No joy for ex-Hatter Holmes as Fleet blown away by Luton’s second-half storm…
If the Fleet do manage to maintain their Conference status come season’s end, it surely won’t be by virtue of their goal difference. The forlorn home side equalled their biggest-ever Conference defeat (at Grays in 2005) as they were smashed 6-1 by a Luton Town side who scored all their goals in the second half.
It is almost 20 years since the Fleet have conceded six at Stonebridge Road, when in November 1991 Halesowen Town chalked up an 8-1 win in Kent, and indeed there was a whole generation of fans present today who had never witnessed such a goals avalanche. Yet it could all have been so different had the Fleet built on their single-goal half-time advantage.
Without Dean Pooley, Liam Daish was at least able to pass Gavin Heeroo fit and he slotted in at right back while skipper Peter Holmes had recovered from illness to line up against his former club. On a slippery pitch and in persistent rain, there was never much chance of a footballing spectacle and so it proved in an opening spell devoid of goalmouth action.
Standing out for the Fleet was Jordan Collins who made two vital interceptions against Claude Gnapka while at the other end, Magno Vieira and Moses Ashikodi struggled to get past the towering Janos Kovacs. However, it was Vieira who had first sight of goal on 14 minutes running on to Lance Cronin’s boot upfield but he drove a high shot just past the upright.
Then Leon Crooks should have done better from close range but couldn’t connect after Stefan Bailey had set him up with a rather fortunate overhead kick.
With both teams running on autopilot, the visitors perhaps switched off to give the Fleet the lead on 23 minutes. Heeroo hit a return ball from a goal kick which Kovacs inexplicably diverted back to his goalkeeper Mark Tyler but the pass found only empty space, with the ball trundling over the line as Tyler desperately tried to get back.
It was a bizarre goal and one the away side could scarcely believe. They tried to up the ante and Gnapka and Tom Craddock both flashed shots wide of Cronin’s post.