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Ebbsfleet 0-0 Havant & Waterlooville
EBBSFLEET United’s season got off to a quiet start with an uneventful scoreless draw at home to Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday.
After a turbulent summer which saw the Fleet being taken over by KEH Sports, there was a feel good atmosphere in the 973 crowd, although this could not be translated onto the pitch in a cagey game that lacked quality in the final third.
Ebbsfleet manager Steve Brown, taking charge of a competitive match for the first time in his career, was without injured strikers Billy Bricknell and Ben May, so fielded a 4-5-1 formation with loanee Michael Thalissitis up front.
Havant’s Lee Bradbury, meanwhile, fielded a fluid 4-4-2, with former Fleet loanee Dennis Oli starting in attack and Christian Nanetti an ever-present danger on the wing.
The match got off to a quiet start with both sides noticeably nervous and unable to keep hold of the ball.
Havant enjoyed the best of the opening exchanges.
Nanetti saw an angled shot deflect into the side-netting and Sahr Kabba fired over from 12 yards when he really should have hit the target.
But the best opportunity of the half fell to Ebbsfleet when Anthony Cook headed Aiden Palmer’s cross wide of the goal from close range.
Havant started the second half the strongest, Kabba having a low shot from 20 yards well saved by Fleet keeper Preston Edwards before winger Steve Ramsey fired the rebound wide.
Ramsey then saw a low shot saved well by Edwards, while Stacy Long had an 18 yard effort whistle over the bar at the other end.
Edwards had to be alert when Kabba got the better of Paul Lorraine and fired a shot towards a seemingly unguarded net, but the attempt lacked power and the Fleet keeper retreated well to gather.
The game became more and more cagey with both sides putting in full-blooded, committed challenges, although neither side was able to unlock the others’ defence.
Midway through the second half Cook went on a superb run from the halfway line and beat five Havant players, but his cross-cum-shot was deflected across goal and wide.
Cook then scuffed a volley wide after good play from Thalissitis but, try as they might, neither team were able to carve out any more clear-cut chances and the game petered out into a draw.
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Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Howe, Palmer, Corcoran, Lorraine, Huke, Green, Rance, Thalissitis, Long (Phipp 88), Cook Subs not used: Sankofa, Hall, Osborn, Sessegnon. Att: 973.
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