Fleet were well beaten by Boreham Wood who enhanced their own play-off credentials while tarnishing the home side’s chances of the same, the visitors scoring twice in the second half and also missing a penalty. Ebbsfleet were 1-0 down at half-time to an excellent individual goal by Angelo Balanta but fell further behind within minutes of the restart and could find no rhythm thereafter to trouble Luke Garrard’s side.
Daryl McMahon kept faith with the side that had put in such a good performance in the 0-0 draw at Aldershot but it was clear in the early encounters of this one that it would lack the end-to-end entertainment of that game.
The opening 10 minutes were devoid of action bar a shot from Sam Magri spinning wide but Boreham Wood began to show their class in linking play through their midfield, wide attacking players and strikers, though much of their running came to nothing in the final third.
Luke Coulson got on the end of a huge kick forward from Nathan Ashmore on 11 minutes but went down on the edge of the box under a challenge. The lack of a whistle there from referee Paul Marsden was probably about the only time the official wasn’t moved to blow his whistle in a first half that stuttered as the referee continually pulled play back. He made few fans when he booked Sam Magri for a challenge on Mark Ricketts that saw both men go to ground clutching their heads but it seemed like a 50-50 challenge and Magri came off worse, sporting a head bandage for the remainder of the match.
Boreham Wood came out of their shells on the quarter-hour mark, Keiran Murtagh whipping in a shot from a central position that Nathan Ashmore parried and Joe Quigley should have done more with the loose ball than smack it wide.
That was a rare chance in a first-half where neither side really threatened and Fleet’s next attack of note wasn’t until the 23rd minute when Marvin McCoy drove forward to pick out Danny Kedwell but with too many defenders in his way he could only poke a shot wide. Boreham Wood’s only other sight of goal came when Kane Smith had plenty of space to deliver a fine cross to the far post where a diving Bruno Andrade headed it wide.
But the visitors went one better with their next chance on 35 minutes, though to call it a chance would be perhaps over-selling it. With Boreham Wood patiently playing the ball along the final third and the Fleet defence in a static line, a half-clearance sat up in front of Angelo Balanta and he took one look, one touch and then arched a fine shot over Ashmore’s shoulder and into the top corner.
A ragged end to the first-half was enough for McMahon to ring the changes in the second and that saw Sean Shields and Bradley Bubb introduced for McCoy and Jack Powell. But the start to the second period was equally ragged and a couple of Boreham Wood corners put them on the front foot. From one such set piece on 47 minutes, the ball fell to Jamie Turley poised on the edge of the box and he took the opportunity to try his luck, connecting well with the ball to send it through a crowd of players and out of Ashmore’s reach.
Fleet almost responded straight away, Shields’ inventive run picking out Bubb at the far post but his header was off target. Payne had another effort fly towards the same spot but in between those chances, Boreham Wood could have extended their lead as they searched for the killer blow against a rattled Fleet.
Ashmore pushed away Balanta’s goalbound effort before Magri hacked a ball out of the six-yard box and Murtagh sent an effort skidding just wide when he really should have hit the target. Ashmore, on his 100th appearance, was kept busy and he got a good hand to another effort placed towards the bottom corner by Balanta before pulling off another fine save from a fierce volley by Murtagh.
It was little surprise that the visitors made it 3-0 at the end of that spell of pressure and the killer third arrived on 66 minutes. Caught too far up the pitch, the Fleet’s defence was powerless to prevent a ball forward landing nicely for Bournemouth loanee Quigley. He took it in his stride though it seemed Lawrie Wilson and Dave Winfield had done enough to force him wide but he dug the ball out, cut back inside and scuffed a shot beyond Ashmore.
Fleet strove to at least get a goal back but their efforts had little effect against a well-organised Boreham Wood. The best chance for the home side came eight minutes from time in a goalmouth scramble when the Myles Weston sent a cross soaring into the box that struck the post. Payne met the rebound but was unfortunate to see it blocked on the line and Drury then arrowed a shot goalwards that met a similar fate, being stopped by the goalkeeper and then hacked off the line.
Andrade then had two chances to make it 4-0, planting a header wide when in space 10 yards out and then winning a penalty as he tumbled over Bush’s outstretched leg. He picked himself up to deliver a powerful spot-kick over Ashmore but it crashed off the crossbar… about the only thing that went Fleet’s way all afternoon.
EUFC: Ashmore, McCoy (Shields 46), Magri, Winfield, Bush, Wilson, Drury, Payne, Powell (Bubb 46), Coulson (Weston 54), Kedwell. Subs not used: Rance, Jordan
BWFC: G Smith, K Smith, Woodards, Stephens, Champion, Turley, Ricketts, Murtagh, Balanta, Quigley (Folivi 83), Andrade. Subs not used: Harfield, Shakes, Turgott, Davey