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Ebbsfleet United 3-0 Kidderminster Harriers
Ebbsfleet United 3-0 Kidderminster Harriers

The Fleet did it for Peter Danzey as promised as three first-half goals, including one from his sponsored player Luke O’Neill, gave the club our first win over Kidderminster Harriers for 16 years.

Added into the takeaway stats for this one was Dominic Poleon breaking into the 60-goal bracket for the club, his brace seeing him continuing in the National League from where he left off in the South.

There were three changes from the visit to Gateshead as Nathan Odokonyero and Craig Tanner earned their first starts of the season, and Ben Chapman returned, in place of Toby Edser, Billy Clifford and Greg Cundle.

The first moment to get the crowds out of their seats came on 11 minutes as Chapman rode one challenge on the counterattack through midfield but was taken out by a second. Poleon moved the chance on from the left flank and curled an effort low into Christian Dibble’s arms.

Harriers were largely confined to chasing Fleet’s possession game and their only opportunities were watched over and wide by Mark Cousins. Chapman’s skills down the left almost opened up the defence for Poleon to capitalise on 18 minutes but Alex Penny headed clear.

Harriers had sight of goal on 21 minutes when Zak Brown was put through with Fleet looking for a flag and Wakely was well-positioned to get his head in the way of the shot.

Back roared the home side and Poleon skipped clear only to be checked in his stride; Odokonyero took the ball on and got round the keeper but couldn’t beat the man on the line.

Then with 23 minutes on the clock, Fleet edged ahead. Tanner slid into a great tackle in midfield on Joe Leesley and Poleon raced on to the ball, outmuscling Krystian Pearce and smashing it over Dibble.

One turned to two on 29 minutes when Luke O’Neill’s low through ball skimmed past Odokonyero’s dummy and on to Poleon who again scythed through the Harriers defence and buried his second of the game.

The visitors’ task was made harder still on 34 minutes when Penny lost control of the ball and lunged in on Darren McQueen as he stretched to retrieve it and Kidderminster had their second dismissal in as many weeks, courtesy of a second yellow for the defender.

Fleet had an opportunity for a third when Tanner found Franklin Domi and unable to get a first-time shot away passed across to McQueen whose effort was charged down. Chapman then fizzed one across the box before the lead was extended in time added on. A corner was floated back into the box by Josh Wright and as it landed, Luke O’Neill side-footed a cheeky effort first-time along the floor from eight yards.

The Fleet had a glorious chance nine minutes into the second-half to extend the lead to 4-0 when McQueen ran on to a pass down the right. He found Domi who in one touch switched play to the left, Chapman rushing in with the goal opening up before him but he swept it off target.

Tanner brought a decent instinct stop out of Dibble just past the hour as he fired through a group from the edge of the box. At the other end Kai Lissimore’s turn and shot that flew at some pace over the bar was Harriers’ best effort.

Chapman went ever so close again on 68 minutes from a low O’Neill delivery that outfoxed the visitors’ defence. The Fleet No.22 was on to it in a flash but saw his shot fly across goal.

There was a pause in play on 73 minutes as referee Jamie O’Connor pulled up holding the back of his leg and had to be replaced by fourth official Harry Price. It might almost have been a last intervention from Peter Danzey whose 78 years was recognised by an impromptu minute’s applause around the Kuflink Stadium as the clock ticked to 78.

Tanner wasn’t far off twice adding that elusive fourth goal in the closing few minutes but even though he didn’t get on the scoresheet, he showed throughout he’d lost none of what makes him important for the Fleet after his double injury woes of last season.

And the subs almost combined in the 89th minute, Clifford and debutant David Amoo chasing the same ball, Clifford slipping it into his teammate’s path and Amoo’s shot stopped by Dibble. The two swapped roles in time added on, Amoo gaining ground into the box and pulling it back for Clifford who couldn’t get the shot away.

That fourth goal didn’t quite come in the end with all the important work done in the first period but a highly enjoyable start to the Bank Holiday weekend it was, with more hard graft waiting at The Hive on Monday.

EUFC: Cousins, O’Neill (Hollis 69), Solly, Wakely, Wright, Domi (Clifford 77), Chapman, McQueen, Tanner, Odokonyero, Poleon (Amoo 61). Subs: Edser, Coulthirst

KHFC: Dibble, Penny, Richards, Knight-Percival, Pearce, Leesley (Lissimore 60), Hemmings, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Brown, McDonagh, Maguire (McNally 46). Subs: Phillips, Morgan-Smith, Hall.
Attendance: 1,356

Image courtesy of Dave Plumb