Ebbsfleet United took another giant stride towards the play-off this afternoon and relegated St Albans City in the process with a win that was something of a formality.
Liam Daish lost Tom Phipp to injury while Jacob Erskine was on the bench, meaning recalls for Calum Willock and Michael West, while the visitors included Tony Battersby in their starting line-up, a man who once played less than half an hour in a red shirt before declaring himself unfit for football ever again! In bright sunshine, the visitors almost caught the Fleet on the hop inside the first minute when Preston Edwards was forced to divert Peter Smith’s free kick out for a corner.
But that minor scare aside, Fleet reigned supreme as they carved their way down the St Albans left with ease, Ricky Shakes and Craig Stone providing plentiful ammunition into the middle of the box. On 7 minutes West crossed for Willock eight yards out but he couldn’t get a shot away. Then Ram Marwa and Ricky Shakes combined to tee up West at the far post but with the goal at his mercy he curled a shot wide.
The home side looked likely to score at every foray forward and Willock’s turn and shot inside the box was inches from its target. The Fleet top scorer then turned supplier as he controlled a long kick forward and laid it off for Carew who powered into space in the penalty area but dragged his shot wide.
Giannoulis Fakinos had a shot blocked by his own teammates before his side finally unlocked the shaky-looking St Albans defence on 25 minutes. The move was simplicity itself, Clint Easton floating in a well-directed long ball and Willock, who had plenty of room to manouevre throughout the opening 45 minutes, rose high to head past Aidan Kelly in the Saints’ goal.
West could have made it 2-0 a minute later but shot wide though it mattered little as the Fleet did indeed go further ahead on the half-hour mark. Fakinos was impeded as he advanced wide right and from Carew’s mid-height free-kick, Kelly could only divert it into an unmarked Marwa’s path and the ex-St Albans midfielder, after initially seeming surprised to be in that position, smashed the ball into an unguarded net.
Kelly then embarked on a one-man kamikaze mission as he twice dribbled the ball out of his goal past Willock and on both occasions only just cleared the Fleet striker’s outstretched boot. Willock then almost played Shakes in as he floated a ball past Kelly but it ran just that bit too speedily and rolled out.
St Albans were that much brighter in the second half as they played further upfield and showed far