TOM Elliott’s hat-trick halted Ebbsfleet’s unbeaten run in the league last night as they were beaten at home by Liam Daish’s old club Cambridge United.
Seemingly not learning from Saturday’s slow start, incredibly Ebbsfleet again found themselves a goal down just moments after the game had kicked off.
A long pass from the back caught the Fleet defence out and left it a straight race for speed between Phil Walsh and Elliott. Elliott always looked favourite and smashed a shot with his left foot past a helpless Preston Edwards with a barely minute on the clock.
Ebbsfleet eventually steadied themselves and grabbed an equaliser after a well-worked, short corner by Lanre Azeez and Ashley Carew just before 20 minutes.
Carew’s pass found Tom Phipp whose skewed strike fortunately landed at Liam Enver-Marum’s feet and the striker obliged, tucking into the bottom corner from six yards.
It looked as if their hard work might be in vain as, almost straight from the restart, another long ball put Andy Pugh through one-on-one.
However, his less than prolific finish allowed Edwards to comfortably tip over.
Ebbsfleet then took control and had all the play, but credit to the away side because they restricted Daish’s team to half chances, meaning the sides went in level at the break.
Within five minutes of the second half Craig Stone played in a wonderful cross and Matt Godden leapt well to give Fleet the lead.
The Cambridge keeper couldn’t keep the headed effort out as it squirmed past him into the bottom left corner.
Given the manner of the performance before half-time and at the beginning of the second half, as well as their unbeaten run in the league, the turn around which ensued was quite remarkable.
On 65 minutes Kevin Roberts went past Godden too easily and his whipped cross was powerfully headed into the top corner by Elliott.
Seconds after the restart Walsh found himself in a race again.
The result was a three-way collision between him, Edwards and away substitute Sam Smith, which resulted in the ball falling kindly for Smith who passed it into the open goal to make it 3-2 to Cambridge.
There was a strong feeling, particularly from the home crowd, that Walsh was fouled in the build up, but the referee gave nothing.
Elliot completed his hat-trick on 75 minutes with the simplest of headers at the back post. Nobody picked him up and he obliged nodding in from the James Jennings’ cross.
Despite being 4-2 down, the Fleet were thrown a lifeline as Pugh, who could have had no complaints, was sent off for a second bookable offence after bringing down Joe Howe with 10 minutes to go.
Nevertheless Enver-Marum could not convert either of his late chances, preventing Ebbsfleet from taking anything from the game.
Daish, who cut an angry and frustrated figure from the moment Cambridge’s disputed third goal went in, wasn’t available for comment at the final whistle, as he quickly exited down the tunnel.
Ebbsfleet play next on Saturday away against Mansfield Town.
Follow us on Twitter @NewsShopperSprt