Fleet 1-0 Chippenham Town – Ebbsfleet United Football Club

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Fleet are in the promotion final after Lee Martin’s extra-time goal finally broke the resolve of a determined Chippenham Town side who nearly repeated their midweek feat by pushing to a goalless draw on penalties .

Fleet secured a proud winning record in every opening play-off they played and although possession stats weighed heavily in favor of the home side, the visitors kept the score in the balance until at the very end.

Dorking Wanderers are now all that opposes a double promotion for Kent from the National League South and it is Meadowbank who will decide that next Saturday.

Dennis Kutrieb has made two changes to his squad with Alex Finney and Dominic Poleon, Will Wood and Craig Tanner missing. It was an attacking lineup with Poleon and Shaq Coulthirst sitting ahead of Rakish Bingham and Elliott Romain. Adam Mekki, meanwhile, was also reinstated in the squad, taking his place on the bench.

It was a quick start to the game, with Fleet perhaps hoping to catch a jaded Chippenham (who in truth showed few signs of fatigue), but there were few chances for either side in those early encounters.

Fleet had the ball in the net twice in the first half, the first time Coulthirst fended off Jack Paxman’s delivery from the left. The assistant referee signaled, probably because Poleon had moved wide offside, but it looked harsh, with the fleet’s top scorer barely interfering with play.

It happened again in the 36th minute when neat football saw Paxman exchange passes with Poleon in the box, with Paxman then leaping up to shoot Will Henry from close range – again the assistant signaled, this time seeing Paxman run offside when meeting Poleon’s comeback pass, but once again it seemed like a borderline decision at best.

Between those two canceled goals, much of the forward running came from the redshirts with plenty of raids from Paxman down the left. In the 27th minute he found Bingham with such a foray, but his firm shot found its way into Henry’s arms.

Chippenham had some promising moments. Joe Hanks almost repeated his goal from two weeks ago with a long shot that produced an acrobatic dive from Louie Moulden that was perhaps catchier than it needed to be!

Sido Jombati twice took the lead at crucial times, with Alefe Santos’ cross causing trouble in the 25th minute and then Spencer Hamilton trying the same just before half-time as Fleet’s No.6 cleared by Mo Dabre.

Another big talking point came four minutes from when Christian N’Guessan’s mazy run from midfield took him into the box, where he was brutally pushed aside by Hamilton who had no intention to play the ball, but referee Sam Mulhall inexplicably dropped that one.

Mr Mulhall didn’t exactly receive a rousing welcome from home supporters as he called the hour in the first 45 minutes after preferring to issue just a warning rather than a card to Jordan Young who rammed the ball into the Plow End in frustration at being prevented from taking a shot on goal when the half-time whistle had blown.

Fleet’s second ‘goal’ is ruled offside as Paxman flips the ball over Henry

It was more or less the same at the start of the second half, with Fleet using Paxman to deliver balls in which Chippenham defended well. Bingham instead went for power in the 52nd minute with a shot that grated towards goal from 25 yards out but just crossed the bar.

Hanks also took distance for Chippenham as they countered in the 59th minute and he found space to fire a shot that deflected potentially nasty N’Guessan and rolled wide wide for a corner.

As the second half progressed, Chippenham became more adventurous and took advantage of their best spell of the game. Their main opportunity to break the deadlock came 12 minutes from when skipper Kieran Parselle slipped in a free-kick at the far post and connected from close range, but rather than shoot on goal he sent his effort through the penalty area and out. to safety.

Fleet took over after that. N’Guessan sent a shot just over the top and Bingham eyed a Chris Solly corner in front of goal. Another Bingham header almost resulted in a freak goal as it bounced off the back of the No.9 and was deflected for a corner. Another penalty shout came as substitute Alfie Egan tried to cross into a full box and with the ball half cleared it appeared to hit Danny Greenslade’s hand – but again the referee didn’t not moved.

Stay focused on overtime

And so it was overtime and Fleet went for the kill. Solly sent in a corner that could have slipped straight in before N’Guessan narrowly missed Egan’s pass into the box. Jombati then slid the ball away from Henry on the floor but the Chippenham keeper managed to mop up the danger.

He could do nothing against Fleet’s next attack in the 97th minute. N’Guessan hit a ball high forward which Poleon returned to Paxman on the left. With some room to run, Paxman made a neat pass inside Lee Martin who had just enough time to take a touch and pick his spot as he pulled him away from Henry’s outstretched glove to send Kuflink Stadium into rapture.

In such a tight game and with such a slim lead, it was a matter of managing the remaining 23 minutes and Fleet did the job well. Bingham had another shot on target in the 108th minute which Henry saved before Lee Martin’s brilliant lob on the range goalkeeper who headed for goal but hit the crossbar.

Chippenham struggled to find a crack in the fleet defense but they weren’t too far behind with eight minutes left in extra time when a corner kick was met by Noah Coppin and then Greenslade inside the penalty area before cannonading two corps of the fleet. and was finally hooked thanks to Lee Martin’s big boot.

CFEU: Moulden, Finney, Solly, Jombati, N’Guessan, Chapman, Paxman, Romain (L.Martin 77), Bingham (Domi 112), Poleon (Mekki 101), Coulthirst (Egan 65). Unused Submarines: Haigh
CTFC: Henry, Greenslade, Hamilton (Bradbury 113), Parselle, Richards, Santos, Dabre (Al-Husaini 104), Young (Coppin 61), Hanks, Mehew (King 90), Russian. Unused subtitles: Lawal
Presence: 2,166

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