Ebbsfleet United 4 Guiseley 0

THE Lions kept 11 men on the pitch but the result was the same as they returned to league action following the distraction of the FA Cup.

Guiseley reached the second round for the first time in the club’s history before bowing out at the hands of boss Paul Cox’s former club Mansfield Town, when they had two men sent off.

If they were dazzled by the potential of being in the spotlight of the third round draw – when the Premier League and Championship clubs joined the fray – their plight in the league was brought into sharp focus by the defeat at Ebbsfleet United.

The Fleet are mid-table and moved up two places to tenth with their win, while Guiseley remain second from bottom and just one point off the foot of the table.

They have two games in hand on many of the clubs either side of the current safety mark but, even if they won them both, they would still be in the relegation zone.

Frustrated boss Paul Cox said: “I was very disappointed with the first two goals, from a refereeing point of view.

“Looking at the free-kick, I thought Rowan (Liburd) was fouled in the build-up, but having said that it was a tremendous free-kick and sometimes you just can’t do anything about that.

“With the second one – I thought it was a great tackle but the referee thought otherwise and gave a penalty.

"When you look at the game we’ve been beaten by three set-pieces and they are the basics of the game at this level.”

The home side won both halves 2-0 as Jack Powell opened the scoring in the 22nd minute with a superb curling free-kick that gave Jonny Maxted no chance.

It was Ash Powell who was adjudged to have fouled Sean Shields in the area, and Danny Kedwell drilled the resulting penalty straight down the middle.

The Fleet made sure of banking the three points with two goals in a three-minute spell inside the last quarter hour.

A 76th minute corner gave home centre back Chris Bush the chance to head in the third, and Kedwell turned provider as his ball out wide released Myles Weston, with the right winger racing on before slotting a low shot past Maxted to complete the scoring.

Cox added: “It’s difficult to come to places like this under the circumstances because we had to patch up Lowey (defender Danny Lowe) and Fondop (striker Mike Fondop-Talom).

"If they hadn’t been right we probably wouldn’t have had a full bench.

“That’s no excuse but it’s been something we’ve had to deal with for a while now and I have to do something about that this week. We can’t keep coming to games knowing that it’s the flip of a coin whether people are or aren’t fit.

“I can’t blame the referee for the two goals in the second half and we hit a post or bar (Liburd's header with the score still at 1-0) so it was closer than it looked.

"The two refereeing decisions were the only difference in the first half.”

Guiseley’s recent squad numbers have been down because of injuries and suspensions after the Lions had at least one man sent off in a league game and then their last two FA Cup ties.