Ebbsfleet Utd 0 Chester FC 1: Harry White's strike earns Blues a vital away victory

Reporter:

Charlie Croasdale

Chester produced a superb defensive rearguard to secure a deserved 1-0 victory away at Ebbsfleet United to boost their National League survival hopes.

Harry White grabbed the Blues’ winner on 21 minutes, capitalising on terrible positioning from Fleet goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore to slot home from 30 yards out, was his first goal for the club and what a vital strike it could prove to be.

Marcus Bignot’s men defended superbly in the second-half, led by strong displays from Reece Hall-Johnson and Ryan Astles, with goalkeeper Sam Hornby making a fantastic save late on to deny Danny Kedwell an equaliser, with Bradley Bubb sent off in the final few minutes for a rash lunge on Paul Turnbull.

These three points should give Chester a huge shot in the arm in their bid to stay up, although they do still remain six points adrift of safety.

Bignot opted to make one change from the side who drew 1-1 at Guiseley on New Year's Day, with experienced midfielder Tom Shaw making his 102nd Blues' appearance in place of John McCombe, Andy Halls dropping into centre-half alongside Astles.

Myles Weston was the first to trouble Chester keeper Sam Hornby on five minutes as he collected Sam Magri's square pass 20 yards out, cut inside and curled a left-footed shot straight into the stopper's arms.

Hornby's poor kick went straight to in-form striker Kedwell 40 yards out but he failed to properly control the ball and Halls was able to mop up, before Hall-Johnson's rash tackle on Chris Bush gave Fleet a dangerous free-kick, which Johnny Clark whipped in and Kedwell glanced towards goal but Hornby gathered.

The Blues had the ball in the net on 11 minutes as White slotted home from 12 yards out but Kingsley James had already been flagged offside for his part in the move.

On 16 minutes Weston's pace saw him burn past Astles, with Halls coming across and chopping down the winger who was clear through on goal, with referee Alan Young deciding a yellow card was punishment enough. It was Halls' 10th booking of the campaign and he will now miss the next two matches.

The Blues grabbed a priceless lead on 21 minutes and it was former Solihull striker White who pounced on a goalkeeping error from Nathan Ashmore.

Akintunde played in White 35 yards from goal, but he quickly spotted Ashmore had recklessly rushed off his line and curled a low left-footed shot into the unguarded goal from 30 yards out, a real opportunistic finish.

Hornby was called into action within the next five minutes to firstly tip Magri's cross over the bar and then hold onto a sharp shot from the left wing by Sean Shields.

On-loan Port Vale stopper Hornby was again in the action to smother at the feet of Kedwell, before the hosts put together a superb 20-pass move which resulted in Bush sliding the ball across goal from 12 yards out with Kedwell waiting to pounce in the centre.

The Blues were now under some intense pressure but were holding firm, defensive clearances from James and Astles to deny Kedwell and Weston, who drew a late challenge from Jordan Gough, who was lucky to avoid a caution.

Weston nodded wide from eight yards from Sean Shields' left flank cross, before Jack Powell dragged a 25-yard drive well wide of Hornby's goal.

Weston skipped past Gough down the right flank and squared it for Kedwell who flicked his shot over the bar, as referee Young brought the opening period to a close.

Bubb came on at the interval for the hosts, with White first to have a meaningful attempt in the second-half as he lashed a shot over from 30 yards.

Lucas Dawson was floored from close range by Turnbull's fierce shot before Hall-Johnson's jinking run earned the Blues a 55th minute corner.

Kedwell latched onto a back post cross from Clark's free-kick but it was a rare forage forward from Daryl McMahon's side, with Chester in the ascendancy in the second period.

White had a terrific chance to double the lead on 64 minutes as he was played through by Kingsley James' and took the ball past Clark and unleashed a right-footed drive into the corner that Ashmore was equal to with a superb one-handed stop, Akintunde unable to convert the follow up and he was replaced by Ross Hannah seconds later, back on the pitch after a short injury lay-off.

Hornby held on well to Powell's deep corner from the left flank, with Hall-Johnson crunching into a couple of terrific tackles to deny Shields a run on goal.

Shaw was penalised for a foul 30 yards out and Powell thought he’d bent the subsequent free-kick into the top corner, the ball skimming narrowly wide.

As the clock ticked down, Chester continued to defend manfully and with great discipline which will no doubt have delighted boss Bignot.

Hornby produced heroics on 88 minutes with a stunning one-handed stop to deny Kedwell’s header, before Bubb saw red in the dying minutes for a late tackle on Turnbull, but the Blues clung on with some late defensive blocks to seal a huge away win.

Ebbsfleet: Ashmore, Magri (Bubb 45), Winfield, Clark, Bush, Powell, Drury, Shields, Weston, Kedwell, Coulson (Payne 70); Subs: McCoy, Rance, Jordan.

Chester: Hornby, Hall-Johnson, Halls, Astles, Gough, Turnbull, Dawson, Shaw, James, Akintunde (Hannah 65), White; Subs: Lynch, Jones, Udoh, Bell.

Email:

charlie.croasdale@nwn.co.uk

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