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Stockport 3-1 Ebbsfleet
THREE goals in six second half minutes meant Ebbsfleet United succumbed to a disappointing away defeat to Stockport County on a chilly afternoon at Edgeley Park.
In an even match, Ebbsfleet will be upset at the manner of defeat as poor defending at the start of the second-half effectively handed the game to the hosts.
Due to a family bereavement, Fleet manager Liam Daish was not at the game.
This meant his assistant Paul McCarthy took charge and he handed a debut to new loan signing Louie Soares in a 4-3-3 formation.
Stockport manager Jim Gannon fielded a solid 4-4-2 formation in which attackers Craig Hobson and Danny Hattersly were a constant threat.
County started as the stronger side when Hobson fired over from just outside the area in the opening minutes.
Ebbsfleet captain Paul Lorraine was forced to clear Sean Newton’s low free-kick off the line moments later.
A moment of controversy came in the eighth minute when Ebbsfleet’s Nathan Elder scored with a header, but it was harshly ruled out for a push on Stockport keeper Lewis King.
Elder then saw a shot saved by King midway through the half, while a mazy run from Soares ended up with a shot across goal and wide towards the end of the half.
Having had a large proportion of the play in the first half without getting much reward, the Fleet were left shell-shocked as County ripped their defence to shreds at the start of the second half.
Craig Hobson received possession on the edge of the area in the 51st minute and made the most of hesitant defending to turn and lob an effort over keeper Preston Edwards with a fine finish to put the hosts in front.
Ebbsfleet gave the ball away almost instantly from kick-off and Newton broke down the left to cross for an unmarked Hobson to grab his second with a close range volley.
The third came in the 57th minute when substitute Tom Collins showed superb skill to nutmeg Phil Walsh and break through two weak challenges before finishing past Edwards from 12 yards.
Fleet were handed a way back into the match on the hour when Collins was adjudged to have fouled Moses Ashikodi in the area.
Elder stepped up to smash the penalty in off of the crossbar, but this proved to be nothing more than a consolation as Stockport comfortably saw out the match to gain a valuable three points.
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Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Ada, Lorraine, Walsh, Howe, Phipp, Marwa (Enver-Marum 83), Barrett (Bellamy 46), Soares, Ashikodi, Elder Subs not used: Menz, Stone, Greenhalgh. Att: 4,641.