Fleet finally got the monkey of that first elusive win off their backs with a 3-1 victory at Dorchester this afternoon – while also enjoying the luxury of a missed penalty against a side who finished the game with only nine men.
Steve Brown made one change to his starting line-up, Billy Bricknell in for Dominic Green, which provided the Fleet a more attacking formation against a side also searching for their first win of the season.
And the visitors were keen to get off the mark early as they set about their task with gusto – as against Maidenhead on Monday. Magpies goalkeeper Alan Walker-Harris making a string of saves – one of them a header! – as Alex Osborn, Bricknell and Anthony Cook both went close. Fleet picked up two bookings courtesy of Paul Lorraine and Dean Rance as both sides weren’t shirking from a challenge, before Dorchester striker Nick Crittenden hacked another Bricknell effort off the line.
Fleet couldn’t quite believe their ill luck in meeting an in-form home goalkeeper as Walker-Harris kept a succession of shots at bay and even when Michael Thalassitis did force the ball over the line, it was ruled out for offside. The home side mustered little of danger, the best Dan Green’s shot over the bar and a Ben Watson chance that troubled only the side netting. But Dorchester couldn’t hold out until half-time as Bricknell rediscovered his pre-season prolificity on 38 minutes, controlling a ball in from Cook well before driving a shot past Walker-Harris.
Brown’s men didn’t have it all their own way after the break as Bournemouth loanee Brandon Goodship saw a decent effort turned round the post by Preston Edwards, while Charlie Clough headed over. Osborn and Cook kept the visitors in the ascendancy with chances and Fleet must have thought they’d broken the home side’s resistance on 57 minutes when Anthony Cook’s superb shot from outside the box put his team in the driving seat, but six minutes later Dorchester were back in it, Ben Watson reducing the arrears, stabbing home after Goodship’s effort from a corner was parried by Edwards.
Fortunately for the Fleet, there was no subsequent barrage to withstand as minutes later, Thalassitis capitalised on Neil Martin’s back pass but was upended by Walker-Harris who was red-carded for his troubles. But in a topsy-turvy exchange of emotions, Fleet’s hopes were dashed when substitute goalkeeper Tim Sandercombe got a hand to Thalassitis’s second penalty of the season and suddenly it was game on again.
Sandercombe proved no less a barrier than Walker-Harris had and he saved two good efforts from Alex Osborn and Bricknell. But it really wasn’t Dorchester’s afternoon, as three minutes from time Bricknell finished well to make it 3-1 and then the Magpies lost Clough to a second yellow card.
TEAM: Edwards, Howe, Palmer, Rance, Lorraine, Huke, Cook, McMahon, Thalassitis (Corcoran 69), Bricknell, Osborn (Green 81). Subs not used: Hall, Long, Sankofa.