EBBSFLEET UNITED 1-0 WEYMOUTH
Fleet go into last eight of FA Trophy as Neil Barrett proves the difference…
EBBSFLEET UNITED 1-0 WEYMOUTH
John Hollins? first game in charge as Weymouth manager ended the same way as his first in charge at Crawley ? with a 1-0 defeat by the Fleet. But the home side?s second victory over Weymouth inside a month wasn?t quite as straightforward as the January 5 game between the two sides when the Fleet triumphed 4-1.
Liam Daish stuck with his recently tried and tested 4-4-2, Luke Moore keeping his place in the side despite ex-Weymouth striker Chukki Eribenne?s midweek exploits against Dartford.
But there was to be little of note in front of goal for either side to shout about. The opening 20 minutes hinted at a cagey affair to come and so it proved, with clear-cut chances at a premium. Weymouth had the first chance to get their noses in front on 19 minutes when Marcus Browning?s long ball from defence eluded a Fleet back four that seemed to be waiting for an offside flag. Stuart Beavon ran onto the pass and as he was bearing down on Lance Cronin, Mark Ricketts sprinted back to perform a superb saving tackle on the edge of his box.
The Fleet?s best chance came six minutes later after they were awarded a rather fortuitous corner when Weymouth goalkeeper Jason Matthews misjudged a bouncing ball and let it slip out of play. Stacy Long?s corner found John Akinde in space inside the six-yard box but the striker was almost too close and lifted his header over the bar.
There was plenty of endeavour, with Long giving Weymouth full back Kyle Critchell a torrid time, but most of it broke down in the final third for the Fleet. And that was about it as far as entertainment went for the 818-strong crowd in the first half, with Fleet restricted to hopeful shots from distance and Weymouth not even troubling a relaxed Cronin in goal.
There was a little more purpose about the home side in the second half, Daish?s warning that they didn?t want a replay and a Setanta Shield game in midweek perhaps ringing in their ears. Once again, however, the Fleet should have edged in front courtesy of a corner, this time James Smith sending a header over the bar on 54 minutes when well placed.
Such profligacy in front of goal was all the urging Daish needed to warm up his attacking substitutes, but as Eribenne and George Purcell were poised for their introductions on the touchline in the 60th minute, Fleet struck gold. A throw-in found John Akinde down the Fleet left but as he threatened to surge towards goal, Critchell got a foot in. Not one to give up the chase, Akinde retrieved the ball, slotted it into Long who cut inside Browning on the edge of the box and played a low cross towards Neil Barrett. The former Woking midfielder?s initial shot was parried by Matthews, but Barrett gobbled up the rebound and slammed the shot high into the net.
Weymouth?s play sped up as a result, but they rarely looked like troubling Cronin and when the eager Eribenne replaced Michael Bostwick on 66 minutes, it was the home side who looked more likely to add to their tally. The Terras brought on winger and former physio Stuart Douglas as a last throw of the dice but it was a bad move for them as first Douglas got involved in a heated exchange with Sacha Opinel and minutes later upended Long with a studs-high challenge that earned him a red card from erratic referee Mr Creighton.
Weymouth mustered little thereafter and four minutes of added-on time presented few scares for a resolute Fleet defence. So it?s the last eight of the FA Trophy for the third time in four years for the Fleet and they must do it all again with Weymouth on Tuesday night to progress in the Setanta Shield as well.
TEAM: Cronin, Ricketts, Opinel, McCarthy, Smith, Bostwick (Eribenne 66), Barrett, Long, Akinde (Purcell 90), Moore. Subs not used: Mott, Coleman, MacDonald.