FLEET RESUME SUNDAY SERVICE WITH SECOND GOALLESS DRAW IN RELEGATION SIX-POINTER
EBBSFLEET UNITED 0-0 YORK CITY
Report by Ed Miller
A pre-match hailstorm and a half-time marriage proposal suggested that this game might throw a few out-of-the-ordinary shapes into the mix but as the final scoreline suggests, Fleet’s second blank Sunday game in succession yielded little satisfaction for either side. Liam Daish kept faith with the side that played most of the replay against Wrexham last week with Sacha Opinel keeping his place ahead of substitute Derek Duncan and Luke Moore forcing Ricky Shakes out of the starting line-up once again. York left ex-Fleet striker Onome Sodje on the bench and played youngster Adam Boyes ahead of top scorer Richard Brodie who, because he was on nine yellow cards, may have been rested ahead of York’s FA Trophy semi-final.
In deceptively blustery conditions, neither side got to grips with the game early on and both defences were on top. Lance Cronin had to deal with a slew of occasionally worrying back passes all afternoon, most of which he dealt with admirably, though his kick straight at Simon Russell might have proved costly but for an interception by Mark Ricketts. Cronin might also have been outfoxed on 13 minutes by a speculative Daniel McBreen drive from 30 yards after a Darius Charles clearance fell to him, but fortunately for the Fleet it gained too much height and went over the bar. McBreen went close again two minutes later when he nipped in ahead of Leon Crooks and Opinel to slide a shot that had Cronin flapping, though the Fleet keeper pounced on the loose ball.
Charles as usual bossed the Fleet defence and alongside him Crooks nullified what little threat the York strikers possessed, with only attacking midfielder Russell appearing in any way ambitious. With both sides’ midfields failing to take control of the game on a slippery surface, there was little creativity on show and John Martin struggled to get going, given little time on the ball when he sought to send Michael Gash and Moore through on goal. Stacy Long’s 22nd minute effort from distance was the Fleet’s first decent opportunity but York keeper Michael Ingham tipped it over the bar and onto the netting as the ball twisted in the wind.
Giuseppe Sole then sent a free-kick just wide after Gash and Moore had carved open a chance on the edge of the box that was halted illegally by Shaun Pejic, while Opinel also tried his luck after good play down the left, another shot that Ingham had to watch carefully as the wind threatened to carry it below the bar. Neil Barrett also kept Ingham busy with a low effort on 42 minutes but he failed to connect properly from Martin’s free kick. But the distribution from both sides meant their strikers carried little direct threat, and York’s Ben Purkiss was guilty of a host of poor crosses and gifted the Fleet possession on several occasions but for all their running, from Long, Gash and Moore in particular, there was no end product.
With the Fleet’s recent second-half performances showing much improvement, Stonebridge Road was optimistic at the restart. And certainly the Fleet, attacking the Plough End,