THE FLEET BREAK THE ROCKS IN THE RESCHEDULED FIRST DEFENCE OF TROPHY TITLE…
The Fleet successfully negotiated the first hurdle in the defence of their FA Trophy title at Bognor last night, two goals in injury time of each half settling the affair for Liam Daish’s side. The visitors started well, encamped in the Bognor half and taking numerous potshots at the home goal until Michael Gash carved out the first real opportunity, getting through on goal only to see his low shot parried by former Oxford goalkeeper Chris Tardif.
Luke Moore had a chance in similar circumstances and managed to outwit Tardif but the ball rolled just wide of the goal. The Rocks settled better after that, with Carl Pettefer and Mike McEnery testing the Fleet full backs but service to their front men was lacking a cutting edge. Tom Clarke was also twice through on goal but didn’t really test Lance Cronin, while the home side also failed to do enough from several close-range free-kicks to get that equaliser. Sure enough, the Fleet punished such lacklustre finishing in the dying seconds of the first half when Gash knocked on a throw-in which teed up nicely for Stacy Long to shoot home with Tardif possibly unsighted by the players in front of him.
The Blue Square South side weren’t unduly dispirited in the second half, with Louis Castles and Clarke probing at the Fleet defence while Jones Awuah headed McEnery’s useful cross just past Cronin’s post. But the Fleet, marshalled by James Smith and Dean Pooley, seemed content to protect their one-goal lead and – though it looked enough as the game drew to a close – they were able to double it at the death.
Castles lost the ball for Bognor and the Fleet broke, sending in a cross that confused the home defence and as Tardif came to collect, a combination of substitute Craig Stone and Michael Byrne saw the ball hit the back of the net.
This was a hard-fought win against a side who had spells of tidy football and had Clarke applied the finishing touch to Castles and McEnery’s supply, Bognor could well have emerged with something more to show. But the Fleet’s performance was a professional one and enough to get the job done on a night when the result was all that mattered.
TEAM: Cronin, Opinel, Slatter, Smith, Pooley, Hand, Murray, Long (Stone 77), Moore (Shakes 90), Gash (Ibe 90), Purcell. Subs not used: Hawkins, French.