Tom Phipp’s second goal of the season maintains Fleet’s unbeaten away record at league leaders Bromley…
In familiar, if wetter surroundings for the Fleet after last week’s cup tie at Hayes Lane, Liam Daish kept faith with the side that came through against Cray Wanderers on Tuesday. Bromley included their recent signing from Chelmsford, Marlon Patterson, as well as ex-Fleet players Tony Finn and Wes Daly as well as former youth team and Gravesend local John Scarborough.
Fleet started as if keen to blow the cobwebs of the last two games clean away and penned Bromley back from the kick-off with ex-Lilywhite Ashley Carew and Craig Stone both having sight of goal. But for all that, it was the league leaders who got off the mark early, winning a free kick on 9 minutes, which Finn floated in and Paul Vines glanced a fine header into the back of the net.
The home side’s set pieces and pacy forward movement unsettled the Fleet for much of the game but the back line held firm to prevent a repeat of last season’s meeting between these sides when Bromley raced into a 2-0 lead.
Indeed any chance of that happening was dismissed on 17 minutes when the Fleet hauled themselves back into proceedings. A Carew corner was not dealt with by goalkeeper Wes Foderingham and his punch fell to Tom Phipp who did very well to lob the ball over Foderingham for his second goal of the season.
After that it was end to end stuff as the derby flavour of this game filtered on to the pitch. Fleet enjoyed a decent period of play from around the 20th minute mark, Phipp intercepting a hesitant defence but he spurned the opportunity. Calum Willock also got a touch from a knockdown but saw his effort deflected wide while Michael West ghosted in at the far post to head a Stone cross goalwards but saw it cleared. Towards the end of the half, another ex-White, Gareth Williams, saw his shot saved while Clint Easton managed to hit only fresh air when well placed inside the box.
Not that the home side were exactly lying down and twice their danger man Warren McBean was clean through – on the first occasion he slammed the ball well wide of the target and the second time, a minute later, he was thwarted by Preston Edwards. Finn and Vines also went close as the Fleet defence buzzed with nervous anticipation.
The second half progressed quietly until the Fleet had the first real sniff at goal on 55 minutes when West played in Williams and his shot was initially spilled by Foderingham but well gathered at Willock’s second attempt as purple shirts were poised to convert.
Fleet enjoyed plenty of possession and Bromley took until the 67th minute to explode into life with another of their trademark breaks, Salifou Ibrahima racing through and he looked odds-on to score but again Edwards stood tall. On 75 minutes, Williams exchanged passes with Willock to cap an excellent Fleet move but the end result was disappointing as he shot wide.
Fleet looked the more likely to score as the game headed towards its conclusion and West found the side netting before Bromley hacked clear as a Fleet corner caused anxiety in the box. Bromley replaced McBean with Nic McDonnell as they sought to consolidate their hold on the top spot but the tempo of the match was such that chances were few and far between.
But two more did come Fleet’s way when the impressive Stone hoisted a ball into West’s path but as the Fleet midfielder pulled clear of the defenders he pulled his shot too far wide of the target. And barely a minute later Willock sidestepped the Bromley goalkeeper but somehow contrived to roll the ball wide of the post as Bromley’s unbeaten run continued to hang by a thread.
Survive it did as neither side could muster another attack, but Fleet’s equally impressive unbeaten run away from home is also intact – though they might be kicking themselves they didn’t nick all three points at the climax of this entertaining Kent derby.
TEAM: Edwards, Stone, Easton, Carew, Pooley, Lorraine, West (Sealey 90), Marwa, Willock, Williams, Phipp (Shakes 54). Subs not used: Hagan, Udoji, Henry.
Michael West scooped man of the match in midweek with 35% of the vote. Cast your vote for today’s [ HERE ].