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Ebbsfleet Utd 1-1 Newport County
PRESTON Edwards saved a last minute penalty as Ebbsfleet United put in an industrial performance to secure a draw at home to title contenders Newport County.
County took the lead on the stroke of half-time through a Lee Minshull header before Liam Enver-Marum equalised 10 minutes after the break by touching home from close range.
But the defining moment of the game was Edwards’ dramatic late save which ensured Fleet picked up a point.
Ebbsfleet manager Liam Daish said: “The lads deserved something out of the game.
“They applied themselves well, but that was required to give ourselves a chance of getting the result.
“I would’ve been disappointed if we came in with nothing, but I couldn’t have been disappointed with the way the lads applied themselves, especially considering the travelling and who we have been playing against over the last few weeks.”
Both sides started in a sloppy manner at Stonebridge Road, Christian Jolley watched his weak effort trickle wide of Edwards’ goal, while 10 minutes later Matthew Godden also spurned a half chance by smashing way over.
The Fleet were first to settle, began to boss the game and on 25 minutes Enver-Marum headed over Ashley Carew’s whipped free-kick delivery.
Ebbsfleet continued to be in the ascendency, but couldn’t seem to create a proper opening in front of goal, the only other chance falling once again to Godden who fired over again.
With two minutes remaining of the first half, the away side struck.
Neil Barrett lost possession twice in quick succession and Newport capitalised with a slick move down the left.
Scott Donnelly’s cross found Minshull at the back post, who obliged with the simplest of headers.
Daish said: “That was a wrong decision made and they capitalised.
“We put a lot of hard work in and went in 1-0 down at half-time.”
Ten minutes into the second half, Ebbsfleet were back on terms.
Carew crossed from the right and former Millwall keeper Lenny Pidgeley came to gather but didn’t get enough on the ball, allowing Enver-Marum to oblige from six yards.
However, Newport County’s players were outraged as they felt as if the ball should’ve been kicked out due to Byron Anthony being down injured.
Ebbsfleet once again seemed to be on the front foot without really testing Pidgeley in the County goal.
But with time running out, it looked as if it was going to be another nightmare finale for Daish’s side when Phil Walsh brought down substitute Robbie Willmott in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
With what was the last action of the game, Edwards saved Andy Sandell’s penalty low to his right to ensure the honours were shared.
Daish said: “I couldn’t have disagreed with the decision, but Preston Edwards made a great save.
“Finally something has gone for us.
“You never know, things like that can be a turning point.”
Ebbsfleet play again tomorrow evening at Alfreton Town, a side who sit 16th in the Conference table but with 10 points more than Fleet.
Daish added: “We have got a hard game on Tuesday, we have got to be at our best and provide the standard of work rate we did today.
“Alfreton are a good side, they have accumulated more points then us.
“We have got to take what we did today, build on that and give ourselves a chance.”
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