Leon Crooks and Elliott Charles sent off as Wrexham escape with the three points…
The statistics are stacking up against the Fleet as this afternoon’s defeat made it 12 games without a win and five without scoring. But once again stats don’t tell the whole story for a spirited and hard-working Fleet as they created enough chances to overhaul Wrexham but ultimately fell short where it mattered.
The two sides started enthusiastically with Ishmael Welsh and Silvio Spann immediately at each other down the Fleet left and a tussle between the two brought the earliest chance for the visitors, when Spann cut into the box past Welsh but his ball across found only the side netting.
And Wrexham could have taken the lead on 10 minutes when Wes Baynes sprung the offside trap to go one-on-one with Lance Cronin but the Fleet keeper saved well with his legs.
The Fleet were not without chances of their own, Clint Easton’s shot from outside the box going wide and then Elliott Charles got beyond his marker to get on the end of a long ball over the top, but he too put his effort wide.
The home side could have scored that elusive goal on 20 minutes when Easton’s free-kick floated into the six-yard box and Leon Crooks dived in but his connection failed to beat Chris Maxwell. Wrexham immediately launched a break that reminded home fans of Bromley’s third goal on Saturday, Spann crossing for Baynes to hit a point-blank shot straight at Cronin.
The Welsh side upped the ante thereafter and on 36 minutes, Andrew Fleming found himself running at a Fleet defence that opened up for him but his shot was inaccurate. With the Wrexham midfielders finding plenty of space, Mansour Assoumani also tried his luck but it was another off-target effort.
On 40 minutes there was more danger for the Fleet, Fleming, Mark Jones and Christian Smith breaking clear of the defence, and it was Jones the ball fell to, Cronin brilliantly down at his feet to save as players bore down on him.
The threatened goal came on 43 minutes, however, when Lamine Sakho got too much space and time down the Fleet right and his shot squirmed under Cronin and rolled over the line before Darius Charles could clear.
There was an improvement in Fleet’s attacking play after the break as Liam Daish’s half-time team talk took effect and he threw on Stefan Bailey and Ricky Shakes. It was Shakes who combined with Peter Holmes on 55 minutes to feed Magno Vieira in the six-yard box but the Brazilian’s shot was cleared and Gavin Heeroo’s follow-up was also blocked as Wrexham mounted a last-ditch defence.
Crooks had another chance minutes later when he toe-poked a shot from eight yards while Heeroo sent in a low pass that Vieira was only inches away from connecting.But 23 minutes from time, the Fleet’s forward efforts were dealt a mortal blow. A looping ball found Baynes charging forward for Wrexham and as he threatened to outpace Crooks, the Fleet defender nudged him outside the box. The referee reached for a red card and Crooks was gone.
Easton limped off with an ankle injury four minutes later but a dispirited Fleet found a second wind and went at Wrexham. Heeroo’s shot from 20 yards from a corner thumped off the upright and Holmes sent a dipping free-kick just past the post. And Vieira’s 82nd minute well-directed effort was plucked out of the air by Maxwell as the Fleet threatened an unlikely revival.
But any hopes of a revival were nipped in the bud five minutes from time when Elliott Charles’ late challenge as goalkeeper Maxwell tried to clear was deemed dangerous and he too saw red, though Fleet fans were enraged as Maxwell immediately bounced back into action.
But still the Fleet refused to lie down and they had Wrexham on the ropes again as Maxwell got a hand to a Welsh header and then Vieira slid in on a loose ball that fell to Shakes and his shot was parried by Maxwell. At the other end, Wrexham could have killed things off when Gareth Taylor’s shot was well-saved by Cronin and the Fleet keeper then had to clear up a messy back pass from Welsh.
As the whistle went, Fleet were left surveying another unpalatable truth as they were the only side in the bottom seven to lose and now face three-match bans for Crooks and Charles that might rule the on-loan Barnet striker out from appearing in a red shirt again.
Liam Daish was pleased with the grit and determination of his side today and told Radio Kent that a week off will probably benefit his side and he will use the time to continue to tweak his squad for the battle ahead.
TEAM: Cronin, Heeroo, Easton (Pooley 71), Crooks, D Charles, Holmes, Wills (Shakes 46), Henry (Bailey 46), Welsh, E Charles, Vieira. Subs not used: West, Ginty.