Shephard’s 25-yard strike helps Eastbourne Borough to Ebbsfleet draw

Chris Shephard
Chris Shephard

A piece of first half magic from Chris Shephard helped earn a 1-1 draw for Eastbourne Borough against Skrill South big spenders Ebbsfleet at Priory Lane.

Tommy Widdrington kept faith with the same side that fought back to beat Tonbridge Angels at Priory Lane on Tuesday.

Playmaker Chris Shephard has once again began the season in scintillating form. Widdrington described him as unplayable at times against the Angels and against Ebbsfleet it didn’t take him long to make an impact.

On 14 minutes Shephard popped up on the right hand side of the attack and unleashed a thunderous left-footed strike from 25 yards that flew into the top corner after great work from Darren Lok.

Ebbsfleet are one of the division’s big spenders after they secured substantial investment from Kuwaiti investment company KEH Holdings.

They are tipped to competing at the top end of the table this season and clawed their way back to level terms on 24 minutes.

Billy Bracknell saw his shot blocked but the ball fell invitingly for Michael Thalaffitis who had space in the box to fire home.

Daryl McMahon was a keen competitor in midfield for the visitors. He was already in the referee’s notebook for an overzealous challenge and was lucky not to see red after another bone crunching tackle on Shephard.

But Borough looked good and played some nice football on a wet pitch.

Defender Ian Simpemba was so close to giving them half-time lead but his shot from Frankie Raymond’s cross clattered against the bar.

Borough couldn’t quite match their levels of the first half as an improved Ebbsfleet enjoyed the lion share of the play after the break.

The visitors should have scored on 54 minutes when Sam Cole’s weak back pass was intercepted.

Bracknell nipped ahead of Craig Ross in the Borough goal but his angled effort was gathered by the side netting.

On 70 minutes Ebbsfleet had a decent shout for a penalty. Adam Watts tangled with Dean Rance is the box, Rance fell to the floor but the referee waved away frantic appeals from the travelling fans behind the home goal.

Borough used all their options from the bench. Elliot Levy came on for Gary Hart, Charlie Gorman replaced Sam Cole and Akokhia switch with Darren Lok.

Levy has proved a real impact player from the bench so far this season. He created the penalty for the winner in Weston and scored against Tonbridge Angels on Tuesday. The former Brighton man impressed fans once again with his pace and trickery particularly when he left two Ebbsfleet defenders trailing with a sublime piece of skill.

Simon Johnson, fresh from his last gasp winner against Tonbridge on Tuesday,had half a chance to repeat his heroics.

In the 93rd minute Johnson ran through on goal, he fired in an early shot that was fumbled by the goalkeeper but it was gathered just in time to thwart the onrushing Levy.

After the match Widdrington said, “For the dominance we had in the first half I’m a bit frustrated we were not more than one goal up. To be fair to Ebbsfleet, their boss gave them a rollocking at halftime and they reacted to it.

“My players showed another side to their game that’s required to get points against a team that will be in the shake up at the end of the season.

Of Chris Shephard’s goal, Widdrington added, “The whole move was brilliant. There was great player interchange and everything about it was absolutely outstanding.”

Borough: Ross, Tallack, Cole (Gorman 73), Aldred, Simpemba, Watts, Hart (Levy 66), Raymond, Lok (Akokhia 81), Shephard, Johnson.

Subs: Stinson, Hutchins.

MoM: Matt Aldred

Referee: M A Layer

Att: 641