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Ebbsfleet United 2 Sutton United 0

Billy Bricknell
Billy Bricknell

Billy Bricknell scored twice as Ebbsfleet beat promotion rivals Sutton to chalk up a club record ninth straight win on Saturday.

Rain and wind battered Stonebridge Road all afternoon but the Fleet overcame the conditions - and a good U's side - to move within three points of second-placed Eastleigh in Skrill South.

The visitors were left to rue two glaring misses, with Bricknell's composure in front of goal proving the difference as Ebbsfleet kept their magnificent run going.

Illness ruled out Daryl McMahon for the home side, which meant a change in midfield. Fleet manager Steve Brown chose to draft in Michael Corcoran, with Stacy Long and Tom Phipp left on the bench.

Sutton were positive from the first whistle and when they moved the ball quickly from left to right, Lee Sawyer fired a shot just wide.

Swirling wind made life difficult for both teams (Pic: Andy Payton)
Swirling wind made life difficult for both teams (Pic: Andy Payton)

The wind was causing havoc and Sutton keeper Tom Lovelock saw an attempted clearance swirl high in the air and blow back towards him. The ball reached Anthony Cook, who planted a shot into Lovelock's midriff.

With 12 minutes gone, the Fleet went in front. Bricknell's persistence created the goal, the striker chasing a lost cause down the right and working an opening. Bricknell's cross from the right wasn't converted but he stayed in the middle and was on hand to head Cook's return ball into the far corner.

However, going a goal down only seemed to spur Sutton on. Dean Sinclair had a low shot saved by Preston Edwards as the U's sought to out-pass the home side.

Aiden Palmer fizzed a free-kick just wide of the far post at the other end and Cook then led a rapid counter-attack before shooting over.

As the conditions worsened, Sutton missed a golden opportunity to equalise. Damian Scannell turned the ball across the box and defender Charlie Clough, in an advanced position, blazed wildly wide with the goal gaping.

Michael Corcoran, right, tries to hold off his man (Pic: Andy Payton)
Michael Corcoran, right, tries to hold off his man (Pic: Andy Payton)

Play became attritional after half-time but Sutton should have been level on the hour mark. Dale Binns' low cross from the right looked certain to be turned in by Sinclair, but somehow he shot wide.

And that miss was punished emphatically just two minutes later. A simple pass split the Sutton centre-halves and Bricknell ran clear, sliding the ball beyond Lovelock to the delight of the home fans behind the goal.

Ebbsfleet could smell a third goal now and they almost got it when Cook crashed a free-kick squarely against the crossbar from all of 30 yards.

In the time that remained, full-back Sam Rents wafted a long-shot well wide and Craig Dundas flicked a free header wide of the far post. That summed up Sutton's day and it was the cue for Ebbsfleet's record breakers to start the celebrations.

Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Sessegnon, Lorraine, Sankofa, Palmer, Osborn, Corcoran, Rance, Cook (Phipp 90mins), Thalassitis (May 78mins), Bricknell (Long 87mins). Subs not used: Howe, Hall.

Sutton: Lovelock, Nelson, Rents, Fuseini, Downer, Clough, Sawyer (Haysman 70mins), Sinclair (Williams 64mins), Dundas, Scannell (Telfer 77mins), Binns. Sub not used: Riviere.

Attendance: 774.

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