It’s a sour reunion with his former boss for Liam Daish, as lacklustre Fleet lose at home for the second game running.
EBBSFLEET UNITED 0-1 HISTON
The Fleet slumped to their second consecutive 1-0 defeat at Stonebridge Road to league newcomers Histon in a largely disappointing game in which visiting goalkeeper Mark Osborn was a virtual spectator. The Fleet welcomed back Warren Goodhind, who slotted into the suspended Paul McCarthy’s place and gave Raphael Nade his first start, with Mark De Bolla relegated to the bench.
Histon arrived on the back of a 2-0 win over Salisbury and it was clear from the off that they were not a side to be overawed at this level of football as they looked self-assured and in Patrick Ada had a central defender who easily mopped up the best of what the Fleet had to throw. Not that there was very much attacking done by either side in the opening 45 minutes, with little ball to feet and few chances for a clear shot on goal. When the Fleet did create something on 22 minutes, George Purcell flashed disappointingly high over the bar after some good work cutting in from the touchline.
With speculative long-range shots from Danny Slatter and Stacy Long hardly troubling Osborn, Histon began to gain an edge and in the physical presence of Cliff Akurang, had a vehicle to trouble the Fleet defenders. Akurang had a shot turned away by Tynan on 32 minutes, and another header flashed wide two minutes later as the Fleet defence struggled to cope with Histon’s aerial threat from set pieces.
Long had another effort sail over the target on 40 minutes, while Histon traded off-target shots either side of that, Craig Pope and Antonio Murray seeing their efforts go wide of Scott Tynan’s goal. The writing was on the wall as the second half began, Fleet clearly second-best in the physical battle, and creating little with a succession of hopeful balls that became less effective once Nade had been replaced by Liam Coleman at half time.
Sure enough, Histon capitalised on 50 minutes. An uncharacteristic slip by Peter Hawkins, clearly unsettled by Akurang’s constant harrying, saw the ball fall loose to Adrian Cambridge. He laid the ball off to John Kennedy who teed up a perfect cross from the right that Antonio Murray, who had jumped clear of a static Fleet defence, headed wide of Tynan and into the net.
Stand-in skipper Slatter tried to gee his side up and hit another 20-yarder on 52 minutes, but the Fleet were short of ideas in the final third of the field and it was Histon who looked more likely to score again. Cambridge forced a save from Tynan, while Murray and Akurang both had headers bounce wide of the post as the visitors were first to almost every aerial ball. With better finishing Histon could have added to their tally, but both sides were guilty of some wasteful attempts on goal, with the advertising hoardings either side of the goal taking a buffeting all night. A succession of Histon corners had the Fleet on the rack, until Luke Moore’s shot on 68 minutes restored some menace to the home side. Chukki Eribenne also managed to get room to turn in the box, but his shot got stuck in a crowded penalty area.
Liam Daish made one last throw of the dice, with Mark De Bolla replacing Eribenne and Chris McPhee pushed up front, but the home side had only one effort of note when Gareth Gwillam upended Luke Moore on the edge of the penalty area and despite adamant appeals from the Fleet players that the offence was inside the box, the referee awarded only a free-kick after consulting his linesman.
A point would probably have been unfair on a Histon side who outmuscled and outjumped a lacklustre Fleet, won the physical battle and left Liam Daish with a lot to think about before the trip to Weymouth on Saturday.
TEAM: Tynan, Hawkins, Goodhind, Bostwick, Purcell, McPhee, Slatter, Long, Moore, Eribenne (De Bolla 75), Nade (Coleman 46). Subs not used: Cronin, Maskell, Starkey.