Points are becoming ever more precious for the Fleet and they will be mindful that a draw today will likely mean an even greater urgency to overcome Bromley on Tuesday. On a heavy pitch, Fleet toiled without much luck against a Stortford side whose early goal gave them real belief they could spring a surprise.
With Matt Fish ill, Ben Jefford started in defence while Tyrone Marsh got the nod ahead of Sean Shields. Stortford started the speedier of the two sides, forcing a number of corners in the opening minutes. Frankie Merrifield almost got on the end of a cross to steer the ball past Preston Edwards as it flashed across goal and the best the Fleet could muster was a looping effort from Theo Lewis as he advanced into the box.
Fleet were just beginning to find a little bit of passing rhythm when the home side struck in the 11th minute. Merrifield left the Fleet defence for dead with a burst down the left and crossed low for Scott Sellears to blast in from low range as Edwards attempted to follow the flight of the ball.
Marsh tried to power through but was blocked on the 12-yard line and Adam Cunnington saw a shot blocked inside the box as Fleet tried to get themselves back into it, while Edwards had to be alert to a shot from Bobby-Joe Taylor.
But the visitors did force their way back into the game on the half-hour mark with a goal somewhat out of the blue. Theo Lewis floated in a free-kick to the back post and Kedwell contrived to find the slightest of gaps between the post and goalkeeper to drive a header into the net.
The remainder of the first-half served as a taster of what was to follow in the second, namely nothing much worthy of the name entertainment as Fleet strove to break down the stubborn Stortford resistance, who themselves saw plenty of the ball in the late stages.
The visitors saw most of the ball for the first half-hour of the second period but despite immense efforts from Cunnington and Kedwell, Fleet just couldn’t provide their front men with enough ammunition. Shields entered the game on 70 minutes with Fleet having failed to test goalkeeper Jake Larkins to that point and he provided some width. And Shields, together with Kedwell, had the best opportunity a few minutes later, Kedwell’s header forcing Larkins to divert the ball into space and Shields was just inches ahead of it and unable to slot it home.
The home side closed the game out on top, finding another gear in the final five minutes and putting Fleet under pressure from a series of corners that ultimately came to nothing. With many of the results in Conference South going the Fleet’s way, once again without making any ground, Tuesday night takes on added importance.
TEAM: Edwards, Pooley, Jefford, Johnson, Langmead, Bonner, T Lewis, S Lewis, Kedwell, Cunnington, Marsh (Shields 70). Subs not used: Turner, Kiernan, Gower, Clark