NATHAN Elder netted a late penalty to earn Ebbsfleet United victory at Macclesfield Town on a cold Saturday afternoon at Moss Rose.

After Fleet defender Phil Walsh had cancelled out Chris Holroyd’s first half opener for the hosts, Elder’s winner means Ebbsfleet are out of the relegation zone for the first time since September.

Manager Liam Daish made three changes to the Ebbsfleet side which defeated Hyde seven days earlier.

Walsh replaced the suspended Patrick Ada at the heart of defence, Craig Stone started at right-back in place of James Folkes, while Lanre Azeez came in for Liam Enver-Marum on the wing.

Silkmen manager Steve King fielded a 4-4-2 formation which looked to keep the ball down and play possession football.

The game got off to a quiet start as both teams struggled to keep hold of the ball on a heavy pitch.

The best chance fell to Macclesfield’s Charlie Henry, but the dangerous winger’s chipped shot was easily saved by Fleet keeper Preston Edwards.

Ebbsfleet’s only real chance of the half fell to Walsh, who met Ashley Carew’s corner with a free header that went wide of the goal.

As the half progressed, Macclesfield began to have the better chances, such as when Holroyd had a 20-yard free-kick comfortably saved by Edwards after John Paul Kissock was fouled by Walsh.

The hosts opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time when a quick free-kick found Henry on the right and his superbly floated cross was nodded in at the back post by Holroyd.

Macclesfield started the second half well, with Waide Fairhurst and Tony Diagne both shooting wide.

However, the Fleet equalised in the 57th minute when Carew again found Walsh from a corner and the defender volleyed past former-Ebbsfleet keeper Lance Cronin from close range.

After the goal chances once again became limited.

The best one fell to Macclesfield substitute Matthew Barnes-Homer, who was played through on goal after an error from Walsh but his shot was saved by Edwards.

The game’s defining moments came in the 86th minute when Macclesfield substitute Amari Morgan-Smith had a volleyed shot superbly saved by Edwards.

The Fleet keeper then quickly released the ball downfield and it found Elder, who clashed with one defender before being fouled by another, meaning the referee was forced to award a penalty.

Elder stepped up and sent Cronin the wrong way to secure Ebbsfleet a victory.

The Fleet are now five league games unbeaten and will take a break from league action when they host fellow Conference side Hereford United at Stonebridge Road in the FA Trophy on Saturday (3pm).

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Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Stone, Walsh, Lorraine, Howe, Phipp, Barrett (Bellamy 58), Carew, Azeez (Greenhalgh 82), Soares (Enver-Marum 87) Elder. Subs not used: Menz, Blake.Att: 1,896.