Fleet and Dorking Wanderers fought out what was only the hosts’ third draw of the season as a quick exchange of goals in the first-half couldn’t be capitalised on further by either side, despite chances coming at both ends in the second-half.
Rakish Bingham swiftly equalised James McShane’s opener and Dominic Poleon might have won it for the Fleet at the end, while a man of the match performance from Louie Moulden shut out the visitors.
Fleet made two changes from the win at St Albans, with Craig Tanner returning from injury and Adam Mekki also starting, in place of Will Wood and Elliott Romain. A guarded opening period saw shots exchanged and blocked, Shaq Coulthirst first for the Fleet and then former red Bobby-Joe Taylor doing the same at the other end.
Moulden was into the action for the first time on 12 minutes when a clearance from Darren Oldaker was very fortunate to skip past Jack Paxman but the Fleet goalkeeper was quick to mop up the cross into his box that followed.
But Dorking went ahead on the quarter-hour when a cross from the left bounced high in the Fleet box, rising over Sido Jombati and it fell kindly for McShane. He reacted quickly and though he didn’t get a clean connection, was able to strike into the roof of the net, clipping the underside of the bar.
The goal came a little against the run of play and Fleet might have felt sorry for themselves as a result but replied almost straight away. Bingham had already had one powerful run through on goal when he got another chance on 18 minutes, fed by Coulthirst’s ball from the left, and the Fleet No.9 announced his return on home soil by advancing on Dan Lincoln and sweeping the ball to the goalkeeper’s right and into an empty net.
Three minutes on from that and Fleet almost breached the Dorking back line again. A formidable run through midfield by Christian N’Guessan found Coulthirst the other side of the visitors’ defence but he lifted his shot high of the bar.
Coulthirst tried his luck again with a close-range header from a Jombati delivery but he couldn’t quite get the weight the header needed and it went wide.
It was Moulden’s turn to intervene once more at the other end as he was well behind Alfie Rutherford’s 28th minute shot and the Fleet goalkeeper followed that up with another excellent stop from McShane three minutes later. And from the resulting Dorking corner, the home stopper was again in action, stretching to Rutherford’s elegant, slow-motion header as a cross glided over from the left. And still Moulden wasn’t done when McShane got clear of Chris Solly and his long-range shot had to be thwarted by the Fleet No.1.
A spell of head tennis in the Fleet box towards the conclusion of the half finished with Dan Gallagher’s effort deflected behind while a Solly corner at the other end was narrowly cleared with Jombati in attendance to meet it.
Dorking brought on former Fleet Trophy winner Luke Moore at half-time and they set about digging in to the midfield, putting some pressure on the hosts and Bobby-Joe Taylor’s 50th minute advance down the left needed a rather swift Jombati header to send it off target.
Callum Kennedy was then left free to shoot just past the upright and when Dorking were given space to cross in the 53rd minute, half-cleared by Chapman, Niall McManus’s goalbound effort was tipped over by Moulden.
Just getting warmed up, Moulden then pulled off a superb double save, blocking McShane’s effort from close range and then recovering to get in the way of Taylor’s follow-up drive. The goalkeeper again stopped efforts from Kennedy’s head and a Rutherford shot and though Dorking had enjoyed their share of possession up to the hour mark, they began to wane as the game headed towards a nervy conclusion.
On 81 minutes, Lee Martin’s neat run to the byline was cut back for fellow sub Poleon who reacted well to get a quick shot away that produced an equally swift and important save from Lincoln.
And minutes later Chapman broke upfield at speed to square for Poleon who whipped a shot into the side netting with most of the Kuflink Stadium sure it had gone the right side of the post. Then Chapman was into action again, slipping a pass through to Poleon that took both Dorking defenders out of the game but Lincoln was off his line quickly and got there just ahead of the Fleet striker.
That was the final action of the game with only a couple of set pieces for each side threatening late drama but as far as the title race was concerned, the late drama came at Maidstone where Dorking’s main rivals managed a late winner.
EUFC: Moulden, J.Martin, Solly, Jombati, Chapman, N’Guessan, Mekki (L.Martin 79), Paxman, Tanner (Romain 74), Bingham, Coulthirst (Poleon 60). Subs: Haigh, Wood
DWFC: Lincoln, Philpott, B. Taylor (Muitt 71), Kennedy, Gallagher, McShane, Oldaker (Moore 46), McManus, Fogden, J. Taylor, Rutherford (Prior 71). Subs: Harris, Rodari,