Billy Bricknell’s double goal haul fired Ebbsfleet United into the record books as they achieved a ninth straight win – the only time in the club’s 67-year history such a feat has been achieved.
But manager Steve Brown will probably be more gratified that it was another three points on his side’s total and achieved against a side who, at the start of play, had an almost identical playing record this season.
With just the one change – the ill Daryl McMahon making way for Michael Corcoran – the Fleet’s first battle was getting the game on when so many others had fallen foul of the wet-weather conditions. And for the second week running, it was the conditions as much as the opposition that the Fleet had to get the better of.
But the visitors had the best of the opening spells, using their flanks to good effect and with a gameplan that sought to include left winger Dale Binns as often as possible. Binns was testing Chris Sessegnon to the full early on but it was down the other wing that Sutton almost got their noses in front. Ex-Dover midfielder Lee Sawyer beat Aiden Palmer to the ball and goal-side of the Fleet defenders he struck a wild shot high of the upright.
Anthony Cook had a shot saved at the other end though that aside Fleet failed to really test the Sutton defence in the opening period. But against the run of play, Fleet opened the scoring on 12 minutes. Bricknell fired a low shot across the Sutton goal that eventually came out to Cook and his ball back in was headed home by Bricknell from an angle.
Fleet carved out a few further chances, Palmer’s free-kick just evading Michael Thalassitis on 27 minutes and then Lorraine pumped a long ball out to Cook who broke away from the Sutton defence and in what was almost a carbon copy of his goal against Whitehawk, only the finishing was lacking as he fired a curling shot just over.
And two minutes before half-time, Sutton should have equalised. A good move that saw the visitors pass it across the field ended with Damien Scannell lobbing in a cross that Charlie Clough blasted over from 10 yards with just Edwards to beat.
With the rain and swirling wind getting worse during the break, the second-half struggled to get going and it was a quarter of an hour before either side created anything of note. It was Sutton who showed first and it was another glaring miss that probably cost them the game. Good approach play saw Sawyer play in Binns and his low delivery to Dean Sinclair was somehow fired wide of the post with Edwards diving the other way.
Sure enough, that miss cost the visitors on 62 minutes when Bricknell was put through on goal by Thalassitis and with the Sutton defence flat-footed he calmly advanced and slid a shot from outside the box beneath the advancing Tom Lovelock.
Minutes later an Osborn-Bricknell-Thalassitis combination saw the latter smack a vicious shot on the volley from 20 yards out, but what it had in power, it lacked in accuracy and it bent wide of the post. And Fleet almost made it 3-0 in spectacular fashion when Cook belted a free-kick from 30 yards that smashed against the crossbar with Lovelock stranded on his six-yard box.
With the second goal having killed off Sutton’s challenge – and the tenacious Corcoran and Rance in charge in midfield – Fleet never looked likely to surrender their two-goal lead and a flurry of substitutions failed to alter the scoreline, giving the home side the three points they needed and the club record they cherished.
TEAM: Edwards, Sessegnon, Palmer, Corcoran, Lorraine, Sankofa, Osborn, Rance, Thalassitis (May 78), Bricknell (Long 87), Cook (Phipp 90). Subs not used: Hall, Howe