Ram Marwa opens his account and Michael West gets a brace as Fleet bury Bishops Stortford to move fourth in the table….
The Fleet maintained their 100% away record as they looked to have learned lessons from last week and took their chances with aplomb in a manner which must have pleased Liam Daish.
The Fleet boss handed Tom Phipp his first start at the expense of Joe Benjamin but the Fleet were otherwise unchanged against a home side who, ith two wins out of two, have perhaps exceeded the expectations of many of their fans. And they started in buoyant and confident mood as Fleet sought to find their feet, pushing men forward through the middle.
And Fleet’s chances to settle were dealt a blow on 10 minutes when Scott Ginty pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury and he was replaced by Benjamin. But instead of rocking the Fleet, it inspired them and Phipp strode down the wing to fire a ball to the far post where Michael West was lurking and he tucked it away.
But the home side bounced back quickly and after Derek Duncan had cleared off the line from Alli Abdullah, Chris Henry was then penalised for upending Reece Prestedge inside the box on 18 minutes. But having saved two penalties in pre-season, and let one in last week, Preston Edwards has certainly had plenty of experience with spot kicks lately and he dived to palm away ex-Fleet midfielder Scott Shulton’s effort to the joy of the travelling fans.
That really was the last blot on Fleet’s copybook as they wrestled control of the game away from the home side. Calum Willock almost got on the end of a delightful Ashley Carew pass and then on 32 minutes Fleet made Stortford pay for their earlier missed chances. Duncan crossed from wide and Ram Marwa judged the flight of the ball perfectly to lash home a wonderful volley. Marwa could have got another a minute later from Carew’s pass and with West and Phipp in fine form, the home defence suddenly looked vulnerable.
Indeed it should have been 3-0 shortly before the break when Willock crossed into the six-yard box and first Benjamin, then Marwa and then West had chances to convert from close range but somehow the home goal survived.
The second half was a slightly more sedate affair as Fleet refused to surrender the initiative and the home side never really looked like recovering things. Henry, Phipp and West put together a superb move four minutes after the restart and then Phipp, growing in confidence, ghosted past two players and unleashed a curling 25-yard shot that was just wide of the target.
And on 63 minutes the Fleet put the game beyond doubt. A long free kick from just inside the Stortford half caught everybody but West cold and he sent a looping header at the far post over goalkeeper Nick Morgan. It got even worse for the hosts 90 seconds later when Willock went through on goal and Ritchie Jones upended him and saw red as last man to the dismay of home fans.
The Stortford supporters saw little of their strikers as the game petered out in the last quarter, though Prestedge’s cross was hooked away by Henry for a corner in a rare threat to the Fleet goal. Tyron Sealey came on for the final 12 minutes to run the Stortford full backs ragged but with the game won, the Fleet reserved their energy for the two big Kent derbies to come.
This was a well-deserved win for a side growing in confidence who leapfrogged their opponents in the table and with young players like West and Phipp coming to the fore to bolster the contribution of their more experienced colleagues, Fleet fans can go into next week’s game full of cheer.
TEAM: Edwards, Henry, Duncan, Carew, Pooley, Lorraine, West, Marwa (Stone 71), Willock (Sealey 78),