Published: 17:10, 03 February 2018
Ebbsfleet were brushed aside by promotion-chasing Tranmere at a freezing cold Prenton Park, extending their poor away form in the league to one win in nine, on Saturday.
First half goals from Rovers’ potent strike force Andy Cook and James Norwood were added to by a second Norwood strike after the break as the hosts’ claimed an eighth straight home win.
Daryl McMahon made two changes to the side that lost 3-0 at home to Boreham Wood last Saturday, with Dean Rance and Myles Weston replacing Jack Powell and Andy Drury in midfield. Rovers were unchanged.
The game was very messy during the opening exchanges, with Fleet putting in a number of heavy challenges that left the home players and fans distinctly unimpressed.
Unfortunately for Fleet the negative atmosphere didn’t last. On 17 minutes Cook controlled a long ball, gave himself a yard, and let fly from 25 yards, giving Nathan Ashmore no chance in goal.
The lead was almost doubled soon after when Josh Ginnelly flew down the right flank and cut the ball back for an unmarked Norwood, whose low shot was brilliantly tipped around the post by Ashmore. From the resulting corner Dean Rance cleared Ritchie Sutton’s header off the line, as the pressure on the visitors mounted.
Ashmore saved again from a clean-through Norwood, but Fleet’s goalie could do nothing about the forward’s next effort. Once more a long ball down field caught the defence cold, allowing Tranmere’s number 10 time to shift the ball onto his left foot, before burying a low effort into the bottom corner.
A mini rally just before the break gave the away side some hope for the second half as Myles Weston forced Rhys Taylor into a flying save, and Danny Kedwell rippled the side-netting from distance.
Those hopes almost disappeared within five minutes of the restart, but Ashmore was alert to repel Norwood’s shot. The wasp-like Norwood wasn’t done, however, returning to finish the game off on 64 minutes. Cook expertly nodded down into his path, and Tranmere’s joint top scorer did the rest for his 14th of the season.
Fleet almost grabbed an undeserved consolation when Kedwell got away from his marker and crossed for Bradley Bubb, but the sub’s legs weren’t quite long enough.
At the other end, Ashmore’s pins came in handy, as the keeper stayed alert right to the death, saving at close range from Jeff Hughes in stoppage time.
Tranmere: Taylor, Ridehalgh, McNulty, Sutton, Clarke, Ginnelly (Tollitt 74mins), Harris, Norburn (Hughes 74mins), Jennings, Norwood (Mangan 85mins), Cook. Subs not used: Pilling, Gumbs.
Ebbsfleet: Ashmore, McCoy, Winfield, Bush, Magri, Wilson, Rance, Payne, Weston, Coulson (Bubb 60mins), Kedwell. Subs not used: Jordan, Drury, Powell, Connors.
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