A great away win for the team.
Fleet are out of the relegation zone after making it five league games unbeaten with a 2-1 win away to Macclesfield Town.
Second-half goals from Phil Walsh and Nathan Elder earned Ebbsfleet a victory in an even game after Chris Holroyd had given the hosts the lead. It is also two wins and two comebacks on the trot.
Liam Daish made three changes from the side that defeated Hyde last weekend, with the suspended Patrick Ada being replaced in the heart of defence by Walsh; Craig Stone replacing James Folkes at right-back and Lanre Azeez coming in for Liam Enver-Marum on the wing. The match winner against Hyde, Matthew Godden, was forced to miss the match through sickness.
Silkmen manager Steve King – facing The Fleet for the first time since being Farnborough’s manager in 2011’s play-off final – fielded a 4-4-2 formation in which midfielders Charlie Henry and John Paul Kissock were both constant threats.
The opening stages of the match were a quiet affair, with both teams struggling to keep the ball on a heavy pitch. The best chance fell to Henry, who saw his chipped shot comfortably saved by Preston Edwards.
The first-half ebbed and flowed, with neither side dominating. The hosts had a large amount of possession but only had two or three long range shots off-target to show for it, whilst The Fleet looked a threat on the counter-attack without really creating many chances.
Indeed, the only clear cut Fleet chance of the first-half came in the 27th minute when a corner from Ashley Carew found Walsh, but the defender’s free header flew wide of the goal.
As the half progressed, Macclesfield began to have the better chances, such as when Holroyd had a 20-yard free-kick that was comfortably saved by Edwards after Kissock was fouled by Walsh.
Just as it looked like the two sides would go in level after an even half, the hosts took the lead in the 45th minute. A quickly taken free-kick resulted in Henry being played clear down the right-wing and his superbly floated cross was nodded in by Holroyd at the back post.
The Silkmen took momentum from this goal and came out the strongest in the second-half. Fairhurst shot wide after yet more good work from Henry and Tony Diagne had a back-heeled shot that went harmlessly wide.
However, The Fleet equalised in the 57th minute when Carew sent in another corner towards Walsh
and Walsh made no mistake as he volleyed past former-Fleet goalkeeper Lance Cronin from six-yards for his fourth goal of the season.
The equaliser rocked Macclesfield and chances once again became limited. Elder chested down a high ball from Tom Phipp but saw his shot on the turn go flying over the bar. The hosts only chance in this period of play came after a mistake from Walsh allowed Holroyd to play in substitute Matthew Barnes-Homer, but Edwards saved his shot.
The game’s winner came inside a mad 30-second piece of play in the 86th minute. Macclesfield were on the attack and two substitutes combined as Jack Mackreth supplied Amari Morgan-Smith whose volleyed-shot was brilliantly saved by Edwards.
Edwards then moved the ball downfield quickly and it found Elder who broke through on goal and seemed to be fouled by a defender. However, the striker stayed on his feet and the referee played on; however, he was bought down again, meaning the referee had no choice but to give a penalty.
Elder picked himself up and sent Cronin the wrong way from the spot to net his 10th league goal of the season.
With such a late goal, The Fleet looked destined to hang on for victory, and they did just that, but had to do it with 10-men as Elder hobbled off injured in the closing stages.
It is now five league games unbeaten for The Fleet and the side are now in 19th place, one point outside the relegation zone. With such good form, it may not be such a welcome break from league action next weekend as Ebbsfleet host Hereford in the FA Trophy. However, two sides in the relegation zone – Braintree and Hyde – both have games in hand that will be played on Tuesday, meaning it could be all to play for when The Fleet play host to Grimsby on December 1st
Edwards, Stone, Howe, Walsh, Lorraine, Barrett (Bellamy 58), Phipp, Carew, Soares (Enver-Marum 87), Azeez (Greenhalgh 82), Elder.
Subs not used: Menz, Blake.
Goals: Walsh 57, Elder 86 (Pen).
Attendance 1,896 (inc. 66 Away Fans)
Photo’s courtesy of Tony Thomas (many thanks!)