Scott Ginty welcomes in the New Year as Fleet leave it late…
It may have been a frustrating end to 2010 for Scott Ginty but he set the tone for 2011 as his 88th minute goal saw off a resilient Lewes side in this New Year’s Day fixture.
If play-offs and promotion are the aim for 2011, then these are just the sort of games the Fleet have to win, whether it’s by a four-goal margin as of late or a last-gasp strike in a stalemate that looked destined to remain goalless.
A calf strain for Clint Easton brought Dean Pooley back into the fold for the Fleet while Lewes fielded recent signing John Scarborough alongside another experienced defender in ex-Woking and Dundee man Tom Hutchinson, a former teammate of Paul Lorraine’s.
Fleet got a sniff at goal early on when a Gareth Williams free kick curled over the upright after Calum Willock was fouled on the edge of the box. On 12 minutes Pooley got highest to a Michael West cross and his header had to be cleared off the line by Anthony Barness.
The home side continued to press but delivered little in the final third where Willock was being given a hard game by the Scarborough-Hutchinson pairing. Pooley again went close when he lashed a Derek Duncan free kick wide while Willock and West combined well to provide Gareth Williams with chance but his shot bounced just wide of the post.
The lack of sparkle wasn’t aided by an overly-fussy referee whose first-half decisions perplexed plenty on the home terraces. Lewes’ defensive game was perhaps not the prettiest but they offered more than their lowly league position suggested and strikers Paul Olima and on-loan George Porter looked capable on the break, though the latter spent most of his first-half on the ground.
The first period closed out with another chance for the Fleet, a deep Ram Marwa pass found West ghosting in at the far post and his delicate touch had to be gathered on the line by a flailing goalkeeper.
But if the first half was bland, the second was positively frustrating. Willock finally got some change from the referee when Hutchinson was booked for upending him as he broke through but still he and strike partner Williams couldn’t find a way through. Williams went close on 57 minutes, heading West’s dipping free-kick just past the post, and then Pooley conjured up his third chance of the match, flashing a great header across goal from a corner.
Daish waited until the hour mark to ring the changes, giving Scott Ginty a full half-hour to make an impression, while Ricky Shakes also entered the fray. From West’s corner, Willock blazed a shot over the bar from close range and he hit the side netting with another shot after beating Hutchinson. And when Hutchinson mistimed a clearance inside his own box, Willock was on hand again but unbalanced as he was, could not get any power on his shot.
But if Fleet looked likely to score, it was in the final quarter. Lewes were completely non-existent as an attacking force and simply launched the ball clear from the edge of their box. Yet the increasingly desperate home side just couldn’t seem to pick the lock as a succession of crosses from the right flank failed to do any damage.
West took it upon himself to get his side going with a superb run from defence and he laid a pass off to Shakes whose low cross sat up for Ginty but Lewes cleared. That sniff of a chance was all Ginty needed to get himself in the zone, however, and with two minutes left on the clock West again broke through on the right and supplied a cross that this time reached the Fleet substitute and he rifled it home to a chorus of relieved cheers.
Willock had a final chance to make it 2-0 before Lewes substitute Jamie Crellin almost achieved the unthinkable as he got on to a long ball over the top and forced Preston Edwards into a wonderful, match-winning save.
TEAM: Edwards, Stone, Duncan, Howe (Carew 82), Pooley, Lorraine, West, Marwa, Willock, Phipps (Shakes 60), Williams (Ginty 60). Subs not used: Hagan, Henry
Derek Duncan’s 46% of the vote secured Tuesday’s man of the match. Vote for today’s [ HERE ].