There were no surprises in the United squad for the final pre-season game against Ebbsfleet United, with Pierre Dubois and Ahmed Deen partnering Elliott Buchanan is a three-pronged strikeforce, in Garry Haylock's preferred '4-1-2-3' formation.
Ebbsfleet named a strong 11, with former United favourite Ram Marwa playing in central midfield along with ex-Eastleigh player Ashley Carew whilst Joel Ledgister was named amongst the Fleet substitutes.
The game got off to a relatively slow start, not surprising as the United team were delayed en-route due to massive congestion on the M25, causing a delay to the game of 15 minutes, and only 20 minutes warming up time available.
United were first to press, when Bradley Pritchard crossed from the right, but was unable to find a United player in the box, as the ball fell kindly for ex-Grays keeper Preston Edwards. Immediately, however, Lewis Ferrell won the ball on halfway and a neat one-two with Pritchard created space for Ferrell to cross to Elliott Buchanan who shot into the side netting from 10 yards.
On 14 minutes, another move involving Ferrell resulted in a Penalty being awarded, as ex-AFC Wimbledon defender Paul Lorraine was adjudged to have handled in the box, blocking Pierre Dubois' cross from the left. Former Ebbsfleet skipper Peter Holmes stepped up from the spot, but his weak penalty was parried by Edwards. The resultant follow up from Bradley Pritchard troubled the floodlights more than the back of the net.
Just three minutes later, Calum Willock, spearheading the Fleet attack, beat the United offside trap, and bore down on Lee Harrison's goal - Harrison was quickly out, but Willock was too quick for the former Barnet stopper, and Harrison pulled him down outside of the box. Harrison was shown yellow, which would have surely been a red had this not been a pre-season friendly. Clint Easton's resultant free-kick from the right corner of the box did not trouble the United goal.
Ebbsfleet were then in the ascendancy, and carved out several chances over the next ten minutes. Bradley Pritchard lost possession of the ball to Ram Marwa in the middle, and sent away Ashley Carew on the right. His cross was cleared by Adam Bygrave in the heart of the United defence, the ball cannoning back to Carew, only for his shot to cause no trouble.
With just five minutes to go before the break, impressive Ebbsfleet striker Scott Ginty won the ball on the left, midway in the United half. After moving inside, Ginty let fly from fully 25 yards, and the ball arced past the helpless United keeper to put the home side 1-0 up.
United immediately tried to up their game, and Elliott Buchanan seized an opportunity when latching on to a through ball from Ahmed Deen, but was fouled on the edge of the Ebbsfleet 'D'. Peter Holmes stepped up, trying to atone for his penalty miss, but his free kick was high of the Fleet goal, not troubling the goalkeeper.
No changes were made to either side at half-time, and it was United who took the initiative early in the second half. Just four minutes in, Bradley Pritchard found space on the right, and his cross found Elliott Buchanan in space in the box - However, Pierre Dubois could not get out of the way of the shot, and it cannoned off him back to Pritchard, who could not find the back of the net.
On 55 minutes, Ebbsfleet winger Michael West sprinted away from Ferrell on the right, and was just about to pull the trigger when an excellent saving tackle from Ferrell forced the ball out. With the home fans calling for a penalty, a frustrated West launched in to a vicious tackle on Ferrell that may have seen a card on another day.
Adam Green was starting to find more space on the left, as United pushed forward in search of an equaliser, and the first of a string of quality crosses was sent over towards Pierre Dubois, who could just not get full contact on the ball, sending it wide.
United then made two substitutions, with Dubois making way for Daniel Wishart, and Ferrell being replaced by Nathan Webb.
On 62 minutes, Scott Ginty raced away from Tom Cadmore, only to be hauled back on the edge of the Penalty area - A free-kick was awarded, which Ashley Carew took on, but again it did not trouble the United custodian Lee Harrison. Soon after, the pacey Ginty latched on to a through-ball over Adam Green, but the shot was easily saved by the United keeper.
A good move on the edge of the Ebbsfleet box saw a neat back heel from Pritchard find Daniel Wishart in space, but the shot was blocked by the Ebbsfleet defence, which continued to frustrate the United strikers. However, the search for a goal would be ended in the 69th minute when another superb cross from the left by Adam Green, right in to the famous 'corridor of uncertainty' was deflected in to the goal by Ebbsfleet defender Clint Easton giving Edwards no chance to react.
United were now dominating the match, and Adam Bygrave was fouled on the edge of the box, after retrieving a clearance from a Peter Holmes corner. Adam Green stepped up from 30 yards, but his shot was blocked by the resolute Ebbsfleet defensive wall.
Daniel Wishart then received the ball on half-way, spraying a 40 yard crossfield ball to Green, who produced yet another trademark left foot cross, which was put out for a corner by the Fleet defence. The resultant corner was headed over by Ahmed Deen.
With five minutes to go, Adam Green once again crossed from the left, Bradley Pritchard controlled and fizzed the ball across the Ebbsfleet goalmouth, with Buchanan just inches away from making a telling touch.
Report by Andy Corbett.