Ebbsfleet United began life after Steve Brown with a 1-0 win at home to Hendon in the FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round.

Brown was sacked on Wednesday after a run of poor performances culminated in a 3-0 loss at home to Gosport, leaving midfielder Daryl McMahon to take charge as caretaker manager. Anthony Cook’s second-half strike ensured the victory.

McMahon fielded a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Cook playing a free role behind strikers Matt Godden and Billy Bricknell, while Michael Corcoran, Matt Johnson and the impressive Dean Rance completed the midfield three.

Hendon, currently third in the Ryman Premier League, fielded a well-organised 4-4-2 formation that featured former-Fleet striker Kezie Ibe up front.

The Fleet came close to scoring within the first few minutes, when a 25-yard dipping free-kick from Cook flew just wide of the post.

Hendon played on the counter attack for large periods of the game, and this almost paid off within the first 10 minutes when Anthony Da Costa broke down the right wing and had a shot fly into the side netting of Brandon Hall’s goal.

Cook then had a long-range low shot that was spilled by Hendon goalkeeper Ben McNamara, but no Fleet striker was able to pounce on the rebound.

Following this, the game became rather disjointed, with both sides’ efforts to retain possession not being helped by an overly-officious referee not allowing play to continue for any more than a couple of minutes.

The best chance of the half came five minutes before half-time, when Kenny Clark had a six-yard header from a corner fly inches wide of the goal.

Unlike in previous games, where the half-time break marked a drop in performance, Ebbsfleet came out stronger in the second half and took the lead on 51 minutes, when Joe Howe was released down the left wing and his low cross caused a goalmouth scramble, the ball eventually being put into the net thanks to Cook’s 12-yard deflected drive.

The goal visibly boosted Fleet’s confidence and they nearly doubled the lead moments later when Cook was unable to make a proper connection on Godden’s cut-back.

Bricknell then headed over from a corner, whilst McNamara spilled Cook’s 30-yard shot and was then forced to turn Matt Godden’s follow-up wide.

As the second half wore on, Hendon began to press the Fleet more, yet were unable to create many goalscoring opportunities.

The more the game progresses, the more nerves began to grow in the hosts, especially after a tough week yet, despite Howe being forced to block a goal-bound shot, they managed to hold on and get into the hat for the next round.

Ebbsfleet United: Hall, Sessegnon (Huke 61), Acheampong, Clark, Howe, Rance, Corcoran, M Johnson, Cook, Bricknell, Godden Subs not used: Hughes, C Johnson, Palmer, Sheringham

Attendance: 676

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