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Early own goal setback knocks Ebbsfleet out of stride
Preston Edwards looks as sick as the proverbial pig after his early own goal gifted Dover the lead. PICTURES BY KEITH GILLARD.
EBBSFLEET United threw away their 10-match unbeaten run as they crashed to a 2-0 home defeat against Dover on a chilly Saturday afternoon at Stonebridge Road.
The visitors must have felt like they were on the receiving end of a late Christmas present from the Fleet, as two individual errors gifted them both goals.
After the Boxing Day stalemate against Bromley, Steve Brown made three changes to his starting XI, with Joe Howe, Michael Corcoran and Michael Thalassitis replacing Chris Sessegnon, Daryl McMahon and Ben May respectively.
Dover manager Chris Kinnear fielded a solid 5-3-2 formation, with the impressive Richard Orlu an immovable force at the centre of defence.
Fans of both sides will have recognised many opposition faces, with 10 players having previously worn the other side’s colours at some point in their career.
Fleet made a calamitous start as keeper Preston Edwards sliced Osei Sankofa’s back-pass into his own net within 20 seconds of the kick-off after being put under pressure from Dover striker Elliott Charles.
It was immediately clear to see the contrasting effect the start had on both sides, with Ebbsfleet unable to retain possession and Dover seemingly first to every loose ball.
Charles almost doubled the lead when his snap-shot from the corner of the area was acrobatically turned over by Edwards.
With Dover unable create many more chances from their early possession, Ebbsfleet gradually began to regain their composure and put the visitors under pressure.
Anthony Cook was at the heart of Fleet’s attacking play and had a constant battle with keeper Mitch Walker, who did well to cling on to a deflected long-range free-kick from the winger before also saving a shot after a winding run from Cook.
Cook’s pace was evidently a cause for concern for the Dover defence and he was subjected to some rough treatment, with defender Sean Raggett being booked for a nasty sliding tackle on the Fleet player.
The resulting free-kick was crashed against the wall before bouncing back to Cook, whose first-time 25-yard shot was deflected onto the bar with Walker beaten.
However, it was 2-0 shortly after when Corcoran received possession when under very little pressure from the Dover midfield, but delayed playing the ball and was eventually tackled by Chris Kinnear Jr.
He showed composure to play in Charles and the striker coolly finished past Edwards.
Both sides then had chances to score just before half-time.
Ebbsfleet’s Dean Rance had a close-range header well saved by Walker, while Dover’s Nathan Elder arguably should have done better as saw his toe poke from eight-yards crash against the bar.
The second half was an altogether quieter affair with the visitors dropping deep and staying compact to soak up any pressure put on them.
Substitute Daryl McMahon had a long range shot go wide and into the crowd and Thalassitis saw a volley fly over.
The closest Ebbsfleet came to scoring was towards the end when Billy Bricknell turned his marker on the edge of the box and fired in a low shot which was saved by Walker.
As the referee blew his final whistle, it was a case of what might have been for the Fleet, with individual errors proving their downfall, and they now face a crucial match against league leaders Bromley on New Year’s Day.
Follow us on Twitter @NewsShopperSprt Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Howe, Palmer, Corcoran, Lorraine, Sankofa, Osborn (McMahon 54), Rance, Thalassitis (May 74), Bricknell, Cook Subs not used: Hall, Long, Phipp. Att: 1,320.
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