Ebbsfleet United 3 Whitehawk 1
Ebbsfleet winger Anthony Cook gets another cross in (Pic: Andy Payton)
Anthony Cook scored one goal and set up two as Ebbsfleet came from behind to beat Whitehawk 3-1 in Skrill South.
The winger was the difference on a day when the Fleet moved to within three points of second-placed Eastleigh and extended their unbeaten run at Stonebridge Road to 11 matches.
Fleet boss Steve Brown made two changes to his team from the 3-0 FA Trophy win over Gloucester a week earlier. In came Dean Rance and Alex Osborn, replacing Michael Corcoran and Stacy Long in midfield.
Ben May had been expected to miss the game with a neck injury, but the striker was fit enough for a place among the substitutes.
A piece of quick thinking presented Ebbsfleet with their first chance. Cook's throw-in bypassed two Hawks defenders and sent Billy Bricknell bearing down on goal, but goalkeeper Dillon Phillips was equal to his strike.
However, it was the visitors who took the lead on 12 minutes. Ebbsfleet failed to clear their lines and full-back Tom Cadmore arrowed a terrific swerving strike into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Straight from the restart, the Fleet had a chance to hit back, but Cook's snapshot was straight at Phillips.
But they didn't have to wait much longer for the equaliser. Cook was racing away down the Fleet left when he was cynically body-checked by former Gillingham defender Matt Lawrence. It was a nasty foul but justice was done when Cook's deep free-kick was turned goalwards by Alex Osborn, with Billy Bricknell claiming the final touch as the ball entered the net - although Whitehawk left-back Lee Hills looked to have turned it into his own goal.
Alex Osborn (centre) gets the crucial touch for Ebbsfleet's equaliser
The physical approach from the visitors continued and their foul count began to soar, but the Fleet couldn't turn their territorial advantage into a second goal before the interval.
Rance wafted a long-range shot well wide at the start of the second half but with 54 minutes on the clock, Ebbsfleet hit the front.
A superb piece of skill from Cook allowed the winger to skip away from Hills and he whipped in a low cross which Thalassitis swept inside the far post.
Cook was fast becoming unplayable.
And his tireless backtracking and inventive forward play was finally rewarded with a goal of his own, just four minutes after the Fleet's second. Cook cut in from the left, beating two defenders, and unloaded with a ferocious shot which fairly whistled past Phillips.
Whitehawk looked dispirited now and Osborn's cross from the right was met by Bricknell, who fired wide at the near post.
Cook's step-overs won another free-kick on the left-hand side of the Hawks box but the winger's effort was wild and sailed high over the bar to the exasperation of Brown and his coaching staff.
With the game won, Ebbsfleet took their foot off the pedal in the closing stages and the Hawks saw more of the ball, but they didn't trouble Edwards.
Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Sessegnon, Lorraine, Sankofa, Palmer, Osborn (Corcoran 77mins), McMahon, Rance, Cook, Thalassitis (Long 85mins), Bricknell. Subs not used: Howe, Hall, May.
Whitehawk: Phillips, Cadmore, Hills, Richards, Lawrence, El-Abd, Losasso, Mills, Parsons, J Fraser (Gargan 57mins), T Fraser (Robinson 71mins). Subs not used: Da Silva, Freeman.
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