Today’s clash of the ‘Fleets’ could have been billed the Mambo v Magno show, with Ebbsfleet’s colossal loan signing Yado Mambo coming up against ex-Fleet favourite Magno Vieira. Yet despite a fine debut from the Charlton youngster for the home side, it was a former Stonebridge Road player of the year who had the last laugh, Vieira bagging two second-half goals as Fleetwood came from behind to deservedly take three points.
Ebbsfleet were able to welcome back Michael West to midfield while the loanee’s inclusion (once any arguments over Mambo’s potential No.5 shirt were settled) meant no place for Joe Howe as Craig Stone was back in his familiar right-back position. For Fleetwood, they were able to start with a three-pronged attack with players like Vieira, Alex Mangan and Gareth Seddon keeping Richard Brodie, a villain for York at his last Stonebridge Road appearance, on the bench.
Fleet were slow to start and appeared to give Fleetwood far too much respect as the visitors, hardly lightning quick out of the blocks themselves, set about putting their methodical stamp on the game. An early Jamie Milligan corner saw Preston Edwards under pressure but, while Fleetwood had plenty of running in them, Mambo and Ian Simpemba were proving to be an effective pair in the middle of defence. Vieira posted warning of his undeniable talents, however, when he ghosted in on a Milligan cross but hit it wide.
Liam Enver-Marum found himself in the book on 18 minutes for barely a touch on Junior Brown, the first of a succession of questionable refereeing decisions, and Edwards did well to punch clear the resulting free-kick. A minute later came the best chance for Fleetwood, Mambo doing well with a diving header to clear Mangan’s incursion, but Seddon fired inches wide of the post from the edge of the box as the ball sat up perfectly for him.
Having weathered an early storm, Fleet got to grips with midfield and Tom Phipp had three long-range efforts, the second of which was low and hard and gave goalkeeper Scott Davies some trouble. The home side’s best chance came on 35 minutes when Mambo’s hefty clearance found Calum Willock clear of the Fleetwood back line but his shot was well saved by Davies.
Willock made no mistake five minutes later as Fleet capitalised on their brief spell in ascendancy as he spun off his marker and hit a low shot out of Davies’ reach into the far corner.
Fleetwood were sent from the dressing room early by manager Micky Mellon but their wait did them no harm at all as they were back on level terms within four minutes of the restart. Gareth Seddon picked the ball up on the Fleetwood right and he floated in a mid-height cross that Vieira met with a header just as if it appeared he might lose balance, but it had enough power and accuracy to beat Edwards.
That goal, on his old stomping ground, seemed to get Vieira fired up and the Fleet defence had to be alert as the Brazilian tried his luck four times as he twisted and turned into space. West got clear down the Fleet left and forced a couple of corners but it all seemed heavy going for the home side who just couldn’t muster an attack of real intent, with little falling for Willock or Enver-Marum.
As such, Fleetwood upped their game once again and went ahead a minute after the home side had replaced West with Ricky Shakes. Jamie McGuire’s free-kick was taken too quickly for the Fleet to organise and Vieira was onto it in a flash, picking his spot with aplomb as the red shirts remonstrated with the referee about the placement and timing of the set piece.
To their credit, Ebbsfleet mounted a response and pushed the striped shirts back again but despite Shakes and Scott Ginty offering fresh attacking options, goalkeeper Davies was a mere spectator. Fleet got plenty of corners and throw-ins in danger areas but from one such throw, they were undone on 82 minutes. Johnny Herd launched one of his trademark long throw-ins but it was cleared upfield to Vieira who outpaced Herd and the ball was played across to Jamie Vardy in acres of space down the unguarded Fleet left and Vardy made no mistake with a shot under Edwards.
Unaccustomed to being two goals down this season, out-of-sorts Fleet had little chance of finding their way back or much idea about how to go about doing so and the final 10 minutes were run of the mill for Fleetwood. As the game reached its closing stages, the heavens opened on Stonebridge Road which summed up the afternoon for Fleet fans – it was all a little bit wet and dismal.
TEAM: Edwards, Stone (Ginty 75), Herd, Mambo, Simpemba, Stavrinou, Marwa, Phipp (Howe 61), West (Shakes 68), Enver-Marum, Willock. Subs not used: Welch, Fakinos.
Liam Enver-Marum was man of the match v Kidderminster. Vote now for today’s game using the drop-down panel above.