By Steve Tervet
Ebbsfleet boosted their Blue Square Bet Premier survival hopes with a priceless win over Southport on Saturday.
The Fleet tore into their visitors from the first whistle, scoring three goals inside the first 14 minutes and adding a fourth before the half-hour mark. Southport pulled a goal back early in the second period but they never looked like salvaging anything from the wreckage.
Liam Daish’s starting line-up featured two changes from the Fleet team which started Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat at Alfreton. Neil Barrett returned after illness and Stefan Payne started for the first time since injuring his foot at Grimsby on February 26. Danny Hattersley made his Southport after signing on loan from Stockport earlier in the week.
The home side made the perfect start when they opened the scoring on six minutes. Payne’s persistence earned him a yard of space in the box and Liam Bellamy met his square pass with a thumping shot which flew into the bottom corner.
Great work by Joe Howe set up the second goal on 11 minutes. The Fleet left-back scrapped to win possession and he then delivered a cross which Payne headed powerfully into the net.
Just three minutes later, it was 3-0. Ashley Carew swept over a free-kick from the right and Nathan Elder connected with an effort which eventually found its way past Port keeper Tony McMillan.
At the other end, Chris Almond played in Shaun Whalley for Southport but Bellamy denied him with a superb sliding tackle just as he was about to pull the trigger.
Ebbsfleet’s afternoon got even better on 28 minutes. Carew’s right-wing corner was headed goalwards by Elder and Matt Godden (pictured) bundled the ball home for his first goal since rejoining the club on loan from Scunthorpe.
Home goalkeeper Preston Edwards was finally called into action on the stroke of half-time when he got down low to keep out Sean Clancy’s well-struck effort.
The visitors were sent out early for the second half and they looked like a different side when play restarted. Sean Clancy had already thumped a shot against the post by the time Almond drilled a 20-yard effort beyond the reach of Edwards. Shaun Whalley then sent a cross fizzing through the six-yard box, with neither attackers of defenders able to get a touch.
However, the Fleet stemmed the tide and they began to assert themselves again. The excellent Payne played in Godden on the counter-attack and his shot flashed across the face of goal. Carew then drove a shot past the post as the men in red shirts looked to extend their advantage.
Almond should have doubled his tally with a low shot which beat Edwards but flashed just wide of the far post. Whalley went even closer moments later when he unloaded with a fierce shot from 25 yards. The ball flew past Edwards and struck the underside of the crossbar, bouncing down and away to safety.
In the end, though, Daish’s side closed out the game with relative ease. They visit Cambridge United on Tuesday.
Ebbsfleet: Edwards; Phipp, Lorraine, Walsh, Howe; Payne (Azeez 83mins), Carew, Barrett, Bellamy; Elder, Godden (Enver-Marum 77mins). Subs not used: Blake, Menz, Williams. Attendance: 603.