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Aylesbury United 0-1 Fleet

A debut goal for Kieran Monlouis, coming off the bench, was enough to see Fleet through in the Emirates FA Cup at a rain-sodden Meadow Stadium.

The headline ‘No weather for Ducks’ was just asking to be used but it was no progress for them either as Monlouis’ excellent strike after half-time proved to be the winner.

Chris Haigh regained his place in goal in cup competition and was joined by debutant Alex Finney plus Kreshnic Krasniqi and Elliott Romain – out went Josh Gould, Joe Martin, Alfie Egan and Dominic Poleon.

The weather was certainly suited for a giantkilling with incessant rain falling on The Meadow. But Fleet got straight into their task, taking possession and trying to force an early goal against their Step 4 opponents as expected. Rakish Bingham and Greg Cundle forged a useful early opening in a packed box but Cundle was unable to get significant weight on his effort.

Max Hercules, son of former Aylesbury legend Cliff, had the home side’s first go, stretching the Fleet defence out wide to hit a shot over on 11 minutes. Finney’s 16th minute challenge on Ty Deacon prompted a penalty appeal from the home fans but there was little real contact and the referee let that one go, though he was quick to the whistle as the early minutes were disrupted by a stop-start flow to proceedings.

Chapman cut inside for a shot on goal from outside the box a few minutes later but goalkeeper Davis was behind that one. As Aylesbury succeeded in keeping Fleet at bay, it took another shot to create the visitors’ best chance to that point, Bingham holding off a defender, playing a pass back to Chris Solly who found Cundle and the wide man tried his luck with an attempted swing at goal that curled wide.

Patient build-up was the order of the day and Chapman almost unpicked the lock with a run behind on 29 minutes as Fleet spread play from one side to the other but the cutting edge to really bother the home team wasn’t quite there.

Cundle carved out an even better chance on 35 minutes when he worked some space out of the Ducks defence and sent a shot towards the bottom corner, Davis doing really well to push it away for a corner before Romain could capitalise. Tobi Adebayo-Rowling tested Davis again with another attempt from distance and Bingham tried his luck from 35 yards, that one dipping over the bar.

Fleet pegged Aylesbury back for large spells and the Ducks were largely restricted to taking their opportunities on the break, Haigh mainly deployed to sweep up any of those that threatened to venture close to his goal. But the home side were adept at defending in numbers and looked more than encouraged with a half-time blank.

Kutrieb made two half-changes in a bid to get a little more forward momentum into his midfield and Krasniqi and Lee Martin made way for Egan and Kieran Monlouis.

Ezra Forde caused brief anxiety at the back when he lifted a ball over Haigh on the counterattack but Finney had that one well-covered. And it was fellow debutant Monlouis who broke the deadlock with the Ducks on 53 minutes. Attacking down the left, the substitute tried his luck from outside the box and wrapped his foot around a fine effort that flew clear of Davis and into the far corner.

The chances suddenly got much better as Romain was inches from a right-wing cross and then Adebayo-Rowling thudded an effort off the corner upright from an angle.

After that the visitors were content to play another possession game, with Solly simply sitting in the middle to keep control of the flow and Fleet weren’t much troubled by Aylesbury’s sporadic bursts forward.

Davis spilled a shot from Cundle but the referee pulled play back before Romain and Bingham could get another touch on that one and the Fleet wide man fired another shot on target that Davis had to push away 12 minutes from time. Cundle was the architect again minutes later, another incisive run producing a pass with Bingham that outfoxed the goalkeeper but it was hacked off the line.

Aylesbury pressed in the closing minutes, looking for that late FA Cup drama, winning a corner and free-kick that provided their best path to goal. They had one huge moment on 90 minutes where Fleet had to defend with their lives as crosses and shots pinged around the box… but having dealt with that the passage to Monday’s draw was secure.

EUFC: Haigh, Chapman, Kahraman, Finney, Solly, Krasniqi (Monlouis 46), Adebayo-Rowling (Wood 76), Cundle, L.Martin (Egan 46), Bingham, Romain. Subs: Poleon, Paxman, J.Martin, Gould
AUFC: Davis, Jones, Bewley, Wood, Jenkins, Hogg (French 73), Hercules, Riddick, Deacon, Jellis (Rudd 75), Anthonio-Forde (Seaton 67). Subs: McCrohan, Stobbs, O’Connor, Weatherill
Attendance: 317

Man of the Match v Aylesbury United (a)

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Ed Miller

Ed Miller

Ed Miller has been Ebbsfleet United's communications manager and programme editor since 2014 and responsible for the club website since 2007. Contact him on ed.miller@eufc.co.uk

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