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Mark-ed card - Ricketts sees red as Fleet downed

PUBLISHED: 15:43 07 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:14 23 August 2010

MARK Ricketts was sent off as 10-man Ebbsfleet United crashed to their fifth successive defeat in the Blue Square Premier at Burton on Saturday, writes Charles Webster. The Fleet defender received his marching orders in the last minute of time added-on a

MARK Ricketts was sent off as 10-man Ebbsfleet United crashed to their fifth successive defeat in the Blue Square Premier at Burton on Saturday, writes Charles Webster.

The Fleet defender received his marching orders in the last minute of time added-on at the end of the second half after tangling with substitute Shaun Harrad.

Cheshire referee Dean Mohareb stunned Fleet boss Liam Daish and the side's travelling supporters when he flashed a straight red card at Ricketts, who brought down Harrad with a clumsy challenge close to the touchline, 40 yards from goal with two covering defenders behind him.

It was certainly a free kick, possibly a booking, but never a dismissal in the 94th minute of the game.

Ricketts left the pitch shaking his head, leaving Daish to ponder how to turn his side's league fortunes around after five consecutive capitulations.

It was the final nail in the Fleet's coffin in a match in which they were behind from a third-minute goal, which came from an unlikely source; Left-back Aaron Webster arriving unmarked at the far post to easily nod home a cross by Keith Gilroy, who had played a short corner with Greg Pearson.

Blustery conditions made life difficult for both teams, but - for some bizarre reason - they both chose to spend most of the next hour lumping the ball as high and as far as possible into opposition territory.

Craig Stone tried his luck with a 20-yard drive on 17 minutes and the imperious Darius Charles offered a shot just before the break, although veteran keeper Kevin Poole was barely troubled by either.

After a sleepy opening to the first half, the Fleet were caught cold after only 10 minutes of the second starting.

Jon Newby raced into the penalty area and cut a cross back from the byeline. Paris Simmons, making his debut on loan from Derby County, volleyed onto the crossbar, but Gilroy followed up to plant the ball into the back of the net.

Within four minutes, the Fleet were back in it; Michael Gash doing brilliantly to twist and turn in the area before ripping off an attempt that was too hot for Poole to hold, allowing Kezie Ibe to nip in and bundle home.

The previous week, Ebbsfleet came back from 2-0 down at Woking to force an FA Cup replay, yet there was to be no fairytale ending at the Pirelli Stadium.

Missing the industry and energy of the injured Luke Moore, the Fleet mustered enough commitment to force an equaliser, even though it never came.

A foul on Gash in the Burton area led to convincing penalty claims. Match official Mohareb duly denied the appeals for a spot-kick though and gave Albion a free kick.

Almost immediately, the Brewers broke downfield and won a corner, which Gilroy whipped across to the back post where Webster could not believe his luck to be left unmarked once again, gifting him a free header to score his second.

Another slow start cost the Fleet dearly and there is much work to be done on the training ground to stop a bad run from becoming the beginning of a relegation dogfight.

Ebbsfleet United: Cronin 7, Ricketts 7, Smith 7 (Hand 88), Charles 8, Opinel 7, Shakes 6, Stone 7, Barrett 7, Long 7 (Purcell 61, 6), Ibe 7 (Bowes 78), Gash 7. Subs not used: French, Pooley. Att: 1,584.

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