Fleet returned from self-isolation but found visitors Havant & Waterlooville to be an immovable obstacle as the Hawks scored twice in quick succession towards the end of the first-half to leave the home side with a mountain to climb in the second.
And when Tommy Wright added his second of the afternoon midway through the second period, the game was up as the Hawks’ first win at Stonebridge Road saw them leapfrog the Fleet in the league table.
There were four changes for the home side, Sefa Kahraman, Jake Goodman, Josh Payne on his return from injury and Adam Mekki coming in, Ben Frempah, Charlie Rowan, Alfie Egan and Iffy Allen making way.
And it was injuries rather than chances that produced the talking points in the opening exchanges as Havant centre-back Moussa Diarra and then the assistant referee were both forced off inside the first quarter-hour. There was a long delay in replacing the official, with a member of Havant’s backroom staff eventually tasked with running the line while a replacement made their way to the ground.
Before that, the visitors had claimed a penalty with their buoyant first attack, Jack Paxman tackling Bedsente Gomis on the edge of the box, and the sides had also traded a couple of shots, Will Wood running through from the right and striking a good, floated effort across goal on six minutes.
Havant produced another half-chance on 22 minutes when Benny Read found Tommy Wright after a decent run down the right but that was well-defended as Fleet crowded out the Havant striker.
Roarie Deacon was next up with a well-struck shot from distance but that was off-target.
Wood continued to be Fleet’s chief threat from his position on the right wing and he produced the nearest thing to a goal on 26 minutes. Attacking from the flank, he drove inside and his ball across was cut out by Ross Worner. But the Havant keeper didn’t gather it cleanly and as it ran clear, Rakish Bingham couldn’t quite dig it out, affording Worner a second chance to kill the ball.
After trading fairly equal blows to that point, Havant took the lead on 36 minutes. Tobi Adebayo-Rowling found himself in the book for a foul on Gomis and from that free-kick came the goal. Deacon’s low shot through a crowd was parried by Jordan Holmes but it fell to substitute Craig Robson who drilled a low shot into the opposite corner.
Fleet could have done with seeing things out to half-time at that point but found themselves trailing to a second goal two minutes later. Kahraman’s pass out of defence drifted towards Deacon and his strong run laid the ball off to Josh Taylor on the right. Taylor cut inside and though his shot was blocked, it skidded across the box to Wright who controlled it and placed it in the same corner Robson had found moments before.
Holmes had to be quick to prevent a third when he was sold short coming off his line and raced out to clear from Leon Chambers-Parillon, who went tumbling as Havant shouted for a penalty but the Fleet goalkeeper had clearly taken the ball.
Wood’s contribution to the Fleet cause was still the home side’s most likely source for a goal and in time added on he beat two men out wide, his delivery coming off Robson’s instep and forcing Worner to scramble it off his line and over the bar.
Worner had to push away another deep Wood delivery to the far post and Bingham felt the pain as he clashed with the goalkeeper going for a high ball that he headed over.
Neither side took a firm grip on the second half, with Bingham’s 49th minute run picked out by Lee Martin but that was sent behind for a corner.
Bobby-Joe Taylor’s run clear of the defence saw him drive into the box but as he looked to slip behind the defence his cross was overhit and drifted wide.
Alfie Egan was sent on for a tiring Payne on 56 minutes but before he could exert any influence, Havant had the game sewn up. Goodman’s ball out of defence was intercepted by Sam Magri and Wright timed his run between the Fleet covering defenders perfectly to receive the ball 30 yards out, see off Paxman’s challenge and deliver a shot past Holmes for 3-0.
Havant were content to sit back after that and Fleet were able to wrestle most of the possession from them for the final 30 minutes. Egan had an effort saved and Martin tried his luck with a dipping effort that was tipped over the bar by Worner.
From the resulting corner, Fleet were sure they’d got a goal back, Taylor’s header glanced down and stopped on the line by Wright as Bingham and Rowan tried to help force it over.
Fleet continued to work but the chances that came their way weren’t clear-cut. Egan curled another effort over and Martin’s cross was met by Bingham but Worner was content to watch those clear the target.
Havant had a couple of late efforts of their own, Rowan well-placed to hack out of the six-yard box after Billy Clifford had got round Holmes.
And then Wright, desperate for his second hat-trick in three games, nipped in ahead of Adebayo-Rowling but dragged his shot wide of the foot of the post.
By then, however, he’d done the damage and Havant’s three goals were enough for the three points.
EUFC: Holmes, Adebayo-Rowling, Taylor, Kahraman, Goodman (Rowan 61), Payne (Egan 56), Paxman, Wood (Allen 61), Mekki, Martin, Bingham. Subs not used: Dobson, Hadler
HWFC: Worner, Read, Straker, Magri, Diarra (Robson 10), Poku (Clifford 56), Taylor, Deacon (Ajakaiye 77), Chambers-Parillon, Wright. Subs not used: Kedwell, Iaciofano