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Fleet Trophy tilt hits buffers at Borough

PUBLISHED: 09:54 17 December 2009 | UPDATED: 11:19 23 August 2010

EBBSFLEET S dreams of a Wembley return were dashed at Stevenage s Broadhall Way, where a strike in each half eased the hosts into the FA Trophy second round, writes Charles Webster. Once again, manager Liam Daish was left to reflect on how his side had g

EBBSFLEET'S dreams of a Wembley return were dashed at Stevenage's Broadhall Way, where a strike in each half eased the hosts into the FA Trophy second round, writes Charles Webster.

Once again, manager Liam Daish was left to reflect on how his side had gifted the opposition goals in a game that was eminently winnable.

After showing a soft centre at Oxford the previous week, the Fleet were undone by a Borough side featuring two of their 2008 FA Trophy winners, Michael Bostwick and Stacy Long.

Bostwick has become a permanent fixture in Graham Westley's promotion-chasing team, while Long has found it hard to force his way into the starting XI since leaving Stonebridge Road last summer.

Often ignored and omitted, Long was given the nod by Westley and his performance reminded Fleet fans in the meagre crowd of 809 what a significant player he was while at Ebbsfleet.

Long's chance in the side came largely from a Borough injury crisis and several of their first string were missing, including towering defender Mark Roberts and former Fleet midfielder Andy Drury, recovering from a hernia operation.

Ebbsfleet's own preparations for this game were disrupted when Michael West picked up an ankle injury in the pre-match, on-field drills, allowing Ishmael Welsh into the starting line-up and Jamie Forshaw to join the substitutes bench.

Despite being derided by some home fans who have never embraced him, Long appeared to be at the heart of most of their attacking play and was involved in the opening goal on 14 minutes.

With Long standing over a free-kick some 25 yards from goal, the Fleet defence expected him to float the set piece to the far post.

But, the former Charlton youngster slipped the ball to his left, where Mitchell Cole was advancing unmarked.

Cole clipped his pass into the area and Chris Beardsley was able to pick his spot and leave the unprotected Lance Cronin exposed as he rifled home.

Ebbsfleet could have levelled in the 35th minute when a Welsh cross found Ricky Shakes close to goal.

But, instead of trying to beat keeper Chris Day with a close-range header, he cushioned the chance across the six-yard box hoping to find Gavin Heeroo, yet Borough defenders scrambled it away.

The Fleet contained Stevenage, without seriously troubling Day themselves.

However, as the hour approached, Long set up Cole for a good, long-range effort that Cronin tipped away.

Minutes later, the former Grays winger was at it again, although his shot was cleared off the line by Leon Crooks.

With 16 minutes to go, Westley brought on Yemi Odubade, a one-man box of tricks who scored Borough's goal in the Fleet's 2-1 league victory on December 1.

Odubade was soon stretching the Fleet defence and, with a minute remaining, he provided David Bridges with the opening to secure Boro's passage through to the second round.

Unmarked and more than 25 yards from goal, Bridges pulled the trigger, his shot rifled past Cronin and the Fleet's fate was sealed.

Ebbsfleet United: Cronin 7, Smith 7, Heeroo 6, Crooks 6, Holmes 6, Shakes 7 (Ginty 64), Welsh 6, Bailey 6, Vieira 6, Charles 7, Salmon 7. Subs not used: Lamprell, Wills, Forshaw, Pooley. Att: 809.

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