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Ebbsfleet United 2 Eastbourne Borough 0

By Steve Tervet
Ben May tries to get away from Ian Simpemba Picture: Andy Payton
Ben May tries to get away from Ian Simpemba Picture: Andy Payton

Two headed goals from Ben May fired Ebbsfleet into the FA Cup fourth qualifying round at the expense of Skrill South rivals Eastbourne Borough.

The former Dover striker netted twice in the space of 11 first-half minutes to earn the Fleet their fifth straight win and £7,500 prize money.

Ebbsfleet's starting line-up bore only one change from their 3-1 win over league leaders Eastleigh in midweek. Shane Huke, who had been ill during the week, dropped to the bench and Osei Sankoka took his place in central defence.

The visitors, who beat Farnborough 5-2 on Tuesday night, named an unchanged team.

And it was Eastbourne who made the brighter start. Darren Lok had already seen one effort blocked when he cut in from the left wing and flashed a shot across the face of goal.

But the Fleet quickly started to get on top, with May at the centre of their most promising moments.

The big centre-forward brought down a high ball and hooked it over his shoulder, sending Billy Bricknell racing through on goal. Bricknell steadied himself but his shot was straight at Eastbourne keeper Craig Ross, who stood up well to make the save.

Steve Brown and Preston Edwards Picture: Andy Payton
Steve Brown and Preston Edwards Picture: Andy Payton

Ross made an even better stop moments later, clawing Anthony Cook's goalbound free-kick behind. But he was powerless to act when Cook swung over the resulting corner and May rose head and shoulders above everyone else to power a header into the top corner.

Ebbsfleet skipper Paul Lorraine climbed well to get his head on a Daryl McMahon free-kick from the right, but his effort was misdirected and Eastbourne cleared.

But they clearly hadn't learnt from the opener. May was allowed to run onto Cook's right-wing delivery and his header crashed into the net to make it 2-0 on 28 minutes.

May should have completed a hat-trick moments after the restart but instead he submitted a contender for miss of the season. Incisive build-up involving Stacy Long - on for the injured McMahon - and Alex Osborn laid the chance on a plate for May but he hit the crossbar from inside the six-yard box with the goal at his mercy.

As the tempo dropped, the visitors started to gain a foothold.

The ball dropped to substitute Elliott Levy on the edge of the box but his low shot was straight into the gloves of Preston Edwards.

Ebbsfleet now looked less of an attacking threat and when Cook did find himself in a good position on the corner of the box, Ross easily gathered his tame looping effort.

The visitors had all the territory in the closing stages and pumped plenty of set-pieces into the Fleet box.

And they almost got themselves back in the tie when Aiden Palmer allowed the ball to fall to Gary Hart, but his snapshot was superbly saved by Edwards at the near post.

The Fleet return to Skrill South action next Saturday when they host Gosport Borough.

Ebbsfleet: Edwards; Howe, Lorraine, Sankofa, Palmer; McMahon (Long 50mins), Rance (Corcoran 90mins); Osborn, Bricknell (Sessegnon 73mins), Cook; May. Subs not used: Huke, Hall, Phipp, Green.

Eastbourne: Ross, Tallack, Gorman, Aldred (Garrod 80mins), Simpemba, Watts, Hart, Raymond (Cole 75mins), Lok, Johnson, Shephard (Levy 46mins). Subs not used: Stinson, Rowe, Adebayo, Szatranski.

Attendance: 901.

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