Ebbsfleet United suffered a second-half collapse as they lost 3-0 to play-off rivals Gosport Borough on a dreary Tuesday night at Stonebridge Road.

After a keenly-fought first-half, Fleet goalkeeper Brandon Hall’s mistake gifted the visitors the lead and then there was only one winner as Borough went onto record what was a comfortable victory.

Ebbsfleet manager Steve Brown fielded an unchanged XI to the one that drew at Eastbourne, with the previously suspended Anthony Acheampong ruled out with an illness.

Pre-match, the game was billed as a meeting of the two meanest defences in the division, and Borough demonstrated this by fielding a solid 4-4-2 formation that proved impossible for The Fleet to break down.

While there was not much goal-mouth action in the opening stages, the first-half was an absorbing encounter as the two well-matched teams tried to break each other down.

The visitors had two long-range strikes fly over the bar, whilst Ebbsfleet’s Matt Godden had a shot comfortably saved by goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore.

Midway through the half, The Fleet had an appeal for a penalty turned down when Brendan Kiernan appeared to be pushed inside the area, before Shane Huke had a header straight at Ashmore.

The best two chances of the half came in the final five minutes, when good work from Dean Rance allowed Anthony Cook to be played free down the left wing but his low effort was kept out by Ashmore’s legs.

Rance himself then had a chance to score from a Kiernan pull-back, but his effort rolled across the face of the goal and wide.

Gosport could have opened the scoring minutes after half-time when Justin Bennett rifled in a long-range free-kick that smashed against the bar and bounced clear.

They then took the lead on 60 minutes when Hall came to collect a high free-kick and dropped the ball at the feet of Bennett, who tapped home from close range.

The goal rattled The Fleet and they threw men forward in search of an equaliser but only had a Godden shot over the bar to show for their efforts.

Borough doubled their lead after some neat build-up play around the edge of the area ended with the ball falling to Mike Carter, who unleashed a fine shot that arrowed into the bottom corner of Hall’s goal.

Following this, Ebbsfleet players’ heads noticeably dropped and, while Gosport did not exactly dominate, it was no surprise when the third goal came on 80 minutes as Bennett broke down the right wing and pulled back to Dan Wooden who picked his spot to finish past Hall.

While Cook had a late free-kick saved by Ashmore, the Fleet seemed unable to cope with their organised visitors, who now move above them into third place in the Conference South.

Ebbsfleet: Hall, Sessegnon (Bricknell 71), Clark, Huke, Howe, Kiernan (Palmer 46), McMahon, Rance, Cook, Sheringham, Godden Subs not used: Edwards, Corcoran, Johnson. Att: 702

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