As they did at Edgeley Park, Stockport County pulled the rug from under the Fleet in the final minutes to come away from the Kuflink Stadium with their first win here.
It was a tough result on the Fleet who had certainly done more than enough in matching their opponents for a draw, although neither side carved out too many chances in chasing the win.
Having conquered the elements in getting the match on, both sides then struggled to get on top of them on a boggy, gloopy pitch that cut up underfoot – though at least the rain and wind held off for a half.
Kevin Watson made two enforced changes, with Jordan Holmes replacing David Gregory in goal and Frankie Sutherland out with an injury, John Goddard returning in his place.
Both sides forced a couple of corners in the opening minutes before Jermaine McGlashan hared upfield as best he could on the surface on the break on seven minutes. His attempt to turn the ball inside to Gozie Ugwu just slipped past the striker and ran clear of John Goddard.
County’s best two chances came with a little bit of luck as the ball ran their way in midfield. The first, on nine minutes, saw Ben Jackson strike a firm shot from 20 yards that Holmes had to push away.
Four minutes later, another slice of fortune saw Sam Walker dig out a pass wide to Sam Minihan overlapping down the right and his half-cross/shot bounced back off the heels of Jamie Grimes.
Fleet weathered that and Michael Timlin’s 15th minute shot cannoned off Gozie Ugwu, though Fleet’s No.9 recovered to fetch the ball and his effort was deflected into the Swanscombe End.
It was Timlin and Ugwu who again combined on the edge of the box, a short pass opening up the Stockport defence and Ugwu went down on the line but referee Lloyd Wood waved away penalty appeals.
The pendulum swung back Stockport’s way when Salford loanee Danny Lloyd worked his way to the byline and cut the ball back into the box but with Liam McAlinden and Elliot Osborne waiting it rolled away from both.
County enjoyed a spell in the ascendancy and McAlinden got on the end of a swift counterattack, clear of the Fleet back line, but Holmes was out quickly to dive at his feet.
And the goalkeeper had to be alert again on 32 minutes when Fleet were casual in clearing their lines and Walker let fly on target, Holmes pushing it over. From the corner, Fleet escaped a scramble in the six-yard box and Josh Umerah got space on the counterattack but was stopped in his tracks.
The visitors probably should have been ahead seven minutes from the break when an attack was chased down by Holmes but McAlinden sent a back-heel rolling towards the line. Fleet hacked that away but Walker smashed a shot off the crossbar and a second was blocked before the ball was eventually hoisted clear.
It was an action-packed final few minutes as Adam Mekki’s cross to the far post slipped one side of the onrushing Ugwu then the other side of the post. Jack King found Ugwu with a header from a corner but that subsequent effort went just over, before Osborne tested Holmes with a shot that whistled across goal and the Fleet goalkeeper tipped it over.
As the gloomy sky suddenly looked more threatening and the wind buffeted the ground, County almost got their noses in front within seconds of the restart – Osborne getting on the end of a cross but unable to beat Holmes.
Timlin’s thunderous tackle on 53 minutes saw Umerah turn Liam Hogan but he was brought down, earning the Stockport man a yellow card.
The increasingly influential Timlin forced Ben Hinchliffe into a low shot on the hour after a clever feint by Umerah but Stockport began to enjoy more possession and forced several corners as the rain poured down.
But Fleet weathered both the conditions and the Stockport ascendancy and as a flurry of substitutes entered the game, there seemed little chance of anyone breaking the deadlock.
Umerah had two sights of goal, getting a shot away from another Timlin pass that Hinchliffe saved and then he tried to outpace his marker chasing a through ball but sent that chance wide.
Fleet’s best opportunity arrived on 79 minutes, Timlin sending a delivery towards the penalty spot. Adeloye got up well to reach it but though he kept his effort on target, Hinchliffe did well to push it away for a corner.
But the sickening blow for the home side arrived on 86 minutes when substitute Paul Turnbull’s corner to the far post was at a great height for Palmer to attack and he steered a firm header beyond Holmes.
Fleet rallied in the final minutes, Adeloye’s run out wide and subsequent cross not quite making it to Umerah. McGlashan struggled to keep his feet with another run down the right and seconds before the final whistle, Ugwu swung at a ball eight yards out and it fell for McGlashan but he steered it wide and the points were gone.
EUFC: Holmes, Wilson, Grimes, King, Timlin, Payne (Lawless 78), Goddard (Adeloye 67), McGlashan, Mekki, Ugwu, Umerah. Subs not used: Blackman, Ekpiteta, Palmer
SCFC: Hinchliffe, Minihan, Hogan, Palmer, Cowan, Jackson, Keane, Walker (Dimaio 81), Osborne (Turnbull 63), McAlinden (Bell 68), Lloyd. Subs not used: Ormson, Arthur