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Fleet 1-1 Eastleigh

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Still awaiting a home win and clean sheet, Fleet saw both come mighty close as they led through to the hour mark, at which point the game turned on the referee’s decision not to award the home side a penalty.

Fleet were then pegged back by an equaliser and just couldn’t force a winner, though it wasn’t for the want of trying as Eastleigh were left hanging on in the final few minutes.

Garry Hill was able to name an unchanged side for the first time this season and it showed as Fleet’s understanding and collective performance were at a season’s high.

Eastleigh shaded the opening period with the home side taking a little while to fully settle. The returning Jack Payne saw his second-minute free-kick headed powerfully off target by Tyler Barnett as the visitors looked confident early on.

But Fleet grew into the game and a fine move along the ground ended with Alex Reid cutting inside for a shot on goal but he was denied by a block from Andrew Boyce.

And Fleet should probably have been ahead on seven minutes when another decent approach found Josh Umerah wide on the right. He crossed into the six-yard box and Reid somehow lifted his shot over the bar from close range.

There was a swift tempo to the game with both sides looking to get the ball quickly upfield and Eastleigh right-back Charlie Seaman linked well with Joe Partington.

Tyler Cordner’s maturity in defence was on show again and on 22 minutes his calm head cleared Fleet’s lines and Frankie Sutherland surged through the middle with Myles Weston in support but the midfielder’s pass to him was short.

By now, Fleet were much the stronger side, forcing corners, with Weston to the fore in getting his side up the pitch. Ayo Obileye saw one corner to the far post blocked and Cordner then tried to place a header from the next delivery but his effort was off-target.

The added determination was on display on 36 minutes when Danny Hollands dawdled on the ball in his own half; he was robbed by Weston who spun round and tried to work his way through the box before being halted in his tracks.

And two minutes later, Fleet got the goal they deserved. Lawrie Wilson got his side moving down the right and when James Ball found space to the right of the box, he timed his low delivery well, Reid sliding in to force the ball past goalkeeper Max Stryjek.

Eastleigh responded with two half-chances before the half-time whistle, Hollands’ driven effort flying wide and Sutherland wisely pulling out of a header as Seaman’s cross dropped invitingly in the box.

Umerah shoots on the volley as Fleet look for a second goal

Fleet began the second-half in much the same positive frame of mind. Umerah’s power and persistence unsettled Seaman on the byline and he rolled the ball into Reid’s path. The goalscorer looked to take it round Stryjek but the goalkeeper just managed to get enough on it to keep the ball from heading goalwards.

The impressive Umerah whipped a shot on the turn that deflected behind and from the corner, Obileye’s header wasn’t far off from burying his former club.

Fleet were totally dominant and when Reid broke, he found Umerah who spread play wide to Ball. The midfielder might have blasted it but he tried to flick it over Stryjek who made the save.

The home side were forcing Eastleigh into errors and twice Weston panicked Green and Reda Johnson into surrendering the ball. On the other flank, Boyce’s ill-judged clearance bounced for Umerah but almost too suddenly as he couldn’t keep his volley down.

The visitors made their first incursion of the second half on the hour mark, Ben Williamson threatening to get in behind until an excellent tackle from Cordner thwarted him.

But then came the moment of controversy when the excellent Weston muscled his way past Green on the byline and got goal side of the full-back before he seemed to be forced to the ground. The referee denied the penalty to the astonishment and fury of most inside the Kuflink Stadium, which multiplied when Mr Hulme produced a yellow card for the “diving” Weston.

Almost immediately, Eastleigh were back in the game. A ball through midfield fell to Barnett and he finished cleanly, a shot whipped into the top of the goal from an angle.

Fleet briefly took their foot off the gas to lick their wounds and a previously lethargic Eastleigh looked bright and busy. Hollands won a corner with a header at the back post and Boyce did the same moments later as the Spitfires moved the ball quicker and got to it quicker.

Substitute Max Barnes had time to perform an acrobatic overhead kick before Reid’s shot at the other end was blocked as Fleet broke.

Garry Hill threw on Gozie Ugwu and Botti Biabi and they helped Fleet wrestle back the initiative. Tireless Weston, still busy and battling, got a cross into Ugwu’s feet that Stryjek had to dive on smartly. Ball then hooked an effort wide from a free-kick into the box as Fleet finished the game on top but the winner they deserved just wouldn’t come.

EUFC: Holmes, Wilson, Thomas, King, Cordner, Sutherland, Ball, Obileye, Weston, Umerah (Ugwu 77), Reid (Biabi 77). Subs not used: Palmer, Grimes, Egan.
EFC: Stryjek, Partington, Green, Johnson, Boyce, Seaman (Barnes 63), Payne, Hollands, McKnight (Miley 83), Bennett, Williamson (Rendell 86). Subs not used: Baughan, Bearwish.
Attendance: 865

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