Chris McPhee made it three goals in two games as Fleet progress in the FA Trophy…
EBBSFLEET UNITED 4-1 CARSHALTON ATHLETIC
The scoreline would suggest that the Fleet cruised home this afternoon in their FA Trophy curtain-raiser but they were made to work hard by a dogged Carshalton side who, especially in the first half, could have grabbed three goals with better finishing. In cold conditions – there were certainly enough gloves on show on the field – and cheered on by their vociferous band of supporters, the Robins settled within the first 10 minutes and more than matched the Fleet as both sides probed for an opening. It was the Fleet who found it first, however, as Chris McPhee scrambled home a loose ball on 14 minutes.
The Fleet looked comfortable enough for a period after that, utilising George Purcell’s width and running, though Carshalton had done their homework and soon closed off that avenue of play. The Robins got back into it via some poor defending on 33 minutes when Phil Ruggles ran clear of his markers and lofted a high ball over Lance Cronin and underneath the bar. After that it was the visitors who upped the tempo and, with acres of space down the Fleet left, they had three or four good chances where they could have embarrassed their hosts.
Fortunately for the Fleet they weathered the storm and trooped off to – presumably – a half-time rocket from their boss as they emerged more purposeful in the second half. The opening 10 minutes of the restart has been an achilles heel for the Fleet in recent weeks, but this time they used it to their advantage as McPhee made it two on 51 minutes, extracting the ball from Raphael Nade in a penalty area scramble and choosing his spot before poking a shot to the right of Aaron Howe in the Carshalton goal. It seemed to knock the stuffing out of the visitors and the Fleet clamped their authority on the game, adding to their tally on 77 minutes, Luke Moore collecting the ball down the left, advancing to the corner of the box and then cleverly lofting an impressive high shot into the top right corner of the goal beyond a despairing Howe.
Now coasting, the home side rubbed salt in the wounds in the closing minutes, substitute John Akinde benefitting from some lively running down the right by Liam Coleman and Luke Moore and stabbing in a fourth. Prior to that McPhee could and should have scored the first Fleet hat-trick since Che Stadhart’s against Woking five years ago, his first chance a half-shot which fell short and his second a much better effort that cannoned off the post.
Cronin, Ricketts, Hawkins, Smith, McCarthy, Barrett (Bostwick 58), Long, McPhee, Moore, Nade (Akinde 84), Purcell (Coleman 76). Subs not used: French, Opinel.