It was a day to remember for United’s Kenny Clark, with the former Claret defender making his 100th appearance for the Fleet. And the Fleet fan-favourite scored a goal late in the first half to put the home side ahead before substitute Bradley Bubb sealed the victory late in the second half.
The hosts could have increased their lead late on but a series of saves from Ross Fitzsimons kept the home side at bay.
The Clarets had an incredibly bright start as Bagasan Graham’s driving run picked out Robbie Willmott at the far post, but the City winger saw his powerful header superbly saved by Nathan Ashmore in the top corner.
Michael Spillane had another chance for the visitors and almost scored on his full debut for the Clarets but his header from a Willmott free-kick flashed wide.
The hosts almost went ahead on 21 minutes when a long throw from the right wing picked out a Fleet player who smacked their header against the bar before Sam Deering sent his shot from close range wide – but the tricky winger was in an offside position anyway.
Anthony Church became the first City player to enter the book when he committed to a tough challenge on Shaun Shields after 38 minutes.
The home side eventually broke the lead in a dubious manner. Graham was marking Deering and the winger went down easily but Whistler Gary Parsons adjudged it to be a foul. The Fleet player swung in a cross which was headed behind for a corner. Drury delivered a fine cross from the set-piece which troubled the Clarets and Clark was on-hand to get a conclusive touch as his diving header sent the ball past Fitzsimons.
The Fleet almost doubled their lead on 59 minutes but difficult striker Danny Kedwell sent his effort skidding across goal.
The introduction of Shaun Jeffers and Kane Haysman reignited some fire in the Clarets, with the midfield ranks looking to use pace to defeat the home side’s central defensive pairing. And the tactical decision almost worked for Rod Stringer when Ashley Miller and Willmott linked up well on the far side, following a great run from Graham, but Miller’s fizzing cross was dealt with well by Ashmore.
The hosts thought they had a second goal when Fitzsimons failed to steal the ball from Darren McQueen, but the Clarets’ ‘keeper luckily saw the Fleet striker’s effort crawl along the line.
Ebbsfleet’s continual pressure eventually told, but they were forced to wait until the 87th minute to increase their advantage. Spillane penalised Deering on the right wing and the winger swung in a freekick which substitute Bubb kept his composure to direct beyond Fitzsimons.
The Clarets are back in Vanarama National League South action when they host Truro City at the Melbourne Community Stadium next Saturday.
1. Nathan Ashmore
2. Sean Shields (90' Anthony Cook)
3. Jack Connors
4. Marvin McCoy
5. Dave Winfield
6. Kenny Clark
7. Dean Rance
8. Sam Deering
9. Danny Kedwell (C)
10. Darren McQueen (77' Bradley Bubb)
11. Jack Powell (77' Andy Drury)
12. Yado Mambo
13. Jonathan Miles
14. Anthony Cook
15. Andy Drury
16. Bradley Bubb
1. Ross Fitzsimons
2. Ashley Miller
3. Matt Young
4. Josh Rees (53' Shaun Jeffers)
5. Michael Spillane
6. Mark Haines
7. Robbie Willmott
8. Anthony Church (C)
9. Chris Dickson (78' Elliott Buchanan)
10. Max Cornhill
11. Bagasan Graham (61' Kane Haysman)
12. Shaun Jeffers
14. Elliott Buchanan
15. Josh Hill
16. Kane Haysman
17. Max Porter
Ebbsfleet United: None.
Chelmsford City: Anthony Church (38'), Shaun Jeffers (64'), Mark Haines (83'), Michael Spillane (86').
Ebbsfleet United: Kenny Clark (43'), Bradley Bubb (87').
Chelmsford City: None.
Referee: Gary Parsons
Man of the Match: Ross Fitzsimons