Boro blast Fleet out of the water

STEVENAGE BOROUGH 3-1 EBBSFLEET UNITED

Peter Taylor’s play-off challengers all but end Fleet’s own ambitions in that department…


STEVENAGE BOROUGH 3-1 EBBSFLEET UNITED

By Allan Main

Liam Daish may well have instilled in his troops his desire to end the league season on a high note, but a Fleet side that has lost its last three Blue Square Premier matches is fast losing touch with the play-off contenders and suffering a slump in form at a crucial period.

Not that this trip to Broadhall Way which last season ended in a 3-0 victory for the home side was ever going to be easy, but the Fleet made even harder work of it with some poor defending and very little to show up front for the first hour of proceedings. Daish opted to give recent signing from Grays – Charley Hearn – his first start in midfield as Luke Moore pushed up to support John Akinde in attack. But it was another former Grays man, Mitchell Cole, who was quickest to register an interest on goal after only four minutes but Lance Cronin wasn’t unduly troubled and gathered the shot comfortably.

Danger man Steve Morison headed Daryl McMahon’s cross wide of the left upright on 10 minutes and Peter Vicenti planted a carbon copy effort in the same place five minutes later as the Fleet struggled to shine against a well-organised Boro side. It took the Fleet almost 20 minutes to emerge as any kind of attacking force when Luke Moore headed over the bar while Michael Bostwick’s trademark long-range effort was dealt with by Boro keeper Alan Julian.

But Stevenage opened the scoring on 37 minutes when Tyrone Berry was quickest to react as Cole made space down the left and his cross fell invitingly in the penalty area where Berry knocked it home despite Fleet defenders in attendance in the six-yard box.

If the Fleet had hoped to limp home until half-time they were sorely mistaken on 41 minutes, with Berry involved again. His corner from the right swung away from Cronin and Ashley Westwood, strangely undisturbed by his marker, powered home number two with his head.

Daish’s half-time team talk would likely not have made family viewing and his comments five minutes into the second half probably unprintable for Stevenage got a third goal from another set piece. Lawrie Wilson’s throw-in found Cole and as Gary MacDonald went ot intercept he weas adjudged to have handled the ball to hoots of derision from the Fleet following. Derision turned to despair as McMahon’s free kick was floated in and Morison was first to react to head past Cronin.

The Fleet briefly revived themselves on the hour mark when substitute George Purcell was felled by Tommy Smith and after Stacy Long and Charley Hearn had debated the free-kick, Long sent in a decent cross which curled away from Julian and Akinde was on hand to head home. The Fleet finally upped their game and had a spell of pressure where Chris McPhee glanced a header wide on 67 minutes and Purcell should have done better with a wayward blast that merely bemused Julian.

Sacha Opinel found himself in the book late on for a foul on Wilson, his 10th of the campaign meaning a two-match ban is imminent whiel Morison hit the back of the net for the home side late on but the linesman’s flag ruled that effort out. Stevenage looked content to play the game out for a deserved three points that places them in the play-off driving seat and the Fleet trailing a long way behind.

TEAM: Cronin, McPhee, Opinel, Hawkins, MacDonald (Charles 78), Barrett (Ricketts 54), Bostwick, Long, Hearn, Moore (Purcell 54), Akinde. Subs not used: Mott, Nade.

Attendance: 2,016

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