Ebbsfleet manager Steve Brown revealed he was disappointed with the fact his side did not sew the game up when in the ascendency before going on to lose 3-1 at Sutton.
The Fleet had the majority of the goal-scoring opportunities for the first hour, but only found the net once through a Daryl McMahon free-kick as Sutton keeper Jason Brown pulled off a string of top saves.
Sutton struck back in the final half an hour and emerged victorious thanks to a Jamie Taylor brace and Simon Downer’s individual effort, leaving Brown to ponder what changed in his side’s performance.
He said: “In truth, I thought it was a game we should have had sewn up on 60 minutes. We scored early in the second half but we’ve had Anthony Cook and Billy Bricknell with one-on-ones and the keeper made some good saves.
“We had a cast iron handball just before the goal we scored and they were all crucial moments.
“Is it bad luck we missed those chances, or good goalkeeping? Is it poor refereeing for the penalty?
“You can ask all those questions but my concern is that at 1-0 I think we thought we’d done enough and we seemed to sit back.
“We were trying to get messages out onto the pitch about keeping the line high and pressuring their backline, which we’d done brilliantly for 65 minutes.
“I’ve said before, when you dominate a game like we did today and you only turn that domination into one goal, you’re always leaving the door ajar.”
Brown added: “You give out the information, asking players to be brave, get the line-up and be confident but something happens subconsciously.
“Once they scored the equaliser, it’s difficult to change their mentality and it becomes about Sutton, who had been poor for 65 minutes, but then they looked like a different side and so did we.
“The difference being they took all of the chances that came their way today and we only took one of the six we had.”
The result leaves the Fleet fourth in the Conference South, five points clear of sixth-placed Havant & Waterlooville, although the can strengthen that gap when they visit in-form Concord Rangers tomorrow night.
But Brown refused to admit Saturday’s victory gives Sutton any advantage if the sides should go on to meet in the play-offs.
He said: “This is a tough place to come for any team but we beat them at our place 2-0 and if you’d have asked me after that game if it gave us the edge, I’d have said not really.
“This doesn’t give them the edge as we’ve seen what they’re capable of and they’ve seen what we’re capable of.
“First and foremost we need to get to the play-offs, let’s not take that for granted, but whatever four teams are in the play-offs – and I feel we deserve to be one of them – over two legs and a final, I really would fancy us against any of the teams we’d face and I’m sure the others would feel the same way about themselves.
“It’s not something you can sit here and call, so I don’t think it’s given them the edge today, as we beat them 2-0 and, for 65 minutes here today, they were extremely quiet on the bench.
“We’re not despondent as we’ve lost at Sutton today, we’re disappointed in how we’ve come to the loss.”
Brown is hopeful Dean Rance, who missed the Sutton game with a hamstring injury, will be able to play at Concord.
Anthony Cook, who was subbed at the weekend after 65 minutes after suffering from a virus, is also expected to feature tomorrow evening.
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