Pools were beaten for just the third time in sixteen league games as Ebbsfleet United recovered from back-to-back defeat to take all three points at Stonebridge Road on Saturday afternoon.
The Fleet were pretty good value for their 3-0 triumph too, producing the more clinical edge in front of goal to inflict Pools’ heaviest reverse of the National League season to date.
Craig Harrison named an unchanged starting eleven and, although it was a slow start to the game with both sides feeling each other out, it was Pools who began to enjoy more possession without really creating anything noteworthy.
The first effort on target came from the hosts when the dangerous Myles Weston cut in from the right wing to get away a left-foot shot but it was tame and straight at Scott Loach.
At the other end, Rhys Oates dropped his shoulder in to a bit of space twenty-five yards out but didn’t connect well with his shot and dragged it well wide.
Loach was called in to action midway through the first half to help a Weston blockbuster from the edge of the box over the bar but it proved only brief respite for Pools who fell behind from the resultant corner.
Weston took it and received it back short on the right before whipping it in to the front post towards Danny Kedwell; the big front man couldn’t get a touch but did do enough to deceive Loach and the ball bounced past the helpless Pools keeper and straight in to the net.
There was a half chance for Jake Cassidy when the ball fell to him just inside the area and he worked it on to his right foot but he was closed down quickly and his shot was blocked by a defender.
But it was the home side who continued to look the more likely to add to the scoring, Jack Connors came forward menacingly from left-back before flashing a drive across goal and wide from the left corner of the box.
Pools began the second half with a greater purpose and almost got back on level terms after passing the ball well on the edge of the area to free Devante Rodney but his shot was held by the keeper Nathan Ashmore down to his right.
Nicky Deverdics swung a dangerous left wing corner in to the area on to the head of Louis Laing but the centre-back’s header scraped the bar on its way over as Pools continued to press.
Kedwell recovered from a nasty blow to the head to double the hosts’ lead midway through the second half when a cross from Sean Shields was nodded home at the far post by Ebbsfleet’s skipper to give Pools a mountain to climb.
Substitute Tomi Adeloye jinked in to a bit of space on the left corner of the penalty area but couldn’t generate the power or direction with his shot which he dragged across goal and wide.
There were strong appeals for a penalty when Oates went down under pressure in the area but the referee wasn’t interested, while Adeloye just couldn’t force a shot on goal after sneaking in at the far post on to Oates’ teasing delivery from the right.
The same combination combined even more dangerously moments later Oates skipped around a challenge on the right before fizzing a cross-shot across goal but it flew just too far in front of Adeloye who couldn’t turn it home.
Pools had to push forward in search of something but were picked off with eight minutes left when Fleet moved the ball inside from the right towards Luke Coulson who swept a classy low finish past Loach from the edge of the area to make it 3-0 and clinch the points.
Full Time: Ebbsfleet United 3 Pools 0
Ebbsfleet United: Ashmore, Connors, Rance (Powell 67), Clark, Drury, Kedwell (McLean 96), Weston, Shields, Magri, Coulson (Cook 90), Bush.
Subs not used: McCoy, Miles.
Booked: Magri, Shields.
Pools: Loach, Donnelly, Laing, Harrison, Deverdics, Featherstone (Munns 65), Woods, Newton, Rodney (Adeloye 53), Cassidy, Oates.
Subs not used: Ledger, Hawkins, George.