Maidenhead United 1-1 Fleet
Maidenhead United 1-1 Fleet

Ebbsfleet United made it six games unbeaten in the National League and climbed to 10th as Maidenhead forced a share of the points at York Road.

Garry Hill resisted the temptation to change a winning team though there were two alterations to the bench, new signing Cody McDonald and Sam Magri returning from suspension in place of Bagasan Graham and Reise Allassani.

The visitors made the early running, Andy Drury straight into the action with a shot just wide. Dave Tarpey, returning to Maidenhead on loan from Barnet, didn’t look at all rusty and was quick on to balls forward in the opening spell.

Fleet were working openings with some quick-thinking and first-time passing and Corey Whitely was in space out left on six minutes but chose to place his shot which was easy enough for Carl Pentney to gather.

Adrian Clifton had a sniff of goal at the other end when he skipped past two challenges on the byline but as he tried to slip into the six-yard box, Nathan Ashmore was out smartly to clear up.

Fleet took the lead on 14 minutes with another well-worked move. Chris Bush found Whitely who exchanged passes with Cheek before playing a neat delivery into a gap. Cheek ran through, left Seth Twumasi for dead and picked his corner, his shot clear of Pentney’s touch and into the space beyond a covering defender.

Fleet lost Andy Drury to an earlier knock on 18 minutes, Adams replacing him, and the visitors continued to contain Maidenhead whose direct balls up to Tarpey and Clifton not quite coming off. Defending from their own halfway line, Fleet showed energy and willingness in the tackle, rendering the Magpies unable to build from the back.

On 26 minutes Myles Weston sent Cheek through again but this time he was too wide and lacked support. But a minute later Fleet almost undid all their good work as Bush’s header across to Winfield was seized upon by Clifton. He sped through and should probably have scored but his shot was at Ashmore who got down well to block.

The home side applied more pressure as the game headed towards half-time and Winfield and King both had to fly into shots from inside the box before Bush hoisted a clearance from the feet of Tarpey. Bush had the last touch of the half as Jack Payne drew a foul 18 yards out but the defender couldn’t repeat his heroics of Saturday and saw his free-kick cannon off the wall.

The second-half was a less pretty affair and more of an even contest as Maidenhead blunted the edge Fleet enjoyed in the first period. Lawrie Wilson had to twice stop wide man Max Worsfold in his tracks before Chris Bush began a move with a powerful run to the Maidenhead box. He released Cheek who drew a save from Pentney that the goalkeeper managed to cling on to as Bush continued his run.

Fleet carved out the better chances for a spell and Weston cut inside with intent only to see the goalkeeper again get in the way of a shot on target. Adams was next up with a shot that deflected viciously into King’s path and he hit the rebound wide.

Fleet’s best chance of a second arrived on the hour when Whitely’s quick-thinking supplied Cheek and the goalscorer shaped for the target only to be denied by an excellent tackle from Rene Steer. Two substitutions breathed new life into the home side and the second of them, loanee Reece Cole, did the damage.

It was his first touch for his new club as he fired a wonderful free-kick out of Ashmore’s reach on 72 minutes. Maidenhead fancied their chances to win it after that and Cole saw another effort blocked in the box.

Fleet probably had the best chance, however, when Kedwell headed a Bush free-kick back across goal with Pentney wrong-footed but nobody was on the end of it.

The visitors had to hold on with 10 men as Winfield limped off late on, Kedwell slotting in at centre back but despite a few minor scares, the back line remained unbreached.

EUFC: Ashmore, Wilson, Bush, King, Winfield, Payne, Drury (Adams 18), Weston (McDonald 80), Whitely (Coulson 70), Cheek, Kedwell. Subs: Magri, Miles
MUFC: Pentney, Steer, Twumasi, Obileye, Massey, Clifton, Odametey (Cole 70), Kilgour, Comley, Worsfold, Tarpey (Kelly 63). Subs: Alves, Owusu, Bird
Attendance: 1,055

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