Ebbsfleet United 1 Fleetwood Town 3
A superb second-half comeback saw Fleetwood register a third successive three-goal win to move within three points of the Conference summit.
Town were trailing at half-time, but then two goals by Magno Vieira against his former club, and a fifth in three games by Jamie Vardy, ensured the travelling Cod Army didn’t go home disappointed.
Town were able to include left-back Junior Brown for his first start of the season after knee ligament trouble, while Sean Clancy also made his bow for 2011-12 off the bench, after a batch of injuries.
The game started scrappily as both teams struggled to break down the defences, and the poor pitch hampered free-flowing football.
The home side were the first to create a half-chance, as evergreen striker Callum Willock found space in the box, but couldn’t get round the towering Rob Atkinson.
Fleetwood responded with a series of counter-attacks.
The most notable came on the 20-minute mark, when Brown’s cross was fired wide by Gareth Seddon.
It was an excellent run from Brown, who slotted seamlessly back into the starting XI for the first time since the summer friendly against Preston North End.
Seddon was threatening again 10 minutes later, when released by strike partner Vieira, but his shot was well blocked by keeper Preston Edwards, who had narrowed the angle considerably.
The game was becoming more end-to-end, and Ebbsfleet were next to threaten when dangerman Willock’s 12-yard shot was tipped wide by Scott Davies.
However, the veteran striker was not to be denied for much longer, and five minutes before the break, he turned Atkinson on the edge of the box and placed a curling shot inside Davies’ left post.
It was a good finish, but against the run of play, and Fleetwood could count themselves unfortunate to trail at the interval.
The visitors flew out of the blocks for the second half, with Vieira testing his former club with a piledriver from 30 yards, which Edwards saved well.
This proved a sign of things to come, as Fleetwood equalised on 50 minutes.
Vardy raced free on the right and delivered an inch-perfect cross for the on-rushing Vieira to power his header home against his former club.
It was the striker’s first goal of the season after several assists, notably for Vardy.
Town were passing confidently, and their positive football soon saw more chances created, with Vieira, Seddon and Vardy at the heart of it all.
One flowing move involving all three ended with Vieira’s shot being deflected wide for a corner.
Clancy replaced Andy Mangan, and almost had an instant impact as he was put through on goal. But understandably lacking some match sharpness, Clancy was denied by the keeper, who smothered the ball at his feet.
The pace of Clancy and the impressive Vardy became a thorn in Ebbsfleet’s side, as the visitors posed plenty of danger out wide.
And Fleetwood’s creative play was soon rewarded again, though in controversial circumstances.
Vieira won a free-kick 25 yards from goal on 68 minutes. Alert Milligan did not wait for the wall to be prepared, and put the striker through on goal to slot past a flat-footed Edwards. Despite some strong Ebbsfleet protests, the goal stood.
The away side showed no signs of resting on their laurels, Vardy beating John Herd on numerous occasions to deliver precise crosses.
The only thing lacking from Vardy’s performance was a goal – until the 81st minute.
After defending successive deep free-kicks, Town countered to devastating effect as Vieira raced down the left, shrugging a number of challenges.
The Brazillian then showed great awareness to find the unmarked Vardy in the clear, who made no mistake from 12 yards out.
Fleetwood passed the ball about with supreme confidence for the remainder of the game, happy in the knowledge that another job had been well done and key men are returning in style.
Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Herd, Simpemba, Mambo, Stone (Ginty 75), West (Shakes 68), Marwa, Phipp (Howe 61), Stadrinou, Willock, Marum; not used; Welch, Fakinos.
Fleetwood: Davies, Beesley, Brown, Linwood, Atkinson, Milligan, McGuire, Vieira, Mangan (Clancy 63), Seddon, Vardy; not used: St Louis-Hamilton, Goodall, Briggs, Brodie
Ref: J Amey; Attendance: 974