Ten terriers topple Stafford

Stacy Long nets the winner as 10-man Fleet come from behind to defeat Stafford Rangers.

EBBSFLEET UNITED 2-1 STAFFORD RANGERS

The Fleet came from behind for the first time this season in what became an uphill battle against struggling Stafford. In an ultimately forgettable first half, the main talking point was Chukki Eribenne’s 37th-minute dismissal for violent conduct after he became involved in a spat with Ritchie Sutton. The pair clashed down the Fleet’s left when both going for a high ball after Eribenne swung a loose arm and missed, Sutton pushed him in the back and the pair locked horns, with the Fleet forward ajudged to have headbutted his opponent but it was more a case of head to head.

Stafford rarely looked dangerous but Fleet’s old nemesis Neil Grayson, only on the pitch for four minutes, took advantage of a poor clearance and struck a clean shot low past Lance Cronin. Fleet’s 10 men had a tough ask to get back into the game and it took an individual moment of brilliance to restore parity. On 57 minutes, Michael Bostwick launched a long ball forwards and George Purcell powered down the right. With nobody to help him out, Purcell cut inside his marker and unleashed an unstoppable curling shot from outside the box which eluded Scott Loach and hit the back of the net.

With their tails up, the Fleet stepped up the pace and it was Luke Moore who made the winner on 76 minutes. Sacha Opinel cleared forwards and with Stafford’s defence high up the pitch, Moore sprinted through in a race to the ball with goalkeeper Loach. The visiting keeper always looked the likely winner, but Moore got enough on it to send the ball spinning wide and left of Loach and the young Fleet striker managed to square it back to the onrushing Stacy Long who buried a shot from 12 yards to the delight of the 1,055 crowd.

Stafford had their chances to equalise, most notably when Peter Hawkins’ miscue almost let in David McNiven but the Fleet scrambled the ball to safety.

TEAM: Cronin, Hawkins, Opinel, Smith, McCarthy, Bostwick, McPhee, Long, Moore, Eribenne, Purcell (Barrett 84). Subs: French, Liam Coleman, Akinde, Starkey.

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