06:42PM, Saturday 22 April 2017
Maidenhead United 1, Ebbsfleet United 2
Maidenhead United's title challenge will go down to the wire, and their final match of the season at relegated Margate on Saturday, after Ebbsfleet United came from behind to inflict a first home defeat of the season on leaders Maidenhead United.
Maidenhead still head the table by two points, and will be favourites to lift the trophy when they visit already relegated Margate on Saturday, but Fleet’s second half goals from Andy Drury and Dave Winfield – which cancelled out a first half header from Dean Inman – ensures the Magpies’ title celebrations will stay on ice for another seven days.
The Magpies now know they have to go to Margate and win if Ebbsfleet get the better of Oxford City in their final home game.
For much of this match it looked very much like the Magpies would be celebrating a historic title win in front of an incredible 3377 sell-out crowd at York Road.
Having seen striker Sean Marks head the ball onto the underside of the crossbar in the 14th minute they deservedly took the lead when Harry Pritchard’s in-swinging cross found the head of Inman who powered the ball beyond Nathan Ashmore to make it 1-0 on 21 minutes.
Ebbsfleet also had their moments, with Anthony Cook sending a dipping effort onto the top of the crossbar in the 18th minute and Drury sweeping a low shot from just outside the area onto the foot of Carl Pentney’s post.
The Magpies missed the chance which would surely have put paid to Ebbsfleet’s title aspirations when Tarpey collected Marks’ flick and thundered a shot on goal in the 63rd minute, only to see Ashmore pull off an equally brilliant save.
But Daryl McMahon’s side showed in the second half they aren’t willing to give up on the title without a real fight and momentum changed hands a minute later when Drury was afforded too much space on the edge of the area and swept a curling shot beyond Pentney.
A draw would have been good enough to see the Magpies crowned champions but their promotion party was put on hold in the 74th minute when a corner from the right by Sam Deering flew over everyone’s heads and Winfield escaped the attention of the Magpies defence to prod the ball in off the crossbar. The Magpies appealed in vain for a foul on their keeper Pentney but the goal was given and York Road was temporarily silenced.
Maidenhead’s assistant Sam Lock reflected: “We’re not going to mull on this. We’re going to go again next week and we’re going to win the league. We’ve got to use that as motivation, we’re going to work hard this week, we’ll be in training on Tuesday and Thursday and we’re going to go Saturday and win the league.”
Ebbsfleet boss McMahon said: “I thought they had to show great mental strength and we played some really great stuff throughout the match. All they needed was a point, but to come here and beat them, I think it’s a big, big thing for the lads in our changing room. They’ve had a terrific season, but people forget so have we. They (Maidenhead) now have to go to Margate and win, which is not the easiest place to go, but we’ve got to win our game as well.”
Referee: Sam Purkiss
Maidenhead United: Pentney 7, Clerima 7, Steer 7, Parkinson 7 (Upward 75), Massey (c) 8, Inman 8, Tarpey 7, Comley 7, Marks 7 (Cox 66), Mulley 7 (Smith 78), Pritchard 7. Subs not used: Wiltshire, Peters.
Ebbsfleet United: Ashmore 9, Cook 8, Connors 7, McCoy 7, Winfield (c) 8, Clark 7, Powell 8, Drury 8, McLean 7 (Shields 84), Rance 7 (McQueen 60), Deering 7 (Phillips 90). Subs not used: Mambo, Jordan.
(Highlights uploaded to Youtube by FC Video)
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