By Adam May
Second-half goals from Michael Thalassitis and a deflected Daryl McMahon free-kick saw Ebbsfleet leave Melbourne all-important three points in their hunt for a play-off spot against 10-men City.
Thalassitis’ expert volley on 62 minutes levelled the scoring after Rob Edmans headed City into the lead after 26 minutes.
Fleet skipper McMahon then sealed the three points when his free-kick was deflected in.
Ebbsfleet almost took the lead when ex-Claret Billy Bricknell was fouled 25 yards from goal in the third minute allowing skipper McMahon to try his luck.
His set-piece was deflected by the wall for a corner and Anthony Achaempong headed the resultant set-piece over the bar.
Thalassitis then forced a fine stop from Carl Pentney and Achaempong headed over the following corner to waste yet another chance for the Fleet who picked up a 1-1 draw against Weston-super-Mare in their last outing.
Fleet’s Chris Sessegnon then burst down the right-wing and showed a clean pair of heels to Christian Smith before delivering a wonderful ball to the far post which Haines cleared off a Fleet shirt.
Edmans then broke the deadlock in the first half when Matthew Lock’s spectacular strike rattled off the crossbar with Edmans quickest off the mark to head in from close range.
The Fleet almost netted an instant reply when Thalassitis tested Pentney.
The City shot stopper dealt with the challenge head on and dived to his left to keep out the stinging shot and demonstrated quick reactions as he pounced on the ball at the second attempt.
Bricknell then cut inside and let fly with a left-footed shot from 35-yards which sailed wide of Pentney’s upright.
Edmans almost doubled his goal tally for the evening when he sent a spectacular first-time finish into the net, only to be correctly denied by the offside flag.
Then struck a moment of madness as former City boy Anthony Cook's cross thumped the post and Bricknell’s follow up was blocked heroically on the line by Smith as the Clarets survived a heart-in-mouth moment.
Aaron Greene was then denied one-on-one by Preston Edwards.
The young City winger had plenty of time to pick his spot but fired straight at the body of the former England C ‘keeper.
Pentney was then called upon early in the second-half after Lock’s disallowed second-half goal.
Cook sent a right-footed curler which was destined for the net, only for Pentney to intercept and palm away.
Tom Davis then sprayed the ball wide to Edmans who cut open the Fleet midfield before launching the ball into the box, but it was too close to Sessegnon who cleared away.
Thalassitis who, after looking threatening throughout the game, finally got the better of Pentney on 62-minutes when Dean Rance teed up the frontman who sent an unstoppable volley into the bottom corner to level the scorings.
The Fleet then turned the game on its head when McMahon’s speculative free-kick around 35-yards from goal.
The left-footed effort took a slight deflection to deceive Pentney in the City goal on 68-minutes.
Greene was then superbly denied an equaliser by Edwards as the Clarets looked to draw level.
Hughes then blasted an even better opportunity wide when he latched onto Achaempon’s wayward header.
McMahon then tried his luck from half-way which Pentney was equal to before Smith tried a similar effort which too was kept out by Edwards.
City skipper Hughes was then sent his marching orders after receiving a straight red for violent conduct after a fracas in the centre of the pitch involving a number of players from both sides.
That will serve as a bitter blow since Hughes has been a key and influential figure for Mark Hawkes’ re-surged side.
City had a chance at the death when Lock's strike was saved by Preston Edwards with Joe Ward unable to follow up with a header that cleared the bar.
Hawkes was clearly aggrieved by some of the decisions that went against his side during the course of the match which undermined his team’s impressive performance.
He said: “I’m not disappointed with the attitude and work rate of my players.
"At this level of football I do not expect a refereeing display like that, and that’s being polite.
“Everything that was 50/50 went their [Ebbsfleet’s] way and we had too players booked in the first 15 minutes for kicking the ball away only for their number seven [Alex Osborn] to flick the ball away in the same manner and the response he game one of my players was ‘he didn’t kick it away as far’."
What Hawkes was pleased with however was the performance from his team, which led to him saying: “We’ve worked hard, we’ve scored a good goal and we’ve got in front at half-time.
"We are not taking that away from anybody but the man in the middle gave it a very frustrating night for our players.
"We’ve won fair challenges and had free-kicks against us. Tom Davis has been elbowed in an aerial challenge.
"Mark Hughes has been sent off in the melee – we can see all this so why can’t the referee.
“Mark will be a big miss because he’s an influence on and off the park but we know we’re going to miss him for several games and we’ll have to cope without him.”
CHELMSFORD: Pentney, Long, Redwood, Lock, Haines, Smith, Greene, Hughes (c), St Aimie (Miller, 79), Edmans (Cheek, 66), Davis (Ward, 71).
Unused subs: Nicolau, Forecast.