In a useful test against a physically strong men's team, new Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett was able to run the rule over his charges in front of a 2,130-strong crowd at the National League club's Stonebridge Road ground.
And he was left with plenty to ponder, with some nice passages of play on show and a good spell of pressure after Shayon Harrison halved a 2-0 deficit shortly after half-time with a tidy first-time finish from 18 yards out.
Shilow Tracey might have scored on his return to his former club with seven minutes to go when he picked up the pieces after Keanan Bennetts' shot was saved and his fierce drive looped off goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore towards the back post, but the flag was up as Jack Roles helped it over the line and it didn't count.
Ebbsfleet then sealed the deal when Japhet Tanganga was penalised for handball in the box and substitute Danny Kedwell drilled home the penalty.
Our links with Ebbsfleet date all the way back to the 1920s and early 1930s when the side, then known as Northfleet, was recognised as our 'nursery club', with many of our young players sent there to develop their skills. This was certainly a useful lesson for our modern-day starlets as they put some of their early summer practice into action.
Tracey was, of course, the centre of attention after his move to Spurs from Ebbsfleet a little over 18 months ago while Ryan Loft, who started up front, hails from nearby Gravesend and played for Ebbsfleet’s satellite Sunday sides as a youngster, but it was another man playing against his old club, Darren McQueen, who grabbed the headlines with a lively first-half display for Ebbsfleet, capped off with the opening goal. His fellow former Spurs youngster Jonathan Miles was the hosts' substitute goalkeeper.
Ebbsfleet held the game as a memorial for their former captain Paul McCarthy, who passed away following a heart attack in February.
Above: Under-23s coaches Wayne Burnett and Justin Cochrane.
McQueen, who left our Academy in 2014, used his pace to good effect and it needed a fine piece of defending from right-back TJ Eyoma to keep him at bay early on. He grabbed the first goal on 17 minutes, lunging forward to turn in a cross from Jack Connors, who was left in acres of space down our left.
Our best chances in the first period came from set pieces, a smart corner routine not quite coming off, while Samuel Shashoua curled a free-kick over the top. At the other end, Jack Powell grazed the outside of the near post with a free-kick of his own.
Goalkeeper Jonathan De Bie was alert to deny McQueen just after half-time as Ebbsfleet started quickest in the second half, but we soon put down a marker with Bennetts’ shot saved by Ashmore.
Substitute Luke Coulson’s 52nd-minute strike was a blow, his shot from outside the area creeping into the bottom corner through a crowd of bodies in the box following a corner, but we stayed on the front foot and pulled one back four minutes later when an excellent delivery from Bennetts was cleared as far as Harrison, who lashed in, first time, with his left foot from the edge of the box.
Aaron McLean blasted over on the counter-attack for Ebbsfleet before we were denied an equaliser by the off-side flag as the game entered its latter stages. Luke Amos’ desire to win the ball and drive forward started the move, Harrison played his part by teeing up Bennetts on the right, his effort was saved but after Tracey’s shot deflected off Ashmore and Roles helped it in, the flag went up and the effort was chalked off.
Two minutes from time, Dean Rance scooped the ball up into the box, Tanganga was adjudged to have handled it as it struck his upper body and Kedwell drilled low into the corner, despite substitute goalkeeper Charlie Freeman diving the right way. Freeman then backpedalled to keep out an audacious long-range effort from Coulson in stoppage time as Ebbsfleet finished with confidence.
COACH WAYNE BURNETT SAID
“I think there were some positives, some nice play at times. We have to do better at both ends – certainly we have to defend better in our box and be a bit better in their box as well, but it’s game one so we’ll take the positives, get back on the training field and carry out some more work.
“It was a test today but if these boys want to be successful footballers they’re going to encounter these types of players and they’re going to have to deal with it. We have to start being accountable and responsible for ourselves and each other. It’s a fine line (the way the game went) and, yes, we want to win and the result is important in every game, but we were looking at performances today, trying to get everyone as much game time as we can and trying to come through with no-one inured and we did that today. We’ve still got a long time until the start of the season and we’ve got some time to prepare. There were certainly some positives to come out of today but now we’ve got to get on the training field and do some hard work.”
Ebbsfleet United: Ashmore, Connors (Graham 72), Winfield (c), Clark (Shields 72), Powell (Rance 64), Drury (Coulson 46), Weston (Cook 51), McQueen (Mambo 72), Payne, Mills (Kedwell 64), Magri (McLean 72). Substitutes (not used): McCoy, Miles (GK).
Spurs XI: De Bie (Freeman 72), Eyoma (Lock 72), Bennetts, Amos, C Maghoma (c), Tanganga, Harrison, Pritchard (Roles 61), Loft (Hinds 69), S Shashoua (Duncan 46), Tracey.
Goals: Ebbsfleet - McQueen 17, Coulson 52, Kedwell 88 (pen); Spurs - Harrison 56.
Referee: Jack Packman.
Next Friday night sees our Under-23s travel to Cambridge United for another pre-season friendly outing, kick-off 7.45pm.