MAIDENHEAD United 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 this season in front of a bumper crowd of 3,377 at York Road.

Jack Parkinson almost gave Maidenhead an early lead when his header was diverted onto the underside of the crossbar.

Ebbsfleet responded when Anthony Cook skimmed 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.

But the visitors drew level when Andy Drury produced an accurate strike from distance which looped into the corner of Carl Pentney’s net in the 65th minute.

And the game-clinching goal came nine minutes later when a deep corner was palmed away by Pentney to Dave Winfield who fired into the roof of the net.

Royal Borough Observer:

PHOTO: Captain Dave Winfield celebrates his winning goal in front of Ebbsfleet Supporters.

Magpies coach Sam Lock admitted Ebbsfleet spoiled their party, but he argued the hosts deserved more from the game.

He told the Observer: “Ebbsfleet are are good side and if you give them space they will punish you. But looking at the performance I thought we were fantastic and we dominated the game.

“We weren’t tight enough for the first goal and if you give players space they will punish you. It was a great finish for their second.

“We were a bit disappointed the referee didn’t spot the foul for the second goal. Their player wrapped his arms around Carl and everyone will see it on the replay.

“It was a big game with big decisions and you just want a fair chance, so for the referee to miss is disappointing.

“But, the whole point of beating Truro the previous week was to give us two bites of the cherry.

“Fair play to Ebbsfleet, they came here to spoil the party, but we will have our party next week. We will go and beat Margate.”

Lock continued: “I feel we deserved more as we created good chances. They hit the outside of the post and the top of the post, but we hit the bar in the first few minutes. They’re a good side and so are we, but they came here and got a result.

Royal Borough Observer:

PHOTO: Dean Inman (second from the right) heads in to give Maidenhead the lead at York Road.

“You are not going to win every game, you’re not even going to draw games when it is supposed to happen for you. It is swings and roundabouts We have lost games this season and we’ve bounced back. It’s important now that we work hard in training and we go again this Saturday.”

Maidenhead will secure the title with a win at already-relegated Margate (3pm), or if they can better Ebbsfleet’s result at home to Oxford City.

Lock added: “If we win the game then we win the league and that is all that needs to be said. We need to go there and get the job done and I think we can use the disappointment from last weekend to put in even more of a push.

“We need to go there and prove we deserve to be winners.”