DORCHESTER TOWN 0
THE singing of Sweet Caroline, the Magpies’ usual post-match song at the Avenue, performed by Neil Diamond tribute act Daryll King before kick-off added a moment of poignancy to the final day of Dorchester Town’s 10-year membership of the Skrill South.
There was a carnival atmosphere at Stonebridge Road where free admission for all brought in a bumper crowd of 1,670 to watch Ebbsfleet powerfully claim a fourth-place finish ahead of the play-offs.
However, it seemed that the rousing vocal performance of world renowned tenor, Martin Toal, who followed King on to the pitch, initially most inspired a reshuffled and youthful Dorchester side who quickly settled into some neat passing football.
Magpies’ boss, Phil Simkin handed a first-team debut to full-back Oakley Hanger who took his chance to impress with a fine performance throughout a very difficult afternoon for the Dorset side.
The visitors won the first corner of the match but nothing came from Charlie Losasso’s fourth-minute delivery.
Two minutes later, a shot from Losasso was blocked in front of goal.
Ebbsfleet’s first threat came in the ninth minute when Anthony Cook’s cross from the left was pushed away by Alan Walker-Harris for a corner.
This was swung across by Ebbsfleet skipper Daryl McMahon and nodded down by Shane Huke for Stacey Long whose shot flew wide.
However, with their next attack, the Fleet, unbeaten at Stone-bridge Road since New Year’s Day, opened the scoring.
Billy Bricknell did well on the right of the box then set up McMahon who swept home a low shot.
Bricknell was denied a shooting chance by a fine interception from Nathan Walker while Long sent a 25-yard effort over the bar.
Steve Walker then cleared away another Bricknell attempt as Ebbsfleet continued to pose a threat.
There was brief respite for the Dorchester defence as home keeper Brandon Hall tipped over a header from Sam Lanahan who had met a centre from Mark Jermyn.
Cook then curled a free-kick on to the Dorchester crossbar while Losasso had a shot charged down.
Ebbsfleet added a second goal eight minutes before the break when the Magpies failed to clear the danger after Bricknell’s shot had been blocked.
Long prodded the loose ball to McMahon who rifled an unstoppable shot past Walker-Harris.
In stoppage time Chris Sessegnon picked out Bricknell whose shot was smothered by the Dorchester number one and Michael Thalissitis fired the follow-up effort over.
Elliot Chamberlain curled the first chance of the second half wide for Dorchester but Ebbsfeet were soon back looking for more goals.
Bricknell looked certain to score when Alex Osborn centred but his close-range shot struck the top of the crossbar.
The same player was then denied by Walker-Harris and Osborn fired over.
A weak effort from Jermyn then rolled wide while Bricknell had two more attempts saved.
And when Walker-Harris was out of position, it was Hanger’s turn to pull off the save with a goal-line clearance to keep Bricknell at bay.
But just as it seemed that the Magpies might have stemmed the flow, Thalissitis collected a pass from his skipper before angling a low shot on the turn between keeper and far post.
At this point, Simkin opted to give keeper Shane Murphy some first-team experience but his first job was to pick the ball from the net after Osborn fired under him from Bricknell’s pass.
Lanahan charged through the centre but hoisted his shot over the crossbar while Hanger was again a match for Bricknell deflecting his shot for a corner.
The last attempt of the afternoon was from Losasso whose low shot was saved by Hall.
Both sets of players acknowledged their supporters at the final whistle but in contrasting circumstances.
Several of Dorchester’s battle-weary squad looked visibly distraught as the reality of their relegation perhaps began to sink in surrounded as they were by an electric atmosphere of play-off hopes generated by the celebrating home fans.
Ebbfleet: Hall, Sessegnon, Palmer, McMahon, Lorraine, Huke, Osborn, Long, Thalassitis (May 71), Bricknell, Cook (Howe 61). Subs not used: Acheamong, Edwards, Rance
Magpies: Walker-Harris (Murphy 71), Hanger, Way (Smith 79), Jermyn, N Walker, S Walker, Lanahan, Smeeton, Case (Munday 66), Chamberlain, Losasso. Subs not used: Twyford, Pidgely
Referee: Paul Harris
*Dorchester Town Reserves will play their last game of the season in the Wyvern Premier League at Sholing on Monday, May 5 (7.45pm).
The Magpies cannot now win the league as they trail leaders AFC Portchester by five points, but victory for Sholing would see them lift the title.