MAIDENHEAD United have missed the chance to secure the National League South title after a 2-1 defeat to Ebbsfleet United on Saturday.

The promotion race will go to the final day of the season after Ebbsfleet took all three points and ended The Magpies’ unbeaten home record in front of a bumper crowd of 3,377 York Road.

Jack Parkinson was unfortunate not to give Maidenhead the lead early on when his goalbound header was diverted onto the underside of the crossbar.

Ebbsfleet responded when Anthony Cook glanced the woodwork with a long-range effort.

The home team took the lead midway through the first half when Harry Pritchard swung in a well-weighted cross and Dean Inman was on hand at the far post to head past Nathan Ashmore.

Ebbsfleet went into the crucial fixture unbeaten in 18 league games and served notice of their intent before the half-time interval with Aaron McLean denied by the outside of the post.

The visitors were level when Andy Drury produced an accurate strike from range which looped into the corner of Carl Pentney’s goal in the 65th minute.

Royal Borough Observer:

PHOTO: Captain David Winfield celebrates his winning goal as Ebbsfleet beat Maidenhead 2-1.

The game-breaking goal came when a deep right flank corner was palmed away by Pentney but only as far as Dave Winfield who fired into the roof of the net on 74 minutes.

An angry Maidenhead manager, Alan Devonshire, told the Observer: “Did you see their second goal? It was a foul on the keeper. A blatant foul on the keeper and the referee has give a goal, so at the end of the day that is what has cost us.

“I do feel hard done by. Everyone could see it. We saw it from 60-yards away and he can’t see it from five-yards. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Magpies coach Sam Lock said: “Ebbsfleet are a good side and if you give them space they will punish you, like their first goal.

“But, looking at the performance, we were fantastic in the first-half. We completely dominated the game."

Automatic promotion will now be decided this Saturday as Ebbsfleet host Oxford City and must hope that Maidenhead cannot win away at already relegated Margate.

Grab a copy of the Observer on Friday for all the reaction to the match as well as a preview to the game between Margate and Maidenhead United this Saturday.

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