You’d have got some enviable odds on Weston-super-Mare achieving a double over the Fleet at the beginning of the season but the Seagulls did just that as they ruined Jamie Day’s first game as manager, a single goal on 72 minutes serving as punishment for a flat second-half performance by the hosts.
There were few surprises in the manager’s first team selection, though Sean Shields was handed his debut on the left wing, with Brendan Kiernan and Matt Johnson having to be content with a place on the bench.
Fleet looked dangerous straight away and Anthony Cook took only four minutes to get clear down the right and supply Matt Godden inside the penalty area but the striker’s shot was blocked. On the opposite wing, Shields took no time at all to endear himself to the fans with confident running and no shortage of skill. On seven minutes the loanee’s surging run left the Weston defence for dead and his resulting shot was just wide.
But the visitors certainly hadn’t come just to make up the numbers and their own loanee Ollie Watkins, an Exeter striker, proved a handful and he almost grabbed a freak opener when Luke Purnell’s long goal kick forced his opposite number Hall to attempt a punch as Watkins went for the header.
Shields continued to impress and he set Godden up for another shot that was blocked and then turned a wonderful pass into Daryl McMahon’s path that left the Weston defence for dead, but Purnell smothered the ball as the skipper moved to shoot. Purnell spilled a McMahon free kick but Pierce Mitchell was on hand to clear it from the six-yard box.
The visitors countered on 34 minutes when Joe McClennan split the Fleet defence and loosed off a low shot that Hall had to stretch to gather. The home side were still enjoying the bulk of possession, however, and Cook’s floated free kick just evaded Godden and Billy Bricknell. Godden was then played in by Cook and appeared to be pushed as he attempted to follow-up his first shot but the referee waved away appeals for a penalty.
The half-time scoreline had a familiar goalless air about it but the home fans seemed confident their side could step things up in the second half. In fact, it was the complete opposite as Fleet just couldn’t get their attacking game going after the restart. They did have a good chance inside the first three minutes, however, when Cook’s free-kick fell kindly for Bricknell on the edge of the six-yard box but as he stretched for the ball, Purnell was able to turn it behind.
On 55 minutes Shields got in a decent delivery for Godden but Purnell again saved and that was the sum total of Fleet’s second-half efforts. Weston grew in confidence and after a patient build-up outside the Fleet box on 72 minutes, with the home defence unable to clear, Watkins rifled a shot from 15 yards that flew low beyond Hall’s reach into the bottom corner.
Fleet failed to really trouble Weston after that and only Godden’s header into substitute Kiernan that he in turn headed against Purnell gave the visitors any cause for concern. The concern must have been all Jamie Day’s as this defeat will have given him plenty of food for thought.
TEAM: Hall, Sessegnon, Howe, McMahon, Acheampong, Clark, Shields, Rance (Corcoran 75), Godden, Bricknell, Cook (Kiernan 75). Subs not used: Hughes, Huke, Johnson