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Green party - Fleet find Forest to their taste in four-goal thumping

PUBLISHED: 16:55 11 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:06 23 August 2010

EBBSFLEET United surged to within four points of league leaders Mansfield Town with a convincing victory over Forest Green Rovers at the New Lawn, writes Charles Webster. Their second away win of the season began in explosive fashion with Neil Barrett ri

EBBSFLEET United surged to within four points of league leaders Mansfield Town with a convincing victory over Forest Green Rovers at the New Lawn, writes Charles Webster.

Their second away win of the season began in explosive fashion with Neil Barrett rifling past keeper Ryan Robinson from a Michael Gash pass after only two minutes.

Ebbsfleet celebrations had barely subsided when Rovers launched a long ball downfield and the industrious Andy Mangan played in Adriano Rigoglioso to screw past Lance Cronin, who later admitted he should have come off his line to avert the danger.

Rigoglioso, one of several ex-Morecambe players in Jim Harvey's squad, should have put the Green ahead on half an hour, but a top-drawer, one-handed save by Cronin kept his effort out.

Rovers stuck to a predictable script, following the strategy of last season when two Stuart Fleetwood goals sank the Fleet at Stonebridge Road. The tactic was simple - hoof forward from the back four for a lone striker to chase and hope the midfield support quickly enough to create chances. With Fleetwood flown to Charlton's nest at The Valley, it was left to Mangan to run the hard yards and the Fleet found it hard to contain their direct style.

With their midfield bypassed for most of the first half, the Fleet's creative engine room largely spent their time watching a flying ball sailing over their heads. It took the fast-improving Luke Moore to bring Rovers - and the ball - down to earth. With half-time fast approaching, Moore picked up possession on the right wing and turned Darren Jones before closing in on Robinson and ripping a diagonal shot across the keeper and into the net.

It was Moore's fifth strike of the season and any more like that and he could follow John Akinde with a big-money move up the football pyramid. The timing of his effort - after 42 minutes - had a delicious irony for the Fleet as they had recently conceded a number of goals as half and full-time were just merely seconds away.

A goal to the good at the break, Liam Daish replaced George Purcell with Ricky Shakes and their position improved two minutes later when Mangan limped away from the proceedings to be replaced by the ineffective Les Afful.

Rovers' route one gameplan went off with Mangan and their chance of winning evaporated 19 minutes later when a slick move involving Jamie Hand and Barrett resulted in Gash cracking home his second for the club with a belting drive from close range.

It was a fitting finale for a good shift by the hard-working Gash and, on 83 minutes, he went off to a standing ovation from 97 travelling Fleet fans to be replaced by Kezie Ibe.

Ibe had been on the pitch for less than a minute before a lofted Hand pass served up an opening for him, which he joyously despatched at the far post.

Harvey, the former Morecambe boss, had already resigned himself to losing this encounter by the time Kaid Mohammed's drive struck Paul McCarthy's arm three minutes from the final whistle, thus earning a penalty.

It just wasn't Jim's day though and, when Mohammed took the spot kick and Cronin saved his effort, the jovial Ulsterman graciously accepted that his team had been beaten by the better side on the day.

Daish, on the other hand, was left to wonder how to keep winning without earning the dreaded Manager-of-the-Month plaudits.....

Ebbsfleet United: Cronin 7, Ricketts 7, McCarthy 8, Charles 8, Opinel 7, Long 6 (Stone 61), Hand 8, Barrett 8, Purcell 6 (Shakes 45, 7), Gash 8 (Ibe 83), Moore 8. Subs not used: Mott, Pooley. Att: 1,272.

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