Alex Pike admitted Gosport Borough played Ebbsfleet ‘off the park’ as they moved up to third in the Vanarama Conference South table.
A sterling second-half performance, capped by goals from Justin Bennett, Mike Carter and Dan Wooden, earned the visitors an emphatic 3-0 win at Stonebridge Road last night as they stretched their unbeaten league run to eight games.
Seven wins and one draw in that time as seen Pike’s side steadily climb the league standings.
And with games in hand on those above them – Boreham Wood and Bromley – Borough will have taken great confidence from beating a side considered one of the title favourites.
Pike still sees Ebbsfleet as ones to watch as the battle for promotion gathers pace.
But he admitted their hosts were second best when they came up against his in-form side.
‘It is without doubt one of our best performances and I thought we were immense in the second half,’ said Pike.
‘In my eyes, Ebbsfleet are still potential champions but we ended up playing them off the park.
‘Although our opponents had a lot of possession, in the first half they never really hurt us.
‘That first-half performance was important because it gave us a foothold in the game.
‘We knew what they were at and felt they had a few weaknesses we could exploit.
‘After the break we upped our game and once we hit the woodwork you could see the belief flooding into the team.
‘We went up a gear, moved the ball quicker on the slick surface and they couldn’t deal with it.’
Matt Paterson sent an early effort over the top as Borough made a bright opening in the rain.
But the home side soon started to put the visitors under pressure, patiently probing the Gosport defence.
The visitors, with captain Sam Pearce prominent in the heart of the defence, however, succeeded in shutting them out.
Conditions were difficult for both teams on the wet, slippery surface but the momentum remained with Ebbsfleet in the opening 20 minutes.
Borough gradually began to get a foothold and the ball almost fell to Pearce inside the home area from a corner-kick.
Pike’s side continued to weather the home attacks, though, and they had an anxious moment when Kenny Clark flashed a ball across their six-yard area.
Up until this stage, home striker Charlie Sheringham – son of former Pompey forward Teddy – had been anonymous but on the stroke of half-time he sent a shot narrowly wide of the post that had Nathan Ashmore scrambling.
Borough showed great energy at the start of the second period and were only denied the lead by the woodwork.
Bennett fired in a terrific free-kick from the edge of the area, only to see his shot crash back off the angle of post and bar.
The visitors were not to be denied, however, and broke the deadlock on the hour mark.
Home goalkeeper Brandon Hall misjudged a 25-yard free-kick from Wooden and Bennett was on hand to tuck the ball into the net.
It got better for Borough soon afterwards, when Carter extended their lead with a stunning strike from the edge of the box.
And any chance of a late fightback from the hosts was killed off nine minutes from time by a third Borough goal.
Bennett was the architect and Wooden showed good composure with a clinical finish.
It was a terrific second 45 minutes from Borough, with Pearce in commanding form at the back.