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Margate 0 Ebbsfleet United 1 match report

The National League South title race will go to the final week of the season after Ebbsfleet beat relegated Margate to keep up their pursuit of leaders Maidenhead.

Daryl McMahon's side are five points behind the Magpies with just two games left and must win Saturday's top-of-the-table clash at York Road to have any chance of winning the championship.

Fleet remain unbeaten in the league this year - a superb run featuring 15 wins and three draws - but with Maidenhead victorious at Truro on Easter Monday, they are still firmly in the box seat for automatic promotion.

Bradley Bubb scored after two minutes at Margate Pic: Andy Payton
Bradley Bubb scored after two minutes at Margate Pic: Andy Payton

There were no introductions needed in the technical area at Hartsdown Park, where former colleagues Steve Watt and Daryl McMahon went head-to-head for the first time as rival managers. The pair worked together in Ebbsfleet's academy system while Gate's assistant boss Steve Brown made McMahon his first signing when he was appointed Fleet manager in 2013.

Margate, whose relegation to the Ryman League was confirmed at Weston-super-Mare on Good Friday, fielded a team bearing three changes. With on-loan Ebbsfleet keeper Jon Miles ineligible to face his parent club, Valery Pajetat donned the gloves while Marvin Hamilton and Stephane Ngamvoulou came in for Aiden Palmer and Daniel Akindayini.

Palmer was one of several ex-Fleet players in the Gate squad, with Chris Sessegnon and Michael Thalassitis starting and Luis Cumbers alongside Palmer on the bench.

The visitors were unchanged from Saturday's 4-1 win over Eastbourne Borough. Sam Deering made his 50th appearance for Ebbsfleet while Darren McQueen again partnered Bradley Bubb in attack as injured club captain Danny Kedwell watched from the sidelines with his right arm in a sling.

Bubb put the visitors in front after just two minutes, touching home Jack Connors' low cross after the left-back had overlapped and run onto Sean Shields' pass.

Fleet played with a swagger early on and Bubb forced a save from Pajetat moments later when he diverted Sam Deering's right-wing cross goalwards.

At the other end, Sessegnon did well to twist and turn down the Gate left before delivering a dangerous cross-shot which skipped just wide of the far post.

Ebbsfleet looked comfortable without getting out of second gear for the rest of the first half.

Jack Powell tried shooting from inside the centre circle - Pajetat saved easily - and the keeper was then called into action by Deering, who cut inside onto his left foot to get his effort away.

Dave Winfield nodded a deep Powell corner just wide at the start of the second half before Bubb trudged off injured, replaced by Aaron McLean.

But it was Margate doing most of the attacking now and several decent balls into the Fleet box gave the Margate supporters reason to feel encouraged.

Ngamvoulou had a header scrambled off the line and McMahon sent on Anthony Cook and Dean Rance with half an hour to go but the Blues kept pressing.

The hosts kept getting into good positions although their shooting left a lot to be desired. Dave Martin wafted two efforts high over the bar with Jack Evans and Thalassitis no closer when they pulled the trigger.

Fleet almost grabbed a late second against the run of play but McLean's cutback from the right was plucked off Shields' toe by Pajetat. 

Margate: Pajetat, Hamilton, Sessegnon, Rogers, Moore-Azille, Swift, Ngamvoulou (McFarlane 90mins), Evans, Thalassitis, Morgan (Akindayini 18mins), Martin. Subs not used: Palmer, Kallmeier, Cumbers.

Ebbsfleet: Ashmore, Shields, Connors, McCoy, Winfield, Clark, Powell (Rance 63mins), Drury, McQueen (Cook 63mins), Bubb (McLean 53mins), Deering. Subs not used: Phillips, Jordan.

Attendance: 896.


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