FLEET LOST SETANTA SHIELD SEMI-FINAL TO LATE GOAL TO END ALL CUP INTEREST…
EBBSFLEET UNITED 0-1 FOREST GREEN ROVERS
The Fleet lost their second cup semi-final by a single goal as a late winner from Forest Green Rovers ended the home side’s interest in this season’s Setanta Shield. As at Crawley, Liam Daish oncee again fielded a weakened side with PASE players Michael West, Chris Henry and Ryan Cole all starting against a Forest Green side who had lost only one of their last eight games and fielded a strong enough side, albeit one with three or four of their own youngsters.
The visitors had much the better of the first half with former Torquay striker Kaid Mohamed and the dangerous Andy Mangan testing a Fleet defence that included veterans Peter Hawkins and Paul McCarthy. But with experience aplenty in the Fleet defence and Sam Mott unfazed in only his second appearance of the season, Rovers were just about kept at bay.
Ricky Shakes’ introduction at half time for Cole shook the Fleet up and Rovers were off the pace for the opening blows in the second half. With Derek Duncan’s introduction for Sacha Opinel just after the hour mark, the pace of the game quickened and it became end-to-end stuff for 15 minutes or so, Mott saving very well one-handed after Rovers brokw quickly and Mohamed shot on target.
Most of the chances were on the break and Shakes excelled with one such Fleet move on 74 minutes, racing away but his shot was saved by Terry Burton who got his legs in the way. Conal Platt, along with Mohamed, was energising a Rovers side that perked up noticeably as extra time loomed.
And sure enough it was he who provided the ammunition on 86 minutes after collecting from Lee Fowler’s pass. Platt made a great run, cutting into the box and Mohamed was on hand on the edge of the six-yard box to steer the ball past Mott. Shakes had one more late chance, palmed away by Burton with less than a minute on the clock but it was not to be for the Fleet and Rovers left Stonebridge Road with another 1-0 win nder their belt and the prospect of a live televised final at The New Lawn against Telford United.
TEAM: Mott, Hawkins, Opinel (Duncan 64), Pooley McCarthy, Slatter, West, Henry, Purcell, Judge (Cumbers 78), Cole (Shakes 46). Subs not used: Cronin, Smith.