Fleet could only close the gap on leaders Basingstoke Town by a point after a goalless draw, coupled with Anthony Acheampong’s late red card, summed up a disappointing afternoon.
Steve Brown named an unchanged side, with new signing Brendan Kiernan having to be content with a place on the bench. Bath started with top scorer David Pratt having regained his place in the first XI while ex-Fleet man Phil Walsh sat out the game through injury.
Fleet had the first half largely under control but failed to really exert much pressure on the Bath goal throughout. The home side’s first effort was an Anthony Cook shot curled over the bar, while Charlie Sheringham and Daryl McMahon saw efforts easily gathered by goalkeeper Jason Mellor. Just past the quarter-hour mark a long throw from Matt Johnson was met at the near post by Dean Rance but he planted his header wide.
The visitors came back into it from the 20-minute mark and when Joe Howe was booked for a foul on Frankie Artus, the same player picked himself up to send in a free-kick that Brandon Hall could only parry to the edge of the six-yard box, forcing McMahon to turn the ball behind before Chris Allen could strike.
Six minutes later it was McMahon mopping up again as he cleared Pratt’s header from a corner at the foot of the post as Bath enjoyed their best spell of the match. On 37 minutes, Godden created his side’s best move despite having to retreat from the Bath box back into his own half. Palmer picked up his pass and sent a cross high towards Sheringham that he headed over the bar. A minute later Godden sent a downwards header into Mellor’s arms from six yards before Pratt cannoned into Hall at the other end as both went for a high ball and earned a yellow card for his troubles.
That livened up the crowd and they saw Fleet carve out their best two opportunities on the stroke of half-time when Godden’s snapshot was tipped over thanks to the quick reactions of Mellor and from the corner Acheampong swung at the ball in a goalmouth scramble but Bath managed to clear.
Bath continued to soak up the Fleet’s forward forays in the second half. Clark’s header on 47 minutes was gathered well by Mellor but after that the game settled into a lull. Hall tipped a Pat Keary corner over the bar before McMahon’s low free-kick on 63 minutes was deflected just past the post at the other end.
And that was as close as Fleet came with the remainder of the half a frustrating spectacle in the rain. Eleven minutes from time, the afternoon was summed up as Ross Stearn put substitute Andy Watkins through and Acheampong felled him on the edge of the box to earn himself a red card, the third Fleet sending-off at the PHB Stadium this season.
Shane Huke came on to plug the gap, while Kiernan attempted to create an opening on the wing, his best contribution a neat cross that Mellor plucked out of the air in the closing minutes.
TEAM: Hall, Howe, Palmer, McMahon, Acheampong, Clark, Johnson (Kiernan 69), Rance, Sheringham, Godden (Huke 81), Cook. Subs not used: Edwards, Bricknell, Corcoran