Ebbsfleet United moved into the semi-finals of the 125th Kent Senior Cup with a victory over Southeast Counties League side Tunbridge Wells, which saw full-back Aiden Palmer score his third goal in as many games.
Steve Brown named a strong Fleet line-up though shook things up enough to give his squad a good runout, opting to start with Brandon Hall in goal, the recently injured Joe Howe at right back, Grant Basey in the centre of defence and Stacy Long and Michael Corcoran in midfield.
The home side, Wembley finalists in the FA Vase last season, began well and weren’t afraid to shoot from distance on a bitterly cold evening at Culverden Stadium. But Fleet soon established a foothold and were themselves close to opening the scoring but were denied by the width of a post.
But in the final minute of the first half, man of the moment Palmer – who just minutes before had missed a fine opportunity with the goal at his mercy – fired his side in front, Alex Osborn the provider.
Fleet upped their possession stats considerably in the second half and Osborn made it 2-0 within five minutes of the restart, pouncing on a loose ball after Billy Bricknell’s shot had been parried by the home goalkeeper.
And Bricknell got his reward for that assist on 69 minutes, finding himself on the end of Long’s lofted ball into the box and he sent a shot past goalkeeper Czanner. The home side grabbed a late consolation, Hooley Cornell firing past Hall with five minutes left, but Fleet remained in control to the final whistle.
Steve Brown is now 90 minutes away from his first final little more than five months into the job – with Bromley, Whitstable Town and either Dartford or Dover standing in the way of a cup final at Priestfield Stadium.
TEAM: Hall, Howe, Palmer, Corcoran, Sankofa, Basey, Osborn, Long, Thalassitis, Bricknell, McMahon.