Ebbsfleet United (1) 3 Bath City (0) 1 – Saturday 3 September 2022 – Vanarama National League South -The Kuflink Stadium
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
Dom Poleon made it four goals in three matches against Bath City as his double helped keep up Ebbsfleet United’s 100% winning record.
It’s now seven victories from seven for the much-fancied Kent outfit, a record-breaking start to the season, as top scorer Poleon’s brace plus Darren McQueen’s fine strike killed off any hopes of a comeback from City.
Dan Hayfield’s first goal for the club halved the deficit in the second half as the Romans also had two goals disallowed at the Kuflink Stadium.
Despite competing well against their full-time opponents, Jerry Gill’s men didn’t test Mark Cousins enough in the home goal as they fell to their first defeat since the opening day.
While City fielded the same starting XI for a fifth successive match, ‘fleet have already used 22 players from their well-assembled squad with nobody playing every minute in their first six games.
Omari Sterling-James made the most of his recall with an assist on seven minutes.
The right wing-back easily dispossessed Kieran Parselle and found room to forage into before squaring to the unmarked Poleon, who was left alone to easily plant the ball past the exposed Joe Wright from 10 yards.
It should have been two 10 minutes later. Poleon’s ball to Craig Tanner saw his delicious backheel locate Rakish Bingham in the penalty area but he dragged wide with just Wright to beat.
Tanner tried his luck from 30 yards but was denied by the slightest of fingertips from Wright onto the outside of the post for a magnificent save.
Bingham squandered another opening after linking up with Poleon as City found the attacking threat of the league leaders difficult to contain, the forward’s shot too close to the overworked Wright.
City thought they levelled on 34 minutes when Scott Wilson slid home, but Cody Cooke was adjudged to have been offside in providing the assist, a decision which looked marginal at best.
Referee Ben Atkinson didn’t endear himself to the visitors after the break with quickfire yellow cards to Dan Greenslade and Hayfield with Greg Cundle joining them soon after for kicking the ball away.
Hayfield shanked wide from the edge of the box while at the other end Bingham headed Luke O’Neill’s ball from the byline narrowly wide.
O’Neill was then involved in a major talking point as City had a goal harshly ruled out on 57 minutes.
Jordan Dyer’s ball into the penalty area from defence saw Cousins and O’Neill hesitate, which allowed Cooke to bravely nod the ball in while holding off the centre-back. Referee Atkinson saw his force as excessive and chalked the goal off amid strong protests, which proved pivotal as the lead was doubled five minutes later.
Christian N’Guessan picked up a loose ball in midfield and slipped it behind to Poleon who showed outstanding composure to nonchalantly dink the ball over the advancing Wright.
City protested that Cooke was down with a head injury as the arguments spilled to the bench where Gill was shown a yellow card for dissent.
They brushed these incidents aside to pull one back on 73 minutes. Wilson reacted to Cooke’s flick down the left, his ball across was left by Alex Fletcher for the onrushing Hayfield, who just evaded Haydn Hollis’ desperate lunge to drill home from close range.
Hopes of more points rescued on the road were extinguished with five minutes remaining when McQueen made it 3-1. Having received the ball from the instrumental Poleon, the substitute cut inside of Greenslade and superbly bent the ball into the top corner from just inside the penalty area and clinch a fifth successive win for United over City, who will look to bounce back on Saturday against Chelmsford.
City’s Line-Up: Wright, Raynes, Greenslade, Dyer, Parselle (c), Fletcher, Hayfield (Frear 84), Cooke, Lines, Spokes (Smith 68), Wilson. Subs not used: Clarke, Batten, Bell.
Scorers: City – Hayfield (73); Ebbsfleet – Poleon (7, 62), McQueen (87)
City Bookings: Greenslade (46), Hayfield (49)
Officials: B Atkinson, E Spencer, E Mayer