The Red’s FA Cup adventure and unbeaten away record finally came to an end, as they were made to pay for failing to capitalise on a bright start, by their National League hosts.
- Coulson (31', 41')
- Winfield (52')
- OG (82')
The visitors were forced into three changes, with Kleton Perntreou coming in for his debut between the sticks, as Will Miles was brought back, Ricky Aguiar was amongst the substitutes and Danny Barker returned in place of the cup-tied Zack Newton.
It was the underdogs who started with greater urgency and tempo, underlined by the ever-dangerous David Ajiboye firing in a left-wing cross that Callum Kealy, after getting it on to his favoured left foot, could only put over the bar.
That chance came in the very first minute and only four more had elapsed when Ollie Pearce drove forward but failed to find the target. A move recreated by the hugely experienced, Danny Kedwell seconds later.
Ajiboye had a shot blocked, with Pearce suffering the same outcome from his subsequent cross, before the latter lead a charge which resulted in the former being denied by a last ditch tackle, from Sam Magri.
The side from Sussex continued to take the game to their Kent counterparts, as Miles drilled in an Aarran Racine knockdown and Luke Coulson shot well wide at the other end.
Ajiboye proved to be a real menace down the left flank, particularly when his low fizzing effort was played back in by Parsons and from the resulting throw-in, Buddy’s attempt was off target.
It came as a quite a surprise, therefore, when Ebbsfleet took the lead just past the half-hour mark, with their first shot on target; Coulson sweeping home Corey Whitely’s right-sided delivery, after the ball had been laid back out to him by Dean Rance.
With their tails up, the National League strugglers extended their advantage five minutes before the break; Whitely again the provider, once Magri had sent him scampering away down the right and Coulson was there again to double his tally for the afternoon and, indeed, the season.
Whitely went dangerously close to making it three, his goal-bound effort flying narrowly over Perntreou’s crossbar but, the last chance of the opening half presented itself to Ollie Pearce;
breaking through the inside-right channel and despatching his low, drilled attempt across Nathan Ashmore and agonisingly past the far post.
A now dominant home team refused to take their foot off the gas and sent an unheeded warning to their plucky visitors, when Captain, Dave Winfield saw his header tipped over for another corner. This time, from the opposite side, he readily accepted a second invitation, to power home with his dome.
The impressive Coulson stung the palms of Perntreou, who then safely gathered from former Lewes midfielder, Andy Drury, after he had got on the end of Jack Payne’s free-kick, as the full-timers dominated the early exchanges of the second-half.
Pearce had a golden opportunity to pull one back, when Ajiboye’s slide-rule pass left him on-on-one with Ashmore. However, after trying to go round the sizeable frame of the Ebbsfleet custodian, he ran out of pitch and the chance went begging.
With a little over twenty minutes to go, Aaran Racine’s header from Darren Budd’s corner was cleared off the line by another head, this one belonging to Kedwell while, the icing was almost put on the cake with Coulson, looking to complete his hat-trick, being denied by Will Mile’s immaculately timed sliding challenge, as play quickly switched from one end to the other.
Approaching the final foray’s, our Captain, the indomitable Mr.Budd, forced Ashmore to finger-tip his long-range free-kick over, before Mr. Miles came within a whisker of beating the one-time Gosport goalie, when his effort clipped the post.
Unfortunately, on eighty-one minutes, Milo did find the back of the net, when his attempt at clearing substitute, Myles Weston’s right-wing cross off the line, went in off the post.
The wiley Weston was then stopped near the same upright by courageous Crane, with the home support exclaiming “ stop that pigeon “ in a throwback to the Wacky Races
With Dick Dastardly, I mean Dave Winfield in hot pursuit, Ajiboye’s run was ended, unceremoniously, in the box by the home Skipper. After dusting himself down though, he could only watch as Rufus Ruffcut saved low, down to his right, to deny the away side a consolation.
Just for good measure, the burly netminder produced an airborne, full-length stop, going the other way, to keep out a piledriver from our luckless number seven, shortly after that.