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Nuneaton 4-5 Ebbsfleet
EBBSFLEET United got their 2012/13 campaign off to a spectacular start with a 5-4 victory at Nuneaton Town on Saturday.
It may have been a warm sunny afternoon in Warwickshire but this was a day where the goals just rained in.
In an action-packed game, the newly-promoted hosts let a two-goal lead slip before going onto hit the bar and seeing a penalty saved, while Ebbsfleet displayed lethal finishing skills to punish them.
The first goal came in the eighth minute when Stephen O’Halloran’s low cross into the area found Andy Brown, who produced a powerful first-time shot which flew into the corner of the net to give the hosts the lead.
Nuneaton nearly doubled their advantage when Delroy Gordon’s close range effort was cleared off the line by Ryan Blake.
The hosts only had to wait nine minutes to score again, though, as Adam Walker made the most of some hesitant defending and fired a fine 20-yard drive past keeper Preston Edwards.
Ebbsfleet pulled a goal back on 20 minutes.
Liam Enver-Marum was fouled on the wing and Tom Phipp took a free-kick from a tight angle which somehow managed to beat keeper Ben McNamara at his front post and fly across the goal and into the back of the net.
Moments later the visitors were back on terms when Enver-Marum and Joe Howe’s good work on the right-wing allowed Nathan Elder to head home.
Ebbsfleet took the lead in the 32nd minute when a long-ball downfield found Elder, whose pass allowed Moses Ashikodi to run through on goal and the striker fired across McNamara and into the net.
Brown nearly levelled the scores before half-time but his looping header struck the bar.
The visitors extended the lead shortly after the break as Ashikodi slipped a pass through to Enver-Marum, who ran through on goal and placed an angled shot past McNamara from the edge of the area.
Three minutes later Nuneaton had the chance to pull one back from the spot when Ryan Blake was harshly adjudged to have handled in the area.
Brown stepped up to take the kick but saw his shot well saved by Edwards, diving low down to his right to parry the ball away.
This only served to motivate Nuneaton, however, and Robbie Thompson-Brown made it 4-3 in the 56th minute when he powered a shot in from close range after Gavin Cowan’s header across goal.
With Nuneaton looking for an equaliser, Ebbsfleet defended deeply and managed to restrict them to long-range efforts struck more in hope than expectation with Edwards saving any on-target shot. Phipp wrapped up the victory in the 88th minute when he did well to beat a defender before curling the ball off the bar and into the net from the edge of the area.
Brown had time to grab a consolation in the final minute by meeting Neil Cartwright’s cross with a diving header which found its way into the net before the referee called time on an incredible season opener.
The Fleet are at home to Braintree on Tuesday, kick-off 7.45pm.
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Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Howe, Lorraine, Ada, Blake, Phipp, Barrett, Bellamy, Enver-Marum (Folkes 87), Elder (Walsh 78), Ashikodi Subs not used: McNeil, Greenalgh, Williams. Att: 1,088.