Ebbsfleet 1-3 Town
The Town bounced back from Saturday’s disappointment to earn their three successive away victory with a fine win at Ebbsfleet.
The Hatters were two goals up at half-time thanks to goals from Stuart Fleetwood and Scott Rendell in a nine-minute spell.
Fleetwood bagged his second and the Town’s third on 73 minutes when he finished a counter-attack taking a pass from Andre Gray.
Ebbsfleet got a consolation four minutes from time but the Hatters avoided a repeat of last season’s visit to Kenilworth Road to maintain their 100 per cent record away from Kenilworth Road.
Paul Buckle made three changes to the side that lost at home to AFC Telford on Monday. He was forced into one change at centre half with Ronnie Henry suspended following his red card against the Bucks Dean Beckwith came in for his first league start for almost a year. There were starts for Gray and Greg Taylor which meant Jake Howells was pushed into midfield and Adam Watkins and Yaser Kasim dropped to the bench.
It was hung-ho tactics from the boss to field four strikers and two of those combined in the second minute to force the first chance when a lovely cross-field pass from Alex Lawless sent Fleetwood haring into the box but his low pass was flicked wide at the near post by Scott Rendell.
However, as the Town started on the front foot they took the lead in the 10th minute with all four strikers involved. Gray broke into the right-hand channel and hammered a shot at goal that was blocked into the path of Lawless. The right-back swung in an inch-perfect cross to Rendell eight yards and he coolly and unselfishly squared to Fleetwood and he did the rest from six yards for his fifth goal of the season.
With their tails up the Town pushed looking for a quick-fire double but Fleetwood was off target with a volley from distance after good work from Gray.
But it didn’t take the Hatters long to get the second when Rendell got his first goal for the club on 19 minutes. Beckwith did well to clear his lines and loft a pass down-field to Gray. He held the ball up well and fed Fleetwood who burst into the box. It looked as though the striker was set to smash home his second but instead more unselfish play saw the striker tee-up Rendell who passed the ball home from two yards.
Hurt, back came Ebbsfleet and the hosts thought they should have had a penalty when Moses Ashikodi went down in the 18-yard box under pressure from Lathaniel Rowe-Turner but referee Mike Bull waved away the Fleet appeals.
Incensed by that the hosts came close to making it 2-1 with three chances in the space of a minute on 27 when Mark Tyler pawed over Tom Phipps missile of a free-kick from a central position. Rowe-Turner then had to clear underneath his own crossbar from the resultant corner before Phil Walsh headed wide from the cross that followed.
Ebbsfleet were enjoying a decent spell but the Town almost caught them cold on the break when a fine first-time pass from Rendell sent Gray hurtling away but his cross looking for Rendell in the six yard box was cleared.
After no changes at the break the Town came close to forcing a third when Gray stormed into the box at pace but saw his pass looking for Rendell cut-out by Phil Walsh with the striker poised for a tap-in.
On 50 minutes a last-ditch tackle from Beckwith prevented Lanre Azeez from making it 2-1 but the Town almost made it 3-0 moments later when both Shaw and Gray came close with chances from close range.
Four minutes later Preston Edwards, the home goalkeeper, made a fine save to prevent Fleetwood making it 3-0. Lawless pinged a wonderful cross-field pass to the striker but his effort was tipped around the post by a full-stretch save.
Ashikodi swept a firm effort wide on 59 minutes as Ebbsfleet continued to search for a way back into the game but the Town were holding firm with Tyler able to pluck out of the air the constant stream of high balls pumped high in the penalty area.
Liam Enver-Marum should have made it 2-1 on 69 minutes but mis-kicked with the goal gaping and the Town made them pay on 73 minutes.
Howells seizes on a loose ball in the centre of midfield and got Gray on his bike down the right flank. He sped clear, looked up and picked out Fleetwood who made no mistake with a confident first-time finish.
Ebbsfleet now had a mountain to climb but almost reduced arrears a minute later when Tom Phipp curled a free-kick from the edge of the box inches wide of the target.
Gray, a constant menace to the home defence almost picked out Rendell for a fourth on 76 minutes before doing even better a minute later to burst into the box going the blind side of his marker.
That was his last action as Buckle sent on Jake Woolley for the last 10 minutes but Ebbsfleet almost made it 3-1 as the Town had Tyler to thank for a fantastic point-blank save to keep out Ashikodi’s close range header.
Ebbsfleet did, however, get one back with four minutes left when substitute Elder headed past Tyler from close range following Michael Stone’s right-wing cross.
The hosts continued to rally but the Hatters almost made it 4-1 when Woolley was denied a first senior goal by a good save from Edwards after Fleetwood’s cut-back in the first minute of stoppage time.
Substitute Watkins saw his left-foot effort from distance was kept out by Edwards before Fleetwood fired over with the last chance but it mattered not and the Hatters were left to celebrate another win on the road.