Salisbury City come back from a goal down to see the Fleet slip to defeat, and Neil Barrett suffers ankle injury.
SALISBURY CITY 2-1 EBBSFLEET UNITED
The Fleet endured an ultimately miserable evening in Wiltshire as Salisbury’s first home game in the Blue Square Premier resulted in their first victory of the season, and once again saw a new signing (Neil Barrett, pictured) stretchered off late in the game.
But it could all have been so different with the visitors again claiming an early goal following Aaron Cook’s trip on Luke Moore as the young striker shaped up for a shot. Less than three minutes were on the clock when the Fleet’s new penalty taker, Mark De Bolla, trotted up to slam his penalty home to the right of goalkeeper Ryan Clarke.
To be fair to the home side, the early setback didn’t unduly upset them and dangerman Matthew Tubbs, with 88 goals in his City career, forced Scott Tynan into a hasty save on 7 minutes. Moments later Sacha Opinel found himself cautioned for unsporting behaviour and Chukki Eribenne loosed off a wild shot from 20 yards that went wide of Clarke’s post.
On 24 minutes, Chris McPhee also tried his luck from distance, but his left-foot drive cleared the crossbar. Salisbury posted their intent three minues later when a cross by Jon Bass was met by the lively Robbie Matthews, and he should have done better with an off-target header. Opportunities for Wayne Turk and another from Matthews, saved at his feet by Tynan, failed to wake the Fleet from their lethargy and it was little surprise when five minutes before half-time Bass floated in a weighted cross from the right and Matthews met it with aplomb to glance a well-directed header past the despairing Tynan.
If the first half was a fair reflection of an even contest, the second was a story of Salisbury’s growing confidence. Daish replaced the quiet Stacy Long with Raphael Nade but things went awry for the Fleet within five minutes when England non-league international Tubbs eased himself clear of the visiting defence and put a shot low past Tynan.
Mark De Bolla had an effort saved on 56 minutes but made way for Liam Coleman 10 minutes later. The change did little to improve the Fleet’s midfield showing and on 68 minutes Tubbs, who had been giving Peter Hawkins a hard time, netted for a second time but was flagged offside. Salisbury attempted to turn the screw with a succession of crosses from wide and on the occasions the Fleet did get forward, their defence stood firm. With Purcell replacing Opinel on 74 minutes, Daish must have had a sense of deja vu as Neil Barrett went down with what appeared to be a nasty ankle injury and had to be stretchered off, as his former Woking colleague Gary MacDonald had done only three days previously.
Within touching distance of the three points, Salisbury withdrew Tubbs to the gratitude of the Fleet defenders and the visitors tried to step up the search for an equaliser, but a late Nade effort failed to break down the eager home side and with the referee blowing for full-time, the Fleet were again left to reflect on Lady Luck’s poor showing and yet another costly injury.
TEAM: Tynan, Starkey, Opinel (Purcell 75), Hawkins, McCarthy, Barrett, Long (Nade 45), De Bolla (Coleman 64), McPhee, Eribenne, Moore. Subs not used: Mott, Stubbs.
Report by Allan Main
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