TEN-MAN ROVERS FRUSTRATE FLEET
TEN-MAN Tranmere Rovers weathered an Ebbsfleet United storm to steal a point away from Stonebridge Road.
Micky Mellon’s Rovers were forced to play nearly all of the second half with a numerical disadvantage after former Derby and Blackburn defender Jay McEveley was sent off for two bookable offences.
And they were forced to cling on with former Whitehawk striker Danny Mills denied a winner in his first Ebbsfleet start by a magnificent block by Adam Buxton.
It was Fleet’s NINTH draw of the campaign but boss Daryl McMahon was pleased with his side’s performance despite failing to find a winner.
“We were very good today from the start of the game,” he said. “I asked them to move the ball about better than we have been doing and I thought we dominated possession even when it was 11 against 11.”
“Danny Mills did really well, in his first start, against the biggest team in the league. He had a good debut. I asked them to control the game and we did that really well.
“That was more of an Ebbsfleet performance compared to what we have seen in the last two matches. We just need to be a bit better in the box and we will be alright.”
McMahon swung the axe after Tuesday’s 2-0 home defeat to Aldershot, leaving out no fewer than four players from his starting line-up including forwards Danny Kedwell and Darren McQueen.
Tranmere were keen to get a win from their first ever meeting with the Fleet and were on the front foot from the off with Jay Harris seeing his effort trickle past a post from James Norwood’s cross.
McEveley picked up his first yellow card of the game following a tussle with Chris Bush on 27 minutes but Tranmere looked relatively comfortable with Buxton providing plenty of threat down the right-hand side, delivering two good strikes that had home keeper Nathan Ashmore scrambling to contain.
At the other end, Mills grew into the game as the minutes ticked and just before half-time saw his close-range effort blocked by Buxton with the goal at his mercy.
He was later denied by Rovers keeper Scott Davies with a brave save when he seemed certain to score from close range.
Any hopes of Tranmere reviving their stuttering start to the season with victory, however, were dealt a blow on 48 minutes when McEveley got his marching orders for a foul on Myles Weston.
Looking to seize the opportunity, Ebbsfleet surged forward with Rovers finding it increasingly difficult to put pressure on the home goal, even though James Norwood did force Ashmore into a smart save on 71 minutes with one of their rare forays upfield.
The defeat by Aldershot on Tuesday night is still Ebbsfleet’s only one of the season so far and McMahon, for one, is happy with how his side are shaping up in the National League.
“We have just played Aldershot, an ex-League One club, and Tranmere, an ex-Championship club,” he said.
“We are not those big clubs. We are Ebbsfleet from the Conference South. We are a small team compared to them and we are doing alright.”
Mellon was happy with a point afterwards, adding: “We came to get three points but it was made difficult for us just after half- time. We were alright for about 30-35 minutes then a few things went against us and we got a wee bit disappointed. The game completely changed when we went down to ten but the boys dug in and got us a point. They showed a lot of character.”
“When you are in the position we are in you look at the positives, and a clean sheet and a point when you are down to ten men is something for us to build on. We will try and get back to the brand of football we all want to play.”
SAVIOUR: Tranmere keeper Scott Davies saves from Ebbsfleet’s Danny Mills
CONTENT: Ebbsfleet boss Daryl McMahon