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Ebbsfleet 1-2 Southport
EBBSFLEET United suffered a second consecutive defeat when they went down to Southport at Stonebridge Road on Saturday.
The Fleet were looking to bounce back after their midweek 6-2 thrashing by Fleetwood Town and after an early scare which saw Tony Gray hit the post with the goal gaping, they did just that.
Tom Phipp saw his edge of the box effort saved before Ebbsfleet took the lead after half an hour.
A brilliant floated cross by Ricky Shakes was met by the head of Gozie Ugwu, who celebrated his home debut in style with a header which proved no match for Southport stopper Tony McMillan. However, moments later Southport were handed an opportunity to equalise when Shakes fouled Shaun Whaley inside the area.
Gray stepped up to take the penalty but keeper Lance Cronin was equal to it and kept Ebbsfleet in the lead.
But Gray was given the chance to make amends from the spot on 38 minutes after the Southport striker rounded and was then brought down by Cronin.
It was take two and this time Gray sent Cronin the wrong way to ensure the two sides went in level at the break.
The second half started in exactly the same fashion as the first, with both teams struggling to settle down early on.
Yet again it was Phipp who carved out an opportunity with a brilliant through ball to Ugwu, who saw his first shot saved and his second scrape the side netting.
Shakes then hit a sublime acrobatic shot after 67 minutes which left McMillan motionless, although the away keeper was saved by the woodwork.
With just five minutes remaining, Fleet thought they had grabbed victory when Ugwu netted for the second time only to be denied by the offside flag.
Then came the heartbreaking moment for Fleet fans as they saw the referee point to the penalty spot for the fourth time after Whaley made contact with Nathaniel Pinney’s leg.
With only two minutes remaining, Gray stepped up again and fired emphatically past Cronin.
Despite a dominating performance by Ebbsfleet, they will feel hard done by this result and at the end of the game the home supporters showed their displeasure at referee Justin Amey’s performance.
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Ebbsfleet United: Cronin, Stone, Lorraine, Marwa, Willock (Pinney 77), Shakes, Phipp, Enver-Marum, Smith, Mambo (Barrett 60), Ugwu. Subs not used: McNeil, Williams, Stavrinou. Att: 907