EBBSFLEET suffered a third consecutive defeat as they were knocked out of the FA Trophy third round at Havant & Waterlooville.
In a hard-fought match in which both side’s style of play was hampered by a heavy pitch, Nigel Atangana’s 61st minute goal proved to be the winner, although Ebbsfleet striker Billy Bricknell controversially had a late goal ruled out.
Steve Brown made three changes to the side which lost to Bromley on New Year’s Day, with Michael Corcoran, Ben May and Joe Howe being replaced by Daryl McMahon, Michael Thalassitis and Michael West, making his second debut for the club, respectively.
Hawks manager Lee Bradbury fielded a 4-4-2 formation, with the pace and trickery of striker Sahr Kabba and winger Christian Nanetti a constant problem for the visiting defence.
The match got off to a promising start with a McMahon free-kick just evading the head of Paul Lorraine and bouncing past the post, while Kabba had a shot saved by Preston Edwards at the other end.
Nanetti then saw a curling free-kick fly just wide of the goal before the Fleet’s best chance of the opening stages fell to West after being played through on goal by Bricknell.
However, he placed his shot inches past the post when under pressure from a home defender and Havant survived the scare.
Hawks keeper Scott Bevan did well to tip a long range Dean Rance strike wide and then Fleet defender Chris Sessegnon cleared Kabba’s close range shot off the line.
The final chance of the half fell to Antony Cook who saw his powerful shot from the edge of the area superbly tipped onto the post by Bevan.
After an entertaining opening period, the second half was a tenser affair as both sides struggled to get to grips with a pitch which was deteriorating rapidly.
It took until just past the hour for the first chance of the half to materialise and with it also came the only goal of the game.
Nanetti swung in a low corner which was met by Atangana at the near post and his volley flew through a crowd of players into the back of the net.
Fleet then enjoyed large amounts of possession, but lacked the creative spark needed to break the resilient hosts down.
The best chance for an equaliser came on 78 minutes when a quick McMahon free-kick caught the defence unawares and played Bricknell through on goal.
He finished emphatically into the net, only to see the linesman flagging on the near side for offside.
Havant then nearly doubled their lead but a fantastic sliding block from Dean Rance prevented Kabba scoring from close range.
Ebbsfleet continued to dominate possession in the final stages but struggled to create many chances.
Aiden Palmer’s 20-yard free-kick flew just over the bar, but Havant held on and were able to celebrate the fact they are now just two rounds from a Wembley final.
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Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Sessegnon, Sankofa, Lorraine, Palmer, West (Osborn 75), McMahon, Rance, Cook, Thalassitis (May 62), Bricknell. Subs not used: Hall, Howe, Corcoran. Att: 709.