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Ebbsfleet United boss Garry Hill on the 1-0 defeat to Solihull Moors

By Steve Tervet

Garry Hill chose his words carefully when asked to comment on the bust-up between Ebbsfleet and Solihull Moors.

Four red cards were shown in stoppage-time at Stonebridge Road after players became involved in a mass brawl.

Two of those were for separate incidents during a chaotic climax to the game which Solihull won 1-0.

Referee Peter Gibbons showed four red cards in stoppage-time Picture: Andy Jones
Referee Peter Gibbons showed four red cards in stoppage-time Picture: Andy Jones

Hill was unhappy with referee Peter Gibbons and also questioned the visitors' tactics.

He said: "The way the game started and the way it continued up to half-time, it hasn’t surprised me that somebody was going to get sent off.

"I’m picking my words carefully. I used to get a Christmas card every year from the FA because I used to give them so much money but I’m getting a little bit older and wiser now.

"You have good days at the office and bad days at the office and I think there could have been a little bit of common sense at times, whether you look at both sides on the pitch or the referee with his assistants.

"When things started getting lively, I was surprised the referee didn’t blow his whistle and pull the captains of both teams to the side and have a chat with them.

"When the cards started coming out, momentum was running with him. We’ve seen events where it’s a lot to take in.

"It is disappointing when you’re losing players because we’ve got a very small squad as everybody knows. It doesn’t reflect well on the club.

Ebbsfleet manager Garry Hill Picture: Andy Jones
Ebbsfleet manager Garry Hill Picture: Andy Jones

"As a manager, you look at yourself sometimes and go ‘I’ve had a bad day today, I could have picked a better team, I could have handled situations better while the game goes on’ and I think if people are honest with themselves, the referee will probably say exactly the same thing as what I’ve just said about his game today."

The controversy peaked when it was 10-a-side and Mr Gibbons waved away Fleet's penalty appeals for what looked a clear foul on Dean Rance.

To rub salt in the wound, he showed Rance a second yellow card for simulation.

Hill said: "Was it a penalty? From where I was, yes, but the referee’s nearer. To find Dean Rance diving there, I find it strange if he did but the referee’s made his decision.

"When he sent him off, I think that summed it up. If we were going to get a break, I thought that might be it there but it’s not to be.

"I have no problem with the result. I didn’t think we did enough and I don’t think, being fair, we were allowed to do enough.

"Their strength is their physical presence but there were things that went on in the game which didn’t suit us where it probably suited them a little bit more. The game kept stopping and starting so we couldn’t get any rhythm or momentum going.

"Nathan Ashmore made two or three great saves. Even though their goalkeeper had a problem in the first five minutes, we didn’t work him enough. I don’t remember him really having a shot to save. They made four or five great blocks in the second half as defenders and all credit to them.

"We all play football different ways. I wouldn’t want my team playing football the way they play football.

"If we played football the way they play football, we’d have 300 average down here, not 1,500.

"But that’s effective for them and they get results. Tim Flowers has done a great job and they play to their strength.

"They’ve got the result and they deservedly won the game over the 90 minutes."

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