The Non-League Football Paper - - SATURDAY MATCH CENTRE - By Steve Gibbs

RUMOURS of Ebb­s­fleet United’s im­mi­nent demise con­tin­ued to be ex­ag­ger­ated as they com­fort­ably strode past a bereft Alder­shot Town side to ex­tend their un­beaten run to seven matches.

Michael Cheek, with his fourth goal in three games, and a Danny Ked­well penalty earned Fleet a first away win in two months, and Garry Hill stressed the con­fi­dence and qual­ity in his new squad at the end of an­other week of changes at Stone­bridge Road.

“Things change at foot­ball clubs. The boss wants the struc­ture to change, and I to­tally re­spect that,” ad­mit­ted Hill.

“We don’t need a big squad, but there’s a lot of qual­ity play­ers in our chang­ing room who have ba­si­cally un­der-achieved. The per­for­mances are go­ing with the re­sults now and they’ve got to start be­liev­ing that they’re ca­pa­ble of putting a run to­gether which can sur­prise a few people.

“It was a su­perb per­for­mance,” praised the for­mer Wok­ing boss. “We to­tally dom­i­nated, very pro­fes­sional and very strong. It’s a good three points, no doubt about that.”

Ebb­s­fleet made the early run­ning and, even in a stilted, dis­jointed open­ing half, re­mained quicker, sharper and more co­he­sive than their life­less op­po­nents. Ked­well, in the first minute, and Corey Whitely wasted promis­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, while Jack Payne’s vol­ley crashed off the cross­bar in a rare mo­ment of ex­cite­ment.

At the other end, Adam May lacked power in his fin­ish from dis­tance, and the Shots – whose in­jury-hit, 14-man match­day squad had mus­tered a mere eight league goals for Gary Wad­dock’s side – strug­gled badly for cre­ativ­ity and ball re­ten­tion.

Two min­utes af­ter the break, Josh Bar­rett’s an­gled drive was smoth­ered by Nathan Ash­more but that was as good as it got for the hosts and, sec­onds later, they fell be­hind. Lawrie Wil­son’s throw in­vited Ked­well to turn and play in Cheek, whose deft early fin­ish beat keeper Will Man­nion from 15 yards.

Soon, Marvin McCoy’s mis­judged clear­ing header hit his own cross­bar, and the re­sult was con­firmed on 67 min­utes. Whitely made an over­lap­ping run and, hav­ing bro­ken into the box, was tripped by Luke How­ell, al­low­ing Ked­well to roll in con­fi­dently from the penalty spot.

Jack King’s glanc­ing header also hit the cross­bar, and Abou Adams had two late shots well saved, but by then the Shots had al­ready thrown in the towel.

“It was to­tally un­ac­cept­able but could have been a lot worse,” sighed a de­flated Gary Wad­dock, whose side have now gone over six hours without scor­ing a league goal and were a shadow of the team which bat­tled for a point at Ley­ton Ori­ent on Tuesday.

“There are a lot of things that are not right and we looked a mil­lion miles off it. We’re lack­ing in con­fi­dence and I don’t know what our iden­tity is at the mo­ment.”

PICTURES: Ian Mors­man

WNLHP AphToA­togCraHphEeEr K! Michael Cheek opens the scor­ing

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