15 December 2011

Absence of key players costly as Hodges' men exit Trophy

Source: This Is Cornwall LINK

Truro City 2 Ebbsfleet Utd 5

EVEN with a full strength side City would have had their hands full against the 2008 FA Trophy winners.

But without several key players it was asking too much to expect a shock win against their Conference Premier opponents in the first round on Saturday.

Jo Broad before the Ebbsfleet game
Missing through injury were skipper Jake Ash, Barry Hayles and Marcus Martin, who was named on the original team sheet but then failed a fitness test giving Cody Cooke a first start.

Stewart Yetton was one of only four substitutes, including reserve keeper Tom Brooks, but was not fit enough to start.

And their first half performance looked like even they did not believe they could shock the Kent visitors as they trailed 3-1 at the break.

After conceding a fourth at the start of the second period they did lift their game and finished the stronger side but it was all too late and Ebbsfleet were worthy winners.

And it left City player-manager Lee Hodges frustrated.
He said: "I am bitterly disappointed. I just do not think we believe in ourselves.

"We paid them too much respect in the first half. We let them play and did not get in their faces and that cost us.

"There was some bad defending and again we gave away simple goals.

Dan Smith started the game up front
"But we did rally in the second half and with a bit more Lady Luck and some refereeing decisions going our way it might have been different.

"We are down to bare bones, but we have to go with what we have got at the moment."

Again City started slowly and conceded a goal after only two minutes when they allowed Liam Enver-Marum to head home at the near post from Michael West's right wing corner.

And the confident visitors looked likely to add to their tally before against the run of play Les Afful's powerful drive from the edge of the area defeated Preston Edwards.

But the Kent side hit back almost immediately when West finished off a powerful run with a clinical finish past a helpless Tim Sandercombe.

Ebbsfleet's third though had a large element of good fortune as Ranbir Marwa's cross from the left appeared to be handled by Nathan Pinney before he netted.

But City's appeals were ignored by referee Chris Powell and at 3-1 down with less than half an hour gone it looked like a long afternoon for the White Tigers.

But they hung on until half-time without conceding further and might even have pulled a goal back when Afful forced a fine save from Edwards right on half-time.

City began the second half with more purpose but went 4-1 down with a well taken goal from Enver-Marum.

To their credit City kept pushing forward and were soon rewarded when Dan Smith's clever pass gave Afful the chance to flick the ball past Edwards from close range.

And if Andy Watkins had headed either side of Edwards, rather than straight at the Ebbsfleet keeper from Smith's cross, it might have been a different story.

Truro though continued to press with Scott Walker's free kick forcing Edwards into a smart save.
Lee Hodges, who had come on for Cooke, headed against the top of the bar from a Walker free-kick and Watkins had claims for a penalty turned away by referee Powell.

It was Ebbsfleet though who had the last word when Enver-Marum completed his hat-trick right on time following a quick counter-attack.

City, though, could take plenty from their second half performance as they concentrate on their number one priority – Blue Square Bet South survival.

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