Steve Brown’s Fleet picked up an impressive victory in their first home match of the summer as they beat a strong Charlton Athletic side 2-1.
The visitors fielded a host of players who have League experience including two trialists Adam McGurk and Simon Church, who have played for Tranmere and Reading respectively. First-team players such as Lawrie Wilson, Danny Green and Danny Hollands all featured too.
Brown has nearly got his team together now, as the Fleet had just one trialist in the starting XI; former Dagenham winger Dominic Green. Michael Thalassitis was handed his first start after returning from injury, and the striker linked up well with Billy Bricknell. William Johnson-Cole and Cesc Fakinos were given places on the bench again.
With less than a minute on the clock it was the Addicks who had the first chance as Church cut in from the left, but he could only produce a toe-poke which Preston Edwards gathered with ease. Thalassitis won the ball in the middle of the park and played a nice one-two with Bricknell, but the on-loan striker failed to get on the end of the return ball as Nick Pope came rushing out of his goal and swept the ball from under the strikers feet.
Bricknell dragged an effort wide and Thalassitis then hit the side netting. In an open start, with both teams playing a slick passing game, there weren’t too many chances created. Both defences were on form and holding out well.
The save of the match came soon after as Green launched a long throw into the box. Church was first to react and his touch should have been enough to see the Addicks take the lead, but an excellent reaction stop from Edwards denied the former Reading man once more. Jordan Cook then hit a volley straight at Edwards after a fine cross from Green down the right. It would seem the save of the match and the visitors failing to take their chances would have a big impact on the game as just before half-time, the Fleet were ahead.
Bricknell picked up the ball 25 yards from goal and flicked the ball over the defenders head before unleashing a bullet strike which flew past Pope and into the bottom right-hand corner. Five minutes later, the Fleet doubled their lead.
Howe bombed forward from his right-back position, taking on two Charlton players in the process, before hitting a low, powerful shot from outside the area, leaving Pope with no chance. A superb individual effort from the full back. Fleet fans will be hoping there’s more of them to come this season!
2-0 HT. The Fleet’s new look side were looking comfortable, with neat passing play and two brilliant goals.
The first chance of the second half fell to substitute Ben May, who won the ball outside the area before playing a neat one-two with Bricknell. The former Dover striker was through on goal with just Pope to beat, but his weak side-footed effort was easily saved by the Addicks keeper.
Charlton made several changes as they looked to find a way back into the game, and McGurk smashed an effort over from the edge of the area. Despite their hard work in midfield, the attack was letting the visitors down.
Plenty of substitutions from both sides in the second half slowed the game down, but the visitors did manage to pull a goal back with 20 minutes remaining. A corner from Oliver Muldoon was met by Leon Cort and after a little bit of pin-ball in the area, the ball fell to Richard Wood, who hit home from 12 yards.
As the remainder of the game petered out, it was the visitors who had the last chance of the game as Joe Pigott wriggled free of a challenge outside the area and smashed an effort just wide of the goal.
The Fleet deserved their win and builds confidence as the new season draws ever closer. The Fleet face Gillingham’s Development Squad at Stonebridge Road next Saturday, while the Addicks look to get their league campaign off to a winning start as they travel to Bournemouth on the same day.
Report by Joe Glidewell
TEAM: Edwards, Howe, Palmer, Corcoran, Lorraine, Huke, Cook, McMahon (Long), Thalassitis (May), Bricknell (Johnson-Cole), Green (Phipp). Subs: Hall, Sankofa, Fakinos.