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Match Reports

Pools Battle For Point At Ebbsfleet

19 February 2019

Luke James M Bristow, Shutter Press
Luke James in action against Ebbsfleet United.

Pools extended their unbeaten run under Craig Hignett to four games after picking up a point from a battling performance at Ebbsfleet United on Tuesday night.

In truth a point was probably a fair result but few could have argued if Pools had returned home with a victory after producing another performance full of spirit and determination.

Hignett surprised nobody by opting to name an unchanged starting line-up on the back of Saturday’s 4-0 win at Boreham Wood, though Pools were boosted by the return of Luke Molyneux to the bench.

It became apparent from the off that Pools were going to be in for a sterner examination than they had been on Saturday as Ebbsfleet’s front two of Michael Cheek and Cody McDonald immediately looked a threat.

A direct approach up to the front pair was a danger and McDonald almost made one ball in to him pay when he turned skilfully on the right edge of the area before hitting a sweet drive which flew just wide of the left-hand post.

At the other end, Luke James’ keen running was proving something for Fleet to think about, particularly Jack King who saw the game’s first yellow card after having no option but to haul down the Pools striker after he escaped in behind.

McDonald then turned provider for Cheek on 21 minutes, slipping his strike partner clear on the right of the area but he dragged his shot across Scott Loach and agonisingly wide of the far post.

James’ pace was the source of the game’s next opportunity as he spun cleverly from the right wing and darted towards the edge of the box but then drilled a low shot wide of Nathan Ashmore’s upright.

Lanky full-back Chris Bush nodded over a Jack Payne free-kick for the hosts, while Pools responded through Peter Kioso whose instinctive volley was sent too high after good work from Nicke Kabamba.

James got the better of King again down the right-hand side before delivering a low ball in search of Kabamba in the middle but it was put behind for a corner from which Kabamba nodded wide at the front post.

The second half was just as competitive and the hosts almost got their noses in front ten minutes after the restart when Jack Payne’s free-kick was sent just too high to trouble Loach.

Hignett’s men continued to possess a threat on the counter-attack but looked more likely as the contest wore on, James’ running was a constant thorn in Ebbsfleet’s side.

The forward almost made it 1-0 midway through the second period when he turned beautifully on the halfway line before carrying the ball right in to the penalty area where defender Sam Magri got back with a last-ditch challenge.

Pools gained in superiority during the closing stages and Kabamba came close to a moment of history ten minutes from time when Ashmore’s superb fingertip save denied him the chance to enter the record books as the first player to score in their first five games for the Club.

There was an even better chance for Liam Noble when an intricate move saw him trade passes with Nicky Featherstone before preparing to slot home from inside the area before a last-gasp challenge from Bush denied him.

A flurry of Pools corners gave something for the home crowd to worry about as Hignett continued to send his men forward in search of a win but in the end they had to settle for a single point.

Full Time: Ebbsfleet United 0 Pools 0

Booked: Noble (86)

Attendance: 1265

Ebbsfleet United: Ashmore, Wilson, Bush, King, Magri, Payne, Rance, Drury, Weston, McDonald (Whitely 30), Cheek (Kedwell 74).
Subs Not Used: Adams, Moncur, Miles.

Pools: Loach, Donaldson, Kioso, Cunningham, Anderson, Amos (Kitching 86), Featherstone, Noble, Hawkes (Molyneux 68), James (Muir 90), Kabamba.
Subs Not Used: Richardson, Hawkins.

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