Ebbsfleet enjoyed a convincing 4-0 victory over Bromley in the first leg of the Conference South play-offs at Stonebridge Road this evening.
Ben May broke the deadlock after just 65 seconds and the lead was doubled on nine minutes after Bromley’s Ashley Nicholls was sent off and Billy Bricknell made it 2-0 from the resulting penalty.
Joe Howe added a third on the hour before Daryl McMahon completed the rout ten minutes from time.
Fleet made the perfect start by taking the lead inside two minutes as Bromley’s defence failed to clear McMahon’s corner and Ben May bundled the ball home from close range.
And the lead was doubled seven minutes later, again from a corner which the visiting defence failed to deal with.
The ball was cleared off the line an incredible four times before Nicholls decided the best way to deal with the situation was to handle it.
Referee Nigel Lugg had no hesitation in pointing straight to the spot before consulting the linesman and producing a straight red card for the Bromley player.
Bricknell stepped up to send Lillies keeper Joe Welch the wrong way from 12 yards and put the hosts in command.
Bricknell was perhaps fortunate to receive only a yellow for a late lunge on Joe Anderson right in front of the dugout.
Alex Osborn came within inches of meeting Cook’s cross-come-shot with his head as Fleet continued to ask all of the early questions.
Bromley had a decent shout for a penalty of their own ignored when a Fleet defender handled in the box, unintentionally Mr Lugg decided.
Welch reacted well to keep out a May header, while Brendan Kiernan’s lob was deflected on to the roof of the net after he went clean through having beaten the offside trap.
Rob Swaine made an excellent tackle just as Bricknell was about pull the trigger deep into first half stoppage time to prevent what looked an inevitable third goal but Bromley boss Mark Goldberg still had plenty to ponder at the break.
A last-gasp clearance early in the second half prevented Bricknell converting Cook’s low ball played in across the area.
Jay May tried his luck from long range with a volley that flew off target but they fell further behind on the hour with a counter attack which saw McMahon find Alex Osborn.
His initial effort was blocked but Howe made no mistake from the rebound, drilling a low shot beyond Welch.
Cook was inches away from adding a fourth when he ran from inside his own half and fired in a stinging shot that went agonisingly over the bar.
Ben May saw an effort deflected behind for a corner while Bradley Goldberg’s free-kick went straight into the Ebbsfleet wall.
Preston Edwards reacted well to save from Pierre Joseph-Dubois after he applied the final touch to Jay May’s flick on.
But Bromley’s night went from bad to worse ten minutes from time as McMahon drilled a low shot beyond Welch from an acute angle just inside the area, although in truth the visiting keeper really should have saved it.
It is fair to say Bromley now have it all to do in Saturday’s second leg at Hayes Lane.
Fleet probably have one eye on the final already.
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Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Howe, Palmer, McMahon, Acheampong, Sankofa, Osborn (Sessegnon 89), Rance, B May (Thalassitis 83), Bricknell (Long 70), Cook. Subs not used: Huke, Hall.
Bromley: Welch, Pooley, Anderson, Nicholls, Swaine, Holland, Joseph-Dubois, Waldren (Buchanan 71), J May (Higgins 83), Goldberg, Kiernan (Fuseini 71). Subs not used: Parmenter, Dennis. Att: 1,693.