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Ebbsfleet United 4 Concord Rangers 1 match report: Rakish Bingham (2) and Dominic Poleon (2) score for National League South leaders

Ebbsfleet extended their lead at the top of National League South to six points despite an early scare against Concord on Saturday.

The visitors took an early lead at Stonebridge Road but the title favourites ran out comfortable winners in the end. With both Havant and Dartford dropping points, it proved a good day for Ebbsfleet.

Ebbsfleet's Shaq Coulthirst closes down Aron Pollock. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Ebbsfleet's Shaq Coulthirst closes down Aron Pollock. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

There were two changes for the Fleet. Alex Finney, who came off injured against Dulwich in midweek, was replaced by Haydn Hollis and new signing Billy Clifford – who joined from Havant - started ahead of Josh Wright.

Fleet boss Dennis Kutrieb also had a different perspective on the game, watching on from a hospitality suite as he served a touchline ban for an accumulation of yellow cards.

The visitors started brightly and, aided by a generous refereeing decision, they penned Ebbsfleet in their half early on. The pressure was rewarded when former Maidstone forward Mo Bettamer arrowed a shot into the bottom corner from just inside the penalty area as the hosts failed to clear their lines.

The story of the first half-hour was Concord’s Ricky Modeste, who failed to endear himself to home fans after going down three times for treatment before he was finally replaced. The biggest surprise was that referee Shelby Elson only added four minutes of stoppage time.

Ebbsfleet had just one stray Darren McQueen shot and a Rakish Bingham attempt that went straight to keeper Mitch Beeney.

That changed in the third minute of stoppage time with another classic Fleet goal, the play swiftly moving from one end of the pitch to the other. Haydn Hollis, Chris Solly and Mark Cousins all played under pressure before releasing Christian N’Guessan, who ran from one penalty area to the other. N’Guessan fed Bingham, who headed in the rebound after Beeney saved his first shot.

Ebbsfleet dominated the second half and it seemed a matter of when rather than if they would take the lead. Clifford failed to get a decent connection on McQueen’s cross and then the new recruit hit the bar from 15 yards as he raced onto Cundle’s perfectly-weighted cross.

Clifford, who also had a low shot saved by Beeney, before he was replaced by Toby Edser just before the hour mark.

The pressure from Ebbsfleet was relentless. O’Neill and Coulthirst – both twice – and Cundle all went close inside four minutes. It finally paid off when the hosts went ahead on 66 minutes, O’Neill’s low driven cross was turned in at close range by Dominic Poleon for his 20th goal of the season.

The points were made safe with 11 minutes left when Edser was fouled in the box and Bingham sent Beeney the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Ebbsfleet manager Dennis Kutrieb. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Ebbsfleet manager Dennis Kutrieb. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

The fourth goal on 89 minutes saw O'Neill and Poleon combine again, the latter turning in the former's cross for his second of the afternoon.

Ebbsfleet: Cousins, O’Neill, Solly, Hollis, McQueen (Sterling-James 70mins), Clifford (Edser 58mins), N’Guessan, Bingham, Cundle, Coulthirst (Domi 80mins), Poleon. Subs not used: Wright, Romain.

Concord: Benney, Popo, Ramsay, Smith, Pollock, Beckett, Blanchfield (Kamara 69mins), Williamson, Bettamer, Kyei (Tavares 86mins), Modeste (Akanbi 37mins). Subs not used: Warner-Eley, Tuansaam.

Referee: Shelby Elson.

Attendance: 1,329.

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