Fleet started 2016 by keeping their unbeaten away record intact with a goalless draw in damp conditions at Concord Rangers.
While Maidstone’s victory cut Fleet’s points lead to eight, it’s a point more than they began the Christmas campaign with and the three unbeaten matches keep Fleet moving forward into the next two home matches against Truro City and Margate.
Daryl McMahon made one enforced change, with Charlie Sheringham starting his first game after Matt Godden succumbed to a hamstring injury prior to travelling, while Anthony Cook earned a recall ahead of Danny Haynes.
With rain falling steadily from kick-off on a fairly muddy pitch, there wasn’t much of a spectacle to be had and the home side were buoyant in the opening exchanges. They could have gone ahead as early as eight minutes when Sam Bantick got sight of goal and lashed a shot that deflected viciously and Brandon Hall did very well to stretch and turn it round the post. It was the first of several corners as Concord went in search of an early goal to repeat the feat of March when they edged Fleet by a single goal. Hall then had to be alert when Bantick tried his luck from distance a short while later, this time the Fleet goalkeeper tipping the effort over the bar.
But the visitors defended well and Kenny Clark had to be on hand on 19 minutes to get between Lewis Taaffe and the goal after Ben Greenhalgh broke through midfield and released his teammate wide on the right. Four minutes later Greenhalgh found room for a shot and again Hall did well to keep that effort at bay. Fleet were hardly reeling but they didn’t carve out a chance of real threat until the half-hour mark when a very good passing move saw Stuart Lewis supply Jordan Parkes and his through ball almost found Danny Kedwell through on goal. Forced wide, Kedwell delivered a cross for Charlie Sheringham whose effort from close range was parried by goalkeeper Ben McNamara.
Another move involving Parkes followed five minutes before half-time, on this occasion Sheringham taking his chance and burying a shot past the goalkeeper but it was adjudged offside by a quick flag from the assistant referee.
Concord edged the first-half but Fleet were the better side in the second half, enjoying a lot more possession and territory. Still there was no way through for either side in a game scarce on chances. On 55 minutes, Fleet had their best chance of the game when Kedwell drifted to the left and crossed for Sheringham whose header was on target but lacked the power to beat McNamara, who nevertheless still had to work for the save.
Parkes and Cook toiled to create something for the visitors and Fleet threw on John Paul Kissock and Danny Haynes with 20 minutes left, but both defences were on top and there was little room to exploit. Clark almost gave Fleet an unlikely lead when he diverted a corner on to the leg of defender Arthur Lee whose attempted clearance went as close to the goal as any chance of the game and minutes later a goalmouth scramble in the Concord six-yard box needed just a touch from a Fleet shirt but the referee spotted an infringement.
Fleet ended the match with a Parkes free-kick that flashed across the goalmouth while Cook had a shot on the turn that screwed wide. Concord threw former Fleet striker Michael Thalassitis into the fray with minutes on the clock but it seemed both sides had settled for the draw by that stage and Fleet will see it as a useful point gained away from home in a typically laborious midwinter affair.
CRFC: McNamara, Hammond, Lee, Cornhill, King, Easterford, Taaffe, White, Greenhalgh (Cox 72), Cawley (Thalassitis 88), Bantick (Dowie 75). Subs not used: Stephen, Ranger.
EUFC: Hall, Fish, Pooley, Lewis (Kissock 69), Clark, Acheampong, Rance, Parkes, Kedwell, Sheringham (Haynes 69), Cook. Subs not used: Miles, Osborn, West.