Pritchard strike bags Lambs an excellent three points
21 November 2009
Tamworth, on the back of a morale boosting win over Chester last weekend made the journey to Ebbsfleet looking for more of the same. Gary Mills was able to choose from a virtually fully fit squad with Alex Rodman still out with a back injury, although Simon Russell was also ruled out when an old injury flared up in the build up to the game.
Ebbsfleet, in second to last place in the league had failed to score in 14 of the 20 games so far this season and not netted in the last six, although The Lambs had never beaten The Fleet at Stonebridge Road in all four previous visits in the Conference.
Fleet kicked off proceedings and went on the offensive, but Wright soon fed Shaw to put the ball into the path of Sheridan who burst into the box but was unable to get a cross in before it ran over the line for a goal kick.
A foul on Pritchard on the half way line allowed Blackwood to put the ball into the danger area, but Ebbsfleet broke through Vieira who fed Shakes only for his cross to go off target and out.
Fleet moved the ball around quickly but to no avail and when Pritchard whipped in a cross at the other end on 6, Lance parried the ball behind for a corner on the left. Three defensive headers failed to clear the initial danger but Fleet broke and a cross from the left was headed straight into the arms of Alcock by Vieira from 8 yards out.
A clash of heads saw Charles leave the field momentarily and a drop ball restarted play with the home side regaining possession. Briscoe did well to block a hard hit cross and conceded a corner which Alcock gathered.
Wright slid the ball to Sheridan on 11 but his shot went past the far upright in the best chance for Tamworth so far in the game, then Shakes lost his marker, Briscoe, and made a bee-line for goal but saw his shot come cross cut out by Blackwood on 13.
Wright's run into the box was cut short by a quick thinking slide out by Lance on 16 while at the other end, Bailey was unable to put the loose ball away and it took a combination of Alcock and his defence to clear the danger when it looked like the home side would hit the back of the net from Shakes' low back heel.
Tamworth then won a corner on 18 which Fleet coped well with and on 20 Sheridan found Pritchard with a floated cross from the left but his header was off target.
A great run and recovery by Wright on 23 saw Pritchard try a shot, but it was blocked and when a covering defender tried to clear, Lance was ‘perfectly' positioned to catch the unintentional rebound straight at him to prevent a certain own goal.
Fleet applied some heavy pressure in the next couple of minutes but Tamworth rode it fell and when the ball ran downfield to Wright he applied a perfect touch from outside the left of the area to allow Pritchard the chance of firing home right footed to make it 1-0 to The Lambs (1-0, 27 mins)
From the restart, Fleet won a corner which Alcock punched clear, then on the half hour West crossed from the right but a telling boot denied Fleet a chance of a clear shot and the ball went just wide. Conference.
Briscoe headed West's header behind for a right sided flag kick on 31 and Alcock denied a near post header from Smith with a point blank save.
After a brief stoppage to allow Crooks to receive treatment on the field after another clash of heads, the same player was substituted on 37.
Sheridan received the ball from a Wright - Pritchard flick on shortly after but he couldn't get his shot away before a defenders boot blocked his path.
As the half time whistle drew near, Brown crossed low from the right but was unable to find Wright or Sheridan.
Three minutes added time was shown and Fleet pushed forward and won a corner on the right which Shaw flicked over the bar from a near post position for another flag kick which worked its way harmlessly out of play.
Tamworth got the second half underway kicking with the wind as Fleet substituted their substitute. A hesitation by Tait in the middle of the park allowed Fleet to move forward but it came to nothing, despite some quick passing moves.
Tamworth responded with some of their own and Brown was unlucky not to get a block on a poor clearance from Cronin on 48 while Smith picked up a booking for a late challenge on 52.
The Lambs were not given a moment's respite and on 57 Briscoe cleared off the line when Holmes swivelled on the ball in the area and looked to have got the equaliser only to be denied by a telling stop and clearance.
Gary Mills made his first change of the game on 59 with Christie coming on for Shaw to play with two up front - as a second goal was exactly what was required in a bid to ‘calm things down' - and a second sub came four minutes later when Wylde replaced MacKenzie to add more strength at the back.
Christie hit a bouncing ball form the edge of the area at Cronin on 65 which the keeper caught at chest height and Alcock was made to catch a high cross from the right as Fleet immediately countered.
Wright, Blackwood and Christie combined on 69 only to find the final ball cleared as a free shot on goal looked a certainty.
A minute later and Wright chased down a long clearance but could only direct his snap shot, at full stretch, wide of the left hand upright while Alcock caught Wills' rasping drive at the second attempt in the next move of the game.
Wright and Christie combined well on 72 but Cronin was equal to the latter's shot from 18 yards and neither of the pair could get a clean hold of the ball as it whizzed into the area on 75. Brown did manage to put a cross into the area from wide right but Cronin collected.
Tait won a corner on the right with the next move but Fleet cleared and then on 77 Wright struck a right footed shot just over the corner of bar and post from the right of the area.
The Lambs defence worked superbly hard to deny a number of half chances of shots around the 80 minute mark which also saw the dismissal of Fleet captain Charles following a foul on the half way line and repeated protestations.
Wylde then picked up a booking for a well timed challenge from behind which the referee saw differently, and despite the man disadvantage there was no let up from the home side.
Tamworth's final substitution came on 86 with Ulker replacing Wright in a straight swap up front and as the minutes ticked into four minutes stoppage time it was a nail biting time for the travelling faithful.
Pritchard needed treatment along with Holmes following a meeting of minds in the centre of the Lambs half to add a bit more time onto the clock until the final whistle blew on a superb and hard fought three points for Tamworth.
Alcock, Tait, Blackwood, Smith, MacKenzie (Wylde 63), Wright (Ulker 86), Pritchard, Sheridan, Shaw (Christie 59), Briscoe, Brown
Subs: Lyttle, Lake-Gaskin
Ebbsfleet United Team:
Cronin, Heeroo, Bailey, Charles, Holmes, Shakes, West, Viera (Ginty 87), Crooks (Easton 37, Wills HT), Smith R, Welsh
Subs: Forshaw, Lamprell
Referee: Mr. M. Thompson (Northolt)