked Coulthirst in the centre.

Woking’s Tunji Akinola prodded wide from close range before Korboa fizzed a shot just wide from distance as both sides pressed for a winner.

The hosts piled on the pressure in seven minutes of stoppage time, with the Fleet not helping themselves by giving away needless free-kicks around the penalty area. But, just as they did for long periods at the weekend, the Fleet were able to withstand everything that went into the box.

At the other end, White nearly snatched a winner on 95 minutes but he headed wide from a Tanner free-kick before, two minutes later, substitute Omari Sterling-James’ weaving run created a chance for Coulthirst, whose right-foot shot was brilliantly saved by Jaaskelainen.

Ebbsfleet: Cousins, White, Solly, Cisse, McQueen (Sterling-James 86mins), Wright, Domi, Clifford (Tanner 58mins), Chapman, Odokonyero, Poleon (Coulthirst 46mins). Subs not used: Edser, Hollis.

Woking: Jaaskelainen, Moss, Casey, Taylor, Korboa, Amond, Akinola, Kellermann (Robinson 81mins), Bradshaw, Odusina (Wilkinson 71mins), Anderson (Willmott 71mins). Sub not used: Andre Jr.

Referee: Aji Ajibola.

Attendance: 2,418 (122 away).

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